Guide - Buying and Working with Wigs

Spiking or Other Dramatic Styling

For relatively simple styles, involved small amounts of fibre, you can use a hairdryer on a low setting, and hold the hair in place with your other hand – that way, if it starts getting too hot for your fingers, it’s a fair indication that it’s getting too hot for the wig. Holding the fibre yourself also means you can position the hair as necessary, although using rollers, clips or anything suitable might help. Spray the section of hair (do fairly small, manageable sections at a time), hold it in position, and give it a short blast with the hairdryer. It’ll fix in position very quickly, and should stay like that. The heat is partially just to get the hairspray to harden quickly, but I also think it helps to keep the style in place.

This "Punky" styled wig from CosWorx http://www.cosworx.com/product.php?productid=16459&cat=295&page=1 is ideal for any spiky styles because the fibre already goes upwards, unlike most wigs where you need to use a hairdryer to ease it into going in the right direction. The base of the fibres are crimped, but this isn't noticeable. It's a very versatile wig, and it's easy to use a hairdryer and get the vertical fibres to go downwards where you need them to (for example, if you need to cut in a fringe). So for any spiky style, definitely consider starting with one of those wigs.

If you’re doing some serious gravity-defiance, try keeping the wig upside-down. Use a hairdryer to get the wefts neatly going in the direction you need (much like styling in ponytails discussed earlier). You can even duct tape or otherwise fix the wig form in position to help with the process. This is a sensible idea for any more adventurous style because the hairdryer isn't going to dry vast volumes of hairspray that fast, and you can only hold sections of hair in place by yourself for so long.

Therefore, for serious styles, fix the wig form in position somehow. Try taping a wig form upside down, suspending it from a lampshade, underside of a shelf or whatever you can think of. If the hair doesn't need to be vertical, but sideways or something, see about angling the wig form for the hair to go that way - taping the form to the edge of a desk and having the hair hang downwards over the edge, perhaps.

Fixing the wig form in position will help for some styles, but for others you may only be able to hold the hair in position. For some styles, both the wig form and the hair might need to be positioned. For positioning the hair, this may mean clips, or small elastic bands, wires...anything to keep the fibre in the style it needs to end up in (for example, with spikes, use an elastic band around the tip of each section of hair, which will keep it tapering to a point). With it all secured, you simply have to build up layers of hairspray, wait for them to dry, and then remove all the supports.

When using hairspray, give the roots particular attention. Lots of thin coats of hairspray are better than one heavy one – you don’t want it beading on the fibre. Don’t comb wet hairspray. If you must fiddle with it, lightly use your fingers. Teasing the fibre by backcombing at the roots along with hairspray and a hairdryer will help to support the sections.

Don't do any serious cutting until the wig has been styled a little. It's impossible to get a good idea of how long spikes and the like will need to be until you can get an idea of what the style will look like, so wait until you've got the wig to defy gravity. Once the hairspray and everything is dry, then you can do some trimming. This is also ideal for shaping spikes into neat points or angling the hair however it needs to look.

Whatever styling you’re doing, test it out first on hair that’ll be hidden - you don’t want to accidentally melt or damage some hair that’ll be visible. This is also a harmless way to get some practice.

Hairspray and a hairdryer works for all sorts of styles. When spiking however, you may want to try clear-drying glue, hair glues or caulk to get the ends to come to a neat point. Using glue to spike the hair is fine, but it’ll give the hair a different texture (even if it’s clear-drying it’ll still look odd), so I prefer hairspray. If the spray really isn’t working for you, use glue or caulk for the spikes, and cover them in hairsprayed hair to hide the glued bits. Similarly, for really extreme hairstyles, try covering foam shapes with hair and gluing/sewing the foam in place, as shown here: http://www.pettingzoowigs.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8

An example of foam structure in practice: http://costuming.org/jinx-tutorial.htm

As well as foam as a support, wire can be incorporated into styles, particularly handy for antennae. A few options are shown here: http://forums.cosplay.com/showthread.php?t=110650

A basic guide to spiking: http://forums.cosplay.com/showthread.php?t=97834&

spiking 1

[A Punky wig from CosWorx]
spiking 2

[Spikes planned out by dividing into sections]
spiking 3

[Hairspraying, hair ties and kirby grips holding spikes in position]
spiking 4

[Final style]

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