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Tutorial: How to straighten a wig

Journal Entry: Sun Dec 23, 2012, 12:44 PM
Okay, I promised to translate the tutorials I wrote some time ago and today I'm starting with "How to straighten a wig". Please notice English is not my native language, so you might run into spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes. I'm really sorry and hope you're able to understand it anyways. If you run into any kind of problems while reading feel free to ask in the comments.
If you are able to understand German you can go to my Animexx weblog and read it there :3 Unfortunately dA doesn't support embedding my pics into the text so I had to put them directly over/under the text. Sorry for that!

I'm just showing you what works for me, so this is a "you can try this" and not a "this is the only way you can do it".
As you might know wigs are made out of plastic fibers. Plastic is a heat bendable material, so this is the essence of the both methods I will show you. Styling your wig with heat will also work for curling it, making spikes and so on. Please be careful whenever you work with hot water, a straightening iron or a ordinary iron!
You will need several tools for the various methods, but you need a comb, a wig head, hairpins and needles for fixing the wig most of the time. So be prepared.

1. Straightening with an Iron
Sounds funny, doesn't it? But it works fine. It's a method you can use even if you wig is not heatresistend. A usual iron should have a temperature level for synthetics or acrylic fibers. This is basically were I start, but since every model is different I recommend to start a little lower. Old irons are way warmer than new models, so there is a fluctuation in temperature and to be save it's best to be careful. Please don't use the steam function. You don't need it. If you want to straighten a long and full wig with a lot of curls I recommend not using this method, because this kind of straightening will take some time. You should go to the next point ;3

Here you can see a hair bun of my Saya Kisaragi wig. I'm choosing the synthetic level of my iron and testing the temperature at the ends of a braid. This is important! Never put the iron onto the middle of your wig. Always check if you wig can endure the temperature. If it's okay you can start separating the hair into small braids. Just ironing the full amount of hair won't work. Please comb the braid before ironing it as well. If your wig has snarls (knots) and you iron them down the wig won't become completely straight.
Now that you've checked the temperature and combed the wig you can start ironing it. Move it slowly (!) from the top part to the hairs end. Don't put it onto the wig and go away or something. The hair will have an imprint later.

You have to repeat this step until the fibers are completely straightened. You can set a higher level of temperature to quicken the process, but be careful not to overdo it. Irons need some time to stabilize a temperature ;3 So, give it some time.
My hairbun looks like this after ironing it: left = straightened, right = original
The result highly depends on the time you put into this work, the amount of hair and the original condition of your wig. Always remember: This technique can be used again and again.

You can use this method for old wigs with frizzed hair tips as well. I guess everyone has a long wig that once was pretty and due to a lot of wearing, storing or combing it became frizzy. This is simply annoying and sometimes you see no other option than cutting the ends of. You can do it one time, maybe twice but that's it. :/
I usually store long wigs braided. This prevents tangling but after some months they become wavy. For my Grell Sutcliff wig I used the technique shown above.

It shouldn't be a problem if you use a ironing board. If you're at a hotel directly before a convention you can also do it on the floor if there isn't a ironing board available but you should always put a towel under the wig to prevent damage on the ground.
The most important thing is: Preventing this kind of work. You should always handle your wigs like babies. Always store your wigs properly and if you attend a convention it's really helpful to wear it braided until you get there. This prevents tangling and ruining your look. Always have a comb with you and comb your wig every once in a while. If you can't do it on your own without tangling it even more (which is natural from a certain length onwards) ask a friend to help you. When you're back home comb it again and put it away safely.
You can also buy special anti tangling spray for wigs in several online shops and barber shops. But as far as I know they are pretty expensive and from what I can tell it's not that effective. I guess it depends on the product you use.

2. Straightening with hot water
This method is way more common than using an iron. You can also use this kind of technique for curling a wig but I will not show you this now.
Be sure to put your wig onto a wig head and pin it with several needles. Wet wigs become a lot heavier and you don't want it to pull itself of your wig head. Especially because you might grab for it reflexively and burn your hands.
Like I wrote before you should always test if your wig can endure the heat. Put most of the hair together and just leave some hair from the neck to check the temperature. Usually this it the part of hair you don't see that well while wearing and if you customsize your wig you even cut it off in most cases anyways. So if anything goes wrong you can still save the wig. Boil some water and check it at the end of the hair. If the water is too hot the hair gets a frizzy look. I can't explain it any better, sorry. But you will know what I mean if it happens.

If everything went according to plan you have to choose how much of the wig should be straightened. Wigs usually have "volume hair". If you don't know what I'm talking about take a wig and have a look at the wefts. You will see either shorter hair directly over/under the long hair or the hair is volumnized with frizzed hair. If you just throw a bucket of water over the wig this volume will be destroyed. So you should be sure if you just want to straighten some curls or curls AND the complete volume in the head area.
The basics are the same for both steps. Just pouring the water over the full wig if you want to straighten the volume hair too won't work well. It usually just straightens the upper hair areas. Divide the hair into several areas and start with the lowest wefts in the neck area. If you want the volume to be straightened too pour the water on the wefts and the hair completely. If you want it to stay start pouring about 2-3 centimeters below the weft. You can dry the wig between every step of straightening, but usually it's not necessary because the fibers cool down pretty quickly.
For the side parts of the wig just hold the wig head diagonally. Always be careful when it comes to your hands. Boiling water is no fun and you don't want to burn yourself. Make sure to hold the wig head were the water is not coming down.

You can put the wig head into your shower or washbasin, but you should still hold on hair braid because wig heads tend to knock over. It's important that you either put the wig head onto a stand so that the hair can hang down freely or take it up after pouring the water over it. Otherwise it's highly possible that you get wrinkles at the area where the wig turns from hanging to just laying on the ground.

If this happens just redo the process. Everything should be fine then. For drying you can use a blow dryer or just put it onto a stand. Don't forget to add a towel beneath the wig for the dripping water. If you don't have a wig stand you can use a pole from a dressmaking model/weightlifting or a umbrella in a clothes basket (that's what I do xD). It doesn't have to be super cute or beautiful. All that's important is that you can work well with it.

If you just want to devoluminize your wig you can use a cup or a pipet/dropper. This is rather annoying but if you just want to straighten a certain area or devoluminize a curled wig in the head area this works fine.

3. Additional notes

You can use a straightening iron or a blow dryer as well but since this are obvious methods I won't make this tutorial any longer than necessary. Always be careful with the temperature ;3 Some wigs can endure temperatures in different ways. I have a wig that almost melted while blow-drying it with low temperature but it went fine while straightening it with hot water. It's also important to check for every single wig what temperature is okay.

If you think you might lose track of this tutorial you can fave it like usual deviations. ;3 Next tutorial will be "Basic Cosplay Make-up".

Add a Comment:
WiredintoSpace Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
amazing tutorial really helpful!!1
HomunculusAlchemist Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2013
Wow this tutorial had better spelling and grammar than a lot of the ones written by people speaking English as their first language :iconyayglitchyredplz:
BleuumScarlett Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the tips D: I didn't know it was possible to straighten a wig ^^
hermionejgranger Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Your from Germany? OMG we have a german class in my highschool. : D
Cosmic-Empress Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2012
Better to use a steamer in my experience.
KoryXIII Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2012
Hey, good tutorial! This tips are so helpful! =)
Grayies-cosplay Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
ohhh thanx
Arulithia Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2012
no biggy :heart:
Grayies-cosplay Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
YahoolYafool Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
this is extremely helpful! thanks a lot, this really helped with one of my newest cosplays :D
Arulithia Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2012
i'm glad it helps you ^^
YahoolYafool Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
thank you~ :D
silly-redpanda Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This is so helpful, my Taiga wig became really ugly after the convention and I ended up using an iron as well to make it better (but not before I tried to detangle it, which really got a lot of hair out of it cause i didn't know how to do it yet)... Thanks a lot!
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December 23, 2012


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