One of the most intimidating and important parts of cosplay is wig styling. Fictional characters like Cruella de Vil, Kirishima, or Starfire have unrealistic expectations of hair that only a wig can fix. Plus, having the right wig can completely transform your appearance to help you transform into character. Using your own hair can work, but a wig is recommended because it will stay in style, stay polished and reduce your hair fall.
The variety of wigs you can buy is huge, and if you’re new to the cosplay circuit, this can be daunting. Especially if the cosplay is Goku, most wigs don’t come fully styled, or if they do, they could cost you an arm and a leg. To avoid breaking the bank, some cosplayers have learned how to sew and style wigs on their own time.
Two cosplayers, in particular, caught our eye. They are twin cosplayers from Missouri who share a joint Instagram account called @prosandconscosplay. After going to a local convention called Naka-Kon, where they thought they had to cosplay or else they would look weird, they fell in love with the cosplay scene and have been cosplaying ever since. Prosandconscosplay is mostly known for its duet cosplays such as Willie Cat and Willie Kitt from the Thundercats, a Sakizo style Evil Queen and Snow White, and Dora Milaje from Black Panther.
For this article, we talked to Con the pros and cons of cosplay as she does most of the wig styling of the two. Her first major wig style was Rikku from Final Fantasy X. Hating that process, he vowed styling wigs until he cosplayed Pidgeot from Pokémon, where he tackled an incredibly intricate wig. Having successfully accomplished this, she renewed her interest in wig styling and has experimented with wig styling and techniques ever since.
How to Style Cosplay Wigs for Beginners
Whenever I start something I worry about, wig or otherwise, I think about how difficult it would be to fix if I messed something up. I plan a safety net right away, haha. The good news is that, depending on how bad your wig is, you can sometimes fix it by adding more hair/changing the weft, but the best way to avoid problems is with practice. If you can, get a junk wig to practice basic cutting techniques.
When starting a new project, I usually start cutting back first to get into the feel of it before going after a part that will really show. Sharp haircutting shear is a great investment. You want good, sharp scissors. Never cut straight horizontally, but use feather cuts or point cuts to create the shape. This will prevent hair from looking dull and chunky. Turn your wig on and use the clip to mark your desired length. Don’t just guess!
Always check to make sure your wig fibers are heat resistant! That is the most important step. If it is not heat-resistant, then you should not use hot styling options. Test a piece in the back if you’re not sure. If you are using a curler/curling iron, wait for the fibers to cool completely so that the fibers stay in shape and you don’t have to go over the section again and again.
To manage flyaways, some good old hairspray will help keep them down. Smooth the fibers with your fingers or a fine-toothed/rat-tail comb, then hit it with freeze spray. You can even cut them away with your scissors. I like Got2B Glued, but others work well too. You just want to make sure it’s hairspray with strong hold. If you have quite a few, sometimes I use a flat iron to hold all the hair together.
I recommend getting a wig head that is the same size as your head. The more feminine looking Styrofoam heads are smaller than a typical human head. The manly looking styrofoam wigs are a bit close to head size, but I have a huge noggin, so I need a bigger one. I bought one online for about $25. You can pad a Styrofoam wig head with duct tape, batting, or even roll-up socks in a bag to create enough extra padding to get it into the shape of your head.
This is especially helpful when styling wigs with ponytails or it requires some size-specific heavy-duty gluing. A wig stand is also a great investment. I have a tripod-style wig stand with a leveling gauge I bought from Amazon for about $30. However, Arda Wigs sells both wig stands and wig heads which are great!
To keep the wig in place, I use long quilting pins because they are easier to remove, but T-shaped pins are great if you plan on doing a rough styling. I have a different set of pins that I use in my wig head for my sewing projects because these take quite a beating.
There is no way to fix a wig if you make a cutting mistake. Believe it or not, there are some creative ways to hide your biting sins. If you cut your bangs too short, for example, you may be able to buy a bang clip to cover it up and start all over again. If you overcut the side, you can remove very small weights and if you have any left over, replace them with extra weights and try again. Other cutting errors can be corrected by constructing where the spikes are placed. If your ends are all over the place, turning the ends down a bit with a flat iron can make everything visibly smoother.
Don’t let a bunch of plastic wires scare you away! It’s like any new technology you have to learn. Wig styling just takes practice, and many styles go through quite the ugly duckling stage before they look good. You just have to see the beauty beyond the rat’s nest (especially when you’re making the spikes). Keep trying, get some super cheap wigs to practice cutting, and go for it! They can really make your cosplay pop.