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How To Spike A Wig

Updated on June 4, 2012

Spiking a Wig

Look at you. You want that cosplay to be perfect. You spent hours working on the sewing, and the painting, and the sculpting, and you're almost done! The only thing left is the wig. You want it to be just as cool as the actual character's hair, don't you? However, gravity defying volume and killer spikes are not for the weak willed or the feint of heart.

It takes a lot of trial and error, and a lot of practice.

But how does one go about starting it?

You see, I had the same question. So I spent hours on google looking for tutorials, tips, and anything else that could be used to help me.

I found quite a few, but a lot of them were lacking, or didn't explain things enough in detail so that someone as new to cosplay as me could understand.

So, (with a lot of practice and many, many errors later,) I bring you this nifty little lens explaining to you how I went about semi-successfully styling a wig.

Prologue: Buying The Wig

Don't Judge a Wig by The Picture!

Most cosplayers that I know like to raid ebay for the best deal on a wig that they can find. And that's great. Really! There's nothing wrong with being a smart-shopper and saving a little bit of cash. (Seeing as how cosplay can be such an expensive hobby, it's really a good thing when you can save a few bucks here and there.)

However. You have to be careful when deciding on what wig to buy. Some wigs can look great in the photos! Good quality, perfect color, even the styling looks awesome!

But you have to remember. Most wigs will not ship to you styled. They are shipped in small, flat-rate shipping envelopes, stuffed in a bag with a couple of pieces of tissue paper and a thank-you note written in the worst broken English you've ever seen. So unless it's specified in the item description, never expect a wig to come styled.

...That would be too easy.

What you're looking for in a wig is the quality of it. Try to find pictures on Google of people wearing the wig you want to buy. Try to find pictures where it's in several different types of light, flash or no flash, so you can get a more accurate idea of what the color is going to look like and how shiny and fake the wig will end up looking when you buy it.

Look for the seller's customer feedback section. Look to see if any customers have previously had problems with the seller. Look for things like "didn't ship what was described," "doesn't match photos," or "crappy wig quality." With wigs, it's better to learn from other peoples' mistakes, instead of wasting money making your own.

And this is where I start my tale. (So you can learn from my friend's mistake.)

"Oh noooo, this isn't what I ordered!"

DON'T FREAK OUT!

No. Really. Relax. Stop, take a deep breath, and sit down. Shit happens.

You can fix it. (Sometimes. Not guaranteeing anything.)

My friend decided to order a wig to use for his Primo Vongola cosplay. (A character from Katekyo Hitman Reborn. If you haven't read it, go for it, it's awesome!)

And let's just say, what he expected to get was FAR from what he received.

The wig he got was advertised to be "pre-styled" and "high quality." The photo looked wonderful, the spikes nice and fluffy and the color was perfect.

Hehe. Let's just say, I got a call at 11 at night because he just opened the box and was FREAKING out because he just got his wig.

And that's when he texted me this picture:

(Photo courtesy of his webcam. Wonderful face courtesy of me. Isn't he handsome?)

As you can see, this is definitely NOT what he was expecting. Hence his freak-out. So after a little while of listening to him practically beg for help, I told him to relax, take a deep breath, pack the wig back up in the box, and stick it in the mail to me without looking at it again. And most of all to trust me.

The seller he got his wig from didn't accept returns or exchanges, and it was too close to the con to get a new wig in time. So I worked with what I had, and what I had at this point was horrible.

The wig was of medium thickness, I'll give it that, so I had a little more to work with than what I expected. (It could have been worse, believe it or not.) So I grabbed my brush, a pair of scissors, some other supplies, and got to work.

Things You May Need

Now. I didn't know I'd be making a tutorial when I styled this wig. (Last July, days before Otakon. Rushed, of course.) So I didn't take a lot of pictures. So I'll put a couple of pictures, and maybe a couple of drawings.

The first things you want to do is grab a few supplies. Get yourself set up in an area where you have quite a bit of working room and an outlet; you're gonna need a bit of electricity for this.

Things you may need:

-Your wig. (.....Duh.)

-A wig head (Foam is best. Probably about $6 at your nearest Sally's or hair supply store.)

-Straight pins

-Scissors

-Hair Spray/Hair Glue

-Hair dryer (with adjustable heat setting)

-rubber bands/hair clips

-extra hands (if possible. It's possible to do this job on your own, but it helps if you have an assistant to help you out. You'll see what I mean in step 3.)

My Tools Of The Trade

Seriously these items are the BEST when it comes to styling wigs. They hold the strands together quite well, but they can be stiff. So it's up to you to decide what you want to use to style your wig.

I just recommend these.

Just saying.

Step 1: Prep The Wig

Here I was stressed for time. I only had a couple of days to get this done before I was leaving for Otakon.

The wig I received was saturated and stuck together with crappy-quality hair products. It was twisted, knotted, and just overall gross. But I didn't have time to wash it. (Which I highly recommend doing. Especially in this case when the wig comes pre-styled.)

So I laid the wig down on a hard surface (in this case my table) and SLOWLY and CAREFULLY begun to brush the spikes out of the wig, starting from the ends and working my way more towards the "roots." Be very careful when brushing a wig. I don't recommend this, but seeing as how this was an emergency fix, I had to do what I could at the time. If you're careful, like I was, you can accomplish brushing your wig without much damage to it and with as little lost strands as possible.

This also helped me a bit, because the product made the strands of the wig a bit stiffer. It gave it a lot more volume to work with as a base. (See picture. Courtesy of my camera phone. Forgive my face.)

I also trimmed the ends of the wig, seeing as how it was too long in spots for the look I was going for. Don't cut it too short, though, you can always trim it later once you're in the middle of styling it.

Now starts the fun stuff.

Plan 2: Your Plan Of Attack

What you want to do is make sure you have a bunch of reference photos handy. Try to get photos from different angles, showing the most of the style you are trying to go for.

Now, put the wig on the wig head and pin it securely. I used a bunch of different colored pins just so I didn't lose them within the wig while I was styling it. I also used about 12 pins, making sure that the wig wasn't going ANYWHERE. Keep them around the edge and put a couple of them more towards the center of the wig. One of the worst things that can happen to you while you're doing this is having your wig slip, therefore messing up all of your styling and making all of you work up until this point obsolete.

Which, in case you didn't get the message, is bad. It defeats the purpose of everything you've been doing.

Now, looking at your reference photos, take some of the rubber bands (or in my case, rainbow hair clips. It's all I had.) and tie up the hair of your wig in the direction you want to spike it. Separate the hair into the spikes themselves, making them as thick or thin as you want, depending on the style you are going for.

What I started with was the large spike on the top of the wig. Then I worked my way down the wig, clipping off different sections as I went, until the hair was either all pieced out, or out of the way for when I started spiking the larger spikes.

Step 3: Start the Spike-age

Okay, you see that wonderful (and huge) picture above? That's what the wig should start to look like.

What I did for the first spike (and this is when an extra pair of hands becomes handy) is held the wig head up, letting the hair of the first spike fall in the direction I wanted the spike to go. In this case, I wanted the spike to be almost vertical, so I held the wig-head almost upside down.

(Doing this one handed was a pain. At this point, it was 3 am and no one was awake to help me, otherwise I would have been annoying and bothered someone to hold the wig for me while I did this.)

While holding the wig, I sprayed it with the Got2Be Blasting Freeze Spray and shaped it into the spikes with my hands, then immediately held the hair dryer up on low heat and low speed, letting it dry the hairspray, therefore holding the spikes in whatever direction i wanted to.

Once the spike was dry, and had cooled off a bit, I took about a pea-size amount of the spiking glue and ran it along the edges of the spike, holding the strands together and to prevent them from falling apart when my friend decided to move his head, or run, or do something stupid in the cosplay.

Step 4: Continue With the Rest Of The Wig

Once you get the first spike down, it should be pretty easy to be able to piece out the remaining spikes. Just spray, shape, style, and repeat. Soon, you should have spikes going down the rest of the wig. What you have left over, because sometimes the back of the wig can be thinner, is leaving the hair loose and spraying it, letting it spike out like natural hair rather than in the piecy-anime fashion.

This is also what I had to do, because the wig I had to use was so thin, you were beginning to be able to see the netting between the spikes. Make sure, when using a light colored wig, that whoever is going to be wearing the wig is using a light colored wig cap, like nude or white. You can even dye the wig cap to be the color of the wig, so you can be sure pictures will turn out without bald spots. If you're using a dark wig, use a dark brown wig-cap or black-cap, just so you can reduce the look of bald spots.

At this point you can style the bangs as you wanted. In my case, I left the bangs as they were so I can cut and style them on my friend's head. (He was the one wearing the wig, not me, so it would have been silly to use my own face.)

I did, however, take pictures with the wig and cosplay on. Because I can't contain myself, it was there, who wouldn't wanna do that?

Step 5: Look Awesome

I normally take the hair spray and spray the wig from a distance a couple of times, lightly coating the spikes, and then hit it once with the hair dryer.

(...I mean the air from the hair dryer. If you literally hit the wig with the hair dryer, know that I'm sitting here laughing and judging.)

This should give you an incredibly stiff style.

It should also hold up to a lot of walking around at the con. The wig lasted through three days of Otakon, so I'm pretty sure it's good to go.

Want Another Example?

This is my friend's wig for Tsuna from the same anime as the other character. (Katekyo Hitman Reborn. Seriously. Check it out.)

She got a wig that was much thicker, and easier to work with.

The way I styled the blonde wig is good for gravity defying hair and insane spikes. It also, in no way, shape, or form, gives you a "natural look." Normally hair does not do those things.

For my friend's wig, we decided to go for a more natural look.

So while she was wearing it, I trimmed the wig to length. I then sprayed the wig lightly with the hair spray, taking the hair dryer from a distance and pushing the hair up into a large spike, holding it in place lightly with my other hand to make sure it stayed up. I then proceeded to just use the hair dryer on the rest of the wig, pushing it up, and piecing it slightly into spikes. I gave it more of a dynamic profile, pushing the hair in directions that the character's hair goes in.

His hair. Is. Huge.

No, seriously. If you look at the manga, you will see that the character's hair is about three times bigger than his head in some panels.

Which is insane.

But there you have it. With a little bit of hairspray and a lot of patience, it's possible to get two different types of spiked styles.

I hope this helped you!

No. Seriously.

If you liked this tutorial (my first personal squidoo) I will be putting up some more. One on caring for a wig, one on dying a wig, etc.

As you can tell, I really like cosplaying.

I hope this helped you!

You can always catch me on my deviantArt: hyper-dragonfyre.

Thanks for sticking around!

How'd I Do?

This was my first lens, guys, how'd I do? Did I help you at all? Feel free to add a comment if you want information on something else or if you have any questions at all!

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Whether it's something as simple as normal clothing or something as extravagant as a full-bodied-home-made costume of epic, cosplay is something we can all enjoy. So share your stories!

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    • totallyextreme profile image
      Author

      totallyextreme 5 years ago

      @pawpaw911: Haha! I hope it never gets to that point, but thank you for the comment and the squidlike!

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      Great information for anyone wanting to spike a wig. I don't need to right now, but if I lose anymore hair, I might.

    • profile image

      sheezie77 5 years ago

      Great lens! Well done, squidlikes!

    • totallyextreme profile image
      Author

      totallyextreme 5 years ago

      @SusanDeppner: Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it! ^^

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      No tips, but I most definitely enjoyed yours!