How To Pick The Right Cosplay Wig
By Skywing Knights // November 21, 2019
Hey all of you creative spirits!
I’m so happy to bring you another resource page ! And it’s one I hope will help you all in your quest for creating your best cosplays. Today, it’s our wig stores!
To celebrate this launch, we’ve gathered 5 ways to make sure you’re getting the right cosplay wig for you! So without further ado, let’s get into it!
1. Always try it on (and wash your hair that morning)
This one is crucial and it’s unfortunate that it’s likely the one that the majority of us are forced to skip more often than not. We’re stuck purchasing wigs online with no frame of reference. Or we’re basing fit off of a wig we purchased previously from the same store. But whenever you get the chance – TRY THE WIG ON. And when you do plan to be trying on wigs, wash your hair that morning. Why? Well, when you wear a wig the oils in your hair will do 2 things –
- They will affect the overall texture and “fluff” (volume) of your hair and…
- Any oils and/or other dirt in your hair will rub off slightly onto wigs affecting their lifespan.
For these reasons, you should always plan to wear wigs with clean hair underneath in general. Yes, your hair will likely have more volume, making it slightly harder to fit all of your hair underneath. But this will extend the lifespan of your wig and the time that you can go without washing it, which is especially important for those hard to style wigs.
Finally, planning on having more hair underneath your wig, or hair that has more volume under your wig, will allow you to check appropriate amounts of length for wigs more accurately. One of the worst things that can happen while trying to find the right cosplay wig is to try on a wig that you think will be long enough only to find out later that with more volume in your hair, it isn’t long enough or worse, doesn’t want to fit on your head properly anymore. SO TRY IT ON!!
2. Color shades can make a huge difference. So pick shades that work best for what you want even if it’s not a character’s “exact” hair color
I can’t stress this one enough (and btw, get ready for the most technical point on this list). Back in the old days in which eBay was our prime source of wigs for cosplay (ah, the good, hard old days…), we really didn’t get much of a choice. We just had to try and guess which wig would look the best/closest to the character’s hair color that we were going to try to emulate as that would likely produce us with the best chance of finding a ‘good’ wig. Today, it’s much different. Today, we have a large variety of wig outlets. But we also have a large variety of color options with varying degrees of color shades.
With this, we now have the ability to not only emulate the look of the character, but we’re able to choose wigs that complement our outfits’ color shades and tones, as well as our own features. This can give our cosplays a beautiful kind of vibrancy, style, and stand out-ish quality. Do you want to go full on solid yellow for Armin Arlert‘s hair, as they do in the anime? Or a more softer blonde with various highlights? Maybe a dirty blonde is what you think will look best. The great thing is that it’s totally up to you!
Picking wig colors that look best on you with your costumes also can help prevent a wash out in photos. This is something that happens when a camera isn’t sure what to focus on in order to gain a proper light exposure. This can result in images becoming too dark or too bright. Can photographers compensate for this? Yes, for a good photographer, it’s possible to compensate for it manually or during photo processing. But it can be a royal pain, particularly if you can just avoid this problem during a photo shoot all together by choosing a shade and color for your wig that works well with your cosplay. (Btw, be sure to check out our list of recommended photographers!)
So don’t always feel like you have to go immediately for the exact color of the character’s hair if you have options – check wigs for the levels and amounts of vibrancy, saturation, and realism that you want and compare them with how well the color tones will complement your costume. And for you perfectionists out there – remember too – a character’s hair color will technically vary a bit here and there based on ink colors used, screen brightness, exposure, shadows, etc. As such, being “exact” isn’t always going to produce the best results anyway, as “exact” is fungible. Translation: You definitely have leeway when choosing your wig color shades, so pick shades that you think will look best for your style and your cosplay! 🙂
3. When you find a store you like, ask for color swatches and purchase them if available
One of the best things about wig stores today is that many of them offer color samples that you can purchase and use for reference. I am soooooo glad that this is becoming a common trend. As one might notice when navigating the multitude of wigs out there that are available for purchase, color is a big deciding factor in choosing the right cosplay wig and being able to see that color in person and not on a screen makes choosing that color SO much easier.
So if you find a store that you find works well for you, definitely look into seeing if they have color swatches available for purchase. Two of my favorites are Swallowtail Wig and Assist Wig Japan. Both of which have full color swatch library samples available for purchase. As I’m not able to go there in person often, this helps me pick out colors easily.
Tip! Color Samples often get updated regularly. If you’re having a hard time picking between two colors from your current color swatches, go to the website of the color swatch provider and see if any new colors have been added in between the ones you are considering. It may point to a perfect match! (And btw, if you have a set of swatches already, the store may be willing to sell you the new swatches for a lower price!)
4. Keep the color tags in case you need to buy the same wig or weft colors again
This is a super helpful habit to get into. Why? Because knowing the color of your wig can help you in a variety of ways in the future. And color tags will always list the style and color of the wigs you’ve bought in the past. If you decide you love the color, but either make a mistake or need another wig in that color, you can easily reorder a wig (or weft) in that color. On the flip side, if you don’t like the color you picked the first time, you can avoid purchasing the same color again. And all without having to drag the old wig with you. Color tags also often help you remember where you bought your wig as well. After you get about 20 wigs stored in your closet, it makes a difference, trust me.
And that’s it for color tags! Short and sweet, but really helpful, promise!
5. When in doubt, go longer and thicker when picking out a wig
I would always 100% choose a longer, thicker wig over a shorter, thinner wig. The worst situation you can ever be in when styling a wig is not having enough hair to work with. Thin wigs tend to have two problems –
- They don’t cover or hide your own hair well enough as there’s just not enough ‘hair’ to do so.
- They tend to look fake and crummy. A bit like they were made with hair that was cut off after a haircut that fell on the floor. Just a fact. This is especially true as you can normally see the wig cap underneath the hair layers of thin wigs easily. They’re just poor quality. So avoid these whenever possible.
In regards to length – think of it this way, you can always cut off more hair. You’re going to have a very hard time growing wig hair back (or in other words, you can’t). The other advantage to getting a longer wig is that if you end up needing wefts (assuming you cut off longer pieces from the start), you can make your own using what you’ve cut, saving you from another purchase. Using short wigs tends to preclude this from being an option. So when in doubt, go long, long, long and avoid thin wigs whenever possible! (And don’t worry! These days, it’s totally possible to get a good thick, long wig for a reasonable price. You don’t have to break the bank to do this!)
Hopefully this gives you some useful tips for picking out that perfect wig for your upcoming cosplay and definitely be sure to check out the shops listed on our new Recommended Wig Shops page for some high quality, gush-worthy wigs (no seriously, these suppliers always have wigs that I can’t stop gushing over – they’re so soft, thick, and just ugh, the colors are perfect)! These stores have wonderful selections of wigs, not to mention some awesome tools to help you style them as well. Also, any of them have other accessories you can use to bring your cosplay to life as well! So what are you waiting for? Grab your card and go shopping to find the right cosplay wig that’s perfect for you!
Next time, we’ll be checking out an awesome list of fabric stores that are perfect sources of materials for cosplayers. Till then, stay rad and good luck finding the right cosplay wig for your next project!