Saturday, August 22, 2015

How to remove shine from a synthetic (curly) wig

    I recently purchased a half-wig, also known as a fall, off of eBay.  I often have my hair cut to around shoulder-length, and I was tired of worrying about what length my hair was going to be by the time ComiCon rolled around!  In case you've never dealt with falls before, the purpose of them is not to change your hair color, but to extend it.  The front part of your own hair is incorporated into the wig so that it all blends in and looks more natural.
    Unfortunately I didn't take a "before" picture of the wig...I didn't have a blog at the time!  Here's the eBay version, though.

    I don't know if I would have even thought of the fact that the wig was unnaturally shiny, had I not recently pinned this article on Pinterest.  So, once the wig came in, I thought, "Hmm...here's a perfect opportunity to try this out!"  After all, the more natural looking the cosplay, the better (at least in my opinion!).
    So I bought some cheap fabric softener and went to work.  Tip #1: Make sure you like the smell of the fabric softener you use, because your wig WILL smell like it afterward!  I'm currently debating hanging mine outside somewhere to air it out.  :P  The tutorial suggested using 1-3 cups of softener, depending on the length of your wig, so I used 2.  Pour the fabric softener into a bucket or dish pan, anything big enough to lay the wig in (flipped inside out), and then add enough water to thoroughly cover the wig.  Next comes the hardest part of the process - finding somewhere to leave the bucket where babies and dogs can't find it!  Or maybe that's just me...
    I left my wig soaking for about 5 days (the original tutorial suggested 5-7).  Then take it out, letting it drip, and lay it flat on a towel to dry.  Don't squeeze it!  My wig has a good bit of hair, so I had to spread it out to get it to dry.  This process took another couple of days for me.  Also, in case you're like and me and are worried about the water messing up your curls...in my case, the curls were perfectly fine.  I watched a video another cosplayer posted of doing a similar process with their curly wig, and they had no problem, either.
    Okay, honesty time...I have no clue whether the fabric softener did any good or not.  The second step of this process is what actually impressed me.  However, I'm sure there's a reason that the article said to soak it first!  The wig did end up pretty soft, so maybe that's the result I was looking for.  However, it was not at all soft until after I finished completely, so don't worry about the fact that it is now a little icky looking/feeling.
    Now for part 2 of the de-shining process!  This part gets a bit messy, so lay out a towel (and you should probably be prepared for your clothes to get a little dusty, too).  Either lay the wig out flat, or pin it onto a wig head if you have one.  The original tutorial says to use talc, aka baby powder.  However, baby powder is no longer made of talc because it's actually toxic.  Yuck!  I never use baby powder with Sugarplum, so I was a little clueless.  But when I looked at Walmart, turns out that baby powder is now made out of "Pure Corn Starch" (plus scents, etc.).  My thought: Why would I buy baby powder made out of corn starch when I have a box of corn starch in my cabinet at home?  I even googled it, and yep, you can use corn starch instead of baby powder in most, if not all, instances.  Even on your baby's bum!  :)
    I poured corn starch into a cleaned-out spice shaker to make it easier to apply.  You will also need a wig brush...in my case, this was an American Girl doll brush!  Basically what you're looking for is a wire brush.  If you don't have American Girl dolls :), I'm sure you can find them online or at a wig store.
    Start coating your wig, section by section, with corn starch, and working it through the hair.  I rubbed it in with my fingers, and also brushed it.  If your wig is curly, just be very gentle with the ends!  It also helps to twist up each section after you finish it, to make sure the curl stays in.  You'll find your own method of applying the corn starch as you go.  I ended up deciding it was easiest to sprinkle the corn starch into my hand, then dip my fingers in it and rub it into the hair, like this:
    You'll be able to see the shine disappearing as you work!  I was able to get a pretty good "before and after" picture.  With flash:
    Without:
    You can especially tell in the picture with flash.  Natural hair doesn't reflect a flash like that!  
    After a couple of sessions brushing and corn starch-ing (you might be able to finish it in less if you're not trying to work around a toddler sleep schedule!), it was done!  

    All the curls are still intact (yay!), and it's now much more natural-looking.  Plus, it ended up matching my hair a little better in the end than it did to start with.  Which is worth making note of - the corn starch may lighten the wig ever so slightly.
    Next, check out how to wear your half wig!