Being a teenage cosplayer without a job, I have a budget to maintain, and that means I have to make amends with what I have laying around. Rather than buying wig dye or sharpies, I tried my hand at dying my wig with cheap acrylic paint (Folk Art/Plaid to be exact) and it didn’t turn out terrible.
I started with Amphigory’s M-104 in white (I didn’t take any pictures, sorry! But it looks exactly as it does in the picture!) I have to say, for $21 the quality was great, it is a little sparse (so I’m worried about styling it) but once again it was on the cheaper end of the spectrum. I was afraid I’d end up with a crap Halloween-esque wig, but it was very nice. Anyways back onto dying, here’s how to do it~
- Bowl (I used a hair dye bowl, but you can use any other kind as well)
- Hair tint brush (I think a large paint brush would do too, but it may be too rough)
- Acrylic paint (I’d suggest a full bottle just to be safe, but for longer wigs, I’d get two)
- Newspaper/plastic bags/tarp
- Paper/towels (this is very messy!)
- Foam mannequin head
- Wide tooth comb/wig comb
I’ll reemphasize that this is very messy, so if possible do it where it’s easy to clean up (not in the corner of your work space like I did) and make sure to move things out of the way! My wig dripped all over the place and I forgot to lay stuff down as not to make a mess, now I have pink paint drips on my silvery blue helmet…
- Lay out everything in your area, the tarp/newspaper/bags, set the mannequin stand up where needed and put the wig on.
- Get your dye set up, If you start out with a white wig, all you need to do is make the mix the color you need. If your wig needs to be tinted darker, experiment with hidden strands. What you’ll want to do is put a good amount of paint in there (I’d say half a bottle for now) and mix in enough water so that it’s a watery mix, like juice.
- Start painting it on! It’s almost like dying human hair, but I would suggest starting from the inner layers outward, and only small sections at a time. If you don’t know what to do,section the hair off (I split my wig into 5 parts, bangs, left side, right side, and the back into 2), pin the hair so only the first layer of wefts from the very bottom layer is showing, and with your gloves on, hold the wefts of one section flat in your non dominant hand, and brush on the dye with your other, then just do it weft by weft, section by section.
- Continue on until your wig is fully covered; I would suggest finding something else to do too, like watch TV or something as it is very time comsuming. Also, remember to comb the strands every once in a while to keep from clumping.
- Let the wig dry for a few hours (I left mine overnight since I started when I got home from school and it took a while but it caused it to get clumped a bit), you can speed up with drying with a fan or hair dryer if you wish, but keep combing every now and then, no matter which way you choose.
- Once the wig is dry, wash it out with cold water until it runs clear (if you do it when it’s wet, it’ll wash off and you’ll have to start all over!).
- Touch up the paint if needed and repeat until you get the color you want
I suggest you test everything on strands that will be cut off or hidden before the entire wig or else you may end up with a wig too dark or the wrong color!
My wig turned out slightly streak, but I’m ok with that as picture-wise, it’s not really noticable and it adds the effect of hi-lights:
So for the most part it came out alright, I still need to touch up the left side of the wig (the second image) and the bangs a bit as I got lazy when I started brushing in the dye there and it got too streaky. One thing about this method is it leaves the wig feeling a little bit crunchy? Almost like there’s a lot of hairspray in it. I’m going to experiment with some strands in a little bit (I need to trim it anyways) so I’ll get back to you on that, but otherwise it’s not a bad method.
If you’re on a budget or you can’t find the right colored Sharpie, it might just be what you’re looking for. It’s not perfect and it changes the feel of the wig, but it gets the job done. This is the first wig I’ve every dyed, so I can’t say this is the method I will always use, but for convenience, it’s a good method.