Intro and Terms
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Wig Introduction and Definitions


Intro to Wigs

--N'Stasha, Ginger and Cat

Some Definitions:

"Costume quality" is the worst quality wig. Some are downright nasty -- the kind you find in Wal-Mart, etc. Good choice for kids and anyone on a budget, but it will not look natural unless you know how to style it really well.  Often have very small cap sizes -- since they're geared to kids and teens.

"Streetwear quality" could be worn everyday, but won't fool a hairdresser. I think streetwear is more than sufficient for Galadriel, since her hair seems all one color (no highlights) and has unnatural waves.

"Lace wigs" are actually some of the best wigs to have, used by most professional theatre companies and even a lot of film companies, because the construction of the hairline allows it to recede as a real hairline does, and the lace edge can be easily hidden by makeup.  There is no telltale edge at the forehead and sideburns, as with most other types. Lace wigs, however, or lace beards and other hairpieces, are made only by special craftspeople and are quite expensive.

"Skin top" means it has a latex cap at the top, so your part looks natural. I recommend this type, if you can afford it and IF you have skin the color of fleshtone latex.  If you have a style that parts, this are almost required for a natural look.  It allows for a change in the part

"Standard top" means the normal netting on wigs.

"Synthetic" = wig not made of real human hair.

"Cap" = the "cap" shaped netting that forms the base of the wig.  There will be pull tabs that fit at your temple.  Good wigs will have little hooks on the inside to adjust the size of the cap.

"Hair Lace" = a fine net that hair is woven in to.  These are normally attached to the front of the wig to give a more natural front.  Only found on the most expensive wigs.  You can it it yourself, but takes lots of time

"Hair Weft"  or just "Weft" =  A length of hair that is sewn to a wig.  Most wefts are just made by folding the length of hair in half and stitching at top one edge.  Really cheap wefts, like doll hair, just fold over a tad and stitch... these make the hair uncombable without great care.   Really, expensive, historical wefts are made by knotting from 1-3 hairs at a time onto 3 strands of thread.  (Insanity.)

Wearing Basics

Your hair must be controlled under a wig. There are multiple options.

  • A wig cap.
    • Looks like a little nylon stocking.
    • has a wide soft band that fits snuggly around the hair line.  If you have hoards of hair, these may or may not fit
  • An old nylon stocking or panty hose leg
    • Some folks just don't bother with a wig cap and use old stocking...  some like it better, but they don't last as long because they don't have an edge and run... but also, they're not so tight.
  • Braiding
    • If you've got hoards of hair, you need to distribute it all across you head.  Use multiple braids.  Pin them all across the head.

For more details on wearing the wig... check our wearing wig tips.

First time putting the wig on

  • Secure your hair
  • Turn your wig partially inside out.  You will see two little tabs about where a guy's sideburns would be on the wig.   Those tabs end up over  your temples and are what you use to tug the wig on.
  • Hold the tabs and put the wig across your forehead.  Pull in on the best you can and gently pull the back down over the wig cap.
  • Re-center the wig using the tabs... push the wig back a bit... don't have it too far down.
  • Fit on the wig cap can sometimes be adjusted just by adjusted the tabs at the bottom of the wig cap... are there little bits of elastic and hooks or Velcro there???  Adjust the edges so it feels comfortable.

Determine in advance how much stress you're putting on the wig before you wear it for the day.

  • If you are gong to be wearing a wig all day or while doing strenuous things (like larp or all day at a faire).  Be sure to pin the wig down securely.  The wefts of the wig can be bobby pinned in though the wig cap.  (yes, that puts holes in the wig cap... but it doesn't matter)
  • For all day strenuous wear... recognize that it is going to be like wearing a very warm cap.  Don't get overheated

(these tips aren't credited because they've come from multiple  folks)

Notes and Warnings:

Most wigs will come with bangs in front to hide the seam of the cap.  If you have the same hair color, you can pull your own bangs up and over.

Lengths: You're not going to find one long enough for Galadriel made in human hair, and even if you could it'd cost well over $1000. Most of the very long wigs come straight, but it is possible to give them waves.

Do NOT use a curling iron on a synthetic wig, though, because it'll melt. If you're adventurous, you can try braiding the (dry) wig hair or wrapping it around curlers, then steaming the wig. Otherwise, take it to a professional stylist. Remember that a straight wig will shorten when you add waves.

Heat can cause a synthetic wig to permanently fritz.

Use a wig shampoo and a separate comb to keep your wig healthy.  Do not pull on knots.... the synthetic fibers will stretch, and friz.  Also combing to hard will pull hair from the wigs since the stitched wefts do not hold hair in place well..

Most synthetic wigs (ie: not constructed of human hair) are made with more strands than you will generally find on a real person, making them unusually full and giving them a telltale "wig-look". Especially when considering than most of the elves have straight hair that is flat on the crown of the head. To achieve this look with most commercial wigs, thinning will be necessary.

General links for wig notes out on the web

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Intro and Terms | Wearing Wig Tips | Altering Wig Tips | Wig Care | Human Hair Wig

LOTR Home | Elven Faces | Arwen Makeup | Hobbit Feet | All About Ears | Elven Hair | All About Wigs | Removing Eyebrows | 5 O'Clock Shadow | Beard Stubble | Foam Gelatin Recipe

This page was last updated 04/22/08