Synthetic Hair Help

Please can someone calm my paranoia?

The job of maintaining a few synthetic wigs has been left in my hands. I know nothing of wigs and even less about styling hair. I am strictly a wash and go kind of girl. I can’t even operate a blow drier.

Now these wigs have fairly complex styles (at least to me) with ringlets and finger curls (I think that is what they are called) and other stuff I don’t know how to begin doing. I have all of the proper shampoos, conditioners, and sprays but I am paranoid to wash them in fear that I won’t be able to get the style back the way it was.

Do synthetic wigs magically bounce back to their previous style like some people say?

I know enough not to try to use any heat on them so I wont be melting them anytime soon, but if I wash them and they don’t return to what they should be how to I curl them without heat?

Any words of wisdom for the hair styling inept?

A synthetic wig should return to it’s previous style after washed with no trouble. You may need to tidy up a ringlet or two, but that should be it.

You shouldn’t have to wash them very often though - is someone going to be wearing them and sweating into them?

There is much sweating.

They are used in a play and the actors get very hot and sweaty under the stage lighting.

If a few curls fall out after washing (which would be really weird), then you might be able to reform them with the appropriate styling tools (a cold curling iron, curlers, etc.) and a blowdryer. Don’t heat the styling tools. Put the curl-less lock in the appropriate styling tool and heat it with the blowdryer until the hair is warm. Let it cool in the curler and then take it out. It should be curly again. Do not comb. You’ll end up with a frizzy mess.

Ludy, do you work wardrobe somewhere or something like that? I can’t picture the average office job calling for synthetic wigs in elaborate styles. And like alice says, you shouldn’t have to wash them all that often. If it’s for a theatre production or something, allowing them to dry out between showings should be enough.

And now I notice you say you can’t operate a blowdryer. It’s really simple–just turn it on and direct the heat in the direction you need it to go. I can’t imagine you having to re-set the hair, though, since synthetic wigs are usually “melted” into place when they’re set the first time.

Be very, very gentle when washing them. Don’t rub them. Just swish the water gently and rinse twice. Pat them dry on a towel. Don’t rub! Set them a wigform to dry and gently comb any loose strands back into place. You should be able to just smooth it in place with your fingers. Comb in the direction the style is going–away from parts and up on the nape of the neck if it’s in a bun on the top of the head. You shouldn’t need to wash them between performances–once at the end of the week should be enough or before storage.

Since it’s for a play, I’m kind of surprised that there isn’t someone on staff that you can ask for advice. Is it community theatre or college or what? What play are you doing? Can you link to pictures of the styles or at least tell us what era they’re from? Eighteenth century or 1940s or Victorian?

I work for a theatre company that does not have a wig person on staff. The wigs were purchased for us by a person who is brought on just to build the costumes. We don’t normally do period pieces and originally the design did not call for full wigs but it just ended up that all but one of the cast members got them.

The period is the Wild West and the characters with wigs are all whores, but upper scale whores now, don’t judge :slight_smile:

Once the show is running I, plus one other person, generally handle the maintenance notes, but neither of us is trained in wigs.

And before you ask I can’t ask the person who got us the wigs, their knowledge ends at the catalog page where they ordered them from.

Oh and thank you for all the advice.

The show has been running for only a week and already the wigs are looking ragged. I have a feeling I will be getting to know these wigs very well over the next few weeks.

Oh, crappy. Designers who have a “make it work!” attitude annoy me. What do you mean I have to restore this outfit without a sketch or any guidance from you? You’ll tell me when I get it to the point you want it? What if you’re not here? :dubious:

I also suggest you try looking at this page from The Costumer’s Manifesto. There’s bound to be something useful at that site, if not necessarily on that page.

Best of luck! I’m sure you’ll have those wigs back in shape in no time. Or at least in good enough shape that the audience doesn’t notice, and that’s all that really matters.