Wigs? Yes, I am that insane. But to be fair, wigs are a great way to change your look without frying your hair, getting expensive extensions or both. Furthermore, if maintained well, they last years.
Wigs are more common than you think. Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga to even the regular woman on the street sometimes are wearing wigs.
So wigs can be expensive. That said, there are ways to save a lot of money.
- Order from Hong Kong/China
Crazy but true. Most of the wigs you already buy from the costume shop are from China to begin with. But what if you order from the source? My personal favorite website is Wig Supplier. If you're willing to sacrifice fast shipping times, convenience and have a little faith, you will save money and time. You can get anything from natural "gyaru-ish" wigs (not really Hime style but something close) to crazy colored party (or cosplay) wigs. Each wig is cheap, shipping is relatively low and your losses will be a lot lower.
- DIY Hair Stocking
So you bought your wig. Do you know how to put it on? There are plenty of tutorials on how to put wigs on properly, but my favorite method that I used while working backstage in theater is to braid your hair, put it in a tight coil on the back of your head, pin the living bejeezus out of it then secure it with a hair cap or stocking. Pin the stocking on. I can do a tutorial on it later, time and interest permitting. For shorter hair, it was just a matter of NEATLY tucking it in the cap. You don't need lumps and bumps making you look like an idiot underneath your wig. Caps are pretty cheap but if you're feeling cheaper, there's ways to make your own.
Yes, I said pantyhose. Basically the same fabric as your best wig caps. Avoid the fishnet ones at all costs; they don't secure your hair nearly as well as the nylon caps. That said, take your old, unused pantyhose and make sure it's clean. For shame if your desperation has led you to using dirty pantyhose on your head. Gross. Cut it in half at the crotch seam. Then cut off the loose, hanging elastic. I like the fold the cut end of the leg and sew it; this will keep it from fraying. Once this is done, put it on your head with your hair tucked in securely, preferably in a bun. Proceed to dance around for a few minutes with a single pantyhose leg dangling from your head. Then take the leg and knot it as close as possible to your scalp. Cut the remaining fabric. Voila! DIY wig cap.
The best wigs I have bought in recent memory were on eBay. You can find your specific type and style by simply typing it in. This said, overwhelmingly, eBay wigs often come from Hong Kong; categorically, you would think this would go under the "Buy from China" section. There are domestic sellers of wigs, but the best deals are often foreign sellers. That said, beware of eBay if you're on a time crunch for wigs. I have had several bad experiences with sellers, including not sending me my wigs, sending me the wrong wig and cruddy customer service (which, to be fair, also happened with video games I have ordered from the site). Fortunately, eBay runs on an honor system, so if you don't receive your items or something is wrong, you can deal with the dealer directly. If the dealer stinks, then you generally get your money back or your product. Just be careful and make sure your dealer has a good rating to back them up.
- Avoid Natural to Save $$
"Real wigs" or those made with real hair a freaking expensive, with good reason. It's real hair. It's malleable (i.e. heat styling permitted) but unless you're willing to drop the big bucks, look for synthetic wigs that allow heat styling. Natural wigs, unless produced under dubious circumstances, will 99.9% of the time be super expensive.
- Invest in Wig Heads and Caretaking Products
Wig heads will maintain the shape of your wigs. Sold in bulk, they are cheap, but if you prefer a smaller collection, there are two things I recommend. If you're not a stickler for decoration, buy a foam head from Sally's Beauty Supply. If you are interested in proudly displaying your wigs or even want to spruce up decoration, check out vintage shops and beauty merchants; some sell pretty fantastical looking wig heads from the frightening to the sleek and minimal. Foam is good because you can pin your wig into it; however, foam degenerates. Plastic doesn't.
Above is the foam wig head. I prefer these personally. Cheap and you can pin your wig on so there won't be any, ahem, slippage.
I won't even play on this one. I love vintage mannequin heads, especially from the 60's, when they were hyper-adorable and played off the Mod trend. Some find them creepy, but depending on your decoration preferences, they make great conversation pieces, look cute and actually have a re-selling value.
You'll also want wig detangler. I really don't care how much of a delicate fairy princess you are. You will need wig detangler. Your wig is like a prissy Persian cat; take care of it, and it will look good for you. Neglect them and they will embarrass you.The Syn Wig line has the double features of smelling AMAZING and doing a bang-up job of making your wigs look less like a merkin and more like...uh...wigs. I would put a link to Syn Wig products, but, really, Google searching it will lead you to plenty of reputable dealers. I buy mine at a local wig store (which, weirdly, New Orleans has plenty of wig stores).
- Buy with Foresight, Buy Informed
For the love of God, know what you're buying. You want lace-cap wigs. You want to know that they're high quality. Do your research. But, for the sake of saving money, you also don't want to go crazy and buy a ton of wigs you'll never wear. This is almost worse; you might as well buy nothing. Know what you need, what you'll wear and your limits.
- Etsy and local designers and merchants
My personal favorite independent wig designer is Minty Mix. Her split-set wigs are unique and divine. I have had several friends had to be sent to the E.R. over these wigs (okay, that's not true, but the full blown heart attack they looked like they were having was enough proof on how nice they are, especially in real life). Etsy designers are also a great way to get wigs, especially if you're feeling iffy about ordering from overseas.
- When in doubt, try on.
My local wig shop, Fifi Mahoney's isn't terribly fond of people like me...until I make a definite and happy sale. I can see if the color is flattering. I can see if the style is flattering. If I don't like it, no harm, no foul. If I do, both parties win. Wig shops are expensive, but their wares are generally high quality and more unique. The added bonus of being able to try on the wigs is the big reason why these shops haven't shut down with the onslaught of Chinese-made wigs. I have gotten Michelle Pfeiffer from Scarface wigs to glamorous Marie Antoinette wigs. You can even custom order from some shops and they will make amazing wigs for a pretty reasonable price.
How many times will you wear this wig? Let's say 10 times. Now let's say the wig is $30. You're paying $3/wear. By the grand scheme of things, if it's a costume wig that you'll wear once, go cheap. But if you are an avid wig wearer, go for the expensive and know it's an investment you'll live up to.
- DIY Styling/Discard when worn out
So your faithful wig is getting worn out. What to do? If it's totally unwearable in its state, have some fun and style it. Synthetic wigs don't dye easily, so I don't recommend that for the amateur wig stylist. That said, cut, style and go crazy. You may end up with something more fun than before. Also, don't be afraid to discard old, unused wigs. The embarrassment of wearing a frayed, gross wig is definitely more costly than throwing away the rat.