So. Since finishing my Rider cosplay I've had a bedraggled waist-length wig hanging out in my room. It became hopelessly tangled the first time I wore it, and I never managed to get it untangled or defrizzed to a point where I could comb it; not with fabric softener, hair conditioner, or any other product lauded for its synthetic wig conditioning powers. But at long last, I have tamed the monster, using a product you can probably find at your local hardware store for under $5!
3 IN 1 Silicone Spray Lubricant
It's basically silicone + petroleum distilates, a concentrated version of the two ingredients in human hair conditioner that serve any purpose on synthetic fiber. The petroleum products evaporate away, leaving an invisible film of silicone molecules.
Other brands people have used successfully include
- Motomaster Silicone Lube (post #29
- Super Power Silicon (Roxicle's gallery
Before you decide to go mad science on your wigs, a few words of caution.
- Try not to breathe it.
It's not particularly volatile, but be careful. Either work outside or establish ventilation.
- It's flammable.
Just like wig dye, hairspray, and 99% of things that come out of pressurized metal cans.
- Avoid getting it on anything you don't want to be slippery.
Especially floors. It can be removed with rubbing alcohol.
- It eats latex gloves.
Wearing gloves might have seemed like a good idea to some of you, but apparently it's not. Thanks for the heads up
- When using another brand, check the ingredients
. I've only used 3-in-1 and cannot vouch for any other brands. Some brands contain acetone, which will melt the wig hair. Other brands (Liquid Wrench) contain naphthenic oil instead of naphthene, and will stay oily unless stripped with alcohol.
- If you're using a different spray lubricant, or using it on a wig that's been dyed, Oil Sheen'd, hairsprayed, etc, DO A TEST PATCH FIRST
Okay, on to procedure! I've altered the process somewhat 10 or 15 wigs down the line...
1) Affix your wig into something secure, ie a clamped wig head. If your wig is ridiculously long, you can pad the top of a door and put the wig on that, which will put the ends (usually the most tangled part) at a good working height. Spray whatever combs you're going to be using with silicone.
2) Spray the ends of your wig with silicone: the ends of your wig are the mostly likely to frizz from being stretched and tugged on, so you want them to be slippery to prevent this. If you hate the smell you can leave it for a while until the petroleum distillates evaporate. If not, just start combing the ends out, working from the bottom to the top.
I realize now that spray may have been an ambiguous term. YOU'RE TRYING TO MIST THE HAIR, NOT MAKE IT DRIPPING WET. Apologies to anyone who ended up with a greasy-looking wig because of my bad directions ;____;
3) Once your ends are freed up enough for you to part off sections of it, start working on small hanks. Be gentle; if you can't get a knot out give it an extra shot of spray and try again.
4) After you've got all the tangles out, your wig might be frizzy at the ends, especially if it was badly matted to begin with. There's no product you can use to get these out: instead, you'll have to carefully heat and comb the fiber to relax them out. The hot water method will work for this, but I find it's easier to use a garment steamer. Be careful; steam is hotter than boiling water.
Before and After
- Demonstration on a Godiva XL, with notes
. I *tried* to make a video of the process on this one, but iMovie 08 doesn't feel like making clip speed adjustable and I don't feel like posting an hour-long video of me brushing hair.
- After image of a Rider wig.
I neglected to take a before, but it was a wreck. This is before I figured out the steaming trick.
- Roxicle's Nia Teppelin Wig
. It works on curly wigs, but it relaxes the curls.
- Tonksie notes that it does not take the color out of hand-sharpied wigs. Link.