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How to Dye Wigs with Fabric Dye

I had made a tutorial on how to dye wigs with ink and since then, I have learned another technique on dying wigs: Using Synthetic Fabric Dye.

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The reason synthetic fabric dye works is because wigs are synthetic as well! Convient! Now, there are a variety of synthetic dyes out there that you can use. I have used the two dyes I just linked and they both have worked quite well for me.

So, here’s the process on how to do this. In most cases, just read the directions on the bottle and follow them.

Step one: Add the dye to the pot of water and mix.

I actually have a pot I use specifically for my dyes that we got. At the time of these photos, I was living in an apartment and I used the pot on the stove and did my best to clean any splashes so they can’t dye anything. In the future, the goal is to have a spot outside to do this.

As for what I use for stirring the dye and wig, I tend to just grab a few skewers and call it good.

Step Two: Insert your wig and make sure it’s all soaked.

I can already hear the questions popping up on the comments so let me answer it here: The color of the wig will affect the final color! The lighter the wig, the richer the color. No, you cannot dye a black wig another color, you cannot lighten a wig, and asking to change a red wig blue will end up purple. You treat wig colors like fabric colors when dying them.

Step three: Stir, stir, stir; wait, wait, wait

Friendly reminder that the pot of water needs to be hot! You will have the heat on and you need to keep mixing the wig! The longer you soak the wig, the more color will soak in. Also, remember that the color you see when the wig is wet will be lighter after it is dried. So if you see the perfect color, give it another few minutes to be just a little too dark. You will thank yourself.

Step four: Pour and rinse

I cannot stress the importance of rinsing the wig in a metal container. YOU ARE WORKING WITH SYNTHETIC DYE YOU WILL END UP DYING YOUR PLASTIC SINK OR SHOWER IF YOU POUR THE DYE. There is a reason fabric ends up in a washing machine to get rinsed out: they’re made of metal. Metal won’t take to the dye. Do not blame me if you get a colored sink. I just warned you.

Now, dye rinsing on wigs will take forever. FOREVER. Just let the cold water run through the wig. Once the wig is cool enough to pick up, you can start moving the fibers around and help. Also, yes, your wig will be a ratty tangled mess. I will show you how to fix that.

Step five: wash, wash, wash.

The amount of washing needed is pretty crazy, but you need to make sure all the dye is out of the wig. What I tend to do is wash, add shampoo, rinse out, shampoo again, rinse out. If the water is still colored, do it again. If it’s clear, start putting in the conditioner. However, leave the conditioner in.

Note: To answer the pending question: You can use your own shampoo and conditioner. You do not have to use wig shampoo and conditioner if you do not want to. I personally have not seen much of a difference if I use normal shampoo or wig shampoo.

Step six: Comb, detangle, rinse.

After the water is running clear, place the wig onto a wig head and stand and start GENTLY combing out the tangles. I tend to add more conditioner in this step and slowly, SLOWLY work my way up the wig and remove all the tangles. I cannot emphasize this enough, but you need to TAKE YOUR TIME when removing tangles. It’s better to work one tangle at a time, work from the bottom of the wig up, and do NOT pull on the fibers. Wigs cannot grow hair back. You lose fibers, they’re gone. So TAKE IT EASY.

Once all the tangles are gone, rinse out the conditioner and let the wig dry.

Step seven: Style and enjoy!

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(Photo courtesy of Lochlan O’Niel)

As you can see, the wig is much lighter than the photos of when the wig was wet. This is why it’s important to wait out the color just a little longer than what you think. A lot of coloring is trail and error.

Happy wig coloring!

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Dying Wigs with Ink

I’ve been dying wigs for about 3 years now and I’ve finally took the time to write down my general information on how to make a good dye. This technique also works great for dying synthetic furs as well.

Ingredients:

70% Isopropyl Alcohol (found in any health wellness section of anystore)

Acrylic Ink (Personal fan of Dr PH Martin’s Bombay Inda Ink. http://www.dickblick.com/products/dr-ph-martins-bombay-india-inks/ Found in Hobby Lobby {After a good hunt around, the current confirmed Hobby Lobby that carries it all the time is located at 80th and Wadsworth} or Amazon)

Recipe:

Roughly 8 droppers of ink for every 1 cup of alcohol

Variations/Lessons learned:

Want a lighter color? Less ink

Darker/richer color? Add more ink

Red and blue easily overtake other colors. (IE: after a pale green? 6 droppers of yellow, 1/2 a dropper of blue (maybe even less), slowly add more blue if needed.)

There is no such thing as black ink. It’s normally a dark green/red/purple. If you’re after black, you’re going to have to get Katie Bair’s wig dye (even then, I’ve never tested the black, so I don’t know if this is true)

Application types (GLOVES!! DON’T FORGET GLOVES!!):

Soak – Basic and easy. Fill a sink/bowl with the color (Note: Plastics WILL get dyed. Stick to metal or be willing to sacrafice a container), add wig or fur to the container. Swish around, pull out, let set somewhere to dry .

Spray – Fill a spray bottle with the dye (note: that bottle is now stuck for that color {or close variations} for the rest of its life. If you’re going to do this, go to Sally’s and get a cheap bottle from there) and spray wig/fur with the dye. (Note: This one can end up with spotty affects if it’s not saturated enough). For a wig, comb through. For fur, rub through. Let dry.

Paintbrush – With any brush (personal fan of foam brushes), apply the dye, section at a time (good for streaks, layers, blending, etc etc). Comb through material, let dry.

Drying information:

THE LONGER YOU LET THE DYE DRY, THE BETTER IT’LL STICK TO THE MATERIAL. I cannot stress this enough. If you add the dye, then rinse it off, it won’t have time to stick. It’s good for insanely pale colors, but if you want the color you see (or close to), let the material dry COMPLETELY.

Rinsing information:

Stick the fur/wig in running water until the water runs clear under. I prefer cold water since it doesn’t affect the material (hot water can alter a wig if it’s too hot, etc etc) but do what you like.

Personal step: Use shampoo and conditioner on the material. The shampoo pulls the last of the dye out and the conditioner seems to help reduce the damage the alcohol does to the material. Also gets rid of the alcohol smell.

Again, let try completely. Use/style as preferred.

Some Completed Wigs:

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Dying Wigs with Sharpies – A Test

Arda Wigs has been doing an Iron Wig Competition that I have been avidly watching. Mostly because I enjoy styling wigs and love to see what other people do.

In round 2, the theme was dying the wig. One of the competitors took some in progress shots showing them use straight up sharpies to color their wig. This surprised me, and confused me for one very important reason:

Tutorial after tutorial after tutorial states that you need a carrier for the dye. Normally isopropyl alcohol is used after breaking the sharpie and using the ink casing for the color. Not once have I been told I can use to just the sharpie alone to dye a wig.

Which, got me very curious. Lucky me, I had a defective wig (Read: Wig I screwed up on and therefore planned to trash anyway) that I could test this on.

Insert me, asking my husband to color the bangs of a wig for me with sharpies. I want to test a variety of colors out and see what happens with them. So, off he went, coloring sections of the wig.

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(Rather fun looking, eh?)

After letting it dry, I asked him to wash the wig with regular shampoo until the water ran clear. Then shake out the loose water and see how the colors looked.

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Surprisingly enough, the colors still looked vibrant, so I tested the wig out with a piece of a paper towel. I lightly blotted the colors and checked what I got:

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Yep, some of the colors still bled through. Even after a washing and shampoo run. So, even if the colors look great, a small amount of sweat could leave your skin/costume colored a bit. Not really a good thing when it comes to costumes.

The wig after drying:

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It lost some of the color but wasn’t staining my hands while it was dry. However, I wasn’t done with this test. There was still one more thing I wanted to check on. After letting the wig dry completely, I did the “ultimate test.”

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Hairspray! Just a light mist across the fibers followed by a gentle pat from a paper towel.

The results:

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More dye was lost from using hairspray than after a wash! Something that isn’t too good if you’re interested in styling a colored wig after. So dying with just sharpies alone is a huge “No” in my books. Hopefully people can learn from this and not damage a wig in the process of testing something themselves.

More fun pictures:

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I ran my fingers across the still wet hairsprayed fibers and ended up with colored tipped fingers. Imagine if that was your face or a costume that this happened to!