If you love expressing yourself through different hairstyles and experimenting with fun hair color trends, then you're definitely not new to cutting your own hair or dyeing your hair at home. But when your natural hair desperately needs a break but your creativity never takes one, it's time to invest in a few wigs. The only problem? They're not exactly cheap. So if you're wondering how to dye a wig at home but don't want to risk ruining it, let us help ya out.
We turned to celeb stylist and wig expert Tamika Gibson, founder of Bold Hold, to learn everything there is to know about dyeing wigs and now we're sharing it with you. Ahead, all the pointers, products, and tutorials to get you started—and to get you the best results.
Can I dye a synthetic wig?
If you've already got a synthetic wig and you want to change the color, here's the thing: Most experts don't recommend dyeing synthetic hair at all. Why? Because it's essentially plastic, and weird stuff can happen when you try to alter the color of plastic. You can only deposit color onto synthetic strands (like using temporary dyes, waxes, and even fabric dyes), but the results will be iffy at best.
The same goes for dyeing a wig as dyeing a synthetic weave—because certain pigments and bleach won't work on synthetic hair, it's ideal to work with human hair for the best results and customization. We're not saying you can't try, but it might be better off just buying a new wig in the shade you want.
Can you dye a wig with regular hair dye?
If you're working with a wig that's 100 percent human hair, then yep! You can just use regular color-depositing hair dye, as if you were dyeing the hair on your head. In fact, Gibson says a color-depositing dye, aka a semi-permanent hair color (which works by sitting on the hair's surface) applied to a blonde wig would be the best, easiest option for any beginner who's learning how to dye a wig for the first time.
"It’s so much easier for an amateur to deposit color onto blonde hair instead of trying to lighten a darker-colored wig," Gibson says. Basically, it's easier to start with a "blank" (blonde) canvas and dye your wig the shade you want, rather than trying to play around with bleach, developers, and pigments on a darker wig. Still, if it is your first time, make it easy on yourself and use a temporary hair dye, like the ones below.
How can I make a wig lighter?
If you followed the advice above and found a blonde wig to start with, but you still feel like the shade is too yellow, here's Gibson's tip: Use hot water and purple shampoo to remove some of the yellowish tinge. That way, you have as close to a neutral, blank canvas to start with for the most vibrant results.
But if by "lighter" you mean bleaching the hair, this is where I urge you to reconsider. Unless you're a pro or pretty experienced with coloring hair, you don't want to try bleaching your wig and risk ruining it. When you're laying the colors on top of blonde hair, you have pretty good control, but once you get into bleaching, you really don't. Gibson says if you’ve never done this before, start with a blonde wig, and once you graduate from that, it’ll be a little easier to get into the bleaching. Got it? Cool, now here's the step-by-step guide to the easiest way to dye a wig.
How do you dye a wig at home?
Remove any yellowness. When starting with a blonde wig, remove the yellow if needed. Some wigs that are a little paler don't require it, but if it’s a little too yellow, remove it by rinsing with purple shampoo, then allow it to dry.
Do a test strand. Any time you use any type of color treatment, you always want to do a test, because wigs (even blonde ones) don’t all carry the same shades. Because of this inconsistency, when you deposit color onto the strands, you’re not going to get the same results every time, so always do a test in the back to see what you're working with.
Apply the color. If you feel like the dye is too runny, Gibson suggests mixing in a white hair conditioner to create a thicker consistency for better control. Then, working one thin section at a time, lightly cover the section in long swoops so you don’t have lines of demarcation. When you get to the roots, lightly stroke upward with the brush (an angled brush will help you get closer to the roots without applying it to the actual lace of the wig) to blend, but never press it. If you're heavy-handed, Gibson recommends using a blush makeup brush to blend the color-depositing dye to make sure you're not pressing too hard when blending.
How can I dye my wig without staining the lace?
One way to avoid staining the lace is to use the angled brush for more precise application, but another *genius* tip from Gibson is to coat the inside of the wig with a heavy hairspray. This is not the time to use a light mist—you want to really cover the inside and allow it plenty of time to dry and harden before getting into the dye. You can also use strong hair gel to coat around the hairline of the lace, and again, let it dry.
These tips work especially well when using the watercolor method, which is when you dip the wig into a bucket of hot water mixed with a deposit-only color (the more dye you mix into the water, the darker the color will be). If you use this technique, Gibson suggests adding a little bit of sea salt (like a pinch) to help with the inevitable fading that comes with using this dipping method. Once you rinse the dye and hairspray or hair gel, your strands will be perfectly tinted and your lace will be stain-free.
The easiest way to dye a wig is to start with a blonde, human hair wig over a synthetic one and use semi-permanent hair dye to deposit the color. And unless you, yourself are a pro, skip the bleach—at least until you're a little more experienced or you have a wig that you're willing to risk.
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