Wig-collecting is a fun hobby for those who love expressing themselves through different hairstyles. You can own as many wigs as you want to wear according to the vibe you’re going for each day. And the best part is, wigs are super customizable if you tap into your creative side.
Whether you’ve gotten sick of your synthetic wig’s current shade or need to spice it up with a new, vibrant color for a cosplay idea you have brewing in your head, there comes a time when the thought of dyeing your wig becomes enticing. But how does one even do that?
There are several ways to color your wigs made of synthetic hair. However, some of the methods you might think of off the bat might not be the best for your wigs. A case in point is semi-permanent dye.
Today, I’ll be giving you the 411 on synthetic wigs and how to color them. We’ll also be answering a question that comes up a lot: can you dye synthetic hair with semi permanent dye?
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How Different Is Synthetic Hair From Human Hair?
The key to understanding what will and will not work for your synthetic wigs is knowing what their main differences are from natural human hair.
Many people get confused about the difference and what the implications are, since both types of hair are used in man-made wigs.
Human Hair Wigs
First, let’s talk about human hair wigs.
These wigs are considered to be elite, not only because they are more expensive but also for their quality, natural look and feel, and long life (they last up to three years when cared for properly!).
They also have that gloss and shine that only comes from human tresses.
Because these wigs are made from real hair, they’re a bit high maintenance.
You have to use the same products you use on your real hair, from shampoo to conditioner to styling creams and heat protectants.
That’s why some people prefer synthetic wigs, which are a bit more low-maintenance.
Synthetic wigs in recent decades have been looking more and more like real hair, thanks to the technological advances of the beauty industry.
They sometimes even feel like the hair on top of your head.
They’re also way easier to style, since heat-friendly synthetic fibers tend to hold a curl better.
But it’s always important to remember that at the end of the day, they’re still made from acrylic or nylon fibers.
Because of these materials, your synthetic wigs need to be cared for in a different way – one that’s more tailor-fit for man-made locks.
The material synthetic hair is made of also makes it a bit more prone to damage than human hair.
While the latter can last you years with proper maintenance, synthetic wigs can probably serve you for just six months at most.
But the biggest difference between the two – and the one that matters the most when coloring your wigs – is that human hair has cuticles and pores, while synthetic fibers don’t.
Human hair, after all, is made of proteins and dead cells from our body.
So, it has a unique structure that can’t be replicated by synthetic hair.
How Semi-Permanent Dye Works
Another thing you have to understand is how semi-permanent hair dye is designed to work.
While permanent hair dye forces open your hair fibers to remove your natural color and replace it with artificial pigments, semi-permanent dye is a bit less drastic.
Instead, it deposits color molecules onto your locks, which then coat your hair’s outer cuticles, giving your mane a new color to flaunt.
Every time you jump in the shower and shampoo your hair, the semi-permanent dye washes out of the outer cuticle a little bit at a time.
They usually last anywhere between four to six weeks with proper hair care.
This type of dye doesn’t need extremely powerful chemicals like bleach or ammonia to break open your hair cuticle, since it’s only depositing colors in the outer layers.
So, semi-permanent dye is a favorite among those who want a quick, safe way to change their hair shade temporarily.
If you think about it, semi-permanent dye sounds like it would be perfect for wigs.
It makes sense because those who wear wigs love to customize their hairstyle, including its color.
It’s also usually free of hazardous chemicals like ammonia and hydrogen peroxide, which makes it more appealing.
Although fast and easy temporary color sounds fantastic for personalizing and spicing up your wigs, is semi-permanent dye really the best option for synthetic hair?
Can You Dye Synthetic Hair With Semi-Permanent Dye?
And so, the burning question is whether or not semi-permanent dye is suitable with synthetic hair.
Will it work if you use your trusty hair dye on your wigs?
First of all, let me premise this by saying that many experts don’t even recommend dyeing your wigs.
Synthetic fibers are essentially made of plastic or nylon.
Exposing these to chemicals can have serious safety implications.
Plus, that’s the whole reason why wigs are sold in all sorts of shades and tones – so you have options.
They’re not built to withstand frequent dyeing and coloring.
But I also recognize that if you are a creative soul who loves experimenting with your wigs, I can’t stop you from finding ways to color them.
The best thing I can do is try to educate you about why semi-permanent dye is, in fact, not good for synthetic hair.
Not Designed For Synthetic Hair
If you’ve tried coloring your wigs with the stuff before, you’ll know that it doesn’t work.
Semi-permanent dye is designed for real hair, not synthetic fibers.
That’s because nylon, plastic, or polyester hair doesn’t have cuticles like real hair.
So the color pigments from the dye won’t be able to cling to anything.
Plus, forcing semi-permanent dye onto your synthetic hair can end up damaging your wig.
Even if semi-permanent dye is known not to have the most damaging hair chemicals – like ammonia, peroxide, and bleach – it still has potent substances that can destroy the texture or shape of your wig.
So if you truly love your wigs and want to give them the longest lifespan possible, don’t use semi-permanent dyes on them.
Not only will it yield unsatisfactory results in terms of the coloring job itself, but you’ll also run the risk of destroying your beloved wigs.
Luckily, those who want to tap into their creative side when customizing their wigs still have a shot at changing their hues.
There are still ways to color your synthetic wigs in whatever shade you please.
You just have to know which type of wigs you can actually do them on.
What Kind Of Synthetic Wigs Can You Color?
If you want to own a collection of wigs in plenty of different colors, the best to go about it is still to purchase multiple wigs in a variety of shades and tones.
It might be a big investment, but it’s much better to have high-quality wigs in the color you want instead of putting in extra time, effort, and money to dye wigs in different colors.
But if you’re 100% sure you want to get your hands dirty to achieve the color of your dreams with your synthetic hair, let’s talk about what kind of wigs you can actually dye.
The good news is that technically, you can color any type of synthetic wig.
Whether it’s made of nylon, polyester, plastic, or acrylic, you can find ways to change the shade of your wig’s locks.
Starting Color Of The Wig
What you really have to look out for is the starting color of your wig.
Since you can’t bleach synthetic hair, you need to always start with a light-colored wig from the get-go.
Wigs that are blonde, platinum, white, or pastel in shade will be the best for coloring.
If the wigs are of a dark color before you start – like black, deep blue, or a bright, firetruck red – your new color will likely not show up.
You’ll only be frustrated, wasting time trying to color a wig that won’t change in tone and hue no matter how much you try.
This is especially the case if you want a lighter-colored wig, like a baby blue or hot pink mane.
Those colors won’t peek through if you start with a jet-black or dark brunette wig.
You need to start with something lighter than your color of choice.
Two Ways To Color Your Synthetic Wigs
Even if semi-permanent dye is not the best fit for coloring your light-colored synthetic wigs, there are still other things you can use to transform them into a different shade.
And you’ll be surprised to know that many of the tools you need for these methods are already in your craft room or art cabinets!
There are two main ways to color your synthetic wigs without the use of semi-permanent hair dye.
One is the quick and easy spraying method, which uses ink and alcohol.
The other requires fabric dye and boiling water.
Here are the two methods in a step-by-step guide:
Method 1: Spraying your wig with ink and alcohol
Basically, all you have to do for this first coloring method is combine ink and alcohol.
Combine them and you’ll have the perfect “dye” for your wigs.
You can use any type of ink you want, whether you’re a fan of acrylic ink or even just ink from alcohol markers (yes, like Sharpies or those that your kid uses for drawing artworks at school!).
You have the flexibility to choose whatever type of alcohol you want too, from isopropyl to simple rubbing alcohol.
Mix The Ink And Alcohol
Start by putting your ink in an empty spray bottle.
This either means pouring acrylic ink straight in, or pulling apart your Sharpies or markers with pliers to get the ink tube out and dropping them into the bottle.
Then, add in your alcohol.
The amount depends on how light you want your wig’s color to be.
If you want a lighter, more subdued color, dilute your ink in more alcohol.
And, if you want an opaque and incredibly vivid color, use less alcohol.
Let The Concoction Settle Overnight
If you’re using the Sharpie method, leave your alcohol and ink concoction to settle overnight.
This will give the ink tubes enough time to combine with the alcohol.
Spray Mixture Into The Wig
Put your wig on a stand and spray your ink and alcohol mixture into the hair.
You can spray in sections while combing through each one.
This ensures that every strand is coated and saturated with ink and alcohol.
Make sure you move the hair around with your other hand, so it isn’t just the top layer of hair you’re coloring.
Air-Dry The Wig
Let your wig air-dry for an hour or two, and then rinse in cold water to get rid of the excess dye.
Don’t skip this step, or else the color might transfer to your skin and clothes later on.
Let it air-dry one last time, and you’re done!
Method 2: Using fabric dye and hot water
Here is the step-by-step guide:
Boil Water And Pour Some Dye
Boil a big pot of water over a stove.
Then, pour in some fabric dye in the pot.
If you want a lighter color, put in just a couple of teaspoons of dye.
But if you want a bold and bright color, add maybe half a cup of dye.
Drop Your Wig In
After it’s been boiling for some time, lower the heat and bring it down to a simmer.
With a pair of tongs, drop your wig in.
Try to move the wig around in the water so that it doesn’t settle at the bottom of the pan and burn.
Leave Wig In For A Few Minutes
Keep the wig in the hot water for anywhere between 30 seconds and five minutes.
The longer you leave your wig in, the brighter and more opaque the color will be.
Run Cold Water Through Wig
When you’re happy with the wig’s color, fish it out of the pot and run it through cold water.
Hang up your wig on a stand and let it air-dry.
As long as you understand the difference between real human locks and synthetic fibers, it will be easy to understand why you can’t use semi-permanent dyes on your wigs and weaves.
Synthetic locks don’t have cuticles – the part of the hair that semi-permanent dye is designed to latch onto.
Thankfully, there are other ways you can go about changing up your wig’s shade.
You can opt for the fabric dye method or the easy-peasy spray-on process with ink and alcohol.
You’ll be sure to transform your wig from a color that is pale and dull to something more vibrant.
Customizing wigs and making them your own is a must for any passionate wig collector.
So with this knowledge under your belt, make sure you color your wigs in a way that will make them look neat, cared for, and looking fabulous when you’re wearing them at your next costume party!