How to Style a Wig WITHOUT a Wig Head

DIY wig head

If you’re new to cosplay or new to wearing wigs with your costumes, you may not have realized that wigs you order will almost always require some amount of styling when they come out of the bag. You probably didn’t know how useful it is to have a wig head or two lying around to make some basic changes to the wig. If you don’t have time to go out and get a wig head, there are still ways you can effectively style your wig without one.

The easiest way to style a wig without a wig head is to enlist the help of a friend or family member. They can wear the wig while you style it on their head. If that is not possible, you can also create your own wig head using old dish towels and aluminum foil.

After a while, it’s probably best to invest in an actual wig head and stand. It will be easier to determine if the wig is sitting properly and a wig stand will help keep the wig from falling over. However, this tutorial can help you get started when you have a limited amount of money or materials.

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Basic styling on your own head

If all you have to do is some basic styling, you can achieve this with the wig on your own head. When I first started cosplaying, I purchased a wig and realized that the bangs were way too long and completely covered my eyes. I didn’t have a wig head at the time, so I clipped the bangs shorter while wearing the wig in front of a mirror.

This is even advantageous, to an extent, because you’ll know exactly how short you can cut your bangs. When working with a wig head, the eyes are usually not at the same level they are on your face. If you trim the bangs to fit the wig head’s face, you will inevitably be cutting them too short.

You can also do some other simple styling while wearing the wig yourself. Up-dos and spiking might be hard to accomplish, but curling, braiding, and basic layering and trimming are all possible. If you have any experience styling your own hair in front of a mirror, you’ll be able to do basic styling of a wig while wearing it yourself, without a wig head.

Find a friend to wear the wig

If you’re trying to create a more complicated hairstyle, you might not be able to accomplish it wearing the wig yourself. It’s a lot easier if you can get behind the wig to see it from all angles. The easiest way to do this without a wig head is to enlist the help of a friend or family member. 

You can ask your little sister to put the wig on while you spike the wig or create a more complicated up-do, and promise to treat her to an extra dessert later! If at all possible, try to find someone who has a similar head size to yours. The style of a wig might start to fall apart if you suddenly stretch it over a head that is too much bigger than it was styled on.

If you have a friend who’s more experienced with wig styling than you, you can also wear the wig yourself while they do the styling. This will ensure your wig is definitely styled to fit your head, specifically.

steps to create your custom wig head
Measure your head and wad up a ball of fabric and aluminum foil to match that measurement. Then create a stem so the new ‘wig head’ had stand in a jar.

Make a custom wig head

Not everyone is going to have a friend willing to sit for an hour while you style your wig. In this case, you will have to make an impromptu wig head to use for your styling. You can make this with stuff that you probably have lying around your house, and it will only take 10 minutes to make.

Supplies you need:

  • Measuring tape
  • Old dish towels, napkins, pillowcases, or other types of fabric
  • Aluminum foil
  • An empty jar
  1. Start by measuring the diameter of your head. Use a measuring tape and loop it around your head. This will give you the diameter of your head so that you can make a wig head that is the correct size.
  2. Bunch your old towel (or other fabric items) into a large ball. Take whatever material you have available and bunch it into a ball. You’ll want to try to make it approximately the size of the measurement you got in the first step. You can use paper towels if you don’t have anything else, but be aware that you’ll need to use a lot of them. I find fabric items bunch up into larger balls with less material.
  3. Cover with layers of aluminum foil. Cover and compress your fabric ball with layers of aluminum foil. After it’s covered, measure your ball to make sure it’s the correct diameter. If the ball is too small, you can always open the foil up and add more material inside.
  4. Create a stem at the base of the aluminum ball. Once your wig head is the correct size, you want to create a stem that you can use to stabilize the wig. You’ll be able to place this stem inside a jar to hold the wig head up.
  5. Put your stem into the jar to hold up the wig head. From here, you can pin your wig onto the DIY head and style it the same way you would on a regular wig head.

Overall, this custom wig head will be less stable than one you’ll get from the store. It can help to tape the jar to the table to keep it from moving around while you style. If you use the DIY wig head too long, it will also start accumulating holes and eventually fall apart. So, it’s best to see this as a temporary solution, and not a long-term wig head to use.

When you do have time or funds available, I recommend purchasing a few wig heads, so that you can also store finished designs upright. You can find wig heads for pretty low costs online. And don’t forget to get a wig stand to help stabilize the head while you style your wig.

finished wig head
Once complete, you can put a wig on your new head and style as necessary.

Emily Joice

My name is Emily, and I have been cosplaying since my very first convention in 2008. Over the years, I've experimented with all different kinds of cosplay costumes, especially loving the process of creating props and styling wigs. I also delved into cosplay photography, and love exploring how to optimize costumes so they look excellent in photos. Most of the photos you find on this site were taken by me over my years at anime conventions.

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