Tutorial: Short Wig Long Hair

long hair, short wig (no braids necessary)

Wearing a short wig when you have long hair can seem like a daunting task, but it’s a lot simpler than you might think. Getting that sleek look without any tell-tale lumps or bumps just takes a bit of practice and know-how. The key here is to prep your hair properly, so that the wig sits flat and comfortable on your head all day.

Whether you’re switching up your style for a night out or needing a costume change, going from long to short hair can be a dramatic transformation. Before you start, you’ll want to gather a few essentials: a wig cap, some hair clips, and a few bobby pins. With these tools in hand, you’re ready to begin the surprisingly straightforward process of securing your long locks beneath a very short cosplay wig.

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Supplies you will need for this tutorial:

split your hair into two sections
Cross your two sections of hair at the nape of your neck so they drape over the opposite shoulder.

Step 1: Separate your hair into two sections

First, you want to pin back your bangs to keep them from getting in the way later. Then, divide your hair into two sections. They don’t have to be perfectly equal, but you want them to be more or less even so you don’t end up with a lump on one side of your head.

Take the two sections and cross them at the nape of your neck so they drape over the opposite shoulder. So the hair from the right side of your head will hang over your left shoulder and vice versa. Keeping the hair loose like this, instead of braiding it first, will prevent a big bulge from forming at the base of your skull.

clip your hair around the top of your head
Loop each section of hair over the top of your head and clip down with large, flat clips. Use pins to further secure you hair around your scalp.

Step 2: Loop your hair around the top of your head

  1. Take one of your two sections of hair and loosely twist the base. This will help ensure that the hair stays in one section when you loop it around your head.
  2. Wrap the first side of hair around the top of your head, about an inch to the back of your hairline. Spread the section of hair out so that it lays flat against your head. You only want the base to be twisted, not the entire section of hair.
  3. Now you want to take your large clips and clip your hair in place. I will usually place one clip toward the top of my head. If it feels a little loose, I’ll add another clip to hold the hair above my ear.
  4. Use bobby pins to secure the excess hair around the other side of your head. Since my hair is so long, I’ll have a little extra tail of hair hanging over the opposite ear. I’ll use pins to keep that in place.
  5. Repeat on the second side, swirling the hair behind the first section.  You don’t want to loop this side of your hair directly on top of the first. Instead, you’ll put it just behind so that you make a spiraling pattern with your hair on your skull. Use the flat clips and pins to secure it in place.
  6. Add pins to any areas that feel loose. I like to add a few pins to further secure my hair. I usually need to do this with the hair around my ears and around the base of my neck.
place the mesh wig cap over you hair
Placing the hairnet over your pinned hair will further squash it down and make it flat on your head.

Step 3: Put on your wig cap

Don’t put your wig on just yet. You want to make sure you get your wig cap on securely first. Use one of the mesh wig caps and put it on like usual. Stretch it over your face then pull it back to your hairline. 

To keep the wig cap, and hair underneath it, in place, you’ll need to pin it. I use bobby pins for this (the ones with one flat and one wavy side). Insert the pins wrong side up and then flip them over to give a more secure grip. Insert pins all along the edge of your wig cap. I also like to place one at the top to pin the opening closed and tighten the wig cap a little.

If you want to make your hair even flatter, you can add another stocking wig cap on top. These tend to be tighter so they can squish everything in place. However, they are also harder to pin down because they don’t have any holes in the fabric, so you might not want to use this second wig cap if you find it slides around too much on your head.

Step 4: Put on your wig front first

Most conventional wig advice will tell you to put on the back of a wig first and then pull it over your head until it’s aligned with your hairline. Personally, I’ve found that this is more likely to rub against my hair the wrong way and move it out of place. That’s why I recommend putting the front hairline of the wig on first, then pulling it back over your wig cap and hair. The pressure on the top of your head will keep the pins and clips in place.

You can adjust the hairline after you have your wig around your head. Place pins all along the edges to keep the wig in place.

placing long hair in a short wig
Once your are finished, you can put on a short wig and make it look flat against all sides of your head.

Why you can’t just stuff you hair into a wig cap

The problem with just stuffing your hair into a wig cap is that it makes the wig much more likely to slip around and reveal your hairline. Your hair will move around on top of your head, making it difficult to secure a wig cap in place. When more weight is placed on top, the wig cap and wig will slowly slide back on your head.

If you have short hair, this doesn’t really apply. There is little reason to go through the trouble of putting your hair up before putting a wig on. The wig cap will be all you need to keep everything contained under the wig. However, if you have long hair (or even medium length), you want to take a few minutes to pin up your hair. 

braiding makes the back of a wig lumpy
If you have thick hair, braids create a bulge at the nape of you neck.

Why I don’t like the braiding method

The most common method that I’ve seen for wearing a wig with long hair is the braiding method. You would place your hair into two long braids and then wrap them around your head. I’ve found that this method works well enough for long wigs. However, it creates a big bulging section at the nape of my neck when I do this. This may be because my hair is deceptively thick, so the braiding method would work better for people with thinner hair textures.

Braiding might work better if you french braid your hair from the top, to create thinner braids. But, I’ve found that the french braiding method just takes too much time, and, frankly, I’m not very good at french braiding my own hair. So I just pin my hair flat against my head instead.

ponytail in a wig cap
Ponytails will make a large bulge at the back of your wig.

Why I don’t like the ponytail method

The other method that I’ve seen people use is the ponytail method. This is where you tie your hair into a very tight ponytail and loop your hair around it. In general, I’ve found that this method is more likely to create an unnatural lump in the back of your head, so I tend to avoid it. The tight ponytail also gives me a headache by the end of the day, so overall not my favorite way to get my hair under a wig.

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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