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Detangling a Wig

August 10th 2014
This tutorial is for a wig that is lightly tangled. It could be the wind got at it, it was kept in a bag after a convention, it would be it fell down the stairs and sat on the floor for a week. It isn't too bad but you are worried about not being able to fix it, or that you will pull out all the hair while trying to fix it up. Whatever the reason you are checking out this tutorial, I am hoping it will help you.

** please make sure to wash out any hairspray, glue, gel or any other styling product if it was used in the wig. Let it fully dry before following these instructions.

You will need:
This is Victoria sporting the blonde bob wig we will be working with. The wig was shaken around and messed up a bit but the damage isn't too bad.
This is a plastic afro pick, I use it as my wide toothed comb because the teeth are far apart and large so they won't pull too much on the wig's fibers. Any wide toothed comb will work though.
Clip up the top layer of hair so that you can work on the underside first, there will be less hair to deal with and it is easier to focus on knots.
First, use your fingers to untangle tight knots. Be as gentle as possible, whenever you comb a wig you are likely to pull out fibers so try to pull out as few as possible.

Start gently combing the wig. Always start from the bottom of the wig and then work your way higher. You don't want to push all the tangles to the bottom and have to work out one giant knot later. The picture is a partially finished side shot.
I chose to do the front bangs first and then do both the sides. I find it is easier to work toward the back and then do the back in one shot. I sugguest you do whatever way you feel will work best for your wig.
The image is the back's bottom layer completed. After this take out the clip and work your way around the wig again. Once the top layer has been worked through fully, run the comb through the wig making sure it goes through smoothly without and tangles.

The Completed Wig:

Detangling a Wig - Heavy

Sometimes wigs get completely messed up. Teasing for a style, heavy winds, the dog decided wigs are a new chew toy, or the wig has been shuffled around the house with no care for it's safety. Stuff happens and wigs can be expensive, so you don't want to throw it away when it becomes a horrible mess. But what can you do when the wig becomes this hair lump tangled to oblivion?

For this tutorial you will need:
Scary sight, isn't it? No it isn't a live animal, this is my test wig. This $10 halloween wig has has chunks cut out for extensions and random wires or masses of glue forced into it for crazy test styles. It isn't in the best of shape as it doesn't normally sit on a wig head but I went the extra mile. This wig was tossed around, messed up with my hands, teased and rolled and whatever else I could think of to make it a mess. It is a clump of knots and tangles and a perfect test subject for this tutorial.
You will need:

a bathtub or a large bowl filled with lukewarm water. Make sure it isn't too hot or you might melt or deform the wig.

You will also need shampoo, it cleans the wig and makes detangling the wig in the water a lot easier. There are special wig shampoos but a baby shampoo, or anything not overly abrasive or scented will be fine. The idea is to help make the fibers easier to untangle.

Submerse the wig in the water until it is fully covered. Use come shampoo on your fingers to gently comb through the wig with your fingers. Don't tug too hard, if you find knots work them out before moving on. Try to avoid pulling out fibers.
Rub in more shampoo as needed, use the shampoo to work out knots and be careful not to create new ones.

A wig shampoo is your best choice, but if not using a basic shampoo (such as a baby shampoo) would be good.
Keep combing the wig out with your fingers, as you loosen knots it will be easier to run through entire lengths. You will start to see a noticable difference in the wig.
When the wig is looking pretty decent, pull it out of the water and shake it out a bit letting the water drain. It might look messy again but that is because the water isn't spreading it out and gravity has taken it's toll. Let the wig hang over the side of the tub and wait until it is fully dry to move on. This may take a couple hours.

You can pat the wig dry with a towel to speed up the drying process but don't rub the wig or you will cause it to become messy again.
When the wig is fully dry you can begin combing it out.

I always start by combing out the bangs, they are small and help figure out where the part is. Always start combing from the bottom of the hair and then slowly take on more as the tangles are worked out. You may have to work larger tangles out with your fingers. Once again, try to keep from pulling out too many fibers.
Clip up the top layer of hair and start with the lower layer. You get to deal with less hair so you can focus on tangles, and you don't have to turn the wig inside out to get the tangles closer to your body.
Once you have done the lower part of the wig, let the hair out of the clip and do the top layer of the wig.
My finished wig. Definately a lot different from the before picture. When it is finished you can then style it back to it's original look if desired.

If you plan to store the wig, let it sit where it won't get damaged. Putting it in a loose low ponytail is a good storage method for longer wigs. Remember, if you care for your wig you won't have to work these tangles out later!

Super Stubborn Knots

Sometimes knots seem impossible to get out. This is annoying and may drive you to want to cut them out, this is usually a bad idea and you should spend as much time trying to work the knots out as possible. If you are struggling then you may want to use a detangler, or try to detangle with Silicone Spray Lubricant

If they simply are impossible of working out and there is no other option then you may have to cut them out. Cutting out random chunks of hair can really harm a wig, it can make it very choppy in that area, or very thin, it can ruin the style of the wig, look bad or show the netting underneath.

If you must cut parts out of the wig try to cut as little out as possible. If it is only a few strands then it is usually hideable and if it is near the bottom of the wig you can trim it off and tidy up the area to hide the fact hair was cut. If it is alot of hair that you will be cutting out plan how to tackle the wig and cut it into a new style,don't have random short pieces and the rest long. You might have to get a new wig to fit your cosplay, but you will probably be able to use this one in the future!

Pulled Out Fibers

You might loose some of your wig's fibers while washing or combing your hair. This is bound to happen especially while working out knots, but be extra careful so that you don't pull out too much. A little bit is okay but large clumps are not! If it starts to leave bald or thin patches on your wig you may need to buy or make wefts to add to the wig so that it isn't showing your scalp or the netting.

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