Synthetic wigs and hair extensions have become widely popular because they come in a range of colors and are much cheaper than natural hair. For very little money, you can have the perfect color and hairstyle for your night out without damaging your real hair with bleach, dye, or heat.
Themed parties – such as Halloween parties – are perfect occasions for wearing a synthetic wig.
Plus, you’re more likely to find a synthetic wig in a color that goes perfectly with your outfit than a natural hair wig.
Or, suppose you’re a makeup artist or a cosplay enthusiast. In that case, synthetic wigs make your cosplay complete, add to the overall aesthetic of your makeup look, and allow you to take the perfect picture, too!
Even though synthetic wigs are relatively cheap, buying a new one every single time you want a different color can become expensive in the long run.
So, is dyeing your synthetic wig an option like it is with natural hair?
The short answer is – YES, you absolutely can! However, it’s not as easy as you might think. There’s much you need to know before you start with the actual dyeing process.
In this article, we’ll cover all you need to know about synthetic wigs, how they differ from natural hair wigs – and how you can dye them!
Can You Dye Synthetic Hair With Regular Hair Dye?
While synthetic hair is dyeable, it can’t be dyed with regular hair dye.
To give you a good answer, we’ll need to dive a bit deeper into hair coloring chemistry.
You see, to change the color of your hair, the dye needs to penetrate the cortex – inner portion – of the hair fibers. Once it reaches the cortex, the pigment is deposited, and the original color is removed.
Before the new color is deposited, the hair’s cuticle – outer shaft – needs to be open. And that’s usually done with the help of ammonia. Another vital ingredient in hair dye is peroxide because it removes the pre-existing color to “make room” for the new one.
Unlike natural hair, synthetic hair doesn’t have a cuticle nor the cortex where the pigment can be deposited. Even more so, the chemicals found in regular hair dye, like ammonia, could damage synthetic hair.
Related Read: Does Hair Dye Expire?
Can You Bleach Synthetic Hair?
No, you can’t bleach synthetic hair, either – at least not with regular bleach.
You can dye synthetic wigs and extensions darker, not lighter. However, in some cases, you can end up with a slightly lighter color when using bleach.
Trying to lighten your synthetic wig will usually end up in a waste of time, bleach, and money, so we don’t recommend it.
If you’re curious about how bleach affects synthetic hair, here’s how it looks:
As an alternative to bleach, hydrogen peroxide combined with baking soda could lighten the hair and give you relatively good results.
What Color Wigs Are Ideal For Dyeing?
Light-colored wigs are the best option for dyeing. Remember what we said earlier:
Synthetic wigs can only be dyed into a darker color.
So, if you have a dark green wig and want to change its color, you’ll only be able to dye it brown or black. On the other hand, if you have a pastel-colored one, you can change it to pretty much any color.
If you want a custom color and like to experiment, it would be ideal to start with a white wig:
A white synthetic wig can take in any shade you want. Plus, you’ll be able to combine different colors without the fear that one of them might not show in the end.
Which Type Of Synthetic Wigs Are Best For Dyeing – Cheap Or Expensive?
The price of synthetic wigs can range from just a couple of bucks to several hundred dollars. So, which is the better option for dyeing?
It’s best to go with a cheap synthetic wig because the dyeing process isn’t always a guaranteed success. Sometimes the final color doesn’t turn out the way you hoped it would – and you might ruin the wig.
Now, ruining a $20 and a $200 synthetic wig is not the same; your wallet will agree.
So, we’d generally recommend trying it with a cheap one or a wig that you’re not too fond of and won’t mind damaging in the process.
Another advantage cheap wigs have is their texture:
Expensive synthetic wigs have a smooth texture that makes dye much easier to wash off. On the other hand, cheap synthetic wigs have a coarse texture that “holds” the pigment better.
How To Dye A Synthetic Wig?
Now that we’ve covered all you need to know before you decide on coloring your synthetic wig, it’s time to jump to the actual dyeing process.
Step 1: Preparing The Synthetic Hair
We recommend washing the wig or hair extensions before you start with dyeing. By cleaning it, you’ll remove the dirt, sweat, and styling products that have built up on the hair over time. And that will allow the dye to stick to the hair strands better.
You can use a bit of soap or mild shampoo for this step.
Step 2: Preparing The Working Space
Since you’ll be working with dye, a bit of dripping and staining is expected. So, make sure you choose a spot where that won’t be a problem.
It would be best to do it outside, but if that isn’t an option, make sure you cover your work area with something you won’t regret staining.
Step 3: Preparing The Dye
You can use a couple of methods to dye synthetic hair – alcohol-based ink, sharpie ink, or acrylic color to dye synthetic hair.
Granted, the final result will be the same regardless of the method – but it’s nice to have options.
Preparing the dye is easy – and you probably have most components at home already.
A spray bottle, water, and rubbing alcohol are pretty much all you need. Once you have that, you can use sharpie ink, alcohol-based ink, or the acrylic color method.
There are only a couple of differences depending on the method you choose, though. Let’s take a quick look at them:
Related Read: Does Rubbing Alcohol Expire?
Sharpie Ink Method
Choose a sharpie marker in the desired color and take out the ink tube.
We recommend splitting up the ink tube with a knife so that the color can come out easier. You can also remove the tip of the marker as well for some extra ink.
Put the ink tube and the tip in the spray bottle and add some alcohol. Let it soak throughout the night, and voila – your dye is ready!
Note that you can use water instead of alcohol; the result will be the same.
Alcohol-Based Ink Method
Mix up the alcohol-based ink and water in a 1:1 ratio in the spray bottle. After that, shake the bottle a bit, and the dye is ready.
Depending on the color you want, you can change the dilution ratio. A 1:1 percentage will give you the exact color of the alcohol-based ink – but if you desire a lighter shade, just add more water until you’re satisfied.
Combine three tablespoons of rubbing alcohol with ¼ of a spoon of acrylic color in the spray bottle, shake it up, and that’s it – the mix is ready. It’s that simple!
Step 4: Application
The application is pretty straightforward:
Spray the wig or hair extensions with the dye to saturate them. Use your fingers and a comb to spread the color evenly – and please make sure to use gloves and an apron while doing this.
We advise you to section the hair and work your way slowly throughout the wig so that you don’t miss any hair strands. There’s nothing worse than finishing the whole dyeing process just to see that you’ve missed a random patch of hair.
Once the dye is evenly distributed throughout the hair, let it dry completely.
We recommend washing the wig once it’s dry to avoid staining. However, keep in mind that this may result in some color change – so you don’t have to do this if you’re not ready to risk it.
The Faster Method
If you’re in a hurry, we’ve got good news: There’s a faster application method.
Place your wig in a sealable plastic bag and pour in the dye. Make sure that there are no holes in the bag and that the wig is nicely soaked in hair color, though.
Let it sit in there for a while, take it out of the bag and let it dry.
While we’re at it, we recommend increasing the soaking time if you desire a more opaque color.
Step 5: Spicing It Up (Optional)
To add some dimension to the hair, we recommend using more than one dye.
For example, if you use blue dye, mix up another bottle with the same blue, only a little lighter. While coloring the hair, leave out some hair strands and dye them with a lighter blue. That will create an ombre effect or highlights.
Additionally, you can use a sharpie marker to change the color of individual strands or roots. It will take some time to get the desired result – but it’ll be totally worth it.
This article has been quite a doozie, huh? So, let’s sum everything up.
Of course, you can dye synthetic hair – but not with regular hair dye.
Because synthetic hair lacks some properties that natural hair has, you’ll have to use alternative dyes to color it. That includes acrylic color, alcohol-based ink, and sharpie ink (mixed with some alcohol and water).
Once you’ve prepped the dye, spray it all over the hair, let it soak for a while – and you’re done!