Costume Wigs

Donna Cosmato
Woman wearing a clown wig

Costume wigs are a quick and easy way to transform an everyday hair style into something outrageous and unexpected. For a flawless look, however, wearers must understand the properties of these specialty wigs and how to wear them.

Properties of Costume Wigs

Novelty wigs are designed to be worn for fun rather than for long periods of time. As such they are not as durable as traditional wigs. The vast majority of costume hairpieces are made from artificial materials, which are typically very inexpensive and flimsy synthetics. Additionally, these wigs cannot be styled with heating tools such as blow dryers or curling irons, which would melt the fibers. Further still, most novelty wigs use harsh dyes to achieve unnatural colors such as the popular rainbow clown look, and those chemicals may cause irritation to sensitive skin.

While these may seem like undesirable properties, costume and disguise wigs are really quite durable for their purpose, which is short-term wear for disguises, parties, and special events. These wigs are not typically appropriate for long-term use because they are very recognizable, can fall apart quite easily, and are not made for extremely comfortable or form-fitting wear.

Shopping for Wigs

Costume and Disguise Wigs

To get the best fit for your wig, consider shopping at a brick-and-mortar store or follow exactly the fitting instructions from an online vendor. These types of wigs can be found in some retail chain stores during the Halloween season or at a neighborhood costume store. If you'd prefer to shop online, browse through the selections from these merchants:

  • Buy Costumes: Create high impact, memorable ensembles with the hats, wigs, masks and other costume accessories offered by Buy Costumes. To accessorize costumes for clowns to pirates to celebrity look-alikes, you'll find just the right hairpiece for your needs.
  • Wig Warehouse: In addition to the wide range of costume and character wigs offered here, you will find all the necessary care essentials to keep your hairpiece firmly in place and fresh looking.
  • 3 Wishes: Who says a disguise wig has make you look like the Bride of Frankenstein? If you'd like a wig with some sexy character for your dress-up costume, you'll enjoy browsing the wide inventory at 3 Wishes.
  • Extreme Wigs: You'll find plenty of options for wigs to complement a wide array of costumes for any occasion at Extreme Wigs. Character wigs, movie and stage wigs, and Trollz wigs are just a fraction of the hundreds of styles available here.

Cosplay Wigs

A cosplay wig is the perfect way to add the finishing touch to a cosplay costume. These costumes are designed for individuals who want to dress up as their favorite character from popular anime shows, movies, and games.

  • Hello Cosplay: Are you looking for a movie or anime wig? Hello Cosplay is ground zero for all cosplay costuming needs.
  • Light in the Box: This is your one-stop shop for cosplay wigs to go with popular costumes based on Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist, or Final Fantasy XIII.
  • Cosplay Wigs: This is a great place to shop for all your cosplay needs from wigs to complete costumes. Be sure to check their sale section for the hottest deals on the coolest merchandise.

Popular Styles

The most popular, classic style for costume wigs is the rainbow clown, either in bright primary colors, spring-like pastels, or vibrant neon shades. Other popular styles include:

  • Scraggly witches, typically all-black or streaked with gray
  • Lady Godiva waist-length long locks, usually blonde
  • Celebrity styles, including the famous Elvis pompadour and Marilyn's curls
  • Fictional wigs from popular characters such as Princess Leia or Dorothy
  • Monster wigs that may include a rubber mask such as the Wolfman
  • Shocking neon shades; blue, pink, and green are especially popular
  • Bald skull caps or those with fringes of hair
  • Ethnic styles, such as Afros or dread locks

The available selection of costume hairpieces varies each year depending on what movies and television shows are popular, although most styles can be found at seasonal costume stores. A more limited selection is usually available at major store chains, typically beginning in mid-September. To buy costume wigs outside the Halloween season, consumers may be forced to shop online or order through a specialty catalog.

Alterations

If you can't find the exact novelty wig you were hoping for, it is possible to alter existing styles to add individual flair. While these costume pieces cannot be subjected to the same heat and chemical stresses that real hair can be, they can be cut to a shorter length and possibly dyed to a different color, though it is advisable to test any dyes on hidden sections before adding the chemicals to the entire wig. Other options include adding a glitter spray or creating a new look with themed accessories.

How to Wear

Always be sure your hair is clean before wearing a novelty wig. If necessary, use hair gel or other holding products to keep your hair back (a thin ponytail holder or headband may be necessary) so it is not visible beneath the wig. Some wigs are equipped with elastic or adjustable ties for a snug fit, though they can be easily tugged off and should not be subjected to undue stress. For a firmer grip, consider using small clips or bobby pins to secure the wig.

Proper Wig Care

Despite the fact that costume wigs are not meant for long-term wear, caring for them properly will ensure that they can be reused. Take care not to expose the wig to unnecessary chemicals by applying makeup, body paint, or other products before putting on the wig. Remove the wig promptly, and shake and brush it gently to remove dust, debris, and other particles that may have become lodged in the strands.

When storing the wig, protect it from dust with a plastic bag or cloth cover, and if possible, store it on a mannequin head to keep its shape. If that is not possible, store it flat (not rolled or folded), and avoid placing it beneath heavy objects or at the bottom of a box.


Costume wigs can turn an ordinary costume into an extraordinary new look. Despite their fragility, by paying special attention to how to wear, care for, and store the wigs, they can be reused many times for many different outfits and will continue to surprise and delight unsuspecting individuals for years.

Costume Wigs