Monster Head: Dealing With Problem Wigs

Once upon a time I cut my hair short. Really short. As a costumer, this presents certain challenges, which I decided could and would be solved by embarking on a journey into the world of wigs.

Wigs are lovely. They’re like big furry hats that take care of looking period-accurate, covering any vestiges of your pixie-cut mop-top, and taking a costume from a-okay to awesome. They can also be a pain in the neck…especially when what arrives in the mail is *not* what you thought you ordered.

Such a thing happened to yours truly late last Summer, when I ordered this 19th century curly-ass wig, to wear with all my mid to late 19th century outfits. I ordered “dark brown,” but instead ended up with BLACK (or very near it), which did not blend with my real hair at all, and also did not work with my skin tone, making it look like I was wearing a dead crow on my head. In addition to the bad color, the shape of the thing was so bizarre and unflattering. I did wear it…regrettably…and then shoved it into the back of a cabinet, feeling snarky for having wasted the money on it.

Yet even REALLY BAD wigs can be saved! This excessively curly wig happened to be perfect for late 18th century styles (“hedgehog”), and in a matter of minutes, I clipped it and teased it into the “Duchess”-style fro we all know and love, gathered the back into a curly ponytail with a temporary ribbon bow, and pinned a few stray bits up in the front.

The last bit to transform this wig from MONSTER to magic is to powder it (not shown). Powdering the wig will take it from way-too-dark to greyish brown. I will be able to blend my own reddish-brown hair (also powdered) into it, and achieve the wig glory we all dream of!

So, next time you’ve got MONSTER HEAD lurking in the back of your cabinet, think about how to turn it into something completely different! Pull out your curling iron, your teasing comb, and your talc powder, and give it a go. Even monsters deserve to be loved…:-)


  • Lauren R

    February 9, 2010 at 10:16 PM

    It IS that horrible monstrosity from Gold Rush Days. I only have two wigs, both of them 18th c., but seeing as I've just frizzed this one up, I need a new one for 19th century stuff. I dunno, I might go with some sort of braided hairpiece thingy…

  • Olympe de la Tour D'Auvergne

    February 9, 2010 at 11:41 PM

    I am going through this exact problem right now. At least hedgehogs are easy to do; if only the more elaborate styles of the 1770s weren't so difficult to create with synthetic hair. The real stuff is horridly expensive.

  • Lauren R

    February 10, 2010 at 12:50 AM

    Comtesse, that is the caveat here, I guess, is that you can turn pretty much any curly synthetic wig into a hedgehog. I haven't gone for "le pouf" or earlier styles yet. Frankly I'm SCARED.

  • Sandra Brake

    December 2, 2010 at 1:53 PM

    Yes well I am familiar with wig disasters but then I found my Mrs Lovatt wig and I am pretty happy with it. It even came with bobbypins in the curls. But I would like to buy a really curly monster and do a monstrous big hedgehog. I did think about getting some extensions in the same colour as my blonded hair so I could just attach them to my now longer curly hair (yes did the pixie thing too) and have a curl coming down over one shoulder, but as you say, the real or good synthetic stuff is sooooooo dear.

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