Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How to Dye a Synthetic Wig

Last night I set out on a wig dying experiment for my Mermaid Day costume. Thought I would share the results for those adventurous costumers out there who might want to try it themselves.

This all started when I read on CupcakeCosplay's twitter that a synthetic wig could be dyed using rubbing alcohol and Sharpies. I followed the tutorial from her site. This is what happened-


WIG! Bright White will obviously work the best.

16oz bottle of rubbing alcohol - $1.99 CVS
I picked the 91% Isoporpyl Alcohol cause it was the highest percentage they had. I don't know if it made a difference, but I figured lets not eff around here and just start with the big guns.

HAND PROTECTION! Unless you want to spend the next 3 or 4 days looking like a Kindergartner learning to use markers. Also the rubbing alcohol while killing the germs will burn any cuts you have on your hands!

SHARPIES! 24 pack - $10 at Staples I used 7 pink Sharpies. Luckily the pack I bought happened to be a Breast Cancer awareness pack so it was loaded with pink markers. Bonus!

I recommend doing this project in your bathtub. I poured the rubbing alcohol into a plastic shoe storage bin (99 cents at Home Depot) because I couldn't find a bucket in my apartment. Open the windows in the bathroom or use a fan cause that rubbing alcohol stinks! Then I began the difficult process of removing the ink from the Sharpies. Borrowing a big pair of pliers from my roommate I pried off the pink plastic piece from the grey bottom piece by bending it back and forth while pulling it out. Twisting it definitely does not work. Once the plastic bottom is off you pull the ink well out of the marker. Toss the top piece into the alcohol cause there is some ink in there too.
Squeeze the ink spongey thing using two pairs of pliers or your gloved hands. I rolled it up like a toothpaste tube and it was pretty effective. I was trying to achieve a cotton candy pink color for my wig so I used 5 medium pink markers, 1 dark pink and 1 red.
Add the wig, pushing it down into the dye mixture and turning to get full coverage. Cupcake Cosplay recommends using a spray bottle to achieve full coverage but I really didn't want to breathe in any more rubbing alcohol than necessary. I flipped the wig over every half hour or so for about two hours then just let it sit there over night.

Oh and this is the time when I will mention clean up. Sharpie ink is very permanent. If it splashes on floors and tiles add water right away and try to wipe it off with a rag. Don't wait. But there is still a colorful haze to the tub!! Not to worry! Just get your trusty Comet cleanser out and your scrubby sponge and do some Cinderella work.


In the morning I gave it a rinse and set it out on a garbage bag to dry near a sunny window in my apartment. Looks like some of the dye stuck! I have big plans for this wig. Look for it in my Post Mermaid Day Parade posting!
Good luck!!


  1. How long was this wig?I want to do this (same cotton candy pink lol) and the wig I'll be using is 24",so I want to know how many markers I would need. :P I think one bottle of rubbing alcohol will suffice!

  2. The white wig I started with was shorter than 20". I had teased it into a frenzy so it was like a tumble weed by then! One bottle of rubbing alcohol should work fine. Make sure to turn it over in the dye frequently so all sides get equal coverage. You can see the final result at:


    Also I added one red marker just to make sure it got dark enough. Best of luck!

  3. This is the most comprehensive account of dying a wig I have found on line.

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