Synthetic wigs have become increasingly popular in recent years as an alternative to human hair wigs. Made from synthetic fibers like kanekalon or modacrylic, these wigs offer affordability, ease of maintenance, and consistent styling. While human hair wigs can be dyed and restyled at home, synthetic wigs require fabric dyes specifically formulated for synthetic fibers to achieve long-lasting color changes.
When dyeing a synthetic wig at home, it’s important to choose a dye that is compatible with the wig’s fiber content. Standard hair dyes and even natural dyes like henna won’t sufficiently penetrate or bond with synthetic fibers. Using the wrong type of dye can result in splotchy, uneven coloring. The dye may also wash out quickly, transfer to skin and clothing, or even damage the wig fibers.
In this article, we’ll discuss the types of fabric dyes that work best for synthetic wigs and provide dyeing tips to help you achieve beautiful, vibrant and lasting color on your wig.
Types of Dyes for Synthetic Wigs
There are three main types of dyes that can be safely and effectively used on synthetic wigs:
1. Permanent Synthetic Dyes
Permanent synthetic dyes are specially formulated for use on nylon, polyester, acrylic, and other synthetic fibers. Popular brands like RIT DyeMore and Jacquard iDye Poly are widely available at craft and beauty supply stores. These dyes create a permanent bond with the synthetic fibers to produce color that lasts through many washes without fading or bleeding. Permanent dyes come in a range of vivid colors from primary colors to neons.
2. Semi-Permanent Fabric Dyes
Semi-permanent fabric dyes create a long-lasting color that gradually fades over time with washing. They are deposited on the surface of the fibers rather than bonding within the strands. Brands like Manic Panic and Punky Colour make semi-permanent dyes in fashion colors like pastels, jewel tones and bold brights. Since the color eventually washes out, they allow you to experiment with different hues without fully committing.
3. Temporary Synthetic Sprays
For temporary coloring, specialized synthetic wig sprays can be used to quickly change up your style. Temporary sprays apply vibrant translucent color that washes out in just one or two shampoos. They’re great for short-term looks like costume parties. Brands like Raquel Welch, L’Oreal and Got2B make temporary sprays in versatile colors.
Choosing a Dye Color
One of the best aspects of dyeing a synthetic wig is the immense variety of colors you can choose from. When selecting a shade, it helps to consider:
- Your natural hair color – Choosing a dye shade close to your natural shade will look more natural against your skin and brows.
- Makeup and wardrobe colors – Select colors in the same color family as your makeup and clothing palette.
- Skin undertones – Cool skin tones look great with icy platinum and pastel shades. Warm complexions are complemented by copper, magenta and neon brights.
- Eye color – Brown eyes stand out against lighter shades like baby blue or pink. Blue and green eyes pop against jewel tones.
- Season and occasion – Try rich autumnal hues in cold weather. Hot pink or neon shades work for summer. Classic red or black dye can transition through all seasons.
Prep Before Dyeing Your Synthetic Wig
Preparing properly before dyeing your wig will help ensure you achieve long-lasting,even color results. Here are some tips:
- Wash the wig – Remove any residue or oils by washing with gentle shampoo and let air dry completely before dyeing.
- Cover your work surface – Lay down plastic bags, towels or newspapers to protect against spills and drips.
- Secure the wig on a stand – Putting the wig on a wig head or Styrofoam mannequin head will make it easier to apply the dye evenly.
- Separate the hair – Use clips to section the hair to help the dye penetrate every strand.
- Vaseline the lace and edges – Petroleum jelly prevents dye from staining delicate lace fronts and hairline edges.
- Do a strand test – Dye a small hidden section of hair to test the color result before applying to the whole wig.
How to Dye a Synthetic Wig
Once you have prepped your wig, you’re ready to transform the color. Follow these steps:
- Mix the dye – Prepare the dye solution according to the brand’s instructions. Synthetic dye usually needs very hot but not boiling water.
- Apply dye – Using a tint brush or gloved hands, apply the mixed dye evenly throughout the hair from roots to ends.
- Massage in – Gently work the dye into the strands to help penetration and avoid splotches.
- Cover with plastic wrap – Wrapping the wig in plastic wrap or a plastic bag will prevent the color from oxidizing as it processes.
- Wait – Process the dye in the plastic for the recommended development time, usually around 30 minutes.
- Rinse thoroughly – Rinse wig under cool water until water runs clear. Use a mild shampoo if needed to remove excess dye.
- Condition – Apply wig conditioner or fabric softener and let soak in briefly before final rinse.
- Air dry – Let the wig dry completely on a wig stand or styrofoam head. Avoid heat styling immediately after dyeing.
- Set the color – Heat setting the color once fully dried will help maximize vibrancy and longevity.
With the right supplies and techniques, you can transform the look of a synthetic wig in your own home. Take your time working the dye through each strand to ensure vivid, even results. Follow all instructions for processing times and aftercare to get the most wear from your new wig color.
Tips for Even Dye Results
Achieving flawless, professional-looking color all over your synthetic wig can take some finesse. Here are some handy tips for avoiding common dye mistakes:
|Splotchy or uneven dye||Gently massage dye into hair using brush and gloved hands to evenly distribute. Cover with plastic while processing.|
|Dark or bright roots||Apply more dye concentration to the ends which are more porous. Process for longer time.|
|Stained lace||Coat lace with petroleum jelly before dyeing. Use q-tip dipped in bleach to spot clean.|
|Skin staining||Immediately wash skin with soap and water if dye makes contact. Avoid abrasive scrubbing.|
|Brassy or green tones||Use a toner or dye bath with blue or purple tones to cancel out unwanted hues.|
Getting flawless results when coloring a wig does require precision. But don’t worry about making mistakes. Simply re-dye any splotchy sections and use toners to perfect the overall color. With practice, you’ll be able to achieve stunning salon-worthy shades!
Best Dye Colors for Common Synthetic Hair Types
Certain synthetic wig fibers take color better than others. Here is a breakdown of the most popular synthetics and which dye shades work best:
|Fiber||Properties||Best Dye Colors|
|Kanekalon||Most common synthetic. Heat resistant and durable.||Vivid primary colors and neon brights.|
|Modacrylic||Shiny with bounce and body. Less heat resistant.||Light and pastel shades that compliment sheen.|
|Toyokalon||Thick and frizzy. Withstands heat styling.||Dark shades that hide texture like black, brown, burgundy.|
|Futura||Silky and straight. Mimics relaxed hair texture.||Rich neutral shades like chocolate, caramel and honey blonde.|
|Sensationnel||Light yaki texture. Tangles easily.||Auburns, coppers and natural black to match yaki texture.|
While most synthetics can be dyed across the color spectrum, some hues show up better on certain fibers. Kanekalon and modacrylic, for example, really make neon brights pop, while basic blacks and browns look most natural on textured yaki and toyokalon hair.
Caring for Dyed Synthetic Wigs
To keep your dyed synthetic wig looking vibrant, follow these simple care tips:
- Wash gently – Use sulfate-free shampoo made for synthetic wigs and cool to lukewarm water.
- Condition often – Use a silicone-free conditioner after each wash to prevent dryness.
- Air dry – Let your wig dry fully on a stand rather than heat styling.
- Add heat protectant – If heat styling, always use a heat protectant spray first to prevent damage.
- Store properly – Keep your wig on a styrofoam head or hung on a wide-toothed wig brush to maintain its shape.
- Handle with care – Avoid unnecessary brushing, rubbing, or handling to prevent frizz and fiber damage.
Following a regular care regimen between dyes will help maximize the vibrancy and longevity of the color. With proper maintenance, your synthetic wig can look freshly dyed for months of wear.
How to Dye Synthetic Lace Fronts and Closures
Along with the hair fibers, you may also want to dye the lace base and closures on a synthetic wig. Here are some tips for dyeing synthetic lace:
- Choose a semi-permanent dye for better control over the lace color.
- Opt for a shade slightly darker than the wig color to mimic a natural hairline.
- Apply dye using a small paint brush only to the lace knots and mesh.
- Process for 5-10 minutes max for subtle color depositing.
- Rinse thoroughly in cool water and air dry. Be gentle when handling wet lace.
Take care not to over-process lace dye, as the delicate material can become stained, stiff, or even melted under too much heat and chemical processing. Going slowly for a light color application will give the most natural looking lace integration.
Common Questions About Dyeing Synthetic Wigs
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about changing up the color of synthetic wigs:
|Can you use regular hair dye on synthetic wigs?||No, regular hair dye is formulated for human hair and won’t sufficiently bond with synthetic fibers.|
|Do you have to bleach synthetic hair to dye it?||Bleach is not necessary. Synthetic dye will show up brightly on unbleached synthetic hair.|
|Can you use Kool-Aid or food coloring as dye?||It’s not recommended. Food dyes may stain skin and fade out quickly. Use formulated synthetic dye for best results.|
|How often can you re-dye a synthetic wig?||As needed to refresh color, but avoid excessive re-dyeing. Too much processing can dry out and damage the synthetic fibers.|
|What color should I choose for an ombre look?||Dye the roots a natural shade close to your hair color and ends in a contrasting bright shade.|
Dyeing synthetic wigs opens up an exciting new world of styling options beyond just the standard wig colors. With the right dyes and techniques, you can create stunning permanent, semi-permanent, or temporary colors in the shade of your choice. Take the time to properly prep and care for the fibers before and after coloring to maintain the vibrancy and structural integrity of your synthetic wig. With some patience and creativity, you can achieve salon-worthy results dyeing synthetic wigs at home.