How to Dye Your Own Wig At Home — Without Screwing It Up

If you're in the mood for new color.

How to Dye a Wig
Photo: Getty Images

A new season is upon us, and you might be in the mood for a new look to match!

If you've been thinking about playing around with a new color, but you're worried about hair damage (or simply not liking it), a wig might be the way to go.Dyeing a wig gives you the opportunity to have the exact look you want — and it really isn't that difficult to pull off.

Thankfully, Loretta Thomas, a Toronto-based stylist and wig colorist, is also here to help, and she knows her stuff.

After the birth of Thomas' daughter, postpartum hair loss led her to the land of wigs.

"I wanted it to look real and to look like me," Thomas shares with InStyle. So she flew from Toronto to New York City, where she met with Hadiiya Barbel, an Emmy award-winning stylist who has worked with celebs like Wendy Williams, Iman, Ashanti, and more.

"She made me my first wig," says Thomas. Afterwards, the Toronto native became obsessed with the craftsmanship of her new 'do.

Over the next few years, Thomas was tutored by Barbel, and learned how to make her own wigs for herself and other clients. "I love color, so I started experimenting more," shares Thomas. "I wanted to go beyond the boundaries of coloring hair, and wigs helped with that."

There's a true art to coloring hair — wigs included. But if you can't get in touch with a celebrity stylist, follow Thomas' top tips that she shared with us, instead.

What Tools Do I Need to Dye My Wig?

First, make sure you grab a couple garbage bags to protect your floors and counters.

"The best places to work are on a clean flat counter or a hard surface floor, like in the bathroom or kitchen," the stylist suggests. "You want to avoid carpet, walls and furniture."

You also want to make sure you have a styrofoam wig stand and T-pins to secure the wig in place. Next, grab bowls and brushes for color mixing and application, foil (if you plan on doing highlights), and clips and combs to separate the hair.

Depending on the color you're going for, you may also need some of your favorite bleach (Thomas likes Wella's Blondor Multi Blonde Powder Lightener), peroxide (20 volume is safe), and your chosen color. Then you're ready to go!

What's the Best Method to Follow?

You can follow the directions on your box of color, or you can try to follow along on YouTube if you're feeling ambitious — it's all up to you!

"If you watch YouTube videos on coloring techniques, be sure to watch more than one from each stylist to be sure they consistently get their desired results," advises Thomas.

However, Thomas does offer up some of her own personal suggestions, and you should definitely keep them in mind.

"Blonde wigs can be dyed one color with ease if you're using the water color method," she explains. "This procedure is where the wig is immersed in a hot water bath with your favorite bright color."

"Box dyes are best for when you want to lift the hair one or two shades lighter," she continues. "If your desired color is in the blond, vibrant red, or copper family, a combination of bleach and tube colors would be advised. And don't forget your toners and purple shampoo to complete [and maintain] your final look." The stylist likes the paraben and sulfate-free cleansers and conditions from Verb.

"These are more gentle on the wig and will keep your wig and its color looking great," said Thomas.

It's also important to remember that only virgin hair can be colored. And once you dye your wig, you can't use a lighter shade to change the tone. That's why Thomas recommends doing a strand test before diving into any new color to be sure of the results.

VIDEO: How to Box Dye Your Hair at Home

What Else Should I Keep in Mind When Coloring My Wig at Home?

There are few details to keep front of mind when dyeing your own wig at home, according to Thomas:

  • Never use heat to process your color.
  • Make sure to time your color process.
  • Seek professional help if the desired look you're going for is complex.
  • Don't dye without doing a strand test first.
  • Make sure to do conditioning treatments and trim your wig if the ends are damaged.
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