8 Ways To Make Your Halloween Wig Look Real AF

Your costume depends on it.

Pink wig
(Image credit: Design by Betsy Farrell)

Ah, Halloween. The annual chance to be someone else, if only for a night. One of the easiest ways to go incognito? Throwing on a wig, which can take you from pin-straight brunette to Natalie Portman in Closer real quick. But not all wigs are created equal...

Natalie Portman in 'Closer'

(Image credit: Rights Unknown)

Whether you're splurging on a human hair piece or just want to make your synthetic wig look as real as possible, it's all about customization and having the right tricks up your sleeve.

For a crash course, I went to Bumble and bumble's downtown salon, where their stylists decoded exactly how to tailor a wig by helping me customize a wig in advance of Halloween. (Spoiler: I'm doing a tribute to his late majesty David Bowie.)

Here's exactly what you need to do, real or synthetic:

1. Shop at a hair store instead of a costume store. Whether they're year-round or a seasonal pop-up, costume shops will overcharge for wigs. Beauty supply stores that sell wigs will be your best bet for a solid quality-to-price ratio.

2. Cut or trim it. "Out of the box, wigs often don't have a great cut," explains Bumble and bumble Stylist Mischa G. "You should be cutting or trimming them to the best of your ability." Or, take it to a pro stylist.

Stylist trimming a wig on a dolls head

(Image credit: Lauren Valenti)

Mischa recommends using thinning AKA "training wheels" scissors as they yield a softer effect. And give you more wiggle room for trial and error.

3. Dye it a different color. "If you're planning on buying a wig and having a colorist color it for Halloween, look for one with natural hair fibers–you will also be able to heat style natural hair versus burning a synthetic wig," explains Bb.colorist Luis Ayala (opens in new tab), adding that blonde wigs will be the easiest to color and tone.

Wigs before, during and after

(Image credit: Design by Betsy Farrell)

Beginning with the aforementioned, Ayala primed the wig to remove any buildup, product, or silicone since wigs are always pre-treated. And since there was no heat from the scalp, he used a more intense dye than normal to achieve the same vividness in color.

4. Tweeze the center part. Off-the-shelf wigs have eerily-perfect center parts and hairlines. To make yours look more natural, use tweezers to pluck out random strands.

5. Add powder to get rid of plastic-y shine. Real or synthetic, wigs often come with an unnatural shine. You can counter this by misting on dry shampoo or applying other kinds of hair powder, says Mischa.

6. Don't use just any brush. If you've worn a wig before, you know that it can get just as tangled, if not more, than your actual hair. To gently detangle, look to a wide-tooth wet brush, which will be most gentle. The Sheila Stotts Removal Brush (opens in new tab) will not steer you wrong.

7. Style it with heat...or steam. If it's a human hair wig, straighteners and curling irons are fair game. If not? We have a PSA: Do not use hot tools on synthetic wigs. We repeat, do not use hot tools on synthetic wigs. It will fry the fibers and there's no coming back from it.

You can, however, use a handheld steamer to smooth our kinks. "Use a brush in tandem with a steamer as you would a blow dryer," she says. "Or, set the hair in curlers, then go over it with a steamer. Just make sure the wig is completely dry before you take out the rollers."

8. Add oomph with product. Synthetic and especially healthy human hair wigs will both need a boost in the volume department. If you're starting off with wet human hair, blow dry a soft thickening spray (try Bumble and bumble Thickening Hairspray (opens in new tab)) into it.

After prepping the base on your human hair, or if you're beginning to style synthetic hair, look to a flexible spray like Bumble and bumble's Spray de Mode Flexible Hold Hairspray (opens in new tab), then a setting spray like Bumble and bumble Bb. Strong Finish Firm Hold Hairspray (opens in new tab).

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Lauren is the former beauty editor at Marie Claire. She love to while away the hours at coffee shops, hunt for vintage clothes, and bask in the rough-and-tumble beauty of NYC. She firmly believes that solitude can be a luxury if you’ve got the right soundtrack—that being the Rolling Stones, of course.