Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Using Sharpies to Dye a Wig

What you need:
1. 32oz bottle of  70% rubbing alcohol (You want around the 70% strength regular old rubbing alcohol, available in the bandage and health-care section of every Wal-Mart and Walgreens you can find. Do not use 90% alcohol, as it is too strong for the ink and will not work. Anything less than 70% will be too weak.)
2. 5+ sharpies (the more sharpies, the darker the color)
3. A Spray Bottle
4. An Old Soda Bottle or Container to mix the dye

Sharpie Preparation:
1. Break the sharpie to get the ink filler.
2. Cut the ink filler down the side with an exacto knife 

1. Pour half the alcohol in the soda bottle and keep the rest of it in the original alcohol bottle.
2. Place the split ink fillers into the alcohol bottle, secure the cap, and shake a lot!
3. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, shake again, and then let it sit again.
4. Pour the dye into a storage container and then put the still clear alcohol into the bottle you used to mix the dye. If any ink fillers fall
out while you are emptying the dye, pick them up and put them into
the still clear alcohol.
5. Repeat the whole setting and shaking process.
6. Put the dye into a common container and shake it up to mix everything.

Applying to wig:
1. Make sure the wig is clean and ready to be dyed.
2. Make sure you are able to dye the wig you bought, some won't. If you
do not know I recommend asking the person who sold it to you.
3. Use a fine tooth comb and a spray bottle.
4. Spray the dye and comb it through the wig.

Once you have the dye in the wig, let it settle and then rinse it until all of
the excess color runs out of it. If you wish you can repeat the process.
Do not forget to do a test patch before dying the entire wig. To get the dye
out of the wig you can use 91% alcohol. However, only use 70% alcohol
for the dye because anything more powerful may just dissolve the color. 

For the brightest, most vibrant results - coloring the wig directly by hand is best. It takes a while, but it enables you to be up close and it will be easier to catch mistakes. For a shoulder length wig I recommend up to twelve markers. When you're finished you can rinse the wig in cold water to get rid of any possible residue.
Why can't I just use hair dye on my wig?
You probably hear this all the time, but wigs, especially ones usually used for cosplay, are not real hair. Wigs are plastic, and therefore don't have pores to absorb dye meant for porous human hair.

Can I dye a darker wig to a lighter color with Sharpie dye?
No. A wig can never be lightened with Sharpie dye. Never. Ever. Sometimes you can tint a darker brown or grey wig by hand Sharpie-ing it, but the general rule with dyeing is you can never make a wig lighter, you can only tint or darken it.

Can I dye a wig black with Sharpies?
Yes, you can hand-Sharpie a wig to black, but I personally would just buy a black wig. Black Sharpie ink is not a true black, but a super concentrated purplish, reddish, or brownish color, and if your wig fades, it could turn funky colors.

Should I spray-dye, dunk-dye, or hand-Sharpie my wig?
Spray-dyeing is the most commonly used method, as it uses the least amount of dye mix and is simple and easy to do. You simply put your dye mixture into a spray bottle, spray it onto the wig, and let it dry. Dunk-dyeing is used by some people, especially for shorter wigs, and will take more dye than the spray method. For this method, you completely dunk your wig into the dye bath, remove it, squeeze out excess dye, and let it dry. Hand Sharpie-ing is the cheapest, but most time consuming process, since you literally Sharpie the wig strand by strand to get the color you want.

Can I dye a wig silver with Sharpies?
Though this is still being experimented and debated, the short answer to this question is no. If you mix silver Sharpies with alcohol to make dye, the silver parts will float to the top of your dye, and will not stick to your wig. If you directly hand Sharpie the wig with your silver Sharpie, you are much more likely to get a dark grey color than silver.


  1. I wish I would have seen this back when I had the synthetic hair to dye. I tried using RIT dye, and it didn't take at ALL!!! I threw out the tracks completely frustrated. Now I know what to do with less expensive tracks!!! Thank you!!!! :)

  2. What should I do if I want to dye a white wig to liliac but then I want it white again? 91% alcohol can remove liliac without damaging the wig?