Best Costume Wigs

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

50 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
410 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best costume wigs

Last Updated November 2019

Costume wigs aren’t in the same category as natural hair wigs or even synthetic hair wigs, both of which are intended to pass for real hair. No, costume wigs are about keeping it unreal, adopting a new short-term persona for parties, parades, cosplay conventions, or other ephemeral events.

But improvements in the material and manufacture of wigs have advanced to the point where the differences among wig types are less noticeable. New synthetics can mimic natural hair at a fraction of the cost, and some of today’s costume wigs can almost pass for real hair, too.

With so much follicle fakery going on, it can be difficult to know how to choose the best costume wig in your next incarnation for Halloween, Mardi Gras, or Comic-Con. Costume wigs can vary by materials, construction, and many other factors. Read our buying guide to help sort it all out and find the best costume wig for your needs.

When your wig first arrives, take it out of the packaging and put it on a mannequin or other wig holder for a few hours to let it relax.

Key considerations

What is a costume wig?

A costume wig is vastly different than a regular wig. Costume wigs are meant to be worn once or twice for special occasions. A regular wig, or a lace front wig, is meant to be worn to work or school every day as a matter of course. If the former is what you’re looking for, you’re in the right place. But even if you’re looking for an everyday wig, you may want to continue reading this buying guide. Costume wigs have improved so much in recent years that you may be able to wear a costume wig every day for up to six months before it needs to be replaced.

Location, location, location

Before you choose a costume wig, consider where you’re going to be wearing it. If you’ll be attending an outdoor party at the beach or other windy location, a long-haired wig may not be the most practical choice. Similarly, a long wig worn to a Renaissance fair in the middle of August would be too hot and heavy, so opting for a short wig would be the smarter play. If the event you’re attending is indoors, however, your costume wig options are wide open.

Style

It’s important that your wig’s style matches your costume. Are you dressing up as Black Widow from the Marvel movies, or are you going for more of a generic pixie or fairy look? Pixies and fairies usually have short hair in wild colors, but the Black Widow has medium-length wavy red hair. Study the character you are trying to emulate to determine the proper style of costume wig. The wig is often the least-expensive part of your outfit, so choose it last to match your costume rather than the other way around.

EXPERT TIP

Always try on your costume wig before party night, so you know that the wig fits properly and complements your costume.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Materials

In the early 1900s, wigs were often made of jute fibers. Today, yak hair from Tibet is sometimes used for theatrical wigs, especially those worn by clowns. But most costume wigs these days are made of synthetic materials such as acrylic, modacrylic, nylon, and polyester. Synthetic hair is less expensive than human hair, which can cost $80 per ounce. Since most wigs require at least four ounces of hair, the raw materials alone make human hair wigs prohibitively expensive for costume use.

Color

Wigs are available in every color of the rainbow. Many wigs have two or three colors in them for contrast and eye-catching appeal. The synthetic hair in costume wigs typically can’t be colored or dyed, so make sure you choose the exact color you want.

Lace front

A lace-front wig has an extended front designed to disguise the fact that you’re wearing a wig by making the individual hairs appear to be growing directly out of your scalp. Lace-front wigs will always cost more than wigs without a lace front, but the more natural appearance can be worth the extra cost.

Length

Pay close attention to the length of the hair on the wig and take into consideration how long your head and neck are. Have a friend measure you from the top of your head to the top of your shoulders to help select a wig of the proper length.

Wig cap

You need a wig cap to hold your own hair in check under the wig, so it doesn’t show. Some wigs have a built-in wig cap. Pay close attention to the costume wig’s description. If it doesn’t mention a wig cap, it probably doesn’t have one built in, in which case you’d have to purchase the wig cap separately.

Adjustable straps vs. bobby pins or wig clips

Many wigs have a stretchy material under the hair, but better-quality costume wigs have adjustable straps to hold them in place. If the wig you choose doesn’t have adjustable straps, you’ll need bobby pins or wig clips to secure it.

EXPERT TIP

Wig caps are normally put on from back to front, but the wigs themselves are put on from front to back.


Staff  | BestReviews

Accessories

A mannequin head is the perfect place to rest your weary wig. It keeps the wig from being crushed or kinked in storage so the hairpiece retains its shape. The Pacific Female Styrofoam Mannequin Head is a budget investment that we think you’d find very practical indeed.

Wig tape can help keep your costume wig snug. It’s strong enough to secure your wig, yet it’s gentle on your skin. Clear double-sided tape like this can come in handy when you’re going for an authentic look.

Depending on how often you wear wigs, it may be practical to stock up on wig caps. There are two types of wig caps for wigs that don’t include a built-in cap: fishnet and pantyhose. Of the pantyhose style cap options, we like the above-mentioned 12-pack. For fishnet-style wig caps, we like Jassins 3 Pack Open End Black Mesh Net Wig Cap Liner.

You’ll enjoy yourself more if you know you have clipped your wig securely. These seven-tooth wig clips from yantaisiyu are ideal for holding your wig in place. Put them on and go dancing without worrying about slippage or anything else.

Costume wig prices

Inexpensive: Low-price wigs are readily available for under $12. At this price point, you’ll find tinsel foil wigs and clown wigs. The materials here are cheap, and the wigs are often only intended for one-time use.

Mid-range: From $12 to $30 is where most costume wigs are priced. Mid-price costume-wig materials are of better quality than inexpensive wigs, and they should survive several wearings. Some costume wigs in this range have lace fronts.

Expensive: High-end costume wigs are priced from $30 to $45. This is where you’ll find carefully made wigs that have lace fronts, adjustable straps, and more real-looking hair. Costume wigs at this price can be much more durable, with some having the potential to last for three to six months of near-daily wear.

EXPERT TIP

Once you’ve got a wig on, jump up and down, shake your head, and do a few twirls to make sure it’s on tight.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • When you first remove a new wig from its packaging, turn it upside down and give it a gentle shake to improve its overall shape and release any manufacturing debris.
  • Before donning a wig, long-haired folks need to flatten out their hair for a proper fit. It’s a three-step process. First, gather your hair into a ponytail at the nape of the neck. Next, pull it forward over your head. Finally, pin it down with bobby pins or hair clips.
  • If your wig gets tangled or frizzed, use a wide-tooth comb or wig brush to straighten out stray hairs. A natural hair comb or brush could damage costume wig hair.
  • When pulling a wig cap on, start at the back of your head. This is especially important if you have a lot of hair.
  • To remove the unnatural shine of some costume wigs, lightly dust the hairpiece with talcum powder. Shake out the excess.

Other products we considered

Game of Thrones is still popular, even after the series ended. And so is the Daenerys Targaryen Cosplay Wig by WELLKAGE from Season 7. This is a white-blonde braided wig with long curls in the Khaleesi style favored by Thrones dragon queen Daenerys Targaryen, The Unburnt. The built-in wig cap is so soft and breathable you might forget you have it on.

We also like the Sunhour Short Bob Wigs With Air Bangs. This short, shoulder-length pink wig is stylish and wavy. It's made from heat-resistant synthetic fiber, and each wig is trimmed by hand, so no two are exactly alike. The wig can be styled and curled — as long as your iron is cooler than 356ºF.

Hair spray is damaging to synthetic hair, so it should never be used on costume wigs.

FAQ

Q. Can wigs be styled?
A.
It depends on the wig. The synthetic hair on some wigs can be styled as long as you don’t use too much heat. Others can’t be styled at all.

Q. How should I trim a wig to suit me?
A.
Put the wig on as if you were getting ready to go out wearing it. Once it is on and you’re satisfied with the placement, trim it just like you would trim your own hair.

Q. How many clips will I need on the wig cap and wig?
A.
You will probably need 10 on each to hold them securely in place.

The team that worked on this review
  • Lauren
    Lauren
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Michael
    Michael
    Writer

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