The next con is in a few days, you’re almost done with your fabulous costume, but you have no idea how to get it to the con in one piece?
Elaborately styled wigs can be very fragile, so here’s my tried-and-true method how to transport your wigs as carry-on luggage or even ship them safely halfway around the world!
The safest place for a styled wig is on a wig block or foam head. However, you need to make sure that the head won’t fall over and squish the style. When you’re at home, that’s not a problem because you can prop the head on a variety of wig stands – see my overview right here!
But what if you’re traveling? Fix the wig head to a base plate and carry it in a box! All you’ll need is an old foam head, a piece of cardboard and a box.
Cut a square piece of cardboard that’s wider than the wig head and nearly the same size as the bottom of the box you’ll want to carry your wig in. (Mine are usually 12×12“.) Use corrugated board that is both stable and lightweight. I simply cut up shipping cartons that I have no use for.
Apply foam-safe glue to the bottom of the foam head. Place the head in the middle of the board. Move it around a bit to distribute the glue more evenly. Then lift the foam head again – you’ll see the glue stringing. It’s not strong enough yet, so you’ll need to let it cure for a few minutes (depending on the product) before you press the two pieces together for good.
Test the glue with your finger. If it feels barely sticky anymore, press the foam head and board firmly together and hold them for a few seconds. This should do the trick!
Enter: the wig
Let the glue cure completely. Now take the styled wig and carefully put it on the foam head. Secure it with a long pin.
Note: If you’re taking the wig on a plane, replace the metal pin with a toothpick to pass security control!
Cover the hair with a hair net to protect it against tangling. For very voluminous styles, you’ll want to use multiple hair nets (e.g. one for the bangs and one for each ponytail or hair bun) so that you don’t squish the style.
If your wig has long hair or a ponytail, twist the loose hair and wrap it around the base of the wig head.
Tip: For wigs with protruding elements – like a high ponytail or pigtails – prop the foam head diagonally on the base plate, or back it into a corner. That way you can fit the whole wig into your small box and use the space more efficiently.
Put a lid on it
To protect your wig from dust, heat, air draught and anything (or anyone) that could mess with the styling, you’ll want to put the wig head in a closed box. I use 12x12x12″ cardboard boxes that are a perfect fit for most wigs when placed on a foam head. You can stack them and they’re great for shipping, too!
Hold the wig head in both hands – on the sides where you don’t squish the wig’s style – and let it slide down into the box. The cardboard base should fit into the box with just a little wiggle room.
While the wig head can no longer fall over thanks to the base, it can still tilt and shift inside the box when you toss it around. Stuff the box with crumpled up paper all around the base of the wig head, careful not to damage the style. I prefer silk paper because it is soft and gentle on the wig fibers. Newsprint should be a few days old, or else the fresh ink may rub off onto your wig and fingers.
Do a test by shaking the box up and down and sideways. If you’re shipping it, keep in mind that your package will get tossed around and even turned upside down, so you’ll want the wig to sit firmly inside the box without shifting. Cover the wig with a layer of silk paper, then tape the lid shut.
Tip: If the style is too tall to close the lid, try shifting the wig on the head by pulling it down into the face or the nape. You could also use a smaller wig head or shave off the neck to make it shorter.
Cardboard boxes can be a bit cumbersome when you travel, so I sometimes put my wigs in a large bag or collapsible plastic box instead that is easier to carry. Just make sure that the wig is protected from all sides so that it can’t get squished by your luggage.
Losing your head?
To save on space and on foam heads, I often store styled wigs in a box stuffed with paper instead.
Stuff the wig with crumpled up silk paper or newsprint so that it keeps its shape. Wrap it with a hair net. Then place the wig face down in a box. Stuff the box with paper to protect the wig and keep it from shifting. Be extra careful not to flatten fluffy parts like bangs or spikes.
Boxes take up more space than plastic bags, but you can stack them on top of each other and they provide maximum protection for your wigs! Make sure to label your boxes with the character names.
After the con, don’t just toss your wig in a corner! Carry it back in the same box or bag and let it air out on a wig head at home. Condition and detangle it to return it to its original glory, then put it back in the box for storage. Synthetic wigs will hold up their style for years if stored properly and kept away from heat, dust, air draught and direct sunlight.
You’ll find a step-by-step detangling and wig care guide in my book, Wigs 101.