The Grey Wig Wars

Recently I was asked to source some grey wigs. I ended up buying some of these. Although I may only use them on one or two productions, it is handy to have quite a variety of wigs on standby...just in case.

Grey wigs can tend to look very out-dated and far from sophisticated. Some of this has to do with the style it is cut and set in, but it could also be up to you to re-style it as best you can. Most synthetic wigs won't go into any other style other than what they came as. This doesn't stop me, however. I use product and technique if I have to. When it comes to product on wigs, less is best. I try as far as possible to use products that brush out easily, and I also wash wigs carefully after use. But simple teasing can be a good technique for making synthetic wigs obey your commands.

Most of the out-dated-remnant-of-the-eighties styles are layered and tend to be styled up and away from the face. Take the curl and turn it in, instead. Turn the hair down and towards the face, and try to work with that. Okay, often easier said than done, but do play around with it and find alternatives to the set style; you may surprise yourself. Of course, it is better to prep all the required wigs before your shoot, to save time.

The best thing about synthetic wigs is that you can use your alcohol-activated hair colours on the wig without an ounce of guilt. With grey wigs it helps to add a few extra streaks of silver to liven it up a little.
Although you can find specialist (and expensive) shine sprays from the wig supplier, in a pinch you could use a bit of your usual shine spray, or hair oils like Mythic Oil, Extraordinary Oil or Diamond Oil. Obviously, the shine spray from the supplier is designed for both real hair and synthetic wigs, and protect the wig in the long run. If you happen to be using a synthetic wig once off, then anything goes.

I usually visit the folks at Fascination Wigs in Paarden Eiland as my first port of call when in search for wigs for a production. They stock a very good variety, including wefts. Wefts can be great for adding hair to 'stuntees': glued on wefts work well for stunt doubles, because the hair stays put longer and better, especially when there's a lot of action about.
But mostly I used full wigs to create a variety of looks when we're shooting with the same model in various situations; just to get more option out of a look and scenario. And if models do come to work with hair that just can't be styled...this happens...then my trusted bag of wig-tricks is always close by. I also add hair pieces to a style to create volume and texture. I have 'add-on' hair pieces that attach to the model's hair to create gorgeous ponytails or intricate buns, without me having to do much at all. This saves a lot of time; and great when I have a queue of models that all need to be ready in the same ten minutes!?! ...this happens!...?!
And when it comes to ageing characters, then who really wants to spend an hour painstakingly painting colour into hair...I've helped another artist do this once. The problem with brushing in hair colour using the hair paints by Ben Nye and other leading brands, is that it comes off on just about everything. And it looks dull and lifeless. With wigs I can add shine and create movement. But wigs have to be set and attached properly. Don't be afraid to play around and try different ways with the hair. Real hair wigs are obviously so much better to work with. But synthetic wigs are inexpensive (compared to real hair wigs) and can be used to great effect for fashion and special effects work, because you can treat it more severely and do things to it that you would never dare with a real hair wig.

I do like the selection of grey wigs I found, and am looking forward to doing an 'ageing' shoot soon!! With so many new products and techniques, ageing a character has become easier and faster to accomplish, but certainly what cuts your time instantly is a grey wig!
Have fun finding yours.
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