Not cosplay: I’ve gotten a haircut. Cosplay: a friend of mine who knows me very well asked me Friday over lunch if I had gotten it cut for the sake of cosplay.
Which got me thinking about using a wig versus using your real hair for cosplay, especially in the context of your first cosplay thanks to the First Cosplay Saga.
I’m biased towards the ‘always use a wig, all the time’ for my personal cosplay, for two reasons.
1) None of my characters ever go anywhere near my natural hair so some terrible, permanent things in the way of bleach and dye and extensions would have to happen.
2) I spent the first two years of my cosplay life in Houston, Texas, where the humidity teams up with your hair specifically to make your life resemble a circle of Hell. So even if my hair looked just like the character’s in the hotel room, it would be gone as soon as I stepped outside (or even into a different climate controlled environment). I used half of my real hair once, and this is what happened:
Check out those bangs on my right side. What are they even doing? I have no idea.
Wigs are flexible, but they are not one size fits all. And a majority of the time, proper wig adjustments don’t happen during your first cosplay between one thing and another. The first time you wear a wig for cosplay, chances are decent you haven’t worn a wig for an eight to ten hour stretch before. This, combined with the fact that typical anime hairstyles will do things like block half your normal vision or your peripheral vision, will give you a headache the first couple of times. And I can’t stress enough that your first cosplay is supposed to be fun, not irritating.
But you can’t get over the fact that, with proper maintenance, you have total control what your ‘hair’ looks like and you usually only have to do it once. And depending on the cosplay, having the right hair is even more important for character recognition than the clothes themselves.
Did I get my hair cut for cosplay, like my friend had guessed? No. But later that day, I snuck into anime club just in time for Durarara! after attending another event. Afterwards, a girl told me she was two seconds away from shouting out “Izaya-kun!’
Needless to say, the fear that I’ll look like that weirdo is enough to make sure that I never skip the mascara in the morning. But if I can get that while wearing makeup, a peacoat, and skinny jeans, I’m not going to bother with my wig at Ikkicon. So here’s my official position. If you have the exact hair you need and you know it’s not going to try anything funny, go for it. But put a wig on your to-buy list for when you grow out of your hairstyle, but not your favorite character.