I want to start with a little bit to end any and all arguments over whether Sharpie ink or FW ink is better for wig dyeing. NEITHER. The Sharpie and FW methods both have their respective pros and cons, the benefits and losses of each you should decide for yourself after reading thoroughly about both.
[U]First of all, there is the availability issue.[/U] We have near a half dozen craft stores in my area, and only one of them carries the FW ink. Even so, this store ONLY carries the FW ink in primary colors. Any other store you walk into, they look at you like a crazy person when you ask for it. The wide availability of Sharpies is their first good quality, and one of the ways that they are more convenient than the FW ink.
[U]Next off, there's the price issue.[/U] FW ink is about $4 for an ounce of ink, depending on where you buy them, and if you have to order them online, the shipping steepens the price. Sharpies are about a dollar to two dollars a piece depending on where you buy them. This is both a pro and a con for each type of ink. Sharpies are cheaper in if you need only a small dye bath with only a few ink filaments. If you're doing a dye mix with a large quantity of ink, the FW ink can be cheaper in the long run, since Sharpies in bulk can become pricey. If price is no issue for you, then well, you shouldn't be reading this paragraph. =P
[U]We also have the quality debate.[/U] Many, many people have complained that their wig was crunchy, clumpy, or otherwise sticky after using the FW ink. Many people have complained that the Sharpie ink for one reason or other simply will not stick to their wig at all. When done right, and when done well, both methods are equally attractive when they reach their finished stage. Why some people have problems and others don't is a huge matter of trial and error, maybe a recipe was wrong, maybe it wasn't mixed right, maybe the ink was old, or what have you, but whatever the reasons, there have always been various problems with each dye type. However, there is one thing to keep in mind. Sharpie dye is translucent, whereas FW ink is not. FW ink is more powerful than Sharpie ink, and since it covers more strongly, it can lessen the "natural" shine or sheen of your wig, making it look dull, which Sharpies will not do. In spite of all other problems (which I am going to say are due to problems during dye making and process, and not due to the ink itself), this is the only real consistent issue between the quality of the Sharpie and FW dyes.
To conclude this section! Both the Sharpie and the FW inks have their flaws and their benefits. The benefits and flaws of these inks you need to decide for yourself. Do not ever listen to anyone who says that one is the beat-all demon-slaying savior of wig dyes, because neither dye is perfect, and besides, all you guys really care about is that your finished wig is nice, right? Right. So let's all agree to disagree on which method we prefer, and we'll all be much happier.
Now, onto the Sharpie FAQ guide. I've browsed the Sharpie dyeing thread to try and find the most commonly asked and answered questions, and the problems that people seem to come across the most often, and I've gathered them at someone's request and answered each and every one to the best of my knowledge.
DISCLAIMER: I am not the God of wig dyeing, and my opinions may not be the same as yours. You may not agree with some of my recipes or methods, and that's perfectly fine. I will repeatedly remind the reader throughout this guide that this is merely a general guide to follow, and not the step-by-step complete fail-proof instructions on how to make and/or use Sharpie dye.
DISCLAIMER 2: This is NOT a tutorial! There is no super perfect Sharpie dye tutorial that works for each and every wig, color, and shade, which is why I have not put one here.
I've done what I can just browsing the Sharpie thread, but I'm not perfect, and could have missed some questions. If there is a question you have, not answered in the guide, then PM me! I'll be more than happy to make this guide more complete and full so that everyone can benefit from it.
WARNING! Please, please, please, do NOT PM me a question that is already answered in this guide. If you ask me a question that has already been answered here, then I reserve the right to not justify the PM with a response. However, if you have a question about the clarity, or I did not go enough in depth with something already asked, feel free to ask me to add to or alter the guide to make it better to understand for everyone. Also, do not PM me asking for specific dye recipes for certain colors or characters... Please either post in the thread or figure it out for yourself.
And please, if I make a mistake, let me know that too. I'm not perfect. Yet. =P
[U]1. What kind of alcohol should I use when making my Sharpie dye?[/U]You want around the 70% strenght 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.
[u]2. Why can't I just use hair dye on my wig?[/u]
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. Maybe you've managed to successfully use some of that stuff from Hot Topic to stain your wig, but unless you're wanting a super pale, pale color that will hardly be noticed, don't use any type of dye meant for real hair on wigs.
(Guide continued in second post.)
[U]3. Where can I buy these Sharpies for my dye?[/U]
JoAnn, Michaels, AC Moore, Hobby Lobby, art supply stores, craft stores, and sometimes even office stores sell individual Sharpies for $1-1.29 a piece for the regular ones. As far as online stores, DickBlick.com sells individual Sharpies as well. Also, try here: [url]http://www.artsuppliesonline.com/catalog.cfm?cata_id=2019[/url]
[U]4. Can I dye a darker wig to a lighter color with Sharpie dye?[/U]
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.
[U]5. Can I dye a wig black with Sharpies?[/U]
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. Like I said before, you're probably just better off buying a black wig or extensions.
[U]6. How do I open Sharpies to get the ink out?[/U]
Take the Sharpie in your hands and bend it until it pops open. Sometimes you'll have to bend it back and forth a couple of times to get it to pop open, but opening Sharpies is pretty darn easy.
[U]7. Does wig conditioner seal the dye into a wig to keep it from bleeding?[/U]
No. Wig conditioner does just what it says: It conditions and softens your wig. Wig conditioner can help to remove that last bit of excess dye from your wig, but if you use too much product, or get too hot, sweaty, or oily, then your dye can still run or bleed after being conditioned if it was not properly washed and rinsed after the dyeing process.
[U]8. Will my wig dye always bleed or run after my wig has been dyed?[/U]
If your wig has been properly dyed, washed, conditioned, and rinsed, you should have no problem with your wig bleeding. HOWEVER. Red inks and dyes always have a tendency to bleed, whether it's wig dye, food coloring, or some other sort of red coloring. Red inks are problematic and may bleed even after all procedures have been properly followed, whereas say a green or blue ink may not.
If you are going to do heavy styling on your wig after it has been dyed, then there is the possibility that the product you are using may remove or discolor your dye, no matter which type of ink you prefer. Wig dyes are alcohol based and most styling agents have some alcohol in them, which is what will mess up your dye job. Also, oils in your skin (namely, your hands) can also cause dye to bleed or run, and especially if it's hot and you're sweaty. If you're going to be heavily styling a dyed wig, then make sure to constantly clean your hands to keep them free of their oils, and make sure you don't drown your wig in product. Use a little bit of product at a time, in small doses and in layers. Make sure you let all layers of product dry before adding another layer.
[U]9. How much dye do I need for X length wig?[/U]
Before you head out to buy your supplies, you'll need to know how much you'll need in terms of Sharpies and alcohol.
Chin length wigs will be anything chin-length or shorter. They will usually require no more than 8oz of dye.
Medium length wigs (anything past the shoulders to about 28'' long) will take about 12-16oz of dye.
Longer wigs (anything longer than 28'') should take around 16-20oz of dye.
DISCLAIMER: This is not the super-accurate guide to the amount of dye you will need to make. I have dyed several wigs, and the amount I've needed has shifted depending on several factors such as thickness of wig or type of fiber. I have dyed butt-length wigs with as little as 16oz of dye, but for some of them I needed more. To be safe, you should always make more dye than you think you will need.
DISCLAIMER 2: These amounts are for the spray-dyeing method, which is covered later, and is the most highly preferred method of wig dyeing. The dunk-dyeing and hand-Sharpie methods are covered later.
[U]10. I screwed up! How do I get rid of this dye?[/U]
Just get some plain ole' alcohol like you used to make your dye and rinse your wig with it. The easiest way is to get a gallon size zippie bag and swoosh your wig around in there with some plain alcohol. Repeat until all dye has been removed.
If your dye is too light and you want to darken the color, you can simply put a darker dye on top of it (assuming you rinse your wig first), but if your color is too dark, you'll have to lighten or clean your dye job with alcohol to redo it.
[U]11. What if my oh-so-perfect shade of _____ doesn't exist in a Sharpie?[/U]
Mix the closest shades and colors you can find to get what you want. This will be different for everyone, and unless someone else has gotten that perfect shade that you want, it's best just to experiment and find out what the best recipe is for you.
[U]12. What about the mesh of my wig? Won't that get dyed during my dyeing process?[/U]
Yes, and it'll match your wig. Not so bad is it?
[U]13. How many Sharpies and how much alcohol should I use?[/U]
For lighter, very, very subtle colors, use 1-2 Sharpies per 8oz of alcohol.
For lighter-medium colors, use 2-3 Sharpies per 8oz of alcohol.
For darker-medium colors, use 3-4 Sharpies per 8oz of alcohol.
For super dark or deep colors, use 4-5 Sharpies per 8oz of alcohol.
DISCLAIMER: Again, this is just a general guide, and different colors and shades will need different mixtures and recipes.
[U]14. Should I spray-dye, dunk-dye, or hand-Sharpie my wig?[/U]
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.
Each method obviously has its pros and cons, and you, again, should go with whichever method you want, or whatever will work best for you.
DISCLAIMER: This is not a tutorial.
[U]15. Once I've figured out my process of dyeing, how do I make my actual dye?[/U]
Pop open your desired amount of Sharpies, slit the ink sticks with a sharp knife, and stick them into your alcohol. Secure bottle with a lid, and shake! Shake and let dye sit until desired shade is reached, add more alcohol to lighten or dilute dye, and add more Sharpies to strengthen or darken dye. I usually let mine sit overnight, shaking it as often as I remember to.
[U]16. Can I use styling products on my wig after it has been dyed?[/U]
Yes, you can! You can use hair spray, pomades, and other products on a wig after it has been dyed. However, you need to keep in mind that if you use too much product, it will remove or discolor your dye. Use your product in many light layers, and not a lot of thick layers.
DISCLAIMER: This isn't the general wig guide, so I won't go in depth with this part, except to say do not use hair gel on wigs, dyed or not.
[U]17. My wig is Eleora. Can I dye it?[/U]
Yes, you can dye Eleora wigs. Simply put, the trick to dyeing an Eleora fiber wig is to use more Sharpies, to make the dye stronger. I've had no problem dyeing Eleora wigs myself.
There have been mixed reviews with dyeing Eleora wigs, however, and I want to point out one thing for this. Any wig, Eleora or other fiber, that has a curl, braid, or other kind of manufactured, permanent style is not usually suitable for dyeing. These wigs have a special coating on them that helps them to keep their permanent style, and that coating doesn't like dye very much. Dye on these wigs, if it sticks, will probably bleed and run off.
[U]18. Can I dye a wig that already has highlights?[/U]
You can dye a multi-toned wig just like you can any other wig. If your wig is two different tones of a paler color (say platinum and light blonde), your dye result will depend on the darkness and strength of your dye. A paler dye may keep the already existing highlights of your wig, whereas a darker dye may cover them up completely.
A wig that is a light or medium color with dark highlights (say a brown or darker) can still be dyed, but your chances are very good that the darker, highlighted portion will either not accept the dye or will only be lightly tinted by the dye. Unless you are dyeing it a very, very dark color, your wig will retain the highlights in pretty much their original color.
Basically, if you are dyeing a highlighted wig, the way the wig will accept the dye all goes back to the dyeability of the colors of the wig fiber. If your highlights are dark, they will probably not accept dye. If your fibers are lighter, they will dye very easily. Aways keep in mind the color of your wig fibers before deciding whether or not they will accept your dye.
19. 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.
Contributed by Serifed:
The retractable Sharpies only have about half the amount of dye in them as plain Sharpies, and the filaments aren't quite as "juicy" as the ones in regular Sharpies, resulting in significantly less ink.