If anyone knows anything about wigs, it’s drag queens. They capture our imaginations with their elaborate makeup and outfits, consistently topping off their looks with hairpieces in all colors of the rainbow. Their wigs can be sculptural and fantastical, and oftentimes embody the term “hair to the heavens.” Whether it’s a pink Marilyn Monroe–style piece, or one wig that gets ripped off to reveal another underneath (à la Roxxxy Andrews), drag queens have a wig game that is, quite frankly, ummatched. So, of course we had to ask a few about how they take care of their fabulous hairpieces.
Read on to find out how some of your favorite drag stars from RuPaul’s Drag Race — Shea Couleé, Alaska, Jinkx Monsoon, and Thorgy Thor — keep their wigs looking fierce AF.
What’s the best way to store a wig?
Shea Couleé: “In the bottom of a suitcase. It gives them great volume and texture.”
Jinkx Monsoon: “The best way is to get a tall hat box, so that the wig can sit on a wig block or wig head inside, and not be disturbed. The most practical way when you’re traveling is to get a very large Ziploc bag, gently put the wig inside, and then place the bag in a suitcase with a partitioned area for the wig. That way, when it’s closed, there’s nothing crushing the wig or pressing into it.”
Thorgy Thor: “Shoved into a box under my bed.”
Alaska: “I’d like to start out by saying I normally don’t wear wigs. I have naturally platinum blonde, floor-length hair. However despite my genetic blessings, I am very knowledgeable on this topic.
As far as storage goes, it’s easy to keep most wigs in plastic Ziploc bags inside of a drawer or a storage bin. For highly styled pieces, I keep them on heads around my house. My kitchen is full of wig heads and so is my front window — so from the outside the shadows look like the party scene from Home Alone. “
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How do you protect your wigs while you’re styling them?
Shea Couleé: “All my wigs are custom-made, so that’s a question for those who make them!”
Jinkx Monsoon: “I hire someone else to style the wigs. I protect them from myself.”
Alaska: “I find synthetic wigs to be very durable — but don’t use heat tools. Use steam.”
Do you ever restyle wigs? If so, what steps do you take to make sure they keep their integrity?
Shea Couleé: “A steamer with distilled water, wire rollers, and Pump It Up hair spray go a long way.”
Jinkx Monsoon: “You have to wash your wigs very carefully. If they are synthetic, you wanna wash them like a fabric, not like human hair. I place my wigs in the bathtub and fill it until they are fully submerged. Then I add fabric softener to the water, and make sure the wigs are fully saturated with the fabric softener. You let them soak for a while (a day if you have the time to spare), then you rinse them thoroughly. After that, you brush them out and the restyling can begin.”
Thorgy Thor: “I constantly restyle, repurpose, destroy, and build up hair over and over again. I am not a wig genius, so I often just buy a new one after that one is destroyed, and the cycle starts over again until I’ve loved it HARD.”
Alaska: “Almost every night, I straighten my synthetic units with a hand steamer. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it breathes life back into frizzy or dry ends that can result from brushing and regular wear. Pop the wig on top of a doorframe, and steam downward as you brush through it.”
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What’s the worst thing you can do to a wig?
Shea Couleé: “Lend it to a friend.”
Jinkx Monsoon: “Get food in it! But really, the worst thing you can do to a wig is treat it like the hair on your head. Wigs have very specific needs and very specific tools that can be used on them. Each wig will have her own needs, and it’s your job to identify them and take care of her accordingly.”
Thorgy Thor: “Let Thorgy wear it.”
Alaska: “Touch it when it’s on someone else’s head.”
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What are your favorite kinds of wigs to wear?
Shea Couleé: “My favorite wig to wear is a lace-front.”
Jinkx Monsoon: “I prefer synthetics because they’re more durable and easier to manage. I like wigs that are styled with little to no hair spray. This requires them to be set steamed into the correct styling, so that you don’t need tons of hair spray to pull it off. Achieving the effect of very large, full hair without too much hair spray requires taking multiple wigs of the same style and sewing them together so you have TONS of hair, but not too much product.”
Thorgy Thor: “I do love the dollar-store YAK hair in bulk.”
Alaska: “There’s a reason I’m a spokesmodel for Wigs by Vanity: It’s because I can’t get enough of their product. They’ve worked closely with their manufacturers to find the most durable yet seamless lace, and the hair quality and fullness are incomparable. Plus they’re made for all head sizes, so they’re perfect for drag. They cost a little bit more, but once you get one you’ll understand why.”
What’s the worst wig you ever wore?
Shea Couleé: “The worst wig I ever wore was a $14 cosplay wig from Amazon.”
Jinkx Monsoon: “I have worn some BAD wigs in my day. I guess the worst would be a simple black bob that I wore for so long, and abused so badly, that the back part of it lost lots of hair and you could see the netting underneath. We call this balding.”
Thorgy Thor: “The one from yesterday’s gig.”
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What’s your favorite wig care tip?
Shea Couleé: “Brush them seldomly, hairspray them frequently.”
Jinkx Monsoon: “Get someone else, who really knows what they’re doing, to do it all. If you are not good at wigs, there are plenty of people out there who are, and trust me, It’s worth the money! If you want a specific look and you have no idea how to begin, find a professional wig designer (they’re everywhere; Instagram is a good place to look) and have them either create the look for you, or hire them to teach you how. Wig styling and maintenance is an art form and must be treated as such. Not everyone is good at it, and not everyone has the patience required to be good at it. There’s no shame in outsourcing!”
Thorgy Thor: “Have fun. Not everyone can afford beautiful lace-front designer hair. But learn what you can and find what works for you to pamper the artist within.”
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