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Ask A Wig Expert

Josh Marquette—the man behind the high-glam manes of Broadway’s Kinky Boots and the screwball ’dos of 30 Rock—talks keeping your wig in place and pulling off a toupee.

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Illustration by Zoey Keleman  

What’s your advice for picking out a natural-looking wig?
Find one that matches up well with your hairline; the wig should look like it’s growing out of your scalp, rather than forming a whole other seam across your forehead. And remember, you want the color to work with your skin tone, eyebrows, eye color—I’ll hold a sample up to an actress’s forehead to see if a wig is going to brighten her face or make her look drab.

Any styling tips?
You can breathe new life into a human-hair piece with your usual hot tools and products, like dry shampoo and shine spray. But go easy on the hairspray, which tends to build up and make the hair look fake if you’re not washing your wig every day. Don’t try to change the style of a synthetic: A performer in Mamma Mia! [in Las Vegas] once made that mistake, and the hair melted right onto her curling iron.

What’s the proper way to wash a wig?
Gently run shampoo and then conditioner through it, keeping all the hair going in the same direction; don’t massage it or it’ll get messy. With human-hair wigs, using a [head bust] will help preserve the shape and prevent you from stretching it out.

How do those crazy Broadway wigs not fall off mid-show?
If you pull your hair up under the cap in really tight pin curls, that wig’s not going anywhere. Bald people need wig glue, which is called spirit gum, or Topstick tape. With massive wigs, like the banana-shaped one I designed for a musical called Minsky’s in L.A., having good balance can be key.

Is there any hope for toupees?
Just make sure the wig cap isn’t bubbling. Dab a little glue at the edges of where the toupee covers the head, and wait a couple seconds for it to get tacky before pulling on the toupee. Lace-fronts, which tend to look the most natural, are really delicate and tricky to put on, so have your wig-seller walk you through it. But personally, I think bald is better.

Interview by Whitney Spaner


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