I'll start out by saying that this is my cosplay wig for my Euphemia cosplay. It's really long, it's curly, and it's not heat resistant, making it pretty much the most difficult kind of wig to deal with, despite being good quality. Your lolita wigs will probably be a bit easier than this one, but the steps are the same!
Here's the wig in action:
As you can see, it had begun to frizz a bit and lost some of its curl. After being worn twice, I decided it needed a little TLC.
For reference, I don't have to do this with my lolita wigs nearly as often, since they are not nearly as long, and I think the fibre is better quality. However, since I don't wear this wig as often, it's not a big deal. I usually only wash my lolita wigs after several wears, although I do brush them out between wearings. This helps them from getting too tangled, although it does relax the curl a bit. Even if you want to keep the curl, I would recommend brushing between every few wearings.
For reference, here are the supplies I used for this:
Shampoo (regular kind I use for my hair)
Conditioner (regular kind I use for my hair)
Wig Detangler (I have used the kind for regular hair in the past though)
Wig Brush (a regular brush can be used, but are not quite as effective in my experience)
Sink (you can also use a bathtub or bucket or anything that holds water really)
Onto tutorial type things~
Here is the wig before I have done anything to it:
As you cans see, a bit frizzy and unruly. But we're going to change that!
First, I fill up the sink. I put some shampoo in the sink before filling it up so that the water mixed it up. Make sure to use cold water here, since warm water can warp the fibres.
A nice sudsy sink!
Next, put the wig in. Move it around a bit to mix the water and shampoo in among all the fibres. Make sure it's all under water so you don't miss any bits!
Getting nice and clean.
After getting it to a point where you think it's clean (it took me a few minutes, but if you feel that it's pretty dirty you might want to soak it), rinse it out. To prevent tangles, hold it towards the top and have the water run down along the length of the fibres. This may take a while with a long wig, and might be easier to do in the bathtub/shower if you can. Make sure you get all of the shampoo out of the wig before you move on.
As you can see, it sudsed a bit. You might need to lift the wig out of the sink and let it drain once in a while so that the wig doesn't get more shampoo in it.
A nice clean wig.
Now it's time for the conditioner. You don't want to be shy here, since you want to get as much of the wig covered as possible. Make sure to get enough on all sides of the wig so that you can massage it in among the fibres. Add a bit of water as needed to help it get in there, but you shouldn't need to much. If it's really tangled, you may want to soak the wig with fabric softener instead of conditioner, but this works fine if it's not a really tangled mess.
As you can see, plenty of conditioner.
The conditioner mixed in with the wig.
Next you'll want to rinse the wig. Once again, start from the top so that the water travels down the length of the fibres. You can comb through with your fingers as well to help the conditioner get out and help remove tangles. Make sure once again that you get all the conditioner out, as it will stay on the fibres and weigh them down if not removed.
Once the wig is completely rinsed, you'll want to lay it out on a towel.
Now is pretty much the only time you'll ever want to brush a wet wig: just conditioned and covered in detangler. I sprayed each strand to be brushed copiously with the detangling spray.
Start from the bottom of the wig, holding the headcap and brushing gently. This will take a long time. It took me well over half an hour to brush out this wig.
Doing this step in small sections will help make it easier. Doing it all at once will be harder and will make the wig more likely to get big knots.
Here's the wig after brushing it out. As you can see, it's pretty straight, but is starting to re-curl (that's the frizziness towards the bottom). Most non- heat resistant wigs will have their curls spring back after washing. In my experience they are usually of similar tightness to when the wig was purchased.
I hung the wig upright to help the curls be able to reform more easily, but you don't have to do this. I also brushed out the bottom a little bit before doing so to get that little bit of frizziness away.
It usually takes about a day for a wig to dry, depending on humidity and such. Once the wig is dry, you can brush it out if you need to, or leave it if the curls have sprung back and you want to keep them. If the top needs a little bit of taming but you don't want to disrupt the curl, you can gently brush the top with a bit of wig spray, but don't brush all the way through.
As you can see, the frizziness is gone and much of the curl has returned. No pics worn since I need to restyle the bangs, but you get the idea that it looks much nicer now.
If you don't need to wash your wig, but it needs detangling, you can just follow the steps from after rinsing out the conditioner. You'll still want to use a bit of detangler, but you wont need as much.
Note: Some knots become positively impossible to remove, so I will go in with a pair of kids craft scissors and cut them out. This is my preference, but it does help if most of the wig is detangled and there's just a bit that's in a knot. Get as much of the fibre as you can out, and then cut the knot itself out with as little of the fibre as you can. Unless it's a huge chunk, it won't really show, and I generally have this problem on the underside of wigs, so it usually wont show anyway.
I hope this tutorial is helpful. If you are interested, I can try to make one on re- curling a wig using the hot water method, so please let me know if you would like to see this in the future.
Please note that I am not a wig professional, I have simply learned these things from wearing wigs with cosplay and lolita. If you have any suggestions to improve upon it, please let me know and I will add them to the post.
Thanks for reading~