Wigs 101: The differences between costume, cosplay, and “good” synthetic wigs

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Originally posted on May 07, 2013 by Heather Hershey

Cosplay has been a popular activity at ComiCon and other conventions for many years. You may have noticed a recent glut of cosplay wigs available on Ebay, Amazon, and other retailers. So what gives? Here’s a brief rundown of some of the major differences between Halloween and other costume wigs, cosplay wigs, and the every day kind of wigs that we sell here at CysterWigs.


About: These are the sort of wigs you can buy from WalMart and costume stores certain times of the year.

Price: They can range from the extremely cheap to somewhat convincing, with prices that range around $15 – $40.

Usefulness: These wigs are primarily meant for one time use.

Hair Fibers: Always synthetic. The fibers tend to be really cheap and will tangle and break at the ends with little wear.

Cap Construction: These are the cheapest wigs you can possibly buy. As a result, the caps tend to be very cheaply made. You don’t get a lot of hair, which means that the wefts (or tracks of hair sewn into the cap) are easily visible. The caps have no fancy features: no monofilament or lace fronts, heat-friendly fibers, or anything like that. The caps tend to run really small or really large. They also lose their cap shape pretty easily.

Wearability: As anyone who’s worn one of these can attest to, they are very itchy to wear because of the shoddy cap construction and scratchy doll-like hair used.

Overall Realism: These wigs are definitely not intended to look realistic. Everyone will know they’re part of a costume. The front hair lines, for example, are often atrocious and the fibers are ultra-mega shiny.

Wearable Life: These are basically intended for one time use, but perhaps they’ll get you through a weekend.

Conclusion: As long as you wear them as intended — as part of an obvious costume you only wear once or twice — then you will be fine with this kind of hair. 



About: These wigs are worn by cosplayers, people who go to conventions or parties dressed like their favorite (or sometimes the most obscure favorite) character from Anime, video games, or some other cool pop culture source. They come in natural shades and, most often, fun, super bright color combinations reminiscent of a cartoon…on purpose. 😉

Price: Ranges from $17 – $50. These are relatively inexpensive, but since most of the people who cosplay tend to be younger buyers who are unaware of the overall wig market (because they don’t have to wear them every day), you’ll see a lot of message board posts where they complain about $35 being “expensive”. (God love ’em.)

Usefulness: These wigs can be used multiple times, but are not intended for daily use.

Hair Fibers: Mostly synthetic, occasionally made of cheap human hair (from generally unethical sources). These synthetics are almost always silky Kanekalon, but some are Futura, meaning that they’re heat resistant.

Cap Construction: These are slightly better than Halloween wigs, with a better fit. They still lack any fancy cap options that lend to the overall realism (like mono tops or lace fronts). They may still have issues with obvious wefting. Occasionally they will have skin parts on top of the rose lace.

Wearability: These wigs tend to be heavy (especially longer ones) and can hold heat in very well. They are available in elaborate designs and colors that may not hold up during extended usage. Due to the cheap cap construction, many have crazy bangs that will need to be trimmed or otherwise altered. Even high quality synthetics have a wearable life with everyday wear of about 3 – 6 months. The wearable life of a cosplay wig is about a month of everyday wear.

Overall Realism: These can sometimes look very realistic. Most don’t on purpose.

Wearable Life: About a month of every day wear.

Conclusion: These wigs come in cool, fun colors and styles that can look great as part of a cosplay or as a means of switching up your look for a night out. Not recommended for every day use unless you intend to dispose of it after a few weeks.


About: These are the most natural kind of wigs you can buy without having one customized specifically for your head. High-end synthetics and human hair wigs like the ones you’ll find at CysterWigs.com are made specifically to be worn every day in comfort. These are also occasionally referred to as hair prosthetics, alternative hair, and “chemo” wigs – though anyone with hair loss or a passion for style can enjoy these, not just “chemo” patients.

Price: These range in price from about $50 – $1000+ . It all depends on which options are important to you.

Usefulness: These wigs can be worn all day long, every day, for multiple months.

Hair Fibers: Kanekalon and mono fiber synthetics are common. Heat resistant synthetic fibers that can be heat styled are also commonly available. Some brands have their own fiber formulas which can make for more natural or lighter weight hair densities. Colors tend to be more natural, but some companies dabble with fun colors too. Beautiful highlighted shades and rooted color options (which add beauty to the appearance as well as an added dimension of realism) are also available.

Cap Construction: The sky is honestly the limit – which is why there is such a wide price range associated with this kind of wig. These can come in junior, petite, average, and large wig cap sizes. Monofilament tops, parts, and 100% hand-tied caps are common. These can mimic the appearance of a real scalp and the hairs will pivot naturally where sewn, giving the hair natural movement. These wigs have more hair, but tend to weigh less. Wefts are virtually invisible due to hair density and craftsmanship. There are a lot more options with this kind of wig. You definitely get what you pay for in most cases. You can get any feature you want to make the wig look more natural.

Wearability: These are the most comfortable wigs you can buy online.

Overall Realism: These are the most realistic wigs you can buy online…hence the price difference.

Wearable Life: Synthetics get about 3 – 6 months of every day wear. Human hair wigs can last YEARS with every day wear, depending on how you care for them.

Conclusion: Comfortable, lightweight, and very realistic – wigs designed for every day wear come in a wide variety of brands, styles, shapes, colors, and cap constructions. It’s not hard to find a cute one to match your needs and your budget. This is what we specialize in. Let us know if you need any help finding the right wig for you.



  1. October 5, 2018 / 9:07 pm

    Wigs have always interested me, I love to have each day a new option, from a short boy cut one day to curly long hair past my bottom the next. Not only is it fun but also it keeps life interesting. It for sure keeps my husband on his toes, and the better the wig the more believable the change. I appreciate the information, I have been wanting to try out cosplay and wasn’t sure if the wigs I currently have are the right choice for that. Thanks again.

  2. Karen Patton
    March 22, 2019 / 5:16 pm

    Recently, I have had health issues that have caused severe thinning on top. I want a natural looking wig. What type, if any, cap should I choose??

    • March 25, 2019 / 5:03 pm

      Hi there Karen, thank you for commenting on the CysterWigs’ blog.

      Please write into us in the CCHD so we can better assist you in choosing the right wig cap for you as there are several things to consider as a new wig wearer.

      Our CCHD team is available 10 am – 6pm (EST/EDT)
      Monday – Friday (excluding most major US holidays)
      Email: support@cysterwigs.zendesk.com

      Thank you for choosing CysterWigs, and have a lovely hair day!

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