Can You Dye Synthetic Hair Extensions or Wigs? 6 Best Methods

Can You Dye Synthetic Hair Extensions or Wigs? 6 Best Methods

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Wigs and hair extensions are perfect for changing your hairstyle now and then without damaging your real hair.

But sometimes, even our alternative hair can get boring when we only have a few style options. 

Now, you might not have the space or budget for plenty of wigs and extensions.

To enjoy fresh looks without buying new wigs or extensions, you can actually restyle heat-friendly synthetic wigs and extensions.

two different types of wigs with dye for synthetic hair laid in a peach canvas

Best of all, you can also dye them if you want a complete color transformation or if you want a color style.

But can you dye synthetic hair? Can you even dye a synthetic wig with regular hair dye?

In this article, we talk about dyeing hairpieces made of synthetic fibers. Let’s see if we can change its color just like human hair or if we’ll need a different method.

Can You Dye Synthetic Hair?

You can dye synthetic hair, just not with regular hair dye.

If you ask Google, “Can I dye a synthetic wig?” the first answer you may get is “No.” That is usually followed by an explanation that synthetic hair cannot be colored using hair dye.

To clarify, that’s actually the answer to “Can you dye a synthetic wig with regular hair dye?”

The answer is no because synthetic hair fiber and human hair fiber are different. Human hair can absorb chemicals and pigments into its shafts, while synthetic hair can’t be penetrated by the dye’s pigments.

The result? The color won’t deposit, and the chemicals from the dye can ruin your hairpiece. 

That’s why most people say you can’t dye synthetic hair.

So how can synthetic wigs be dyed?

Lucky for you, there are ways you can change your synthetic wig’s color. Certain colorants can actually work on synthetic materials, and we’ll teach you what to use and how to use them on your wig or extension.

What Are Wigs and Hair Extensions Made Of?

short haired wigs with various vibrant colors displayed in a shop

Alternative hair can be made of different types of fibers. They are categorized into two: synthetic and human hair.

Synthetic Fiber

Synthetic hair fibers are man-made fibers that are designed to look like human hair.

It can be a cheap kind that looks shiny and feels plasticky, or it can be a high-quality synthetic hairpiece that looks almost like natural hair. Some synthetic fibers are also heat-friendly.

Human Hair

Hairpieces made of human hair vary according to the hair’s condition and how the hair is gathered.

There’s the classic human hair where the fibers come from hair donors.

Additionally, there’s what we call virgin human hair. This typically means the hair used has never undergone chemical processes like coloring, bleaching, or perming.

Another type is the Remy human hair, where the wig or extension is made from hair strands that are growing in the same direction and with cuticles still intact.

Among these wig types, we’ll be focusing on synthetic fibers.

What Is Synthetic Hair Fiber?

Synthetic hair is made from man-made fibers that are chemically processed to look and feel like real normal hair.

Any of the following materials are used to make the fake strands:

  • Acrylic
  • Polyester
  • Nylon
  • Polyvinyl chloride
  • Kanekalon

These are made into a wig or extension using polymer science.

Furthermore, synthetic fibers have style memory. Once styled, they will stay in that shape for a long time, even after washing.

Not all synthetic fibers have equal quality though. As we mentioned, cheaper ones have an unnatural shine, whereas expensive synthetic hair has high-quality fibers that look very similar to real human hair strands.

Some synthetic hair wigs and extensions are also heat-resistant, so you can style them using heat tools.

Preparing to Dye a Synthetic Wig

Let’s start with the things you need to prepare before you color synthetic hair.

First, wash your hairpiece using a mild shampoo specially formulated for synthetic hair, one day before dyeing it. This will remove the dirt and product buildup on your wig or extensions and ensure a smooth coloring process.

Now, do take note that coloring your wig can be messy. So how can you dye synthetic hair without getting stains all over the place?

What you can do is cover the surfaces with newspaper or plastic tarps. If you’re using a wig stand or foam head, you might want to cover it with plastic as well.

Lastly, protect yourself. Put on old clothes or an apron and wear latex or disposable gloves too.

a synthetic hair with orange to red hair color is laid in a wooden table

6 Best Ways to Dye Synthetic Extensions or Wig

Can you dye synthetic wigs? Yes! And we’re here to tell you the best methods for dyeing synthetic hair extensions and wigs.

Synthetic Hair Dyes That Work

Here are the dyes that work on synthetic fibers. These aren’t actually all dyes; some of them are inks and paints.

  • Fabric dye
  • Acrylic paint
  • Permanent marker ink
  • Rit DyeMore
  • Alcohol-based ink
  • Food coloring

Fabric Dye

The first coloring material you can use is fabric dye. This is actually one of the most effective dyes to use in fully coloring synthetic hair.

Just make sure that your alternative hair is heat resistant because this method involves boiling water!

Materials Needed

  • Heat-friendly synthetic wig or extension
  • Fabric dye (powder or liquid)
  • Pot (large enough to fit the hairpiece)
  • Water
  • Stove
  • Tongs

Steps to Dye Synthetic Wigs or Extensions Using Fabric Dye

  1. Boil water in a pot.
  2. Once the water boils, add the dye. You need 3 tablespoons of fabric dye for every cup of water that you added.
  3. Lower the heat.
  4. Dampen the synthetic hair then put it in the pot.
  5. Stir the hair slowly for a few seconds using tongs.
  6. Turn off the heat. Leave the hair in the pot for 5 to 10 minutes. The longer you leave it, the darker the color will be.
  7. Remove the hairpiece from the pot using your tongs and rinse it under running cold water.
  8. Place it somewhere to air dry.

Suggested product for this method: Jacquard iDye Poly with Color Intensifier gives intense color to synthetic fibers.

Jacquard iDye Fabric Dye 14 Grams-Gun Metal For Polyester, Nylon and all 100% Natural Fabrics
  • For use on Polyester, Nylon and all 100% natural fabrics
  • Each pack weighs 14 grams
  • Each pack will dye 2-3 pounds of fabric

Rit DyeMore

The most popular product to dye your synthetic wig or extension is Rit DyeMore. It might be helpful to know that there are two Rit dyes:

  • Rit All-Purpose Dye
  • Rit DyeMore

Rit All-Purpose Dye is recommended for natural fabrics.

But if you’re coloring synthetic materials like the ones your hairpiece is made of, it’s best to use Rit DyeMore because it’s specially made for synthetic fabrics.

Materials Needed

  • Heat-resistant hair extension or wig
  • Rit DyeMore
  • A large pot filled with water
  • Stove
  • Tongs

Coloring Steps

  1. Heat the water.
  2. When the water starts to simmer, add the Rit DyeMore.
  3. Dampen your hairpiece, then put it into the pot.
  4. Remove the pot from heat.
  5. Leave it for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Take the hairpiece out of the pot using tongs and rinse out excess dye under running water.
  7. Let the synthetic hair air-dry before styling it.

Suggested product for this method: Of course, for the Rit Dye method, you use Rit DyeMore Synthetic Fiber Dye!

Sale
Rit DyeMore Liquid Dye, Frost Grey 7 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)
  • Dye synthetic fabric and fabric blends, which include anything with 35% or more polyester, acrylic, acetate or nylon. Perfect for rejuvenating faded clothing, upcycling,...
  • With 250+ color recipes available on Rit’s website, it is almost certain you’ll find the right color for your needs
  • Get creative and create something unique with an easy dye technique, like an ombré, dip dyed, shibori or tie-dye pattern

Acrylic Paint

a close-up image of acrylic paints in a jar to be use for coloring synthetic hair

Another colorant you can use is acrylic paint.

You dye the wig or extensions by diluting it with alcohol. Just make sure that your synthetic hair can handle rubbing alcohol. To save your entire hairpiece from potential damage, do a strand test!

Materials Needed

  • Synthetic wig or extension
  • Acrylic paint
  • Spray bottle
  • Wig comb
  • Rubbing alcohol

Steps to Dye Synthetic Wigs or Extensions Using Acrylic Paint

  1. Pour rubbing alcohol into the spray bottle and add acrylic paint. If you want a lighter color, add more alcohol. And if you want a darker color, add more acrylic paint.
  2. Shake the bottle to mix the alcohol and paint.
  3. Spray the mixture into the synthetic hair, at least 6 inches away. Use your hands to work the color through the strands.
  4. Lift the upper sections of the hair and color the undersides.
  5. Spray on more paint as needed.
  6. Comb the hair to evenly coat the fibers.
  7. Hang it to dry for 1 to 2 hours.
  8. When the hairpiece is dry, rinse it thoroughly with cold water.
  9. Hang it to dry again.
  10. Brush and style the hairpiece.

Suggested product for this method: Check out this easy-to-blend Liquitex Professional Soft Body Acrylic Paint.

Liquitex Professional Soft Body Acrylic Paint, 59ml (2-oz) Bottle, Iridescent Rich Silver
  • PURE PIGMENTS – Every color is individually formulated to allow the unique character of each pigment to express itself. Soft Body uses the latest resin technology to...
  • SAFE TO USE – Tested by the Art and Creative Materials Institute, our colors hold the Approved Product (AP) seal, proving they are safe for studio and educational use
  • SOFT & FLOWING – You want color you can use straight from the bottle. With a low viscosity and just the right amount of body, Soft Body is never too sticky or slippery....

Permanent Marker Ink

This method is perfect to transform white or blonde wigs and extensions into vibrant colors.

But this isn’t done by coloring the hairpiece directly using the marker. Instead, you follow the steps below.

Materials Needed

  • White or light-colored alternative hair
  • 3 to 5 permanent markers (e.g., Sharpie pens) in the color of your choice
  • Scissors, cutter, or Exacto knife
  • Pliers
  • Spray bottle
  • Rubbing alcohol

Step to Dye Synthetic Wigs or Extensions Using Permanent Marker Ink

  1. Pour rubbing alcohol into the spray bottle.
  2. Use the pliers to pull the sharpie pen apart and get the ink tube inside.
  3. Split the ink tube in half, lengthwise, using scissors, a cutter, or an Exacto knife.
  4. Put the ink tube into the spray bottle.
  5. Repeat the steps for all the sharpies you need. The more ink tubes you deposit, the more intense the color will be.
  6. Let the mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes or longer to get the most out of the ink.
  7. Shake the spray bottle hard.
  8. Spray the mixture onto the synthetic hair.
  9. Use your hands (wear gloves!) to work the color through the wig or extensions while making sure the color is even.
  10. Hang or place the hairpiece somewhere to dry.
  11. When it’s dry, rinse it until the water runs clear.
  12. Leave it to dry again.

Want to add only highlights or streaks to your hair? Try the technique shown in this video. It also demonstrates how to get the ink tube from the Sharpie pen.

Suggested product for this method: We recommend the tried-and-tested Sharpie Permanent Marker.

Sale
Sharpie 1927350 Electro Pop Permanent Markers, Fine Point, Assorted Colors, 24 Count
  • Proudly permanent ink marks on paper, plastic, metal, and most other surfaces
  • Intensely brilliant colors create eye-popping, vibrant impressions
  • Remarkably resilient ink dries quickly and resists fading and water; AP certified

Alcohol-Based Ink

If you don’t want the hustle of ripping Sharpies apart, you can try alcohol-based inks instead.

Materials Needed

  • Heat resistant hairpiece
  • Alcohol-based ink
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Wide-toothed comb

Steps to Dye Synthetic Hair Using Alcohol-Based Ink

  1. Mix water and alcohol ink in a spray bottle. If you want the color to be lighter, put in more water. If you want it darker, add more ink.
  2. Spray your dye 3 to 5 times in a section of the hair and run your hands through it to ensure that the strands are evenly coated.
  3. Repeat step 3 for the rest of the hair.
  4. Run a wide-toothed comb through the hair.
  5. Set the wig or hair extension to air-dry.
  6. After drying, rinse it well.
  7. Detangle your wig.
  8. You can air-dry or use a gentle blow dryer in the lowest heat setting.

Suggested product for this method: For a vibrant color, use Tim Holtz Ranger Alcohol Ink.

Ranger AAI-19787 Adirondack Alcohol Ink 1/2-Ounce, 3-Pack, Nature Walk, Wild Plum/Buttrscotch/Stream
  • Formulated to create a vibrant, polished stone look
  • Acid free, permanent, quick drying, and transparent
  • Contains three 1/2 fluid ounce plastic bottles; a precision tip is included for each bottle

Food Coloring

Another easy way you can color your wig is through food coloring. However, this method offers a temporary dye job only, as it can easily wash out.

Materials Needed

  • Wig or hair extension
  • Hair dye brush
  • Bowl
  • Plastic spoon for mixing
  • Hair mousse
  • Food coloring

Dyeing Synthetic Wigs or Extensions Using Food Coloring

  1. Mix hair mousse with a few drops of food coloring in a bowl.
  2. Apply the mixture to the hairpiece using a brush, covering every strand.
  3. Let it sit for 30 minutes or more.
  4. Rinse the hair with cold water.
  5. Dry the hair.

Suggested product for this method: Use this highly concentrated U.S Cake Supply Food Coloring Liqua-Gel.

U.S. Cake Supply 12 Color Cake Food Coloring Liqua-Gel Decorating Set - .75 fl. Oz. (20ml) Bottles...
  • MADE in The USA - Liqua-Gel Colors are highly concentrated edible cake decorating colors in a wide range of bright vivid intense colors
  • Colors are easy to mix and disperse instantly. Gels come in queeze bottles with flip-top lids, so you can add "drops" for easy-to-repeat colors every time.
  • Gels are freeze tolerant, fade and bleed resistant and will not break down icings
a young girl wearing a sunglasses and a short synthetic colorful hair

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you color synthetic hair without staining the lace?

If you are using the spray methods, you can cover the lace front or the lace cap with Vaseline or a thick amount of hair spray to protect it from being stained by the colorant.

If you’re using stovetop methods, you can use tongs to hold the lace part of your wig and keep it from being submerged in the dye.

Can you bleach synthetic hair?

Yes, but not with bleaching powder made for real hair. What you can use to lighten your wigs and extensions is a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.

How many times can you dye synthetic hair?

You can dye your hair extensions or wigs up to 5 times, but you can only go darker each time.

We don’t recommend coloring then bleaching or lightening the synthetic fibers again as this may damage the fibers.

Can Synthetic Hair Be Colored? A Final Word

While you can’t use dyes for normal hair, you can still color synthetic hair. To change the shade of your wig or extensions, use different colorants such as inks, fabric dyes, and paints.

If it’s your first time coloring alternative hair, we suggest starting with a cheaper one so it won’t be too much of a waste if your coloring experiment didn’t go well.

It’s also best to try different options because not all synthetic fibers are the same, and what works well for one type of fiber may not work for others.

Need more tips in hairstyling?

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