Things You'll Need
Ready-made Skin Cap (optional)
Ready-made wooden head form (optional)
Alginate Impression Material
Flesh-colored liquid latex
A skin wig is basically a weaved wig where the hairs are pulled through a thin blend of polyurethane materials that imitates the appearance of skin. It's purpose is to give a more realistic look, as though the hairs are actually coming out of your head. However, it is best used in cooler climates at it does not allow your scalp to breath like the full lace cap.
Making any wig is a difficult and time-consuming process and you're better off purchasing a ready-made wig. But if you wish to create a custom wig or toupee for everyday use or for theatrical purposes, you can either purchase a pre-fabricated skin or bald cap and cut it to your subject's head or you can make one yourself by using a head mold. Then you use the skin cap along with traditional wig-making techniques to create your skin wig.
We will not go into wig ventilation (weaving) techniques here but we will show you how you incorporate the skin cap with traditional lace wig making. The primary advantage to a skin wig is that it looks more realistic where the hair parts and around the forehead because you can blend the skin cap with a subject's real skin.
Here is a step by step process for making your skin cap for use with making a skin wig.
Using a Ready-Made Skin Cap
Purchase a skin cap or bald cap from a beauty supply, costume supply or make-up supply company. There are suggested links below.
Once you have the skin cap, place it over the subject's head. Use a marker to mark cutaway areas by going over ear, neck and forehead area - the areas you want the wig to cover. Take off cap and cut out. Don't cut out all at once. Do one area and then place cap back on subject's head to check fit. Recut if necessary or move on to cut the rest. Check the fit one final time.
Now that you have your skin cap you will incorporate it in your wig-making procedure. If you already know how to ventilate a lace wig, then incorporating a skin cap is not that difficult. Place the skin cap on top of the lace netting hairpiece that was specially made for your subject's head. Then pull the hairs through the netting and the skin cap and tie them appropriately. This is a delicate process because the plastic or latex skin is very fragile. Plus, you do not want to see the knots. The whole idea of using a skin cap is to mimic a real scalp, so you must be careful in retaining that illusion.
Making a Custom Skin Cap
You first need to have a head form. You can purchase wooden or cloth heads used for making hats and place plastic over them before making the skin cap. Or you could create your own custom head mold by using Alginate Impression Material, which is nice because it will not stick to hair (or anything else). It is available at dental or medical supply companies and some art supply stores. Simply mix powder with water and pour mixture over your subject's head. It sets up in about two minutes. After the mold is hard, remove, grease up with a petroleum jelly, fill with cement, remove Alginate material after the cement has dried and you have a custom head form
Now that you have your head form you are ready to create your skin cap. You will need a flesh-colored liquid latex you can purchase at a number of different theatrical or art supply stores or better yet online. Put petroleum jelly on head form (head needs to be smooth).
Paint latex on in shape of head going a little past where you need it and don't forget sideburns, if necessary. You'll need to do about 4-6 coats of latex, letting them dry between applications. Once finished you can pull off the cap from the head form. It is now ready to use to create your skin wig using lace wig-making techniques.
You must be careful when ventilating a wig using a skin cap. The latex is very delicate and can tear easily. Place the skin cap over the lace wig netting. Pull three or four hairs at a time through the skin for each box in the net and tie with proper knot. Once completed you can use spirit glue and/or tape to blend latex skin with real skin at the edges of the wig.
Wig-making kits are available from several wig supply companies online.
Always ask your subjects if they are allergic to latex and warn them about the possibility of severe reactions to latex on skin.