This customization tutorial by yaexrae does a FABULOUS job explaining how to do this with ventilation needles - complete with pictures! Dont be put off by the fact that she's a cosplayer. This girl really knows her stuff! (Thank you for the excellent tutorial, yaexrae!)
Just know: wig ventilation take a LONG time. It is a painstaking, tedious customization. What she's done here probably took a couple days to accomplish. Just keep that in mind before you start. This isn't a project for people with short attention spans, poor hand coordination, or bad vision!
How to Ventilate (or Add Hair to) a Lacefront Wig
I’ve seen a lot of really creative methods for adding realistic hairlines to wigs, but in my personal opinion, nothing beats a good lacefront wig! With lacefronts starting to be offered in a rainbow of colors, cosplayers have a lot more options to work with than they did even a few years ago.
But it’s hard to find a lacefront that 100% matches your desired hairline right out of the box.. I’ve heard a lot of people talking about “sewing hair” onto wigs, and there’s an actual term for this: ventilating! It’s accomplished with a ventilating needle or latch hook, and much less time consuming than threading individual wig hairs through a conventional hand-sewing needle. Ventilating kits are relatively inexpensive ($10-$20) and can make adding hair to a lacefront wig a fairly simple, if not tedious, task.
Read more for a more in-depth walkthrough!
For this write-up, I’m using what will eventually be my Elsa wig. I have dark brown hair and Elsa is a platinum blonde, which makes things difficult for me because I don’t want any of my dark hair sticking out from underneath the wig.
(no makeup ugh gross)
When the wig came, it had a nice soft widow’s peak already built in to the center of the hairline, but the sideburn areas left a lot to be desired. No amount of fidgeting around with the wig placement could cover the hair by my ears.
To create a guideline for myself, I drew on the wig lace with a white eyeliner pencil where I wanted the new hairline of the wig to be. I’m not quite finished with the fine-tuning, but here’s what the other side of the wig looks like after a few hours of ventilating.
WHAT DO I NEED?
- A lacefront wig
- Some free strands of hair in the color of your wig - either buy a pack of extensions or cut some from the back of your wig
- A ventilating needle or latch hook - Ebay has lots of listings for these if you search for “ventilating needle." I bought my kit two years ago from this vendor. I’m not sure if it’s the same exact kit but if it’s not, it’s pretty similar to what I have. I use the smaller needle that came with the kit - it’s good enough to grab 1-4 hairs at a time.
- Some sharp scissors to cut the excess lace off the wig at the end
HOW DO I DO IT?
(First off, my apologies for the blurriness of these photos - that’s what I made the gif up top for. Hopefully between these pictures and the gif, you’ll be able to figure things out.)
Grab a few strands of hair (10-30) from your loose extensions. A few strands of hair is way easier to work with than a big bunch. Fold the hair in half to create a small loop, and grasp it in your non-dominant hand. I like to weave the extra hair in between the rest of my fingers, so if I accidentally lift my thumb up, the hair won’t go everywhere.
Your wig should be pinned to a wig head, ideally with a contrasting color underneath the area you will be ventilating so you can see the wig lace better.
I put some duct tape down for contrast, and when that wasn’t cutting it, I used a black sharpie to make the lace pop a little more.
Here’s a close-up of the ventilating needle I’m using - it’s basically a curved needle with a very small hook on the end.
Get the wig head settled in a position that will make ventilating easy for you - I usually just set it in my lap. Holding the needle in your dominant hand and the looped hair in your non-dominant hand, insert the needle through a single strand of the wig lace.
Loop some hair onto the hook. For areas very close to the hairline, I’ll use a single strand, but for areas a bit further back I’ll use 2 or 3 hairs at a time. It’ll take a little practice to get down the perfect technique for hooking hair onto the needle, but it can be done!
Carefully pull the looped hair through the wig lace. Your hair will accidentally fall off a lot in the beginning - just keep at it and you’ll get the hang of what angle and tension you need to use. If your hook is also overloaded with hair (like, more than 5 strands for this size hook), the hair will also fall off as you pull it through the lace. Keep hold of the end of the hair in your non-dominant hand.
For ease of reference, I’m gonna call the hair you pulled through the wig lace "post-lace hair” and the hair that you have yet to pull through “pre-lace hair." Reach up and grab the pre-lace hair around the bend of the needle.
I couldn’t get pictures of the next step because I only have two hands, so you’ll have to refer to the GIF above for it. Rotate the needle handle 180 degrees so that the pre-lace hair is wrapped around the bend of the needle. In the photo above, I would need to rotate the handle of the needle counter-clockwise to get it into the correct position, but in the GIF the needle rotates clockwise. Either way is fine as long as you’re able to pull the pre-lace hair through the post-lace loop in the end.
Next is the trickiest part - pull the pre-lace hair through the post-lace loop. The result should look something like this:
You can either release the tension from your non-dominant hand so that you can pull the ends of the hair through the loop, or hold the tension on your non-dominant hand firm while you give a little tug with the needle. This will snug down the knot and make it easier to pull the hair through. Either way, give it a nice tug to get the ends all the way through and make the knot as tiny as possible.
And that’s it! It’s done on a very tiny scale and it’s very tedious, but the results on a good lacefront wig are some of the closest you’ll get to fooling people into thinking your wig is real hair. Here are a few detail shots to close!