Frequently Asked QuestionsThis section is to answer some of the more commonly asked questions in the world of cosplay.
Bleaching and Dyeing
- If you are using the bleach as directed, this is a myth! Here is my source.
If used properly bleach will not wear down fabric or shorten the lifespan of your piece. I suggest reading through the link above for more information on the proper use of bleach and how this was tested.
- Natural fibers like cotton or silk can be dyed using regular dye such as RIT. Synthetic fibers such as polyester or acrylic generally cannot be dyed using normal means but they can be dyed by special dyes made for those fabrics. A fabric that is a mix of natural and synthetic fiber may not dye evenly or to the color desired, so do a patch test if possible!
For dyeing synthetic fabrics I suggest reading through this page on disperse dye.
If you are unsure what the make-up of your fabric is you can find out with the burn test
- Yes! Contacts were originally made as a medical device to work in place of glasses and so most lenses can be bought to match your glasses' prescription. Some places will not sell contacts without having a valid prescription from an optometrist even if you want plano lenses.
Please note that many stores carry plano (0 power) lenses that are readily available, prescription lenses need to be made to match your eyesight and may take some time to be made or ordered. For example, a box of prescription blue lenses my boyfriend ordered from a glasses store took about half a week.
- The most common way is binding (Tutorials Here) since it is pretty cheap and effective. Usually done over a sports bra, you wrap ace bandages tightly around your chest to flatten the breasts. You can also use strips of cloth instead of bandages. You should try this out a couple of times before the con to learn your "comfort zone", wrapping too tightly can hurt your ribs and cause breathing problems. If you experience this at home you can quickly remove them and do it less tightly next time.
Another method that is commonly sugguested, though i don't reccomend it, is tape. Wrapping tape over your breasts, with or without a bra, acting like ace bandages to hold them down. The upside is that tape does not start to slip during the day. The downsides are that the tape can rip off skin, it is a one time use, and that there is no quick way out if you experience chest pains. If you do decide to do it this way, make sure to tape over ace bandages or a old shirt. Bring scissors to easily cut yourself out if needed, and practice before hand so you can learn your comfort zone.
And if you plan to crossplay often you might want to invest in a compression shirt.I have not used this method myself but I have read good things about them. A compression shirt is a tight spandex shirt that will push down on the breasts and hold them flat.
- Cosplay (Costume + Play) is dressing up in a costume as a specific character. Usually this term is used to describe dressing up as an Anime (Japanese Animation) character but can also mean dressing up as someone from a book, videogame, television show, or comic. It can also include mascot characters and original designs, or dressing up as a celebrity or icon. Cosplay is usually done to express their love of a character or their interest in some form of media.
You might be thinking cosplay is something that happens during Halloween, and it does happen then, on a very large scale. However, people typically wear cosplay costumes outside of Halloween at events such as conventions (trade shows), photo shoots, group meet ups and events.
Another difference from Halloween is that cosplayers like to make all or part of their costumes themselves. Most cosplayers are amateur costumers, they don't have formal training, but they still can produce works that appear professional. A cosplayer who makes their costume can be skilled at wig styling, makeup, sewing and prop construction!
- A convention is a trade show, a large event where companies and dealers can show off their products or service. The conventions talked about in conjunction with cosplay are usually based on a specific fandom, such as a sci fi convention, video gaming convention, comic book convention or Japanese animation convention.
A con usually involves a dealers room, which is a giant marketplace with a variety of vendors and exhibitors that allow you to buy merchandise for a lowered price, pick up freebies, or try out their products. Beyond that, there are usually a collection of fan-run events such as costume photoshoots or get togethers. At the larger conventions there might be media showings, informative panels, dances, costume competitions, concerts, gaming competitions and a variety of other events.
Conventions can last one to four days and may require the purchase of a convention badge for entry.
- This is a trickey question without an absolute answer. Costumes can cost anywhere from $10 to $1000 or more! It all depends on who is making it, how much materials cost, and how complicated the outfit is.
Average cosplay, by my definition, is the kind that are generally found at cons, online or at costume stores. They range from $60-100+ (USD) and they are usually just part of the costume - the shoes, wig or accessories are not included.
Costumes you make yourself can be any range, depending on what you are making. My costumes were about $100-200 for the more simple ones and are about $300-500 for more complex ones.
Costumes from a commissioner will usually cost about $100 and up, since you are paying for the materials and the cost of them making the costume for you.
- While they are considered fashion and not cosplay, many people do wear them to conventions.
There is such thing as cosplay-lolita (and I am sure there are cosplay versions of the other styles), which is basically a lolita outfit that is worn while cosplaying a character from a series, or it can refer to a lolita that is wearing it like a costume (usally this means they are not following "proper" rules of lolita, or are wearing costume-ish accessories like cat ears)
It is always a good idea to research a style before you wear it.
- Sometimes you want to wear the same costume for more than one day at a con, but you don't want it to be dirty or smelly, so what are some things you can do?
First, plan ahead. Before wearing the costume make sure to have a shower, use deoderant with an anti-persparent (to help prevent sweating). Wear a thin shirt underneath the costume if possible, to keep the costume off your body.. however if the costume has many layers or is very warm then you may want to go without. Carry a stain remover pen to get rid of stains that may appear throughout the day and avoid activities that may make it dirty (like walking through mud).
You will want to take the costume off at night, so if you are staying at the con then you will probably want to bring an extra pair of clothes or PJs. This allows you to let the costume air out at night. If the costume isn't too bad then you can use a stain remover pen to remove any small stains, give the outfit a light cover of febreeze and then let it air out in front of a window. For more extensive problems, such as a very smelly or dirty costume, you can ask if the hotel has a washer and dryer available - some do. If not, you can spot wash a costume in the sink, or hand wash a costume in the tub. You can use the hairdryer provided to help speed up drying. If your costume is an absorbant material, it may take a long time to dry and would be better to spot wash.
For the next day, you will want to change anything you can, such as socks and underwear. Make sure to have another shower before wearing the costume and once again put on deoderant.
- A good thread on the subject is this one since it has a lot of opinions.
My answer is that you can never get too old for cosplay, just as you can't get too old for dressing up at halloween. As you age you may change your costume choices to fit your age, your skill level and your wallet but there is never an age where you just shouldn't do it anymore.
- Sometimes you want to wear the same costume for more than one day at a con, but you don't want it to be dirty or smelly, so what are some things you can do?
First, plan ahead. Before wearing the costume make sure to have a shower, use deodorant with an antiperspirant (to help prevent sweating). Wear a thin shirt underneath the costume if possible, to keep the costume off your body.. however if the costume has many layers or is very warm then you may want to go without. Carry a stain remover pen to get rid of stains that may appear throughout the day and avoid activities that may make it dirty (like walking through mud).
You will want to take the costume off at night, so if you are staying at the con then you will probably want to bring an extra pair of clothes or PJs. This allows you to let the costume air out at night. If the costume isn't too bad then you can use a stain remover pen to remove any small stains, give the outfit a light cover of Febreeze and then let it air out in front of a window. For more extensive problems, such as a very smelly or dirty costume, you can ask if the hotel has a washer and dryer available - some do. If not, you can spot wash a costume in the sink, or hand wash a costume in the tub. You can use the hairdryer provided to help speed up drying. If your costume is an absorbent material, it may take a long time to dry and would be better to spot wash.
For the next day, you will want to change anything you can, such as socks and underwear. Make sure to have another shower before wearing the costume and once again put on deodorant.
- Most people choose poses by mimicking what the character does in the show, movie, game etc. A good way to choose poses is to look up a variety of reference pictures and print off ones with poses that are interesting and easy to get into quickly. Interesting poses generally involve an action of some sort.
For example Medusa (left) is standing very stiff, so it's not very interesting. Sakura (right) is in an active pose so it is more interesting to look at.
Once you decide on several poses, practice them in front of a mirror. Some poses are unflattering, they can make you or the costume look weird. So look for ones that make you look good! Another way to test poses is to get a friend to photograph you in them. Try to avoid poses that majorly block the costume, for example being all scrunched up, since the costume is usually what you want to show off. If you are doing a photo shoot with many photos being taken, then it is okay to have shots that block the costume since there will be others that don't.
You can also decide poses on the spot by interacting with the environment. Is there a tree? You could climb it, lean against it, sit under it, hang off it, or hide behind it ... this goes especially well if you think about the character's personality.
This Posing Template is a fun way to learn and practice poses before a convention.
- You can either buy a costume that is pre-made from a shop or get one custom made from a commissioner. For more information on commissions see "What is a Commission"
The easiest place to buy a costume is online, ebay offers a lot of cosplay shops with pre-made costumes, you can also find a lot of results on google for cosplay shops. Also check out our Where to Buy list for a variety of sellers!
If you are planning to buy online make sure to check out: Commissioners NOT to go to, The Commissioner Review Thread and Merchant Reviews.
You can also buy cosplays from some comic/anime stores or at conventions, and used costumes can be bought from cosplayers who are selling them.
- I wrote an article about this subject called Starting a Cosplay that goes into more detail than I do here. I suggest giving it a read through, but here is a quick overview:
- Start by collecting reference pictures of the character you want to cosplay
- Break down the costume to its' most basic parts (vest, shirt, pants, top hat)
- Decide if it would be within your skill to make the costume, alter existing pieces to make the costume, or buy the costume premade.
- If you decide to make it then choose a pattern, buy the materials and look for tutorials to help.
- A commission is where you get someone to make you a custom cosplay, or prop. Unlike buying a pre-made costume they will make it for you using your exact sizes, and if you have anything specific you would like (a certain fabric, a different color, an extra piece) they will most likely include it. The downfall to commissions are that they take more time since they make it themselves, and that it usually is a bit more costly because you are paying for their time and skills.
While some sites and ebay stores offer commissions, you can also ask for commissions in cosplay.com's marketplace
- The internet is your best tool for reference pictures because it is so easy to find them! When looking for reference pictures it is always good to choose a variety of references to get some different views of the costume. I like to have a mixture of: Screenshots of the media, fan art of the character, and photos of other cosplayers.
- Take your own pictures if you own a copy of the media
- Search google image search
- If it is a show you can find clips of it on youtube and screenshot it.
- Search photobucket.com
To get screenshots of the media you can:
- This is a question that pops up from time to time, I mean what better way to enjoy your time at Disney World or another Disney park then by dressing up as a character and getting a photo? However, there are many stories about people being told to change out of costume by employees in the park or being denied entrance to the park. Can these be validated? Not really, it is the internet afterall! Though I will direct you to the Disney World FAQ's opinion on dressing for the park:
- Adult costumes or clothing that can be viewed as representative of an actual Disney character
- Masks (unless you are dressing up for a particular event)
- Clothing with objectionable material, including obscene language or graphics
- Excessively torn clothing
- Clothing which, by nature, exposes excessive portions of the skin that may be viewed as inappropriate for a family environment Objectionable tattoos"
From Disney World's FAQ
"Ensuring that the parks are family friendly is an important part of the Disney experience. In that spirit, we ask you to use your discretion and common sense. Attire that is not appropriate for the theme parks (and which may result in refusal of admittance) includes but is not limited to:
Please note that dressing up as a non-Disney character (ex. Sora from Kingdom Hearts, or even a random anime character) could possibly count as an adult costume that can be viewed as a representative of an actual Disney character. It would be up to Disney's staff to determine if your costume is acceptable or not.
And this exerpt is from Disneyland's FAQ:
"Only Guests ages 9 and under may wear costumes into the theme parks. Costumes should be child friendly, meaning they must be non-obstructive, non-offensive and nonviolent. The following are not permitted:"
But Disneyland's site mentions that there are exceptions where adults are allowed to wear costumes to certain costume events such as Mickey's Halloween Party.
If you would like to double check, particularly if you are attending a different version of Disney park, you can always call the park ahead of time to ask if wearing a costume would be okay.
- The best thing you can do to help improve what you look like in pictures is to find pictures of you and pinpoint what makes you look good and what makes you look bad. Then try to eliminate the bad from your posing and focus on including what makes you look good. You can always ask for advice from friends or family, or even fellow cosplayers!
- Wear makeup. Even if you are cosplaying a male you should have at least the minimum of makeup on. Foundation helps smooth the tone of your skin and cover pimples or scars. Mineral powder prevents shine in photos.
- Practice posing. Interesting poses help make you look good! If you stand stiff with the peace sign you aren't going to look as nice as if you get in character. If you practice in front of a mirror you can see what looks good and what looks bad so you can remember the good poses for the day of the con.
- Take better photos. Most "in-the-hallway" convention photos suck. Bright flash, red eye, poor quality image, weird angles, not a nice background (garbage can eww), people walking by, blurry, there is so much that you can't really control. Even if you don't have a professional photographer at your disposal you can get a good picture. Find a nice area and have a friend take some photos of you, check them out, adjust yourself or costume as needed, and then take some more. Choose the best ones to represent your costume.
Some general tips for improving photos of you:
- Distressing is when you make something look worn or used. It is useful in costuming because when you make a costume it looks brand new, and that might not work for certain characters. These are a couple ways to make your costume look more broken in:
- Use sand paper to wear down areas that would have a lot of wear, such as on the knees or elbows.
- Washing the piece several times to fade the color and soften the fabric.
- Fray edges where wear would occur (such as bottom of a long pantleg).
- Create stains with watered down paint, coffee or tea.
- Green acrylic paint that has been watered down and applied with a thin brush can mimic grass stain.
- A dark powder paint with a little water can be used to create dirt stains without using real dirt.
- Bleach can be used to remove colour and stains.
- You may need to stick something to your skin such as elf ears, a pair of horns, or maybe even a fake mustache! When sticking stuff to your skin you will want to be extra careful. The same glues used on props can't be used on the face because they may cause heat or chemical burns, or cause other damage! So what can be used on the face?
- Eyelash glue is used for attaching false eyelashes to the eyelid and can be used to attach lightweight pieces to the face.
- Spirit gum is a common skin glue which is commonly used to attach ears and other prosthetics. It works best in small amounts and suggests a remover to take it off.
- Pros-Aide / Pros-Aide II is used for putting appliances or other makeup components on the skin. Will work for latex, foam latex and gelatin prosthetics. Pros-Aide's suggested remover is Isopropyl Myristate. Pros-Aide II is more easily removed, All Pur is the suggested remover.
- Ben Nye Prosthetic Adhesive is good for latex appliances and clown noses. I requires Bond Off! Or a similar remover.
- Kryolan Medical Adhesive is a silicone-based adhesive for extremely sensitive skin. It requires Medical Adhesive remover to be taken off.
- Ben Nye Glitter Glue is a glue for rhinestones and sequins to be held firmly in place. It is washable with water.
- Stoppelpaste or Stipple wax is used to apply crepe hair to skin for a un-shaven,five o'clock shadow look or to stick on glitters. It is removable with soap and water.
- If you want to change your skin color but don't want to use a body paint to create the effect a solution would be to use a catsuit or hoodless zentai suit.
You can buy these suits online to fit your measurements. They come in most colors and you can get them in vinyl or spandex. You can airbrush or paint over them to create a more realistic look with shading and highlights, or create designs such as tattoos. The biggest benefit is that they cover you evenly and you can wear the outfit multiple times without having to re-do makeup on the body.
Because they are hoodless you may have a visible neckline on the suit, and you will still have to color the face with paint.
- For most liquid body paints there is a setting powder that is used to finish the application and allow the product to dry.
It is also good to use a makeup sealer overtop of the makeup to give a protective layer over the makeup preventing it from rubbing off easily. Makeup sealer can be bought over the counter in most beauty stores. The one I have is a spray that dries quickly. If you need a quick fix I have heard that hairspray works as a substitute.
For better protection, particularly for full body makeup, I suggest using Liquid Latex Body Paint since it dries at room temperature and stays on for a long time but can be removed with soap and water. Though there are allergies to latex and you should always do a test patch if using the product for the first time. If it is still tacky after application baby powder can help prevent it from being sticky.
- Simply put it is a group of cosplayers who cosplay together, usually from the same series. They might compete in the masquerade together, make youtube videos, have their own webpage, or just do group photoshoots. Some groups only cosplay from one series, while others cosplay from many series.
- People to cosplay with at a convention and hang out with
- Groups are more impressive , and more recognizable than individual costumes. This leads to more photos and more people recognizing who you are.
- Everyone in the group can help each other with the costumes, making for a better costume for everyone involved. For example: Those good with props can handle props, and someone who does great things with wigs can handle the wigs.
- Masquerade skits can be coordinated and practiced long before a convention, making for an interesting and well done performance
- Being in a group can give you more motivation to get your costumes done on time
- That entirely depends on the group and what their goals are. They might only want people who live near them, people they have decided they like, people who have specific skill sets or people who have a certain level of skill preforming or creating a costume, they also might be looking for a specific character.
If you are looking to join an existing group it is best to ask about it. Don't be sad if they aren't accepting new members, many cosplay groups are just a group of friends and they might not be looking to expand to include others.
- Most cosplay groups start with a group of friends who attend conventions together. This is probably one of the best options because you likely live near each other which allows you to help each other out with costumes, and you know you attend the same conventions. The only thing keeping you from being a fancy group is choosing a group name!
If you don't have a group of friends who cosplay but are interested in being part of a cosplay group you can either join an existing one or make your own. My suggestion is to check out boards for conventions in your area and get to know people. (cosplay.com has country specific boards, and facebook usually has groups or event pages for conventions). There are usually people looking for other cosplayers to hang out with from the same series, or to participate in group photo shoots, or even participate in masquerade skits.
A cosplay group can be for just one con, or ongoing!
- Depending on the prop there is a wide variety of materials you can use depending on your budget and your skills. Some of these materials are:
- Wood / wooden dowels
- Wonderflex/Plastic/ PVC pipe
- Foam -> craft, insulation, green or styrofoam
- Model Magic
- There was a site made just to answer this specific question! This to That.com is a site that gives you glue advice for sticking one thing to another and offers several solutions for each query.
- Every convention has different prop rules, from extremely strict to very minimal. It is important that you find out the rules for props at conventions to make sure that you can bring yours in! It would suck to make an amazing prop and be told you have to leave it in the car or hotel room! It is even worse if your prop causes you to be expelled from the convention without refund.
To find out what your convention's guidelines are, check the convention's website for a weapon's policy. If a convention has a weapons check (a booth that makes sure props are con-acceptable, usually offering a prop tag or badge stamp or similar marking for an approved prop) then they will most likely have a list of what they will and will not allow.
If your con doesn't have a weapons policy on the website, or you are unsure if something will be allowed there should be contact information on the convention's website. If possible, contact someone who is in charge of the weapons check since they will be the most likely person to be able to answer your question! If your prop is particularly borderline (ex. very realistic looking gun) you may want to bring a printed copy of the approval with you to avoid any issues at the convention.
If your con doesn't have a weapons policy, contact information, or just doesn't have a website and you would like an idea if your prop is okay then you can try asking on a convention's forums (if they have a forum) or on a local cosplay board (Ex. cosplay.com's country specific forums). Previous attendees can offer their opinion based on past experiences with the weapons check and policies! Please note that while you can get some decent feedback, opinions from other con goers aren't necessarily what the policies actually are.
When in Doubt!
Avoid functional firearms, sharpened metal blade weapons, real explosives and anything that is illegal in your country.
In Public (Outside the con area)
Use discretion when in a public area. Realistic looking weapons (knives, guns) should be hidden if possible or sheathed. Also avoid swinging around your prop or playing with a medium/large prop in a crowded area. You don't want to scare someone who does not know that a convention is going on! This will also help prevent issues with security/police, and keep your prop from getting broken.
- First, you should look for sewing classes in your area. This way you can learn from a pro and they can teach you the proper way to do everything. Sewing classes will probably be hosted by local fabric, sewing and craft stores, and sometimes they are held by sewing machine stores. There may even be sewing classes run as a city program.
If you cannot find a sewing class, then ask around your family if anyone can help you sew or learn the basics. You could also look into getting a sewing book. I have heard sewing for dummies is a good book for learning, but you should look around and find one that suits your needs - you might want a book with more pictures and diagrams, or you might want something that is very descriptive.
To actueally start a project, you will probably want a Sewing Pattern which gives you instructions on how to sew what the pattern is for. When learning to sew it is good to start simple, start with things you can exactly find patterns for rather than needing to alter them. Avoid anything too big! Stuff like t-shirts for example are pretty easy, something like a vinyl bodysuit is much more challenging.
As for learning to sew in general, and learning to sew specific things, I sugguest looking for tutorials.Youtube and deviantart are great places for tutorials, but you can find a lot on google. I run a tutorial list here, under "tutorials", that is a giant list of hundereds of sewing and cosplay tutorials. I also have a twitter account Cosplay Tutorial that updates daily with new sewing and cosplay tutorials.
- A pattern is used in sewing as a guide to how to make whatever the pattern is for. It is a package that tells you how to make a certain thing. It has instructions, shapes you pin to the fabric to cut out, a thing on the back that explains what size you should make, a list of the amount of fabric you need and sugguested fabric, and a list of what else you may need.
- Patterns can be bought online or at most sewing stores, some wal-marts, and some craft stores. In stores, usually there are pattern books you look through to decide which one you want and then you give the reference number to someone who works at the store, and they can give you the proper pattern. You can also look at these pattern books online, as the pattern companies have it on their websites
- This means the pattern package comes with the instructions, and pattern pieces, for more than one outfit. They are usually very similar outfits. Don't worry though, the instructions will tell you what pieces to use for your specific piece.
- I find the best way to choose a fabric for a costume is to go to the local fabric store and look around. I look for fabrics that are the colors I need, it is easier to find the color as is than to experiment with dyeing! Once I find the colors I need I feel the weight, the stretch, I check if it is see-through and compare it to my references. I also compare my costume with what it might be in real life, for example a pair of jeans would be made of denim and a wedding dress might be made of bridal satin.
If you are not sure what the "real life" version of your costume might be made of you can look at sewing patterns. On the back there are fabric suggestions that can help you make your piece.
It also helps to have a general knowledge of fabrics . This is a list of fabrics that explains some of the fabric's characteristics which can be helpful for your search. This is a guide to fabric basics which can help you learn the differences between fabrics and make an educated choice.
- A wig cap is a nylon cap that is made for hiding hair under a wig. They are usually sold by the same retailers that sell wigs, and are usually around $5 or less. You can use a wig cap multiple times, and for multiple wigs. Usually it is good to get a skin colored cap, or one that matches the wig you plan to wear it with.
How to Put on a Wigcap
- Most hair products can be used on a wig. Hairspray, spiking glue, freeze spray, etc. The product you cannot use on a wig is hair GEL. Gel is made to work with the oils in your natural hair, and so it won't work properly on a wig, though it's okay since gel isn't as effective in making anime style spikes.
Other products you can use on a wig are white school glue and tacky glue, they are good for antigravity spikes and usually cost less than hair glue. Both will wash out of wigs with warm water. Avoid super glue and epoxy glues since they generate heat and can hurt the wig, they also do not wash out. Additionally, you should avoid hot glue because it can melt fibers, it also will not come off the wig.
- The person who gets the final decision on this is the cosplayer, and I have seen both wigs and real hair used well in cosplay. Though, the general opinion of the community is that you should use a wig whenever possible, and use your own hair if it already looks very close to that character's hair.
- A wig can be styled weeks before a con allowing you to get it looking perfect with time to spare. Real hair usually has to be styled day of the convention. Any cutting and dyeing of real hair should be done week of the convention so it looks best, though dyeing should be done as close to the convention as possible to avoid fading.
- Real hair can look greasy very easily because of the oils from your scalp which is why it should be washed the day of the convention or the night before the convention. On the flip side it can also get really dry and frizzy which can make it hard to style properly. Wigs tend not to get greasy because a wig cap generally separates the wig from your actual head and hair.
- Wigs can be re-worn multiple times very easily. Once you are done with it you can sit it on a wig head and leave it be until you need it again. With regular hair you'll need to cut or dye your hair every time you want to wear the costume, assuming you don't regularly keep the character's hairstyle!
- Wigs allow you to have many different hairstyles in one weekend. Some cosplayers like to wear two, three or even more costumes at a convention. A wig allows them to jump between styles, lengths and colors with little effort.
- Some things you just don't want to do to your regular hair. Like dye it multiple colors when your workplace might not allow it. Wigs can be glued and caulked, spiked vertically , have various pieces attached right into the mesh. You can hot glue right on the wig, although fibers may melt!
- Wigs are easier to style overall, unless you have someone to help you style your own hair. Wigs allow you to have a 360 view of the head, meaning you can style the back and visibly see what you are doing. For antigravity spikes you can physically turn the wig upside down and leave it for a couple hours to dry.
Though I am a wig shipper myself, I find that my costumes improved greatly after I started using wigs even if my hair was close before. There are many benefits to using a wig over your real hair! Here are some of the pros of using a wig:
- When you color a wig you are adding one color over another color. Because of this it is not possible to get a lighter color when using a dark wig as a base. A red wig will not turn pink. The same is true for regular hair, except that with regular hair you have the option to bleach the color out of the hair to make it lighter. You can't bleach a wig to remove the base color.
When buying a wig that you plan to dye it is best to buy a white wig or a light blonde one since it will take the color the best. A secondary option is to choose a wig that is a lighter version of what you want to make: you could do navy blue on a light blue wig, or red on a pink red.
So rule of thumb, always start with a lighter wig and go darker!