Halloween Hair Humectant? Soggy Samhain Strands?
October 21, 2013 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Remember The Wet Look? Well, I need The Drowned Look. For this year’s Halloween costume contest, my buddies and I are going as the ladies of Shakespearean tragedy, and I drew Ophelia. I’m not doing Sad or Mad Ophelia, though; I’m doing recently-fished-out-of-the-creek Ophelia, and I need some advice.

I’m not doing JUST-fished-out-of-the-creek Ophelia because that’s just too much work and I don’t want to drip all over the office that morning. I’ve managed a damp hem and cuffs effect without too much discomfort. Green-Glo spray should make the foliage look moist enough.

What I’m a bit stuck on is the hair. I don’t want to go around with a wet head or toting a spray bottle, but I want the suggestion of dampness all afternoon. I had thought to put most of the crown area in a bunch of small, wild ponytails and pull it though a wreath, then put some kind of product in all of it.

I know jack-all about hair products beyond standard hold-it-in-place gel and spray. I don’t know a wax from a putty from a pomade from a shoe polish. I'm overwhelmed with product reviews, and half the time I don’t know what’s being written by the company and what’s being written by real users. I don’t have time to order anything, or to cross-check what I research online versus what’s in stores. So I’m really hoping there might be a Mefite or two out there who might know what I could get at my local Target or Northeast U.S. drugstore within the next week or so that might meet the following criteria:

1. Will give sort of a wet and perhaps wild look for a few hours
2. Is toward the lower end of the cost spectrum
3. Has the mildest scent possible

The locks in question: heavy, dark, and really straight. It's layered and comes just to the collarbone.
posted by The Underpants Monster to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'd think any cheap gel would work just fine for this.

Also- wax, putty and pomade are all generally used on really short hair, not hair like yours.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:41 PM on October 21, 2013

Vaseline will give your hair the all-day wet look you're after and doesn't smell much. Use sparingly. Wash hair thoroughly after using.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:44 PM on October 21, 2013

John Frieda used to make an "Ocean Spray" that was designed to make your hair look like you'd just gotten out of the ocean. It looks like it's been discontinued, but there's a homemade recipe here. For your purposes, I'd use a lot, and definitely add some of the oil she lists as optional.
posted by jaguar at 12:45 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd start off with a salt spray. You can get this one at Ulta. Or make one yourself.

The salt will get it to clump up, just like at the beach.

Then spray with a glossy spray. Aussie makes one, you can buy it everywhere.

Experiment, but these two things should work fine.

I'd clump up the strands of my hair a bit, perhaps start with a braid at the scalp, then the salt and once it was to my liking, shellac with the glosser.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:46 PM on October 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh, and I'd recommend that when you do your costume, you take little bits of hair and plaster them to your face with the gel, like here or here.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:46 PM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

You can test this tonight to see if it's wild enough: dampen your hair with a spray bottle but don't really get it wet-wet. Put a crapload of cheap conditioner in it.

I do this on purpose to deep-condition my hair and I look like I just staggered out of the woods.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:51 PM on October 21, 2013

You probably do not want to use vaseline on your hair, even though I'm sure it would achieve the look you're going for.

Cheap gel would be fine, I think--just use a lot of it.
And if I remember from back in my too-often-sunburned days, aloe vera will get the job done, too.
posted by phunniemee at 1:00 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Bucket loads of glycerin?
posted by popcassady at 1:05 PM on October 21, 2013

When my friends and I did a whole group of Shakespeare costumes in high school, our Ophelia wore a rubber duckie in her hair.
posted by nonane at 1:11 PM on October 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

You want "Wet Look" style gel. It works like standard hair gel, except it's formulated to make your hair look darker and damper than normal gel - think this. Bonus, it'll keep your updo in place. You can carry it with you during the day for minimally messy touch-ups.

You should be able to find LA Looks or Garnier brand at Target or standard drugstores.

I'd avoid using oil-based shine sprays or serums, as those might end up being too much of a greasy, lank look that's still too dry.
posted by superfluousm at 1:25 PM on October 21, 2013

I think cheap gel is what you want. In copious amounts.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:29 PM on October 21, 2013

Wash hair thoroughly after using.

The guy I know who did this wound up being unable to wash it out of his hair effectively and had "greaser" hair from his 50s costume for another week. I'd suggest some "wet look" or "shine" product instead.
posted by jessamyn at 3:07 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by rideunicorns at 3:26 PM on October 21, 2013

Wet your hair and put in a ton of cheap gel- $3 Dippity-Doo will work just fine, but you can pay a little more to find an unscented version. Let it air-dry and don't touch it too much as it dries. It will dry all crispy but still look wet. Once it's crispy and dry, don't touch it too much- when you touch it and break the "cast", the wet-looking shine will diminish significantly in those areas.

Gel is way better than anything wet or greasy like Vaseline, conditioner, or glycerine, because gel dries. Having grease, moisturizing conditioning products, or glycerine your hair basically means your hair is gross and damp all night, and the grease or fluid will drip onto your clothes, the car seat, the couch, the outfit and skin of anyone who hugs you.... it's disgusting to have greasy stuff in your hair, highly do not recommend! (Speaking from experience)
posted by pseudostrabismus at 3:41 PM on October 21, 2013

I always found that cheap gel applied to wet hair created a persistent wet look. The same gel applied to dry hair did not.

Don't use vaseline.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 4:16 PM on October 21, 2013

I co-sign cheap conditioner. The conditioner will keep your hair from totally air-drying as fast as normal without the crusty feeling of gel -- although it will likely feel greasy. Bonus points are that it can be good for your hair. It will take a bit for the conditioner to sink in, though.
posted by sm1tten at 5:32 PM on October 21, 2013

Ooh! Ooh! I was a Drowned Girl for a haunted house performance once, and couldn't actually be wet for the entire five hours, obviously. I didn't even use any product in my matted wig. I just put lots of moss and some iridescent "bubbles" in there that I found in the flower arrangement area of a large craft store. I also worked with liquid latex partially peeled off my face, and grays/blues/greens for makeup tones. Have fun!
posted by queensissy at 5:55 PM on October 21, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for all the ideas! The homemade salt spray, conditioner, and wet-look gel seem like the front-runner options. I'll do some mad science this weekend and early next week and let you know how it goes!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:11 AM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The winning product looks to be an emulsion of Naturelle unscented gel and conditioner. Will post pix of the final results after the shindig (I kind of look like Zombie Smurf Jesus in the test application). Thanks again, hairhive!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:48 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

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