Do the lace top wigs I see on Instagram really look that good up close? Can you show me how it looks? Can you add a lace to my wig? Should I buy a lace wig?… For the past three months I have been bombarded with these questions and more like them. Lace wigs have been all the craze on popular sheitel Instagram accounts, so what is this hype all about?
Lace wigs are not a new phenomenon. They have been around forever and have been worn heavily by African American women all around the world. Because African American women have difficult hair to manage, many of them wear some sort of “hair system,” as they call it. The majority of these hair systems are made with lace tops that are glued to their heads and changed around every two months. Yes, that’s right, you heard me correctly: the lace is glued to their heads and that is how lace wigs and lace fronts were originally intended to be applied to attain that natural look. If you focus on it, you will notice that the hair quality that is used on the wigs for African American women is a much coarser, lower quality, sometimes synthetic and much less expensive hair than that used on wigs for Jewish consumers. Using that kind of quality hair makes it more affordable to buy a new lace wig every two to three months so that they can be reapplied by re-gluing them to their heads. However, considering the fact that lace pieces made with the quality of hair that Jewish women desire run anywhere from $1,800- $6,000, buying a new lace wig every two to three months each time the lace tears, loses hair or stretches is an unaffordable option.
Lace is an extremely delicate material. The more natural the lace looks the more delicate it will be. Lace can easily tear, stretch, have the hair fall out quite easily even with the slightest mishandling of the piece. One must be extremely careful when putting on and wearing them, as no company can guarantee the lace. I do not advise the lace piece being worn around children and babies who might pull on your sheitel while holding them. When putting expensive hair into such fragile material, you are definitely taking a risk. Sheitel companies are actively trying to find ways to give their clients that lace top look, while trying to make the piece more durable.
Hands-down the most popular question I get is, “Do they really look as good in real life as they do on Instagram??” The answer should be most obvious. Does anything appear in real life as good as it looks in Instagram?? But I, of all people, completely understand that question because I too get wrapped up in the Instagram world. I become convinced by postings for kitchen gadgets, “easy to do recipes,” exercise equipment, at-home creams and beauty products that all appear easy, magical and perfect, only to try them at home and be disappointed by the results. But that is the goal of advertising, selling us a false reality of easy, hassle-free, perfect and beautiful (which we are all looking for, but in reality does not exist!), and advertisers are just so good at doing their jobs so well! I always joke with my clients when they ask for that “Sandra Bullock just woke up bed head look.” Do you know it took a team of professional hairdressers two and a half hours to achieve that look, and then a team of professional photographers photographing her while having fans blow on her hair at the exact correct placement for the flowing-off-the-face look, all that just to achieve that one picture to advertise that perfect messy casual appearance? When looking at lace-top sheitels, know and remember what is going on behind the scenes of that perfect picture. An expert sheitel macher is applying and styling the piece perfectly for the client. The professional then puts makeup on top of the lace, blending it all the way to her forehead to give that appearance of that seamless natural look. Knowing how to apply the lace wig and being able to expertly and properly blend the makeup is key to achieving that natural look. Then remember the picture is taken at the most perfect angle with optimal lighting, and editing the photo to achieve that “perfect look.” So when you go home and put on your lace piece and apply the proper makeup to it, it will probably look more natural than wigs you have been wearing in the past. However, in general, it will not look like that natural flawless picture that was posted on Instagram.
Jewish lace wigs are still currently in what I call the “experimental stage.” In a year or two we will know more ways to improve their durability. Some sheitel machers are pessimistic and believe this is a sheitel phase that will fade out soon, as people will become frustrated spending so much money on lace that does not hold up well long term. I happen to love my lace piece; it is so lightweight and comfortable and I get tons of compliments on how natural it looks! My advice when considering whether to buy a lace piece is the following: If this is a sheitel you need and would not be purchasing another piece for a while, I would buy a traditional sheitel that will be more durable and guaranteed by the companies. However, if this is an extra piece for yourself and it won’t be worn on a daily basis then you can go ahead and treat yourself by joining the Instagram lace-wig craze!
By Sari Friedbauer
Sari Friedbauer is the owner of Sari’s wigs. Sari is a licensed cosmetologist and hairdresser as well as a certified wig maker. She is available for consultations and can be reached at (201) 694-5319.