by Nicole Renee, I’m Hot Studio, Amesbury, MA
If it could cry, it would have whimpered one, faint, last snivel.
I stood there in disbelief. . .shock. . .awe. . .and just stared at it.
This lifeless, plastic scalped, chew-toy of a wig was ready for a proper burial. There was no way I would allow my client, Kathy, to wear this frizzy “animal” on her head. . .to continue on this road-kill path of ratty wigs.
“I’ve had this piece for so long, but I guess it’s time to move forward.”
“Yes,” I agreed, “ You will be SO happy you did!” Tossing the wig to the side, I declared, “We are on a journey to cooler, lighter and more natural looking wigs!”
Many of my clients have started with skin tops when they first venture into the colorful and endless world of wigs. These are OK if you’re on a tight budget and cannot spring for a new or higher quality hairpiece. When you can conveniently “find” the money to do so, I highly recommend graduating to lace fronts.
Here’s the Difference 101 between a skin top versus lace front wig: A skin top wig has hair punched into a scalp-like material, either latex or polyurethane. A lace front wig has hair attached as small knots into a lace mesh material. Let’s examine the pros and cons of each.
Benefits of Skin Tops
Price motivates buyers to purchase a skin top. They are cheaper and novice wig shoppers often grab the hairpiece that’s easiest on the purse.
Cons of Skin Tops
Skin tops may be light on the wallet but they’re heavy on the sweat. Polyurethane and latex suffocate the skin. These materials make for uncomfortable wearing if you’re a heavy sweater or live in a warm climate. Perspiration trickles down to melting your makeup job as well.
The hair movement is relatively stiff as its restricted by the plastic base, contributing to an artificial look.
Adding hair to thinning spots on a skin top base can be done but good luck finding a ventilator gunning for the job. This is labor intensive, expensive and potentially damages the inflexible cap. Reinvest your money on a quality lace front wig.
Benefits of Lace Fronts
The benefits of lace fronts outweigh the cons. The breathable lace allows for the flow through of air. They part easily, lending to versatile styling options. The hair flows with grace and ease in a lace base versus a rigid, plastic foundation.
A quality lace front, looks like the hair grows out of your head and the hairline density can be tailored. An experienced ventilator can add hair into the lace to cover thinning areas as the hairpiece thins.
Cons of Lace Fronts
Many web shoppers get excited to find a “deal” on a longer lace front ($100 or less) but often when it arrives, the density is thin, sparse in the bang area, or it sheds heavily upon brushing.
Sometimes a square or dense round hairline needs to be customized.
Quality deluxe lace fronts are pricey but you get what you pay for. You’re paying for labor intensive knitting, a medium or heavier density, rooted or multi-dimensional color, length and hair type.
Questions to Ask When Buying
- What type of lace is used? French lace tends to be more durable and scratchy for some versus softer, delicate Swiss lace options.
- What types of knots are used? A well made lace front is weaved with double knots to secure the hair. A weakly woven single knot lace front sheds heavily on the first brushing or balds quicker.
- How is the cap adjustable? I recommend hook and eye straps. The hair gets caught in velcro straps and pull strings loosen and wear quickly.
- What is the density? Light density: 80%. Light to Medium Density: 80-100%. Under 100%, why buy a balding wig? lol. Medium to Heavy 100-130%. This is typical stock density. Closer to 120-130%, the better. Heavy: 150%. Mostly for performers who want a super full style
So, that’s a quick, cheat sheet guide. Many online wigs have this information in their descriptions.
As for my client, Kathy, she has officially embraced lace fronts!
When I applied the layer flowing design on Kathy, a smile and blush glowed over her face. “I feel so glamorous and it looks so real!” The chest length, chocolate brown with buttery blonde highlights definitely had that “movie star” quality.
We finished customizing the front and she confidently waved goodbye, with a toss of her hair and a beaming smile, she was ready to conquer her day!