Enjoying a new look

We humans are odd creatures. We tend to create an image of ourselves and believe it’s true. When we’re young, we might be disappointed with what we see on the mirror — we wish to be stronger, sexier, better-looking. When we age, we still have our youthful self-image in mind, and the mirror betrays us, and reveals what we dislike most: that we cannot turn back the clock of time.

But as transgendered people, we have an extra problem to deal with. Our image on the mirror doesn’t even match the gender of our self-image. So we work at it — with clothes, accessories, makeup. It still doesn’t match, so some might add hormones and surgery. Finally, for some, the image might at least come close to the gender. Then there are lots of new problems to deal with: sure, the gender might match, but the image on the mirror still doesn’t look like the inner self-image.

For part-time crossdressers, usually we don’t resort to hormones and surgery (at least, most don’t), so we have an even more difficult time! Matching what we have in mind with the canvas that is our face and body requires talent and skill; but there is a limit to what one can do.

But sometimes, well, things “just work”. And when that happens to me, I usually get shocked.

On my last dressing session, for a moment, I didn’t even recognize myself. True, I’m not joking! It was just for a few seconds, looking at the reflection on the window. Then the moment passed swiftly away. But the weird sensation of “not being me” was rather startling — something I hadn’t experienced since my very first sessions, and which my critical eye usually doesn’t allow to happen. But, well, this time, at least for a very brief instant, my mind was tricked.

The merit, of course, is not mine: it’s all thanks to Pink Lace Wigs, who do an astonishing work with hair, and this was what suddenly tricked my mind. I feel reluctant to say that Pink Lace Wigs “do wigs”: I should say that they do “artificial hair prosthesis”, because that’s pretty much what the result looks like.

If you started like me, you probably thought — a wig is just a wig. You went through site after site in search for one that looked nice on the picture and which was within your budget. Then comes the first disappointment: very cheap wigs will quickly “wear out”, they lose their styling, and on very bad wigs, the more you wash them, the quicker they’re ruined. Believe me, I know — I once bought a wig from China, ordered through eBay, for just one Euro! It wasn’t as ugly as I thought (for that price I was prepared to accept anything!) but of course after a few months it was completely ruined.

But it’s not just the wear and tear. Cheap wigs use low-grade synthetic fibre — usually heavy and with totally the wrong texture and feel of real hair. And they usually don’t fit that well: those one-size-fits-all caps will usually fit nobody right. There are, of course, a few tricks: you can sew some special combs into a cap, and they will stick, at least to a degree that you feel confident enough that the wind will not blow it off your head. Nevertheless, a badly fitting cap is always a mess: it will never look “natural”. And from certain angles people will always know that you’re wearing a wig.

As you progress towards better-quality wigs — not necessarily way more expensive ones; there are cheap high-quality wigs, too; more on that later — you will get better synthetic fibres which flow more naturally. They will be as shiny as real hair — not more, nor less. The styles will look more natural and more modern: they will have professional stylists telling the wigmakers what styles are fashionable. They will often have some highlighting or a blend of colours, which will look way more natural — or have an uniform colour for the ones preferring the look of dyed hair. And with proper care they will last longer, too, and resist washing quite well, looking almost “as new” as when you bought them.

But of course they will not last forever: sooner or later, like real hair, the tips will split. The hair will lose its flexibility and become more rigid and less natural. Of course, real hair can go through the same process, but at least, with real hair, when you cut it (or brush it too hard so that the hair strands are torn from the scalp!), it will grow back — well, most of it anyway 🙂 — which obviously isn’t the case with a synthetic wig. So at some point there is nothing else to do but to buy a new one; there is a limit to what a professional wig stylist can do…

In the past few years, I’ve mostly bought wigs from a local supplier, who sells them to genetic women with alopecia or falling hair as a result from chemotherapy. They’re very CD and trans friendly and quite discreet, so many of us are familiar with the place. The advantage, of course, is that you can try before you buy, get an expert opinion, and have a friendly stylist to help you maintain your wig for a long time. Price is low to mid-range — depends on the quality of the fibres (human hair is more expensive and quite harder to maintain properly!) — but, in general, even the cheaper wigs are quite good and nicely styled. The problem, of course, is that they specialize in the senior market. This leaves out very long wigs, although they know they sometimes get a few customers for those from the CD/trans community (as well from younger women who unfortunately had chemo very early in their lives).

When my particular style and length was out of stock I had to look for alternatives. That meant getting back to the Internet shopping for wigs. My “old favourite websites” were still up — but they continued to offer variations on the same styles and types as before. Frankly, they look too outdated: even ten years ago, they were out of fashion. And because most CD/trans sites sell wigs for occasional use, they keep the prices low, at the cost of lower quality items — they know CDs don’t wear wigs all the time, and prefer to have more options instead of higher-quality wigs who would cost way too much.

Then there are the wigmakers for the occasional wig wearer. These are usually designed by stylists which give their wigs a modern cut. They’re designed for women who want an occasional radical change of look without needing to cut their hair. Here you start to get some interesting options — at least the styles are modern, and the quality is supposed to be high (you don’t want to be seen on a prom ball or a wedding with an outdated look and a wig that looks obviously fake!). Still, they’re usually constructed in the very same way they used to be ten or twenty years ago: things haven’t changed much in this area.

I was looking for something entirely different. And actually I had found it, but the prices were prohibitive for me — it would be a pain to buy a wig that I wouldn’t use much (unfortunately, I have 2 or 3 which fit that description!). So I naturally hesitated a lot.

By chance, as I’ve written here before, I met Patrícia Coelho a few months ago. Just look at the gorgeous hair she has! From the picture it’s impossible to tell if it’s natural or not; in fact, lots of people ask Patrícia the same question, and she just smiles. In my case, she even challenged me to tell if her hair is natural or not, standing in front of her “in the flesh” and observing her carefully — which I did. I still couldn’t tell. I had to assume it wasn’t natural just because I know she’s not been dressing for a long time, and to get hair with that length takes many years. But I was baffled at the way it fitted perfectly.

Well, I do apologise to reveal her “secret” here 🙂

But before I do that, I shall first explain what radical changes happened in the wigmaking industry. All of the sudden, artists and actresses needed to have “always perfect” hair for their shows and movies — and this means being in contact with the public, too. Specially in the Afro-American ethnicity, natural hair might simply not be good enough for a glamorous “superstar” look. So what these women needed — people like Beyoncé, Rhianna, Tyra Banks, Oprah, and of course thousands more — was a technology that allowed them to have perfect hair which is impossible to distinguish from real hair, even at very close quarters, and which could be styled dramatically (like natural hair) and resist the stress and demands placed on these artists when they’re on stage.

And they have to be flexible in the ways they can be styled: pony hairs, braids, and all kinds of parting techniques must be able to work well with these wigs. After all, starlet hair stylists are supposed to be able to do whatever they wish — and whatever their skill allows — to that hair. If you have some experience with “normal” wigs, you know how hard it is to accomplish this: the better wigs will allow you to part hair this way or that, pull it together into a braid, add a few clips here and there, but… there is a limit to what you can do on a “normal” wig. That’s why wigs with synthetic fibre are popular: they get pre-styled, the fibre has “memory” of the style (so when you wash it, it will return to its style without the need to go to a salon…) and you don’t do any extra work on the wig. If you wish a different style, you just buy a new wig. Simple.

Of course there are a few alternatives for using artificial hair which can be styled in a salon — like, for instance, using hair extensions and similar hair grafting techniques. These work quite well if you have something to graft to, and of course offer lots of opportunities for styling — just add more extensions here or there to give you a different look. The major problem, however, is if you have a male hairstyle, adding extensions might not work out in all cases. Also, except for extensions using combs, the other techniques really require a lot of skill — or a professional hairdresser to add them and remove them at will.

To address these issues, the wig industry came up with a new, alternative technology: lace. This is hard to understand how it works. The basic principle is the same as with any wig: hair strands, in small groups, are sewn on top of a piece of cloth, following a natural pattern. So far, nothing new. Early wigs had a cap made of some flexible cloth — more modern ones being ventilated, to cool the head — and have an arrangement of elastic bands and/or combs to keep the cap in place. Lace wigs have an ultra-thin porous fabric — each “pore” is also used for sewing the strands in — which is usually transparent or lightly tinted to look just like your scalp. When I say “ultra-thin” I really mean it: the fabric is perhaps as thin as surgical tape, and there are two varieties — French lace, which is stronger and less thin, and Swiss lace, which I have never seen, which is way thinner still.

The question that begs to be asked is — how will such a thin fabric keep the wig in place? And, more to the point, how will a lace wig be actually more resistant than a “normal” wig? The answer is simple: you glue the wig on top of your hair.

That’s right. This is what the likes of Beyoncé, Rhianna, Tyra Banks, Oprah do. They go to their favourite hair stylist, get the lace wig glued to their natural hair, and then let them cut and style it, just like normal hair. The glue used in this process is specially strong, and should be able to get the whole wig in place for as long as 6 months or even a year, when correctly maintained. You wear it all the time, just like some kinds of extensions. You can bathe in it — and swim, if you wish. It seems miraculous, but you can imagine lace wigs as the ultimate kind of hair extension — one that covers the whole scalp. The advantage is that you don’t need to glue it bit like bit, like you do with extensions. Instead, you glue the whole wig to your hair, and you’re finished. Allegedly the procedure is easy enough for someone to learn it to do it a home; millions do that, and just go to the salon when they wish to cut the wig’s hair and restyle it a bit.

Now you might be thinking… yes, well, but I’m not going to wear the same wig for 6 months, so probably this is really not for me. And you might be right! Also, just for having fun and going out with some friends, it’s a pain to go all the trouble to glue the wig to one’s scalp, and then to remove it all again with the special glue remover… too much trouble. “Normal” wigs are so much easier, you just put them on and take them off. Simple!

Well, soon enough, the wig industry had to face this issue. Not everybody is like Beyoncé who needs perfect hair for 6 months at a row, goes to a hair stylist who charges her US$5k for the haircut (and the wig!), and keeps the wig on top of their heads 24h/day during those 6 months. Many of us just want something that looks as good as Beyoncé’s hair, but which can be easily put on and removed.

So front lace wigs were introduced into the market. These are a hybrid of full lace wigs and regular wigs. They have a cap just like the normal wigs, but the bit at the front — where most people will look at carefully! — is done in lace. Depending on how “deep” the lace goes — it can be something like 10-15 cm, depending on the brand — you also get the ability to part your wig’s hair in a very natural way. But it means that certain sections of the wig are on top of a regular cap — you won’t be able to pull your hair up on a very complex hairdo, like you can do with full lace wigs. There is a certain amount of things you can do with a front lace wig, but not everything is possible.

Still, it’s an excellent compromise. Because just the bit that is laced is highly expensive, front lace wigs are cheaper, as they just have that bit, but the rest is a normal cap. However, they have “the bits that count” — and that’s what makes all the difference!

When you watch someone wearing a wig, you’re usually close to their faces, and you will notice the hairline in the front. A regular’s wig cap is always noticeable, but some hairstyles might be able to disguise it — one reason why I like bangs! (with them, you never know where the hairline actually is). Lace wigs are built in a way different way: when the lace is glued on top of your hair or even on top of your bare skin, the lace becomes invisible. It’s next to impossible to notice it. But the top lace wig manufacturers have even more tricks up their sleeves to make it even better!

Our human hair does not grow uniformly all over the scalp. Close to the hairline, even if you have grown your natural hair very long, you will have what is described as baby hair — much shorter and thinner hair. This is usually not noticeable, since when you style your hair (or even brush it), it will follow the general direction of the longer and thicker hair just behind it. However, on “normal” wigs, the lack of this kind of hair is immediately noticeable on most styles. The hair just seems to “appear suddenly” from the scalp, and becomes thick (because the cap is underneath!). This is a telltale sign of someone wearing a wig! Of course, as said, some hairstyles can minimize the impact (that’s why bangs work so well for us CDs): if you cannot see where the hairline actually is, you won’t notice the “missing hairs”.

Caps also need to conform to a specific design: after all, they have to fit, and they need the elastic banding to keep the wig in place. Now this will always mean that the area to the sides, above the ears and so (i.e. the front of the temporal bones), cannot be adequately covered with a cap. This area is usually “exposed” and it’s up to the wig stylist to do their best to make it less visible. The problem is that you cannot adequately construct a wig cap that covers those zones and has elastic banding to keep the cap close to the scalp — it’s just not possible.

Lace wigs have no such issue. The cap pretty much follows the design of a normal wig’s cap, but the lace is free to “flap” and cover whatever needs to be covered. In fact, all lace wigs — full or frontal — have to be cut with a scissor before usage: there is always extra lace to allow for those “flaps” to be shorter or longer, according to each individual. These flaps will, to an extent, have baby hair too. What that means is that even if the overall wig style covers well the area above the ears, if someone “peeks” below the hair, they will just see… more hair, where it should be. It’s very ingeniously designed, and I have some difficulty in describing how exactly it works — you can try to see some videos and pictures of lace wigs to understand the process better.

Now, ideally, all this lace — even on front lace wigs — should be glued on for best effect. But modern wig manufacturers have been able to deal with even that. The cap, besides elastic banding, also has some combs to keep the wig in place. In theory, you just need to let the lace naturally rest on top of the skin just close to your natural hairline; it’s usually enough. For best results, however, there are special double-sided tapes with glue for keeping the lace really close to the skin. The lace is totally transparent when directly on top of the skin, but it might look whitish if it’s not glued to it. This is not a huge problem as most people have relatively unpigmented scalps, i.e. your scalp beneath the hair is usually white, even if you wear a tan, so it will look natural enough that way. The only problem is that the lace, because it’s so thin, will easily curl up, spoiling the effect: just a tiny stretch of tape deals with this very easily!

Actually, I already had one front lace wig, which was bought on the salon/shop mentioned above. It included combs to keep the cap in place, but I had no way to glue the wig’s lace to the skin. The results were still rather good. I just stopped wearing that wig because, well, it’s not very long and makes me look ten years older than I am! So it’s mostly a question of vanity… This old wig, however, is not so well-designed as my new one. It lacks the baby hair and the more complex lace contour which covers the areas over the ears perfectly. And it has far less volume, too.

So… I started making a list of all I wanted in a new wig 🙂

  • First of all, it had to be long. I’m sorry, but I have tested shorter hairstyles. I might have no option but to wear the hair short when I’m 50 or 60, because there is so much prejudice against senior citizens wearing their hair long, but, until then, the shorter the hairstyle, the worse it looks on me 🙁
  • Secondly, I need volume. My biggest complaint about many of the wigs I’ve got is that, to keep them light, they have little volume. This is not because the wig manufacturers are cutting costs… they know that a wig owner will have their natural hair beneath the cap, which gives volume on its own. However, my own natural hair is rather short and thin (and I’m getting balder and balder too, of course!), so my own “natural volume” is not enough. I have seen videos of crossdressers who add some “padding” beneath the cap to compensate, but I found that too awkward and unnatural for my own tastes.
  • There is also a volume-related issue that I’ve noticed in many of the wigs I’ve got. I do have a very old natural hair wig which has adequate volume overall: the point here is that I want to cover the head all around. Many wigs simply don’t have enough hair for all that. Why? Because hair is heavy. That natural wig I’ve got is really heavy, and this, in turn, makes it less fun to wear, as you cannot flip it around so easily — and of course it means it’s very warm, too! So this seemed to be one of those paradoxes — either you have “too much hair”, which looks great, but is heavy and doesn’t allow you to flip your hair; or you have a lighter, cooler wig, lots of flipping opportunities, but which, however, will always look as if there is some hair missing on it.
  • After so many attempts at shades — I would love to be a blonde, but there is no shade of blonde that suits me! — I think that the colour I like best is a light chestnut with highlights, or auburn. The natural hair wig I’ve mentioned is truly copper red, which is waaaay too red for me. Auburn works fine. But the highlights, or at least a mix of shades, work best: they’re very fashionable and add to the realism.
  • While I rather fancy the bangs — they help to hide the forehead and the hairline! — I’d like to try something different. The front lace wig I already had allowed me to play a bit with parting and had nice layering — I enjoyed it a lot. A pity it was so short! So that was my starting point.
  • I’m really not very good at putting a wig on, and even worse at styling it. So the wig ought to be easy to wear! This also means that I have to forfeit a natural hair wig, because those really require a lot of maintenance. Also, they’re far more expensive!
  • And, needless to say, I’m on a very low budget!

Now do a search for “front lace wigs” on Google and you’ll see a billion companies offering all sorts of styles. Front lace wigs are quickly becoming “the” standard in wig manufacturing, and, thanks to the vast amount of manufacturers, the prices have fallen down considerably. These days you can get entry-level front lace wigs for as little as US$100-200, which should have more than enough quality for a good, realistic fit. Contrast that to “normal” wigs, which these days go for as little as $20 or $30 (and are way, way better than US$200-300 wigs made two decades ago!). Natural hair wigs will perhaps cost US$500 or more, but with natural hair wigs, the sky is the limit — as said, Beyoncé pays US$5000-6000 for her wigs. Obviously that includes the styling, which is probably the most expensive bit of the overall cost!

So I hesitated for a long time, until I started reading recommendations. On a CD forum where I participate as a regular member, they were praising Pink Lace Wigs, so I sent them a few enquiries… in July, shortly after I scrapped some money received for my anniversary.

Pink Lace Wigs, as a wig manufacturer, are slightly different than most. They actually don’t offer many styles on their website, compared to others. This is because their strength is in custom orders. Since all their wigs are hand-made — they have a channel on YouTube showing how they manufacture the wigs and how to maintain them (wash, trim the lace, and so forth) — this means that they can accept custom orders. They do have an impressive array of options, but — and this is what counted for me — they’re incredibly cheap.

And they even accept images and PDFs to give them instructions about the wig you wish. I send them a lot of pictures and 3D images of the wig I wanted them to create 🙂

To be honest, after hours of searching, I couldn’t find any other manufacturer with such low prices. There might be a few around — I just couldn’t find them.

There are several reasons for the low prices, none of which related to the incredible quality of their products. First and foremost, perhaps, is that they send the wigs unstyled — just like with extensions, you just get the hair. Then you need to go to a hair salon and get it styled. This makes a huge difference: in my country, getting a reasonable competent hairdresser to style your wig will just cost some €10-20. So PLW saves what it costs in the US to style a wig by sending it “raw”. Well, you have seen the pictures, and you can also see the video below, to get a taste of what an “unstyled” front lace wig from PLW looks like:

Unstyled looks good enough for me 🙂 although I might get my talented hairdresser have a go at it some time — I’d love some layering on it for a more modern look. We’ll see. It seems a pity to cut such a lovely wig, though 🙂

Of course, PLW also styles wigs — the ones shown on their online shop are usually styled (they look better that way!).

The second reason for the low price is — not surprisingly — because they manufacture their own wigs, they don’t buy it from third parties, nor do they resell orders from international stylists. What you see on some higher-end online shops are “branded” wigs, where a professional hairstylist will order a wig “raw”, style it, and resell it under their own brand. It’s likely that many of those wigs are actually rebranded wigs from PLW! So by handling directly with them, you are cutting the middleman.

And I also think that they must be selling gazillions of hand-made wigs, which of course lowers the price 🙂

PLW also runs a lot of contests and keeps in touch with their happy customers on Facebook. Obviously they’re not the only wig manufacturer doing that, but it also provides another channel to talk to other customers and to the PLW employees and get some questions answered.

Now, not everything is pink at Pink Lace Wigs 🙂

This is naturally just my own personal experience and of course your mileage may vary. But my order took a lot of time to be delivered!

I might have been unlucky, but here is what happened to me: as said, I started contacting PLW back in July. First I had a lot of questions about technical aspects: their order form is complex, they have really a lot of options, and I needed to understand a bit better what all those options meant. Now I guess that if you live near one of their physical shops, you could just walk in and ask everything. When ordering via the Web, you are given three choices: telephone calls (not an option for me for several reasons), email, or Live Chat.

Email gets answered depending on who is on duty… sometimes, you get an answer after a couple of days. Sometimes, it takes a couple of weeks to get an answer, which is next to unacceptable, but I’m patient 🙂 Maybe they’re so flooded with email requests that they can’t keep up…

Live Chat is interesting. It’s very, very hard to get an operator there — a whole week could pass without having anyone behind the computer. When I finally managed to get someone to answer, I would obviously have almost every question instantly answered, specially during the “planning” stage. However, the delays in getting emails answered, and the eternal wait for someone to come to Live Chat, meant that a whole month had elapsed until I finally managed to place my order, at the end of August.

Custom orders take 6-7 weeks or 4-5 on a rush order, so I placed a rush order. It quickly became apparent that they would be unable to stick to those schedules. In fact, the wig took over 16 weeks to be manufactured and delivered! I placed a minor complaint, and they offered me to return the extra money for the rush order, but I suggested that they’d add some extra items (namely, more double-sided tape) instead… which apparently they forgot to do. During that time, I tried to reach them almost every day, but it would be a lucky week if I managed to get an answer. Live Chat seems to have a lot of trouble to get hold of their colleagues at Production and Shipping — they usually don’t answer “immediately”, so you’re stuck waiting for Live Chat to find anyone to tell you something about your order, and very often being unable to do so.

I don’t think they “forgot” the order, though. They sometimes post information on Facebook about stock rupture. Sometimes, they might simply not have all the hair fibres or dyes in stock for a custom order, and have to wait until their suppliers replenish their stocks. These things happen and they’re perfectly understandable; however, as a customer, I would rather prefer that they gave some feedback on that (if that’s the reason). Also, at some times, they’re simply swamped with orders. As time passed, and Halloween came near, they got tons of rush orders. Then, for Thanksgiving, everybody wanted a new hairstyle for the holidays. Now I guess they’re full with orders for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Of course, as there are always holidays and special occasions all over the year for people to order new wigs, this means they have lots of periods totally overwhelmed with work.

Also, they ship using USPS. If you live in the US, this is not really a problem, and USPS is cheap. For me, however, I rather prefer DHL, for a very good reason. DHL operates their own aircraft, and they have their own local customs. What this means is that almost everything I order from the US via DHL goes swiftly through customs, and since the orders are never large, I never pay any surplus custom taxes.

USPS delivers directly into Portugal’s customs. I suppose that since these days pretty much everybody uses DHL unless they don’t have an option, the customs people have little to do, and, when they finally get a package through them, they make sure they charge everything the law allows them to charge! Currently it’s about 30% or so — it makes a difference. DHL, even at a higher shipping cost, rarely goes up to 30% of the total cost. Still, I can’t complain much, delivery was unusually quick for this holiday season, even though the local delivery guy failed to press the buzzer for the right door, and I had to pick up the parcel at the local post office, after retrieving the pick-up paper slip from a neighbour…

So will I shop again with PLW? Very likely. The quality of the wig is totally unlike any other I have ever bought, and I have bought more expensive ones occasionally. Looking at my list, PLW managed pretty much to meet all my expectations. The shade is a bit more red than I thought, but, to be honest, I don’t mind — I have a fetish for redheads, I love being one 🙂 I was expecting a styled wig, to be honest — I had included a lot of detail on the instructions about the styling — but I’m still glad I got the wig. As you can see on the video, it still looks awesome, even unstyled. And I can style it here much cheaper than in the US.

Using the sticky double-sided tape is also far easier than I thought. I have mostly seen videos and tutorials to explain how to use glue, and I thought it would be incredibly messy. Tape is so much easier to apply. It adheres quite well — better than surgical tape — and is easily removed, without any special product, and without leaving stains or any kind of mark. I’m also more used to clip-on combs — like the ones used on extensions — to keep the cap in place; PLW, when sewing combs, is generous — 5 in all; usually you just get two — but they’re not clip-on: nevertheless, they’re more than enough to keep everything where it should. The cap is most definitely the best I have ever worn by far: that’s thanks to PLW having different sizes! Even the crossdresser-specific wig shops have too small sizes for me. PLW not only has three different, “standard” sizes, but you can measure your own head using their guidelines, and “design” a totally customized cap just for you. In fact, they recommend doing exactly that for full lace wigs, specially the ones with human hair, to make sure the fit is perfect. In my case, they recommended to measure myself first and see if I fitted within the interval for the large sized cap — which I did — and don’t bother too much about a custom cap. They were right. The fit couldn’t be better.

The hair is very sturdy! I have learned to brush the wig vigorously when it arrives: that way, all the half-loose hair strands will come away, and you won’t get any further surprises. Well, I’m happy to say that the PLW wigs loose little hair, which shouldn’t be surprising if you see their manufacturing videos — they aren’t exactly gentle with those hair strands! The result is a wig where there will not be any “sudden” hair loss (which definitely happened to me with other wigs).

Of course, what pleases me most is the way the hair falls naturally, and that there is so much of it! The braid made with all the hair is unbelievable thick; but when you look at the individual fibers, they’re silky, thin and flexible. This opens up a lot of possibilities. As said, my old human hair wig also has volume, but when pulling it back to braid it, it doesn’t look natural enough — it’s the lack of the details explained earlier. The PLW wig is completely natural in that regard.

I’m just curious to see if the wig is too hot in summer, because it has so much volume. This will be the final trial, due next summer. I can’t say that it “feels” warm (unlike my human hair wig, which is very warm) but it’s hard to say.

So, at the end of the day, it all comes to how much time you’re willing to wait for a custom order. If, like me, you’re fine in waiting a few months, then PLW is the ideal place to shop for your unique design, which you can customize with uncountable options. If you can’t wait and expect instant delivery, the best is to walk straight into their shop and buy one of the available styles 🙂 Failing that, they promise to ship any of the wigs they have on their website in 2-3 days, but, of course, you’re limited to the available choices. Also, they might not carry all the styles, all the time — they’re constantly releasing new ones. If you do a custom order, however, you can always reorder the same wig over and over again (they have a button just for that!).

On the other hand, even if you don’t use PLW, I would most certainly recommend a lace wig over any other kind. Nothing else comes close enough in terms of natural look. I seriously suspect that non-lace wigs will soon remain out of business, or be strictly available for single-use during Halloween (to be discarded immediately afterwards). As lace wigs are currently so cheap and become more and more popular, it’s not worth the trouble to buy any other kind, no matter how good it looks and feels. Lace wigs are simply a next generation which addresses all shortcomings of the older technology, and gives plenty of options to wear them; nothing else comes close, if you don’t have a natural hairstyle that is adequate for extensions, which might be the only thing beating lace wigs…

To summarize, because this post is getting too long again:

  • Lace wigs, like their normal counterparts, are available in all kinds of human and synthetic hair.
  • Human hair can look better, but they require much more maintenance, just like regular hair. If you’re not prepared to do that maintenance, stick to high-quality synthetic hair: nobody will notice the difference, even by touch.
  • Lace wigs are available in two types: full and front only.
  • Full lace wigs are designed for prolonged use. The lace is very thin and available in two types: French (slightly thicker and more sturdy) and Swiss (extra-thin). They are usually glued on for extended periods of time (several weeks), which requires a lot of skill to do properly at home (but it’s not impossible! Everything can be learned!). They are a common replacement for hair extensions, when one’s hair is not appropriate for adding extensions. Full lace wigs can be worn when bathing, swimming, sleeping, etc. They’re known as full cranial prosthesis in medical circles and are not really “wigs” in the common sense of the word (i.e. they’re not something artificial used for fun, but a replacement for hair).
  • Companies like PLW also offer glueless full lace wigs, which don’t require glue or tape (the lace-based cap is stretchable).
  • Front lace wigs have regular caps but the more visible part of the wig — hairline at the front, over the ears, etc. — is made of lace. They’re a good compromise: they’re naturally cheaper, and they will have a perfect, invisible fit at the front, which is the most noticeable area. The bit of lace ought to be taped or glued (but can also be worn without glue) and is enough to do perfect parting. However, updos or ponytails might be impossible or hard to do, unlike full lace; also, they are not appropriate for prolonged use.
  • Lace wigs were originally meant to be used as a custom fit and not as one-size-fits-all, over-the-counter items. Full lace wigs, for best results, requires perfect measurements. Front lace wigs are commonly sold with differently-sized caps, and are more akin to “regular” wigs, just with enhanced technology. Custom-made wigs have lots of options, so be prepared to choose carefully!
  • If you’re comfortable in letting a hairdresser style your wig at a salon, this can save you a lot of money and keep the price of a wig down: just get the wig “raw” and save the money! Also, see if the supplier manufactures its own wigs, and is not merely a reseller — manufacturers can often offer wigs at a much lower price with exactly the same quality as “brand names”.

Happy shopping for new hair 🙂