My Ramblings on Buying Hair (part I of a Series)

estimated 12 min read

[note1 : My opinions are mine alone. I respect others’ choices. I’m really not sure *why* I’m posting this anymore but here we go.
 note2 : it seems as soon as I tried to post this our server died. [update seems ok now]
 note3 : this is long. over 2000 words. It may ramble. I tried to stay on my experiences with “buying”. I have a lot to say on the topic. I’m slowly improving my writing. I’ll probably be embarassed later on about the number of typos and grammar errors. I post this as a “final draft” and I may just poke in and edit as I see fit. DEAL.
 note4 : please help me name this group of posts. I don’t like what I’ve created on my own.]

It’s almost like choosing a new name for yourself when you are an adult. You can make it anything you want. Straight, curly, synthetic, human, a combo thereof, bangs, skin-part, short, long, so many choices! Oops, how could I have forgotten colour ?

First, some background on me…

I’ve always hated my hair and this was a mitzvah I long looked forward to fulfilling. I started buying wigs long before I was engaged. I was embarassed because of the connotation they have in our circles [wig = married woman] and thus bought them online with a wonderful shop internationalwig. I liked the choices, they have wonderful service, and their website has improved dramatically over the years. Oh, I didn’t wear one of these wigs in public because I was scared, but that isn’t for this post ..

Anyway, back to history. I have frizzy hair. It is wavy with ringlets — or uncontrolable fuzz — depending on humidity. I’ve worn it both quite short and to my waist. I prefer it long and when it is as such it goes up in a braid or pony tail or bun. Never down (ok, rarely). It’s been hovering between my chin and shoulders for the past 6 years. I’m not overly happy with that length but kept it because I thought it was more professional than longer hair. [I now know and believe quite differently]

Onward to the shopping…

I was clueless but curious. I don’t like to ask questions to strangers. Or friends. I want to find out answers on my own.

My first purchase was a human hair wig before the “Indian hair crisis”. It was on sale and cheap. I guessed at the colour and I think I chose a 6. I think $35. It had bangs, was shoulder length, straight. On the website it looked perfect. I received a nice discrete package in the mail. It was a in a bag and i took it out and shook it and well … was surprised. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I combed it out and put my hair in a pony tail. I put on the wig cap that came with it and couldn’t get it [wig or wig cap] to sit right. There were no “combs” or anything as such. I knew they existed because I had read of women loving or hating them. It was just a net of hair. I played with it for a while. I didn’t quite sknow what was wrong with it but it wasn’t right.

Later I picked up 3 wigs really cheap — a full wig of irish curls that looked pretty on the website (synthetic), a short wig of a hair style (on the website) i always wanted but the stylists told me I couldn’t have, and a fall of “wet loose curls” that was really long. The irish curls looked like a clown wig except it was brown. The curls matted quickly and I had the same problem as the first wig. I couldn’t keep it on my head. The short one was cute but the colour looked flat. It was also longer than I thought. I realized — I’m petite — possibly in wigs as well [Actually I have an average sized head (size 7 I think) but my body is petite). The long wet curl wig was fun. I wore this in public once. I wore it to a bachalorette party and everyone thought it funny. I had lots of fun wearing it and I didn’t care if everyone knew it was fake. It gave me the waist long loose curls I always wanted. In general I had fun playing out my hair fantasies in the privacy of my apartment (at quite an overall cost, but well, it was probably much cheaper than the movies).

Anyway .. I got engaged and I was determined to fulfil kisui rosh and cover my hair. I’m not going to go more into that now. Let’s just fast forward to …

My trip to the shaitel macher. This occured a cold morning in early spring. She was highly recommended after polling a few friends and soon-to-be relatives. That morning I met up a friend and we descended down the dark basement to the the shop. I was met by wigs in most colours (no greys, mostly 6’s and 33’s). I was very happy to have someone with me. I was quite overwhelmed by all the choices. I knew a wig of this sort was expensive, I wasn’t quite sure how much it cost but I was willing to buy something that would look nice and enable me to feel good about what I was doing.

The first wig I tried on was a human hair, in colour 6, a medium length (about to my shoulders). It was unique as it had a multidirectional part, which means that it can change — left, right, or center. I tried on some others, but we kept coming back to this. I liked the length and while I don’t recall if it had layers, I was mostly wowed by the part. That also generally means expensive.

I also tried on a headband fall at this time and bought it as well. I figured if I was going to be wearing these regularly (at the time I thought my career path would be slightly different than it is lately) I needed two.

I won’t say how muchI paid. I will say it was less than I expected. I made out very well with the wig, the fall — well, it was the price I expected.

A week later I returned (it was raining so my hair was quite frizzy and unmanageable) to have them styled. I discovered that the fall was perfect. The colour was perfect (I still don’t recall what colour it *really* is), the length was nice, and when she was done for the first time in my life I had straight, silky hair that curled nicely under. Not 75% curled under and the right side culed up. UNDER. Wow. Now the wig … I encountered the same styling issues I always had. She wanted to cut me bangs. She wanted to do lots of layers. I finally convinced her to cut as little off the wig as possible, if I wanted to go shorter later I could. Hair on wigs doesn’t grow longer!

I took these home and started to get used to wearing them before the “big day (after)” and I *chose* to do so daily.

I wore the fall to work a few times and I received nice smiles. A few female colleagues said they were a bit jealous — I had such nice hair. I was still a bit scared with the wig. The layers were weird. The part was on the wrong side (it took me about 15 minutes to get her to move it as far to “normal” as I had. I decided as I was doing something different I’d try my part there).

Now I’ll skip to a short bit on wearing them, I’ll go more into my experiences later.. I have received many compliments on these two wigs. I had several aquaintenaces as if I was actually wearing one — they knew I had planned on making that commitment, but didn’t believe me that I was. For those that were women I acutally showed them my real hairline to prove that they are real. For the guys I just scratched my head and we had fun with my hair moving in a non natural way.

I did discover the “secret ingredient” that makes these wigs which I paid a lot for versus the cheap ones so much better. COMBS ! Nice combs which clip. It’s amazing. I did have a few mihaps in the beginning with them (I now have a bald spot on my right side to match the infant scar/bald spot on the left), I found a store near me which sells them. I’ve purchased a few “just to have” … [does anyone know of a web resource ? it would be safer on my budget.. this store is near lots of other nice stores, including 3 book shops.]

Fast forward to recent times …

I miss how I used to wear my hair. Long, pulled back, no layers, part a certain way. I’m looking for a solution. It will probably be expensive, human hair is softer, it tangles less, and I don’t have to worry if I am cooking and wearing it. It also (i’ve been told) lasts longer. I’ve been told a synthetic will last about 2 years, human depends I’ll put the middle of the road at about 5, original quality and user care will greatly affect the life-span.

About a month ago I was craving something different. I went to a wholesale place in manhattan I know that allows for retail purchases. I found that they did not have any wigs without layers, but found one with the longest layers and straight bangs. For this I chose a different colour. The hair is the softest synthetic I’ve seen. It behaves well. It didn’t come with combs. I sewed 3 of the “secret ingredient” in. I put them on the sides and as I was planning on trying to put this up in a twist I added one in the back. I paid $25 for the wig ($28 b/c I paid by credit card) and about $4 for the combs… Not too pricey.

BINGO!!!

It may not look as nice overall as my expensive ones, they synthetic hair tangles easy — actually at about the same rate as my own hair would — but I’m having fun. I’ve never had straight bangs like this and I’ve discovered a new colour I like. Next I want to try a mix, maybe a 10/8 or 10/6 or 10/8/6 or something. We’ll see. I know I don’t *need* to go buy the really expensive ones. I don’t really need a stylist as when I need to attend a very formal event I have the expensive one which while overall I do not like it will last me years. (If anyone wants to buy this, please let me know. We can talk and perhaps work a deal. It’s not been worn very much, it does need to be washed and set, but I think it’s in great condition.) I’ve never paid much attention to my hair, I’ve always been embarassed at how it looks (and works). I can finally realize in reality the image of myself and my hair I had. Maybe I’ll post some photos. If you see me on orkut or friendster, I’m wearing the fall. I’m wearing the fall in my DMV pic.

Costs are really what you want them to be. I think that you shouldn’t go crazy with a super custom early on or even later. There is a range of both good and bad at all budget levels. I think I spent too much — I know I spent too much on those two from the shaitel macher.. but at the time they helped me accomplish a lot for my self-image and self-worth (even though I ended up broke). I don’t think that there is a need to constantly go get them washed and set .. but I’m not the sort of person who spent so much time with my “beauty prep” .. I can’t even apply blush properly. I know how to do mascara because in high school I read a trick to make yourself appear more awake then you really feel — and in doing that it helps wake you up (hair back & tight (bun, pony, braid) and some mascara will do wonders). I don’t like being high maintenance. If I look at paint/oil/bleach I am covered in it. I find the wig a way for me to appear more “normal” and “sophisticated” than I really am. I see it as a fun outlet of expression. I do see it as a weird way to fulfil a mitzvah. I will wait to post more on that later.

Should you choose human or synthetic, or some combo thereof? I think it depends on the situation. If you are going to be wearing the same wig daily and running around and you want to be as discrete as possible .. If you are cooking in the kitchen .. I would buy “real fake hair”. If you want something different every so often — try a synthetic, but be careful as to which kind you buy. There are really cheap for synthetics I think it’s much more noticable than a cheap human hair wig. It’s more how it’s set on the cap — I’ve found with synthetics the quality is much more volatile. Try it on if you can (my online place doesn’t let you, but you can upload a photo and “try on” electronically).

I don’t know if I responded to the topic I said I was going to. I hope that this essay helps someone somehow.

Right after it came out I read Lynne Schreiber’s Hide or Seek. Actually, I was so impatient to read it that I bought a second copy at the bookstore while waiting for delivery .. It’s a great book and I highly recommend it. I was upset when I finished it. I wanted to keep reading!

Stay tuned for part II of this “series” (oy, I can’t believe I’ve gotten myself into this) Wearing.

Reader interactions

4 Replies to “My Ramblings on Buying Hair (part I of a Series)”

  1. Wow, that’s a lot of storytelling and advice to pack into one post. One question, though – you say not to spend a lot on the first go-round. I’ve heard otherwise – the extra money is often worth it in comfort and fit, making it easier to take on (or find a new way of fulfilling) the mitzvah, and later on as you figure out what you need in the way of color, size, and style, you can scope out good deals.

  2. and I cut out LOTS too, which is the frightening part.

    I found that wearing a cheap synthetic wig around the house really helped me in preparing mentally for this bizarre way of fulfilling the mitzvah. I see I didn’t do so well at answering why I probably would have a collection of wigs anyway. Hmm.

    I was counseled not to buy that $25 thing (which I think was useful for me) but not to buy a complete custom (which can cost 1000 or more). As it is I’m unhappy with my “big purchase” wig and am at the point I refuse to wear it because I really don’t like it. The comfort I have found to be the same whether I buy a $25 or a $500. I find all the caps are the same, so I don’t understand *that* argument. My head is pretty normal sized, so that doesn’t work either.

    There is a large amount I want to say on this topic. We all know I am re-learning how to write coherently. Hopefully this “series” will help me sort it out. Thanks for slogging through the post and I hope the next one is better!

  3. Sorry to be an enabler, but next time you’re in the neighborhood, could you buy me a bunch of those “secret ingredient” clips? I can’t figure out where to get them, and none of my wigs currently have them! I’ll pay for them, of course!

  4. Oh, and another thing to add: my “secret” is a wig cap liner (a mesh one, not the nylon ones that look and feel like panyhose, but those’ll do in a pinch) to make my thick wavy past shoulder length hair lie flat enough to get a wig over it!

    Oh, and Shanna, in retrospect my “big purchase wig,” the one I wore to your wedding, never really fit me properly, and I had to use “styling details” to cover my hairline on the top and sides. Once I had a better idea of how a properly fitting wig should lie on my (large) head, I’d be more willing to spend the money on a good one, since I’d know for real if it fit me right before it was cut and styled and unreturnable. Of course, it’s taken long enough that I no longer have the money to spend on it! (One word: tuition. You too should have such tzoris some day!) When I was newly married it was just part of the expense of getting married.

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