Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ombre Effect Sheitel

Posted by Unknown at 6:27 AM 0 comments
Sheitel trends in the US tend to follow trends in the regular hair industry.  Usually wig styles err towards the slighly more conservative, but certain "risky" styles have persevered.  For example, a few years ago women were buying really short bobbed wigs while Victoria Beckham had the style.  However the trend ended, her hair is now longer and many sheitel companies are liquidating their very short wigs because they have many left over that no one wanted to buy full price. 
Following hair trends can be risky for the wig wearer.  Cut the wig too short, and there's nothing you can do to grow it back.  Add bangs? Once bangs are cut, there's no going back.  (A temporary option for bangs is to actually buy a separate bangs piece and clip it in when you want to wear a bang/fringe style)
Then there are hair color trends.  For years the only types of hair color were solid (full wig dyed) or highlights/lowlights (thin strands or thick chunks colored a different color).  Now the color-blocking trend in fashion as crossed into the sheitel industry:
Ombre Hair.  Ombré is a French word meaning gradient, and was a method for dying fabric so the color ranges gradually from light to dark.  When done right this method of hair color can mimic nature, in that the ends are lighter than the roots and gradually change color as if you hair has grown that way.  It allows for more time between appointments, as opposed to the "dark roots look"  that many women with colored hair have.  Ombre done right can be amazing and truly a work of hair coloring art. 
I think it looks most natural when the gradient range is limited.  For example, a dark brown #2 might naturally range to a reddish #6 but its unlikely she could have had naturally light blonde hair.  I think this style can look very natural on dirty blondes whose hair can naturally get lighter in the sun.  However, doing any color on a sheitel is risky, considering most sheitels are made of dyed hair nowadays so they may not react properly to the chemicals.  And once the trend is over, correcting the color will cause even more damage. 
The ombre dying process takes skill.  The color (or lift) at the ends has to be applied the longest, to get the lightest color, while the pieces in between should be applied for varying times as to make a natural gradient.
But here is a picture of the ombre sheitel which was spotted in the USA.  What do you guys think of the trend?
Wig with Ombre Effect

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chavi crashes Shaina Wigs sale

Posted by Unknown at 11:11 AM 0 comments
Shaina Wigs came to town.  I decided to go to the sale to see what Shaina Wigs had to offer.  The representative brought SO many wigs to the sale.  Unfortunately, since they were brought from NY they were mostly in suit cases so it was hard to find stuff, and I couldn't even see everything unless I wanted to sift through multiple bags.  

I saw wigs in M, L, and XL.  XL fit me the best, but some L were okay.  M was definitely too small for me.  I was mainly interested in seeing what Shaina wigs were like.  Shaina Wigs are made from Mongolian Hair, and the representative was open about announcing that when asked at the sale, which I appreciated.  (some brands are elusive about the origin of their hair) 

I felt there was a wide range in the quality, feel and look of the wigs.  Some looked really natural while others looked very processed and dyed.  Some had a shine to them that was so shiny that they almost looked like synthetics, but I knew they were processed human hair.  I felt the dark #2 wig I tried on looked very good and felt really soft and silky.  However the lighter wigs ranged in quality.  

I think its probably obvious that it would be rare to find a Mongolian person with naturally long blond hair, or even short blond hair.  Therefore, I feel its safe to assume that the lighter colors are dyed.  I tried on a really long ashy light brown wig that was 24 inches.  It was so long that I was almost in disbelief.  People at the sale felt the color looked good on me, but I couldn't get over the uncut length, it would be hard for me to walk around in such a long wig.  Also, there is something about the way it reflects light that I didn't like. 

Then I started to be really into the "Rivkie" color combination fall, which is what they call their mixed blond.  I tried on two different Rivkie falls, one around shoulder length, and the other that was probably about 20".  I liked the shorter one, but it was too small on my head.  I felt the hair quality was much finer versus the long blonde fall that was a little thicker and hence heavier.  The colors were also slightly different, as you will be able to tell in the album below.  

The caps were closed wefts with a large multi-directional white-part top.  The falls did not have a multi-directional cap.  

Their prices are reasonable compared to many other sheitel companies in the NY area.  I didn't ask about warranty, so I have no idea.  They are willing to ship wigs to people around the country, so it could be an option for people who live "out of town".  However, because there is a large range in quality among the wigs I would recommend hand-picking the wig you want after comparing it to others in the same color/length range.  

These type of wigs (factory produced wigs from China made from Mongolian hair) are becoming very common in the sheitel industry and are selling around Shaina's price point.  I get a lot of questions about new wig brands often.  Usually its some sheitel macher who throws her name on a sheitel like these and starts selling a new "brand".  I usually tell my readers the same thing: its possible to find a quality wig at these prices made of Mongolian hair, but you have to pick a good piece since they are all made from different people's hair.  Also, there are so many brands so find a brand that has good quality control and that perhaps has a warranty in the case of a lemon.  

This is a link to Shaina's price page showing the lengths.
These are very long wigs for their prices.  So I guess if you are really particular about length and wear a dark color, this wig may work for you.  Its possible even a blonde could last awhile, but I'm sure as quality varies from piece to piece.  I did not buy anything.  Not because I wasn't tempted, but because I do not need a new sheitel right now. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Haircovering in Israel

Posted by Unknown at 9:06 AM 0 comments
Sorry for my long summer vacation from posting.  First we had a trip to Israel, then we had Rosh Hashana.. and I am still busy with the holidays until mid-Octiber.  I hope to bring more sheitel Q&A as well as new videos in the coming months!!!
I was fortunate enough to take a vacation to Israel (Eretz Yisroel) this summer.  As a wig freak, it was a unique opportunity to survey the situation on the ground.  I thought I'd share some observations about Israel in general.
First of all, it seems that high-end modular strollers are the norm here (in affluent urban areas).  I was shocked by how many Bugaboos I saw.  There were also a lot of strollers similar to the bugaboo (bassinet style on all terrain wheels)  by European brands that are not sold in the USA.  So either people spend a lot of money on strollers because they can, or because its a necessity.  I figured it would make sense to have a nice stroller if you are a one or no car family and you spend most of your time walking.  Either way, it contrasted with any idea in my mind about Israel being less affluent then the US, certainly there are wealthy people there now, but I also know that there are very poor people in Israel, I just was not in their neighborhoods on this trip.
Another strange thing that really bothered me was that I saw infant car seats placed in the front passenger seats of cars.  I prayed to G-D that those cars did not have passenger-side airbags.  But even if they didn't, I couldn't comprehend why someone would put their infant in danger like that when there was a perfectly good and safer backseat available in the car.  People are more lax about car seats and safety in general there.  We rented a car but did not pick it up until after our first shabbos so when the taxi driver picked us up at the airport he was shocked as I meticulously installed our car seats into the car.  
Onto the hair coverings.  As a whole, I saw very few women wearing sheitels in Israel.  We went to the Ramat Gan safari and I would say that 90% of attendants were religious, yet I only saw one sheitel in the entire zoo.  (she was Lubavitch)  Most women wore scarves, tichels, mitpachot, snoods, hats, etc.  Maybe it was because it was hot, or maybe its because women in Israel are not as limited to wear only sheitels.  I feel in Israel the general population knows what it means when they see a woman dressed modestly in a skirt with a head covering.  They know she is a religious Jewish woman.  In the United States, especially in "out of town" communities, if you are wearing a scarf people think (g-d forbid) that maybe you have been undergoing chemo treatment.  Sometimes hippie type people would compliment my tichels and ask where I got them because they looked cool and ethnic.  Either way, wearing a scarf makes you stand out from the general population.  Wearing a hat can look normal at certain times of the year, but hats look better with some hair coming out, so either you are also wearing a hat fall or you are showing some hair which many frum women will not do. 
In contrast, in Israel, what type of covering not only says you are a frum woman, but it tells other WHAT kind of Jewish woman you are and tells the observer which community you are in.  For example, I saw some covered sheitels and obviously chasidish dressed ladies.  I whispered to my DH "that is a covered sheitel! they are chasidish" he was like... "so?"
Then there are all types of different scarves.  If you wear a snood with all hair covered, versus showing a centimeter.  A pre-tied scarf accompanied by black attire and tights signifying someone Charedi versus a huge wrapped turbanish scarf with sandals identifying you as a settler perhaps.  Then there are the many women who are dati leumi or dati lite covering partial hair.  I saw everything from short hair out of a hat, to women who just wear a small headband as a head covering.  Some dati leumi wear tichels that cover all hair except an inch or so along the hairline, all these things just identify community and personal standards. 
I saw a few beautiful sheitels.  I was at the kinyon ayalon near Bnei Brak and from afar I saw this beautiful young lady dressed modesty in a skirt and 3/4 length sleeve high neck collar T shirt pushing a stroller and I said to myself, "Is she not covering her hair?" yet I knew that the hair was so pretty it must be a sheitel.  As she got closer I realized she was integrating her sheitel in the most interesting way.  She didn't pull her hair over the top of the sheitel, it was as if an inch of bang was just side parted just the right way to mask the hairline of the sheitel and make it seem like it was her hairline.  I wanted to stop her and ask who her sheitel macher is, but then I remembered that everyone speaks Hebrew and I speak English.
Motzi Shabbos (Saturday night) in Jerusalem near Ben Yehuda/Yaffo street near the new light-rail line, I saw the most sheitels of the trip.  Young women out with their husbands in their sheitels,some pushing strollers,  I thought to myself "I bet they are American and her husband is studying in kollel".  Young married women out together for a girls night out, all sorts of interesting people to watch.  It was a good feeling though, to see all types of Jews, and arabs, out together at the same cafes and restaurants.
While I was in the shop Bandana trying to buy apron tichels, headbands, scarves, pretieds and hats as fast as possible while my husband waited with both strollers outside I felt a serious achdus (Jewish unity-ness) with all of the women in the shop, even though some wore hats over exposed hair, some wore snoods, some wore covered sheitels (a young chasidish girl was trying on pillbox hats on her above shoulder length dark brown sheitel and I wanted to take a picture so badly but realized that is creepy)  As for me, I wore my sheitel (band fall) a total of one time during my entire two-week journey, when we visited distant cousins in kfar Chabad.  I figured it was the most respectful thing to do, considering all Lubavitchers wear sheitels.  I am not sure if the women in Kfar Chabad know about my blog, but its true, AskChavi was there, incognito!  The cousins were so amazed that I knew so much about sheitels and was downright obsessed, but that's another story.  Otherwise, I felt comfortable in scarves and hats throughout Israel, which made me realize that maybe Israel really is home....
"Bandana" on King George in Jerusalem

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wig Review: FeatherLite Sheitel

Posted by Unknown at 11:49 AM 3 comments
I was randomly contacted by a reader a few weeks ago who wanted to share a positive review of their FeatherLite wig.  Coincidentally, I had just emailed their owner to request an interview and to get more information about the brand and AW's email came on the same day, which was extremely ironic and unplanned! 

Review of a FeatherLite Wig
AW, Toronto, Canada

I heard about this company wig from another sheitel macher in my city who really spoke highly about Isadore Sternhill. I went to Isadore who took one look at me and pulled out what she thought would be perfect for me and it was! When my 6-year-old daughter saw me wearing it the first time, she said it looks like a princess sheitel! It has the most sleek and shiny hair, guessing about 18 inches long and the colour is probably about an 8/6.  The price was $2100.  It barely needed any cutting – just side bangs and the ends trimmed.  I’ve worn it both up in a ponytail and down.  It is almost a year old and the color is the same as when I bought it even after wearing it the whole summer and over a few weeks in Miami!

I have a big head so Isadore stretched the cap for me over a few wash and sets and it is very comfortable and lightweight.  I’m the type who takes of her sheitel in exchange for a prettied bandana as soon as I walk in the door but this sheitel I leave on and forget I’m still wearing it.I’ve received excellent customer service from Isadore as well.  She takes the time to show me “tricks” like the best way to “fold” a sheitel for travelling so it takes up as little space as possible and sewed in new clips for me when mine started to bend.  She even suggested to me to just wash the sheitel myself to save money since it’s so easy to handle since it dries straight and just needs a bit of flat ironing.

Chavi: What is the hair texture like?

AW: Smooth and super sleek.  It's a fine hair.

Chavi: Does the hair frizz?
AW: Not at all!

Chavi: Do you use any hair products on it (aside from shampoo and conditioner)
AW: nothing! In fact Isadore recommended to not add anything as it may weigh down the hair.

Chavi: Does it ever get knotty?
AW: Never knotty.  Occasionally tangly in the back when it's due for a wash but probably bc of my winter coat. 

Chavi: Would you recommend to a friend?
AW: Yes,  and I have already! My mother even went to take a look!

Chavi: Do you feel it was a good value based on the price/quality ratio?
AW: Definitely.  I was told a comparable Shevy would be $3000.

Chavi: How do you compare this wig with other wigs you've owned?  Is it the best, your favorite?
AW: It is by far my best and I've been wearing wigs 10+ years.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Interview with Isadore Sternhill

Posted by Unknown at 10:14 PM 5 comments
I had the pleasure of interviewing Toronto-based Isadore Sternhill, high-end wig maker (sheitel macher in the most literal sense) and owner of FeatherLite Hair Systems.  She specializes in wigs made of unprocessed European hair.  She answered my tough questions about "virgin hair" and wig making.  More about Isadore's experience can be found here in this Forward article.   

Virgin European hair EHH, is the most expensive hair available, why is it so hard to find wigs made of Virgin EHH?
It is not that it’s hard to get Virgin European hair, it’s more complicated and labour intensive to make wigs out of virgin hair. It’s important to understand how regular wigs are produced before one can understand how virgin hair wigs are produced. For regular wigs, the factory receives a large quantity of hair, sorts the course hair from the fine hair, and groups hair according to general hair colour. Any differences in texture are corrected and made uniform by chemical processing and the hair is dyed to meet demands for various popular colours. The procedure for making virgin hair wigs is significantly more complicated. Firstly, you can only put hair together that is very similar in texture. If there is more than a slight difference in texture this can cause knotting. When working with wavy hair, each ponytail has to be grouped according to wave pattern. If a tighter wave pattern is mixed with a looser wave pattern the result will be frizzy. The matter is further complicated when dealing with curly hair. The second consideration when working with virgin hair is matching colours. There is almost always hair left at the end that cannot be matched or grouped into bundle to be blended together.  This hair will sit around until enough hair of the same texture, wave pattern, and compatible colour can be found to make a wig.
Is it hard to find virgin hair in ash tones?  A lot of my readers want light ash brown, ash blonde and even dark brown without hints of red?
Hair may grow out of our scalp ashy, but as the hair grows it tends to become progressively lighter and warmer toned as you move down towards the ends.  Since hair is normally collected by cutting it from a low ponytail at the nape of the neck, the ashy roots are not included.  Secondly, virgin hair reflects what is available in nature and some colors/tones are more common than others.  It is harder to find ponytails that are ashy from the roots to the tips.  Virgin hair wigs are almost always more ashy on average than dyed wigs.  For instance, a colour 8 in a dyed wig will look auburn while a virgin hair wig comparable to a colour 8 will just be a lighter shade of brown.

Is it true that its impossible to find blond virgin hair in long lengths?  
Its hard.  The wholesale hair industry is dominated my extension makers so much of the longer blond hair never reaches the wholesale market. 

How do you make your wigs to prevent knotting?  Is it true that processed wigs might knot less than virgin hair wigs? 
I wouldn’t say that there is a definitive answer to which type of wig knots the most. The factors that produce knotting in virgin hair wigs are totally different than the factors that produce knotting in processed hair wigs. Its actually normal for virgin hair to knot to some degree specifically because the cuticle is still intact. Because the cuticles from different ponytails of hair can be different shapes and sizes, and multiple ponytails of hair have to be combined to produce 1 wig, the cuticles from different ponytails will catch on each other whenever there is friction. Processed hair will have a tendency to knot if the chemical process was left on for too long or if the concentration was too strong for the specific texture of hair it was applied to. Static is also a factor that can produce knotting in processed wigs and less so in virgin hair wigs. Whether or not a given wig will knot, processed or virgin, depends on a large variety of factors and is, to large degree, unpredictable. There are steps in the production process that can be taken to reduce the chances of knotting which involved highly skilled work and experience with hair. Again, this is harder to apply this level of attention to detail and expertise when wigs are being mass produced and there will be a lot more variability in this case. As far as virgin hair goes, there are various hair coats and treatments that can be applied to the hair to minimize knotting in many cases when it does occur.  These treatments are less effective on processed hair.

How long are virgin-hair wigs expected to last?
That depends entirely on the frequency of wear and whether or not the hair is being styled or worn in its natural state. I normally recommend that clients purchase a wig with a natural texture that is as close as possible to the texture the client wants to wear. So, for instance, if you are going to wear your wig straight a lot, don't buy a curly wig just to have the versatility of being able to wear it curly a few times. This will most definitely decrease the amount of damage your wig will incur over time.
What are other benefits of buying a virgin hair wig over a processed wig?
1.  The colour will always be the most natural looking because it is natural.
2.  The colours are almost always more ashy than dyed wigs and will tend to reflect less of a reddish tone in the light.
3.  The wig will not develop a "hallo" or red at the roots over time, and will not become lighter at the roots than it is at the bottom.  It is a natural tendency of hair to be lighter at the ends than it is at the roots, not the other way around.  In fact, I always have to repeat to new customers who are used to buying wigs darker to accommodate for the eventual colour change, that they should just get a wig in the colour that they want. If you're waiting for it to change colour its not going to happen for a very long time if ever. I find that people with darker hair find a lot of relief in this. Blond hair, which has a natural tendency to highlight in the sun, will do so over a larger span of time than a dyed or bleached wig when exposed to intense sun light. Some blonds will have this tendency more than others based on the specific biological makeup of the hair. It will most definitely not turn orange or red though. That is not a tendency virgin blond hair.
4.   You virtually eliminate the need of having to dye the wig over and over which can add up over time. The colour also becomes less accurate the more times it’s dyed. If you do choose to dye the hair, however, the most accurate colour can be achieved when starting with virgin hair. It is much harder to achieve a specific colour with hair that has been previously dyed or processed. Keep in mind we do not recommend that you dye your wig.  Once the wig is dyed you will always have a problem with colour change from that point on.
5.  The hair wont do anything your own natural hair wouldn't do.  The way that you see it in its natural state when it hasnt been styled, is the way it will look if you get stuck in the rain.
6.   You can wash it your self, if you have some degree of facility with hair. There are no specifications about water temperature, or special products. The hair is simply ultra high quality hair in its virgin state. I would recommend asking your sheitel macher for some minimal instruction or pointers if you have never washed a wig before, such as "don't brush the wig upside down while wet", but for the most part washing a wig involves basic common sense and can truly be learned by anyone. I provide a brief tutorial on how to wash your own wig for anyone purchasing a wig from me in the store

Now some questions about your brand and the services you offer. How are your wigs produced?  Are they hand-sewn, machine sewn? closed wefts, open wefts?  do you make full handsewn pieces.
The standard cap of our home brand is a hand sewn multi-directional silk top, with a closed wefted stretch back cap.  The silk top is made lager than most companies in order to accommodate deeper hairlines and deeper side parts.  The cap is produced with a strong emphasis on detail to ensure a high level of craftsmanship.  It is made to contour the head very well and eliminate points of tension around the head.  We make hand sewn pieces by custom order only.  

Do you make wigs in different sizes?  I have a lot of readers who have trouble finding size small and size XL?
Occasionally we get some small or XL pieces, but the majority are size mediums. 

Do you make headband falls, hat falls, toppers?
Yes, by order

Who are your main customers?  for example, is it mostly Jewish women looking for sheitels, or do you do a lot of business in bulk hair and extensions to non-Jewish customers?
Mostly Jewish and non-Jewish women looking for various types of wigs and hair pieces made specifically of virgin hair.  We are a popular choice for integration systems such a illusion falls and toppers as well.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Review: Milano Collection Pony Sheitel

Posted by Unknown at 6:00 AM 7 comments

UPDATE: 8/31/2012
Wig is still looking great.  I washed it and the hair is still sleek and shiny!! The color has not faded yet.  I am very happy with the hold up.  I wear it a few times a month.  No knotting problems!!!
I spend a lot of my free time thinking about sheitels.  Why?  Because sometimes I have to wear one on my head.  (and I blog about them)  When I contemplate why I wear a sheitel, and take away the religious reason for doing it, I realize I do it to have good hair.

But I digress, this is a review of a Milano Collection Wigs Ponytail Wig.

Wig Info:

Brand: Milano Collection Wigs
Style: Ponytail
Color: 10/6/8
Price: $600 but Milano runs frequent sales & coupons
Size: XL

Originally (when I was first married) I wanted a sheitel that looked exactly like my own hair.  After years of searching and never finding "my hair" I gave up.  Instead I decided to buy wigs that look good and to purchase hair that is fashionable and beautiful.  For example, right now it seems that everyone wants perfectly straight sleek hair for everyday management, and I bought a wig with the perfect "Keratin-treated", hair that looks as if I stepped out of a salon or was genetically blessed.

But I realize there are some downfalls to having a wig made of what appears to be "chemically treated hair".  Why is the wig straight?  Because it was chemically straightened
Why is the wig such a pretty shade of light brown? Because the wig is made of dyed hair.
How long will it last? A year, if I'm lucky...
and this last question is the DOWNFALL of processed wigs.  Because they are so beautiful when new in the salon, yet their life span can be so short.  Why?  Well this wig is made of processed Asian hair (possibly processed low quality European).  Asian hair typically doens't grow in 10/6/8 color... so it was originally 1B, 2 or 4 and then it was dyed.  Then it was straightened for uniformity.  So this hair has gone through a lot.  Therefore it will dry out and oxidize faster than wigs that have undergone less processing.

Ponytail wigs differ from normal wigs in a few ways.  The bottom few wefts near the nape of the neck are sewn upwards since its intended to be styled in a ponytail.  Secondly, they typically are made with less hair so they have a thinner appearance and look less bulky around the cap area when the hair is pulled back.  Third, many companies use lower quality hair on their pony wigs because... they can - the sheitel is styled with the hair pulled back.  So typically there is no need for the wig to be made of the most gorgeous hair or to have the most natural looking wave pattern in the world.

I bought this wig at the Milano Collection LA Showroom during their Pesach sale.  This wig was considered a "pre-cut" so it only qualified for the $50 discount.  Since I have a large head, most wigs do not fit me right, but this was a XL cap and it covers all of my hair.  Pony wigs have more clips and combs than a regular sheitel.  There is a comb near the forehead, and one near the nape, and 2 clips near the forehead and 2 near the nape.  Additionally there are two clips that can attach the wig to the top of your head, but I have not used these yet.

I have no doubt that this wig is extremely processed.  When I walked into shul wearing it, one of my single friends, who has had every hair straightening treatment done under the sun, immediately started debating whether she thought my wig had been Thermal Reconditioned (Japanese Straightening) or had the Keratin Treatment (Brazillian Blowout) done while feeling and examining the wig up close.  It is clearly stick straight and does not have much body to it.  However, it is the kind of perfectly straight hair that everyone who does all of these straightening treatments on their hair wants.  No frizz, just perfectly straight smooth hair.  In fact, I almost feel guilty attending mommy/baby classes in this sheitel because it looks as if I spent hours blow-drying and flat ironing my hair, and I wonder if the moms think that I have time to do that.

I find the sheitel very comfortable because it is large enough and because it is lighter than a regular sheitel that would have thicker hair and more wefts of hair overall.  I wear this sheitel in a pony and also down.  I think it looks really good down, its just perfectly sleek and straight.  When wearing half up you have to be careful because of the thinness it could be possible to see the wig cap if you have the top layer in a certain configuration.  Although the bottom wefts are sewn up and I can feel them going outward when I touch the back of my head, but the naked eye cannot detect this.  I have a friend with a Milano pony who wears her wig down all the time and its (the bottom wefts being sewn upward) never been an issue for her.

So far the wig has not been knotty at all.  The wig cap has a feature that you can actually open 3 hooks to create a hole in it, which allows for someone to pass their own hair through, if they wanted to blend it into the pony, or if you want make a little more room in the cap.

I think this color really brings out my blue eyes and I think I can wear a larger range of colors and brighter colors when I am wearing this hair color.  However, the downside to the color of this sheitel is that my other wigs are closer to the 16/10 or 12/8 range, and look notably different.  Also, I wore this once on a Wednesday and now I have to wear it every Wednesday (or a hat/scarf) so my clients do not notice that my hair suddenly changed colors, textures and lengths.

I want to keep readers posted on this sheitel as time goes by.  I bought it Pesach 2012 so its about a month old now, and I haven't washed it yet because I wear it about 2x a week.  I think that the less I wash it, the longer it will last.  When I do wash it, I'm going to be extremely gentle and use high-quality salon shampoo intended for treated hair, ideally sulfate free.

The reason I went with a 10/6/8 is because I had been trying on all sorts of wigs at Milano Collection and realized that this color looked really good on me.  The friend who was with me, liked this one the best and encouraged me to take the risk.  I have to admit I love the way it looks, but its always strange to wear a color that is different from the hair growing on my head.  However, we will see what color this ends up after it oxidizes and we will see how the hair holds up after 525,600 minutes.... how do we measure a year?...

... in sheitel wear & tear

So as of a month old I rate it the following:
Skin Top : B+
Cap construction: B+
Hair Quality: B-
Comfort: A
Durability: To Be Determined
Value: A- (when on sale)

On a side note, since I only needed a bang trim, I only had to pay $25-35 for the cut at the Milano Showroom in LA, which was a big plus for me.  I plan on doing follow up reviews on this wig as it ages.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wig Review: Michal Wigs Band Fall

Posted by Unknown at 2:24 PM 0 comments
A loyal AskChavi reader wanted her chance to write a review of one of her sheitels. I conducted an interview to find out more about her Michal Wigs fall which was purchased in 2008. Michal Wigs are known for their affordability. The Michal Website says that they use quality European Hair and are able to keep the prices down by providing factory-direct wigs. There is only one US distributor and wigs can be ordered directly from her, or purchased at sales which are run across North America in people’s homes and synagogues. With prices from $325-$650 its intriguing for wig-wearers to wonder what a Michal is actually like. Today AskChavi brings you the exclusive information provided by one of our readers and Michal owners.

 Wig Info 
Brand: Michal Wigs
Wig Type: 17’’ fall
Color: #01B
Price: $425, longer falls are $475

 Chavi: Michal Wigs is not one of the “high fashion” wig names tossed around in Brooklyn, how does its hair quality compare to other brands?
 F: On a scale of A-F I, rate the hair quality an A based on its affordable price, but a B+ compared to “dream sheitel” (*SEE FOOTNOTE*) I wore this piece every weekday for two years and during that time the wig would look like virgin European Human Hair for the first two weeks after a wash and set, by week 3 a decent quality human hair wig and by the end of week 4 the hair looked ratty and needed another wash/set. The fall is now four years old and the hair looks very decent after a wash/set but starts to look a little ratty in the back a few weeks later. Overall, it still looks much better than most other four-year old sheitels that have seen this much use, so I’m not complaining! 

Chavi: What is the hair texture like?
F: The hair is thick and straight, which is similar to my own hair, so I was very happy with the texture. However, someone with whispy hair may not find the texture to be a good match. I never tried curling the hair so I do not know whether or not it holds a curl/wavy style. 

Chavi: Does the fall have a skin top?
 F: No, but skin tops were not considered a "standard" fall feature when I purchased this piece in '08. It is possible that Michal carries skin top falls, but I have never asked. 

Chavi: How do you rate the durability?
 F: For price A / Compared to “dream Sheitel” A – After 2 years of regular weekday use the hair quality was pretty much identical to the time of purchase. The hair is starting to look less “new” but it is still very good. The hair needed to be dyed once every 10-12 months, but I live in a sunny region and it is common for sheitels in my color range to need a dye job that often so I'm chalking the oxidation up to standard wear and tear. 

Chavi: How do you rate the cap construction and quality?
F: For price A / compared to dream sheitel B+ – The cap is built (but doesn’t feel!) like steel, and is the sturdiest mass-produced wig cap that I have ever seen. After four years of regular use, the cap is still in like-new condition. The very top of the fall has a patch that is thinner than the rest of the fall, which didn't bother me given the price (and the fact that the patch was covered by a headband/hat/bandana). 

Chavi: Does the cap fit you well, is it comfortable?
F: I have an XL sized head and ordered a standard size fall, so while the cap does not fit me well this is because I ordered the wrong size. I would not hesitate to order a Michal with a larger cap. The cap starts to get itchy about 3.5 weeks after a wash and set, but I usually wash it every four week so this wasn't a huge problem. 

Chavi: Does it give you headaches?
F: Yes, but this is because I purchased the wrong size cap (see above). The headaches are from a tight cap and not from the weight of the hair -- the hair is actually very light, which is impressive considering that it is a thick fall. 

Chavi: Does the hair knot?
F: Yes, but the hair was close to 17" when I first cut the fall and knotting is common at that length. The hair did get knottier in weeks 3-4 after a wash/set. (As I wrote above, the hair looked and felt custom for the first two weeks after a wash/set when I originally purchased the piece.) I cut off several inches a few years ago (one inch to deal with two years worth of split ends, and the rest for a style change) and haven't had any problems with knotting since that big snip. 

Chavi: Have you ever washed it yourself?
F: Yes, every time other than when I took it in to get cut (once when I got it originally cut after purchase, again at the 2 year mark to take care of split ends). 

Chavi: How was the Michal/Sheitel Macher customer service?
F: Excellent! I emailed Michal's American distributer several times with questions, and each email was answered promptly. She mailed my wig as soon as she received payment. 

Chavi: Would you order from them again?
F: Definitely! I highly recommend Michal to anyone looking to purchase a dark colored in this price range. (I do not know how their hair quality is for lighter colors, which are more heavily processed.) 

Chavi: Did you get what you expected in terms of quality?
F: I got MORE than I expected in terms of quality. I expected the fall to be getting ratty (but still functional) at the 2 year mark; however, at that point cap and hair were still in like-new condition (with the exception of some split ends, which are standard wear and tear on a regularly worn sheitel). The fall is now four years old and still in very good condition. 

Chavi: Do you have any other thoughts that you would like to share with the AskChavi Audience: 
F: Michal is considered a "low end" brand, and given their pricing it isn't hard to imagine why. I was not looking to spend a lot of money on my weekday fall, and because was twice burned by another "low end" brand I decided to try Michal. This fall is a very realistic looking piece, and while the hair quality and overall appearance are not comparable to the high end brands, all in all it is worth much more than the few hundred dollars that I paid. When purchasing sheitels made out of processed hair it is very important to bear hair color in mind. Most low end companies heavily process coarse dark hair to create a "European" look. With dark hair (my color) the processing isn't as traumatic as it is with blond hair (which is bleached of all color, and then dyed the appropriate shade of blond), so dark "low end" wigs will generally look much nicer than their blond counterparts. While I enthusiastically recommend Michal's to women with dark hair color I cannot speak to the quality of their light browns, reds and blonds. All in all I cannot imagine a better quality fall at this price. 

Overall Rating (A-F scale) 
A / (compared to dream sheitel) A-/B+ 

 *FOOTNOTE* - “Dream Sheitel” is the mythical hand sewn wig made out of virgin EHH hair, with a custom-fitted feather light cap that we all dream of and can never manage to find.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Milano Collection LA Showroom Tour

Posted by Unknown at 8:52 PM 2 comments
Over Passover I had the chance to checkout Milano Collection's Los Angeles showroom.  I wanted to share my general impressions.  First of all, Milano Collection is one of the first "major Jewish wig brands" to open a dedicated showroom in Los Angeles.  Los Angeles has sheitel machers who sell multiple wig brands as well as sheitel stores that carry various brands, but to my knowledge Milano is the first "NY Transplant" salon to open shop in LA.

There was plenty of metered parking available right in front of the store, for the reasonable rate of $1/hour.  There is also free street parking available in the residential neighborhoods a few blocks away but be careful because LA has strict parking regulations including some streets that require permits and others that have street cleaning on certain days a week.  The storefront had a upscale look to it and displayed a few wigs in the window.  You have to ring a doorbell and be buzzed in.  I called Milano in advance and let them know that Chavi was coming to the store, believe it or not, they hadn't even heard of me!!!  Well, I educated them on who I am and what my mission is - essentially providing wig information to consumers. They were happy to let me come in and take pictures and try on wigs to my hearts delight.

I learned that Milano wigs come in two qualities: processed European and unprocessed European, and that the prices vary depending on length and hair quality.  Their unprocessed wigs have codes such as LL-14 while the processed wigs have names like "Reese" and "Giselle".  They organized their showroom by grouping the wigs in various color groups.  They also had additional wigs in bins below each section.  The shop attendant told me that pretty much all of the wigs out on the main showroom floor were considered "pre-cuts" .
A few things I learned:
1. Freedom wig caps run really small.  I tried to try on a size Large freedom cap and couldn't even get it onto my head.  (freedom caps do not have any clips in them)
2. The iFront line has a small strip of lace in the front that is supposed to make the hairline of the wigs look more natural.  For whatever reason the lace on the lighter colored wigs was more noticeable then the lace on the darker colored wigs.
3. Milano wigs come in various textures but overall the processed wigs actually frizz less than the unprocessed wigs.
4. Pony wigs come in sizes L and XL because for many people its necessary to go up a size in order for them to cover all their hair and make the pony look natural.
5. The stylist recommended washing wigs exclusively in high end sulfate free shampoos since most of them are processed, in order to prevent them from becoming dry and brittle and losing their shine.  (I will be recommending specific products in later posts)
6. I look better in hair darker than my own hair, even though my natural hair color is "dishwater blonde".  The blonde wigs made me look completely washed out. I suppose if my true color existed it would look good, but its hard to find.

The showroom offers tons of wig services aside from wash & set and cutting including coloring and deep conditioning treatment.  Also, the cut price varies on how much one wants cut.  I ended up buying something... will post about it later!  Can anyone guess which of the wigs pictured in the album is the one I bought??

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Aishes Slip No More Giveaway

Posted by Unknown at 9:40 AM 3 comments
I hope you all enjoyed the review of the Slip No More which was published last week here.  I am happy to announce that I will be giving away two Slip No More headbands to two lucky AskChavi readers.  I have a size S and a size M to giveaway.
Here's how to enter:
1. Like AskChavi on Facebook, and/or Follow AskChavi on Twitter and/or post a comment below

2. Post a Facebook status @Ask Chavi saying what you love best about AskChavi or what you favorite post has been or what information you would like to be written about on Ask Chavi.  (Examples: I love the wig reviews on @Ask Chavi or @Ask Chavi is the best source for sheitel info on the web!) Keep in mind that @Ask Chavi will bring up a link to my Facebook page which you will select and the "@" sign will disappear.

ii. and/or follow AskChavi on Twitter and mention something great about @AskChavi in a tweet. 

iii. and/or post a comment below on why you love AskChavi or what information you would like blogged about by Chavi.  Obviously anonymous posts will not be eligible since I will have no way of contacting you if you win.  

3. Each separate post is a separate entry.  I.e. if you post on Facebook, Twitter and as a blog comment on this page you get three entries in the drawing, if you only post on Facebook you get one entry, etc.  

4. Entries must be posted between 4/3/12 and 11:59 pm PDT on 4/17/12

5. Winners will be selected at random.  Shipping will be provided by AskChavi within the United States.  The first place winner selected will have their choice of either S or M size band and the second winner selected will receive the band which was not selected by the first place winner.  Two winners will be selected, so if you win the "first place" prize your name will be removed from the "second place" drawing.

To be eligible for the AskChavi Giveaway, you must be: [1] a natural person legally residing in, and physically located within (have a US address!), the 50 United States[2] 18 or older

* You must have a US mailing address to win.
* The prize is not exchangeable or refundable for cash. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Slip No More Headband Review

Posted by Unknown at 9:33 AM 5 comments
Its pretty unbelievable that I went this long without ever trying a wig-securing headband.  I figured that I was satisfied with the "status quo" of using clips mainly because my wigs never came loose and because my clips never hurt my head because I never clipped them too tightly (or at all).  However, I was sent the Aishes Slip No More Headband to try and I am excited to share my experience with you.

I know I mostly blog about wigs, but I actually spend a lot of time not in a wig, but in scarfs, bandanas, hats and snoods.  As it turns out Slip No More works great on them all.  For example, I wore the Slip No More Headband under my pre-tied bandana at the gym, and I'd hate to say that there have been times where the bandana had slipped back or even fallen off in the past when I was doing work on the floor.  I take Body Pump so for three of the tracks we are on our backs: chest press, triceps and abs so its important that my head-covering stays on.  With the Slip No More under my bandana I had no fear about it falling off.  In fact, the bandana stayed exactly in place, secured. 

The Slip No More worked great keeping an Israeli-style tichel on.  I was in disbelief that I had never thought of it before.  In fact I think it will help people keep on tichels in multiple layers which can be weighed down from their weight.  Tichels tend to slide back in general if you have smooth hair and this really helps.  Results with a loose beret: great (pictured left).  Amazingly it kept on a pre-tied tichel that ALWAYS slipped back because of its small size and material.  Now I can comfortably wear the pre-tied pictured below that I have always liked and bobby pins never kept on.   I have a large head and the size Large band fit me appropriately.  The velcro closure is about 1.5 inches wide so there is room for a slight size adjustments.

I used it with my old Milano Sheitel while outlet shopping which is now styled in a pony tail.  One of the worst thing about shopping and trying on clothes is pulling crew neck tops over a covered head because usually my wig gets pulled back or my tichels fly off and get stuck inside the shirt.  However, despite a lot of shirts coming on and off my wig stayed put.  It was cool not to have any clips secured to my hair.  Obviously I had to smooth down the hair that kept get frizzier and frizzier... I'm sure you ladies know what I'm talking about.

The only hair covering which I will not continue to use the band with is ironically falls (3/4 wigs).  I found that the band added a little extra height underneath the fall which made the fall look less natural.  Falls have a tendency to look fake because of their usual thickness contrasting with the flatness of ones real hair pulled back tightly.  I tried both the "Bump Fall" and a "headband fall" styling and both were less comfortable with the Slip No More on.  I will also attribute this to the fact that I never snap my clips closed when I wear my falls so they fit really comfortably anyway. 

I am really in love with the Slip No More when it comes to hats, scarves, full wigs and every other head covering on the planet.  I think the band could be helpful to people with no hair or thinning hair since they may not have enough hair to clip wigs to.  This headband will allow them to purchase "sheitel" type wigs rather than wigs that have to be bonded like lace front or vacuum.  Keep in mind that I purposely left the band showing in all the pics above for this blog posting but I do not recommend showing the band in general, though because of its dark brown color from far away it would really look like someone's hair unless you have light blonde or light red hair.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

Claire Accuhair Contessa Review

Posted by Unknown at 2:52 PM 2 comments
 Review of Claire Contessa: Interview with AskChavi reader "RS".

What made you decide to purchase a Claire?  Where did you hear of the brand?
I’d never had a sheitel I liked, so when my daughter became a kallah I asked around and got the most consistently positive feedback about Claire Accuhair. Once I saw what they were selling I decided to get my own for the chassunah.
Claire Accuhair is one of the oldest sheitel companies in the US. Claire herself has an amazing lifestory—she learned wig making while in a DP camp after the war, and started making her own when she got frustrated with what was available for a young kallah in Brooklyn in those days. If you go, try to spend a few minutes talking to her (or even better, sing her a Hungarian song if you know one!). She has a wonderful view of life.

How many other sheitels did you try before deciding on it?
I’ve been wearing sheitelach for almost 25 years—part synthetic to start, and then later Remy hair. I was never really happy with any of them.

What color is your Claire?
6, one needed a little highlighting.

Was it custom made or pre-made?
Now this is an interesting question. It started out as a premade, a Claire Contessa—although completely hand tied and made with virgin (uncolored, untreated) European hair (the only kind she uses). Claire altered the shape of the hairline, since mine is a little unusual, and added a good 2” of depth to the cap, so it ended up fitting perfectly. I’ve never had a custom, but I can’t imagine a custom fitting any better. (see photo)

How would you describe the texture of hair?
It feels like very healthy well cared-for hair. I’ve had it styled silky and straight as well as wavy with body and the hair holds any style you give it. About the only thing you might not be able to do is get a totally stick straight, limp look—unless you want to have the hair thinned out a lot.

Did you have a specialized wig cap size?
Yes, as I said. My daughter had to have hers taken in. They did an excellent job with that kind of alteration as well. The caps start slightly on the large side, I think, so that they can take them in and do other alterations if necessary (which will cost you less than if you had to add hair in to make the cap fit).

Did you purchase it from the Claire salon or from a sheitel macher?
Directly from Claire.

How did their involvement in the sale help the overall kallah experience?
Claire’s daughter worked with my daughter, showing her how to wear and care for her sheitel. I think she had a very positive experience—very different from my travails with my earlier sheitlach!

What was the hardest thing about finding a sheitel as a kallah?
I didn’t have anyone to help me, so I ended up with horrible, ill fitting sheitlach. I certainly didn’t want my daughter to have the same experience, and she didn’t B”H.

Does the cap fit you well, is it comfortable? 
Very comfortable. I wear it all day and I find it about the most comfortable head covering I have.  When I first looked at the cap I questioned that it wasn’t all stretch, which I thought would be more comfortable. I have a different make of shaitel that had a stretch cap and I find that it slides around a lot more than my Claires do, and it began to stretch out pretty quickly. The Claire cap is not the lightest when you’re holding it in your hand, but I find it more comfortable to wear.

Does it give you headaches?  

Does the hair knot? 
Not at all. At most it gets a little tangled if I don’t put a brush to it for the whole day-but NEVER  knots .

Do you think the skin top is really realistic?
I find the skin top realistic and it is quite big so you can do a lot with the top, parting in different ways, etc.

Have you ever washed it yourself?  If so, did the hair knot when wet?
I’ve washed it myself a few times. The hair doesn’t knot, but you do have to be careful not to pull too hard on it, since it’s hand tied not machine wefted, and the hand ties don’t stand up to abuse as well. (I have always washed my own, but they were all machine wefted.)  Claire told me how to handle it (pinned to a head the whole time, and combing the shampoo through) and I can do it, but I prefer to have Claire’s people take care of it. They do a good job, no matter what I ask them to do, and it’s one less headache (so to speak).

What quality hair was advertised to you and do you feel the hair was the same as advertised?
They told me that the hair was good quality virgin European hair. If anything, it was even better than I expected. I’ve had my first Claire for over 1 ½ years now and the hair quality feels just the same; it hasn’t dried out or oxidized at all—the only way I can see that it’s not new is on the inside, where you can see that I’ve worn the shaitel a lot.)

How much did you pay
Each Contessa I bought came to approximately $1,500 including the cut and the alterations.

How was the Claire/sheitel macher customer service? 
Really great. I have gone in several times with little things (a piece of hair that’s not falling the way I like it, etc.) and Claire herself has fixed it on the spot. (The first time I went in she begged me to let her do something with the quite inferior sheitel I was wearing—which was NOT one of hers—because she didn’t want me to wear it looking like that. She spent a good 15 minutes patchkying with it—wow, what a difference!-- and wouldn’t take a penny.) They give you at least a month after the styling to come back and have things changed around. I brought mine back in after the chassunah because I’d decided I wanted a more layered look and they redid it for no extra charge.  Claire’s is a small place—there are only 8-10 people working there, total (including Claire and two of her daughters)—and there’s a nice family feeling about the place.

Would you buy a Claire again?

Are you happy with your sheitel cut?  Would you get a different style next time?
I have two Claires and I’m happy with the style on both of them.  I don’t think I’ll be buying a new one for at least a few years so the styles probably will have changed by then. I can certainly see having one of them recut in a couple of years if I get tired of the style it has now.

How would you rate it on the following scale? A-F

Weight/comfort: A    
Hair Quality: A
Skin top:  A
Durability: A
Appearance: A
Cap Construction: A

 Overall: A

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Buyer Beware: Tidebuy

Posted by Unknown at 2:20 PM 4 comments
One of my readers wanted to share her dramatic story of a wig purchase she made online which ended up ending very badly.  She purchased a wig from Tidebuy which was advertised as handtied, but in fact the wig was entirely machine wefted and did not even have a multi-directional skin part.  It was essentially unwearable because it looked so unrealistic and she attempted to try to return it to Tidebuy.  Below is her email trail with Tidebuy showing their complete lack of customer service and their outright false internet advertising.

It can be VERY risky to buy a wig from an unknown online foreign vendor. Sometimes its better to spend a little more to buy something reputable. Nevertheless we can all learn from my reader's mistake and hopefully Tidebuy steps up and takes responsibility for their products. Below is a video showing the wig which was sent and under that is the email trail between my reader JM and the Tidebuy customer service representative.

Date: Fri, Feb 3, 2012 at 8:38 AM
Subject: Re: I wish to return items
To: tidebuy <>
It seems like you're having difficulty understanding what I'm saying.
It is not (only) that the style that does not match the picture, the
wig was not constructed in the way described on the website.  The
webpage says the the wig is constructed by sewing individual hairs
into a single layer of fabric.  No part of the wig you sent was
constructed in that way.  The wigs sent were made of machine sewn
wefts, a much lower quality process.
I have made arrangements to share my experience with your company on a
website about wigs and will encourage all readers to share this
information with as many people as possible.
If you will not accept a return, please do not continue to write to
me.  I no longer have the time or the interest to continue repeating
myself to someone who is either unable or unwilling to understand what
I'm saying.

On 2/3/12, tidebuy <> wrote:
> Dear J,
> Thanks a lot for your concern of your order.
> Regarding the wig problem you mentioned, we made it all according to the
> size and color you chose when you placed the order. If the wig goes out of
> shape, it might be caused during transportation. So the hairstyle can be
> changed, you can make it into the one in the picture on our website.
> Besides, the picture on site is processed, but you can make the actual wig
> like shown in the picture with trying using the hair spray or styling gel to
> have a special effect.
> Sincerely hope you can understand this.
> If you want any other products, you can provide us a picture, and then we
> can make it according to your request. Or if you have any suggestions or
> ideas, please give us without any doubt. We will adopt it if it is
> appropriate, and we will give you a coupon for return. If you have any
> questions, please feel free to contact us.
> Thanks and best regards
> Michael
> Customer Service Department
> Website:>
> Tel: +86-10-62901050-815; +86-10-64477995-815; +86-10-64476833-815

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: JM>Date: Tue, Jan 24, 2012 at 8:30 AM
Subject: Re: I wish to return items
To: tidebuy <>
Is there someone there whose first language is English with whom I may
speak?  You don't seem to be understanding what I'm saying.
The product you SENT is DIFFERENT from the product you DESCRIBED on
the website.
If you refuse to acknowledge and correct this then I have no choice
but to warn other customers from buying from your company.

On 1/24/12, tidebuy <> wrote:
> Dear J,
> Thanks for concern of your order and we are really sorry for all the
> inconveniences we brougth to you.
> I do  not understand why you say the wig quality is not good. what kind of
> quality you think it good quality . We could not see any problems from the
> pictures you supplied to us. And we have tried our best to let you happy and
> give you 20USD discount. And we also could keep a good business relationship
> with you in future. We really appreciated your understanding.
> If you still have more questions,just feel free to contact us. We would get
> back to you within 24 hours at working days. Thanks so much.
> best regards
> Michael
> Customer Service Department>
> Website:>
> Tel:  86-10-6447-6833
>       86-10-6290-5773

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: JM
Date: Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 6:11 AM
Subject: Re: I wish to return items
To: tidebuy <>
Dear Michael,Today is 7 days after I received my order.  I contacted your company about returning the order within a couple hours of receiving it.  I am still waiting for your instructions.  I hope that this matter will be resolved soon. Please respond.
Thank you,J

On Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 4:56 AM, tidebuy <> wrote:
Dear J,   Thanks for concern of your order and we are really sorry for all the inconveniences we brougth to you.So could you please take some clear pictures for the wig you received, and tell us where is not as described. After we received your pictures,we would contact the supplier to ask compensation for you ,refund or exchange all no problem if there are really huge issue.Looking forward to hearing from you soon.thanks.If you still have more questions,just feel free to contact us. We would get back to you within 24 hours at working days. Thanks so much.    

best regardsMichael Customer Service Department                                  

For any items, if there is a quality problem and you want to apply for a refund/exchange, please upload some persuasive pictures or video. Once it is verified, you can send the item back to us (customer assumes the shipping cost) only after you get our permission, and we will give you the corresponding comepensation.

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