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.

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