Monday, August 1, 2011

The Sheitel Hunt: A Personal Review

Last month I went on a wig/sheitel buying hunt. 
I was determined to find what I was looking for and not to settle or be pressured into buying a wig that I did not simply love.  The plan was to find a wig that would be a good candidate for the classic bob haircut.  The wig had to fit into some basic criteria including 1) feel good on my head 2) European hair 3) Dark brown color.
After buying the prized wig, I planned on taking it to be cut by Eva Scrivo at her salon on Bond Street in the city.
Following are the details of my Crown Heights wig searching adventure. 

My first stop was Malky Eckhouse:
Phone number:  718-953-1539
Location:  Montgomery between Albany and Troy
Convenience:  No steps, walk in and spacious layout.  Allows you to bring in the stroller. 
Atmosphere:  Relaxing, clean, organized.
Service:  Accommodating, willing to schedule a later time so that I could go with my husband, if necessary.  
Wig Price:  Moderately pricey. They had no short wigs less than 1300.
Quality of Hair:  Very soft and silky
Hair Styling:  No precuts in the style of a classic bob.   A couple shorter looking cuts, but not that edgy look I was envisioning.  
Comfort:  Stretchy cap, with enough give.  Extra wide front comb-nice bonus. 
Quality of Cap:  Looked well put together, and had a multi direction “skin top”.
Bottom line:   Really wanted to like the wig, but the short wig they gave me to try on was already styled and layered in a way that made it difficult to see if it would be a good candidate for the bob style.  Maybe I would risk the haircut on a much cheaper wig, but a wig for 1300 it is too much to wager on.
I would consider giving them my number to call to inform me when and if they have any nice precut bobs available.  I would definitely stop by again to give it a try, especially now that I see how convenient and easy it is to come over –with or without kids. 
Update:  When I went back to Malky later to return the wig, she told me that they don’t specialize in precuts.  What you see is what you must “envision” So I am basically out of luck here.  In addition, I felt some pressure vibes…

Second stop was Yaffa Wigs. 
I called the number and it was instantly answered by a friendly sounding lady.  She immediately booked me for an evening appointment at 8:30.
Phone number:  718-773-7878
Location:  Kingston Avenue and Union Street.
Convenience:  Upstairs.  No strollers going up in this place!  That’s one of the reasons it’s great that they will do evening appointments.  I can leave kids at home with hubby
Atmosphere:  Brightly lit with mirrors everywhere.   Long narrow room lined on both sides with wigs of different colors and lengths.  Many beautiful human hair wigs of varying hair quality from just nice, to super light and silky. 
Service:  Friendly, helpful assistant.  Note to self:  Did not get full attention since there was a second customer scheduled during my appointment. 
Hair Styling:  Although there were many stunning long and stylish wigs, there were not too many bob precuts to choose from.  I tried on what was available but just knew that none of them were right for me.  After seeing there was not much going on in the short wig section, I moved on to take a look at the long and luscious wigs.  I noted that some of the wigs styled on the mannequins looked fresh, classy, and well cut.

Wig price:  I did find out that one of the long, light, silky wigs that I tried on was going for 1600. Not bad.

Quality of Hair:  It really depended on each individual wig.  Some were not as silky and soft as others. You have to go and feel it to be able to tell what you like.
Comfort:   The wigs that were size medium (which is my size) felt reasonable comfortable on my head.  They weren’t all super stretchy though.
Quality of Cap:  Good quality with a nice natural looking skin tone to the cap.  The scalp color was not too bright.
Bottom Line:  It really is hit or miss with Sheitels. This time for me it was a miss.  But I think I’m getting warmer… 

Third Stop:
Rebecca Wigs
Phone number:  347-852-0832, 347-425-7032
Side Note:  Reluctant to go here, since last time I went to their Sheitel sale, I felt pressured after not liking the wigs I tried on.  At that time the wigs I saw were too full and seemed a bit frizzy, and unfinished.   I am looking for a wig that doesn’t need so much work!  I recently heard that their wig quality has improved dramatically, so now I think I must find out for myself it this is true!
Phone number:  347-852-0832, 347-425-7032
Hours:   They are accommodating if you would like to call ahead and schedule an evening appointment.  I was able to stop by after 7:00, since the assistant was working on a customer in the evening.
I haven’t been able to get through to them yet.  I am guessing that they don’t have a full time secretary or assistant at the Studio.
Location:  325 Kingston Avenue.  The entrance is off of the side alley, under the purple awning.
Convenience:  No going up or down a flight of steps here.  Easily accessible
Atmosphere:  Relaxed and well organized.  Short wigs on one side, and long wigs on a whole other wall.  There is a definite need for more mirrors!
Service:  She let me browse on my own and didn’t pressure me.  No strange vibes here.  Down to earth, and friendly. 
Hair Styling:  I liked that they had a lot of precuts to choose from.  Of course they would still need to be finished, but they looked a lot closer to the classic bob style that I was looking for.  Unfortunately, most of the wigs had been poorly cut and styled in a way that detracted from the final look of a nice bob. 
Wig price:  These human hair wigs are supposed to be some of the cheapest European ones around.  The lady there said that the short wigs cost $800 precut. 
Quality of Hair:  European hair.  Most of the short wigs had a really nice, sleek look and feel. 
Quality of Cap:  Lacked stretch on the sides, and something was off about the way the hair was sewn into the cap.  I didn’t see a natural looking part.  The quality of the caps is on the low side.  They didn’t feel terrible on my head, but didn’t feel great either.
Bottom Line:  If I didn’t find a wig within the next few weeks, then I would definitely give them  another try and consider asking the owner if she could make the wig with more stretch.  Problem with that is I don’t want to commit to a product before seeing and wearing the final deal.  So that’s a dilemma.
Fourth Stop:
Freeda Wigs Showroom
Number:  718-771-2000
Location:  779 East NY, between Troy Ave and Schenectady Ave.
Convenience:   They have their own parking lot!  How rare is that?!!  They are only a few blocks off the beaten path.
Extra Perk:  Sheitel sale this Sunday from 9:00-3:00.  Note to self: Must go early to get best pickings
Atmosphere:  Very large, almost warehouse feeling with three big rooms.  No claustrophobia here!  You’ve got plenty of room to run laps while trying on a new sheitel!  With only one other customer, and the hairstylist in the room, it felt sort of lonely.  They should have had more customers for a wig sale!  Customers or not, I liked the relaxing vibe, and was able to spend a long enough time analyzing the short wig look in front of the generous sized mirrors.
Service:  Lady who answered sounded nice and helpful.  Once in the store I was shown around and given different types of short wigs to try on.
Hair Styling:  There were many shorter styles to choose from, but they weren’t displayed on mannequins.  Rather, they were thrown together in many different boxes, depending on color, brand, and style.  It kind of felt like I was going on a treasure hunt, digging for my prized sheitel.   Although it was still very difficult to envision what the final product would look like, the short wigs in Freeda’s salon came closer to my idea of what a flattering short style would look like. 
Wig price:  Average price for the short human hair European wig is a little over 1,000.  But, if you come during a sale, and choose, say, a discontinued wig, you can purchase one for as little as $400.  In my opinion, a great bargain!
Quality of Hair:  The hair that I felt had a nice, soft, natural feel to it.  They felt unprocessed.  I am usually very suspicious of the super smooth, silky wigs, but Freeda’s wigs seemed different in a good way.  I was told that Freeda has her own factory in Ukraine, and is really on top of the wig making process.  So this is genuine European hair. 
Quality of Cap:  Of the wigs that I looked at none of them had the extra new stretchy material on the sides of the forehead the way that Yaffa’s wigs were made, but at the same time, they felt pretty good on my head.  The ones that I looked at were on sale, so it could be that only the newer wigs being made have updated wig caps.
Bottom Line:  I almost decided to purchase the $400 super short wig, but decided that I had to be more certain, and love it more than I did.  I just couldn’t predict if the finished look would be nice enough to fit my vision.  I would definitely return there for another treasure hunt.   I would also love to see some of their longer wigs.

Fifth Stop:
Scissor Palace Salon
Phone number:  347-371-9845 
Location:  370 Kingston Ave between Crown and Carroll Avenue.
Phone number:  347-371-9845 
Convenience:  Walk ins are welcome.   Their doors always seem to be open, and they are constantly changing things up in there.  They were selling lingerie downstairs at one point as well, but I don’t know if they still have that going on.  Apparently they even offer laser hair removal and do makeup application as well.  So it may just be a one stop shop for all your beauty needs.
Service:  They were busy working with other customers when I walked in (unannounced) but they let me browse on my own without pressuring me.  When I asked them about their prices they were straight up and didn’t just say “it depends”.  
Wig price:  The Short sheitels were being sold for 1300, on sale for 1,100 European hair.  Included the cut.
Quality of Hair:  They sell a lot of Galit Italia wigs, European hair.  When I ran my hands through the hair, it felt soft and silky. 
Hair Styling:  They only seemed to have one or two well cut bobs at the time.  I liked the short wig that I tried on there, but it just wasn’t for me.  Wish there was more to choose from.  You would think short wigs would be more in style during the warmer months.

Anat Wigs
Phone number:  718-756-6252, and 917-754-7524
Location:  355 Kingston Avenue
Phone number:  718-756-6252, and 917-754-7524
Hours:  Close at 7:00. No evening hours.  They are open on Sunday. 
Wig price:  A short Freeda Wig is a little over 1,000. 
Service:  The owner working there is a one man (woman) show.  She was training her daughter in hairstyling at the time that I came in.  Other than that it was just me, and I received her individual attention-which can be a good or bad thing when buying a wig.  You sometimes just need to be left alone to think!
Wig Style:  She has an eye for good cuts.   All the wigs hanging on her walls have been preselected, cut and styled by the owner.  She agreed with me that every single wig is truly different.  Even if it is the same brand, you won’t find the same exact wig anywhere
I decided to jump at the freeda wig, since it was pretty much as close as possible to what I was looking for. I paid full price (about $1100) and walked out the door with my new sheitel!    (The End)
Some Lessons That I Have Learned On This Hunt
Lesson 1:  Don’t settle for the first wig that is just passable.   Do not, under any circumstances, let anyone pressure you into buying something you don’t absolutely love!  If you are uncertain, keep on looking, because your instincts are telling you that this isn’t the one.  There is one out there somewhere.  You just have to go and find it! 
Lesson 2:  Make sure to check out the netting and see that nothing is torn, frayed, or missing underneath.  When I brought the wig home I saw that the adjustable strap on the side had broken off.  Plus, later on when I brought the wig to my hairstylist, she said a big chunk of hair had been taken out of the back.  That was something that I totally missed!
Lesson 3:  Don’t just get your wig cut by anyone.  The cut is just as important as the wig and is a permanent alteration that will not grow back!  Find someone you really trust to listen to you and follow your vision of what you want.  Too many times, a hairstylist has had no clue how to accomplish this successfully for me.  It can be disappointing and sometimes maddening to go through such an experience.  Unfortunately, this happens to a lot of people!
Draw yourself a picture /diagram with as many details that you can think of.   It does not have to look professional or artistic.  Just get a pencil and paper and write down the details.  Present your picture to your hairstylist and make sure she really pays attention. 

Above is a copy of the the diagram that I drew for Eva Scrivo, my hairstylist.  She actually studied the drawing and read my messy handwriting!
To the right of the diagram is a picture of Katie Holmes with the gorgeous bob haircut that inspired me to try it out for myself.  Notice the left side of her head how the ends are scissored in.  I love the uneven line giving amazing texture to the final look.

And Here It Is!

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