Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A Question of Lace


Buying wig-making lace can be a challenge.  Buying wig-making lace online can make you want to pull your hair out (provided baldness isn’t the reason you’re making wigs…)  The main challenge is that there seems to be no consistent method of classifying lace.  When you’re buying something sight-unseen from an unknown online seller, you’re taking a big risk.  Lace can be very expensive.  I have found prices ranging from $20 to over $200 per metre, so it really pays to know what you’re buying before ordering.

With that in mind, I have decided to do a review of all the laces I have encountered to date, in the hopes that my experiences will help someone else decide what to buy.  I will update this post as I try new products, or come across new suppliers.

Before I get to the review, I would like to address the issue of how lace is commonly (and often incorrectly) named.  Some of what we see sold as lace in fact isn’t lace at all, but monofilament mesh or something similar.  True wig-maker’s lace, or bobbinet tulle as it’s more accurately known, is woven in a hexagon pattern, as in the illustration below.  Other types of net are welded or stamped.



We often see references to French and Swiss lace.  Frequently these names are used to describe the the weight of the lace.  Swiss implies that the lace is very delicate, fragile, and almost undetectable on the skin, while French implies that the lace is less delicate but more hardwearing.  I haven’t been able to determine where these classifications come from, but it seems that they are complete misnomers.

I recently had an email conversation with Geoff Hiscock, Managing Director of Hugo Royer International Limited (www.royer.co.uk) and he set me straight on the naming issue.  He informed me that French lace is made in France, and Swiss lace is made in Switzerland.  Nothing more, nothing less.  In fact, he also said that the only company in France that was making this type of lace actually ceased production in the mid-90s, so French bobbinet no longer exists.

The only way to accurately determine the weight or thickness of lace is to use the denier system, which measures the linear mass density of fibers.  I won’t go into too much detail (there is a Wikipedia article on the subject if you’re interested) but essentially, the lower the denier number, the finer the lace.  A denier of 40 would indicate a heavy, more hardwearing lace, while a 15 denier would be extremely delicate and virtually undetectable against the skin.

It would definitely be so much easier to if everyone used the denier system, but until that happens we will have to continue trying to decipher each company’s descriptive names for the products we use.

And so, on to the reviews, in no particular order.  I will use the names that they are given by each supplier:


Amazing Hair Store • Swiss Lace

The lace that I have been using most frequently until recently is this one, sold as Swiss lace from a Chinese online supplier, Amazing Hair Store.  When I examine it under a magnifier, I can see that it is actual bobbinet lace (rather than stamped or welded monofilament).  It is very tough and relatively easy to ventilate.  It tends, however to be a bit coarse and scratchy on the skin, and is definitely much more visible than most of the other 'Swiss' laces I have seen.  However, with a good attachment it will still work for a front hairline.  This is the lace I used in the previous post titled New Hairline.

The most attractive feature of this lace is the price — less than anywhere else I have found.  Definitely worth a try if you are starting out, and good to keep around if you need a sturdier foundation.





Stylish Lace Wigs • Swiss Lace

This lace is quite comparable in thickness to the previous one, but it is less scratchy for some reason.  Stylish Lace Wigs is an online wig store in the UK.  Although not a materials supplier as such, they stock a small selection of wig lace.  I bought the last piece of the fleshtone lace and it seemed to take ages to re-stock.  I'm not sure how reliable they are as a supplier, but their price is reasonable and the lace is of a good quality.  Again, possibly not the first choice for a front hairline, but definitely a good sturdy choice for less critical areas.  They also sell other colours, if you are looking for lace to match darker skin tones.

Shipping to Canada was inexpensive and quick.

http://www.stylishlacewigs.co.uk/en/adhesives-and-removers/375-swiss-lace-for-wig-making.html






Amid Beauty • French Lace

Amid Beauty in the USA stocks a wide assortment of wig laces.  This was the first lace that I bought, so I thought I would start with a 'French' (heavier) lace.  I'm sorry to say it was a huge disappointment to me.  If you click on the image you will see that, while it is actual woven lace, it is woven in a diamond pattern like wedding veil material, rather than the hexagon pattern of bobbinet tulle.  This might not seem like a big deal, but the problem becomes immediately evident when you pull or stretch the lace.  The diamond pattern collapses and the lace stretches a lot, making it essentially useless for wig making.

I haven't been brave enough to try any of their other laces, but have subsequently found other suppliers that I'm happy with so will probably not bother.

http://www.amidbeauty.com/wigsupplies.html






Northwest Lace • Superfine Swiss (SFS) Lace

Northwest Lace is an online hairpiece supplier in the USA.  Ordinarily they don't supply wig making materials, but I had read on several forums that their SFS lace was very good, so I contacted the owner, Eric, and he kindly arranged for me to buy a yard of lace from the factory that supplies his hairpieces.

The lace is very delicate, and much more fragile than the 'Swiss' laces above.  It disappears beautifully against the skin, and would be ideal for a front hairline.  While some people might find it too delicate to use for an entire hairpiece or wig, with careful attachment and removal, I think it would be absolutely fine.

This is the lace that I used for the previous post, New SFS lace test patch.

http://www.northwestlace.com/index.html




Hugo Royer International Ltd. • 3104 Ultra fine H/T front lace

Hugo Royer is a hair and wig materials supplier based in the UK.  They have an amazing selection of everything wig related, and their prices are very reasonable.  I have been like a kid in a candy store since I discovered them, and am trying hard to resist spending all my money there!

This 3104 lace is very similar to the above SFS lace — extremely delicate and fine, but still sturdy enough for actual use. It is marked as 20-denier on the Royer website.  The only difference I can see between this and the SFS lace is that the holes on the 3104 are spaced slightly closer together than on the SFS.

Again, this would be fantastic for a front hairline, barely detectable on the skin.

http://www.royer.co.uk/myshop.php?cat=3




Hugo Royer International Ltd. • 3104HD Very finest front lace

Again from Hugo Royer, this is their absolute finest front lace.  At 15 denier, it is extremely delicate and fragile, and would definitely be very suitable for the most high definition movie close-ups.  I'm not sure, however, that I'm skilled enough yet to ventilate on this lace.  I think this will stay in the drawer for a while, at least until I have ventilated an entire piece using the the SFS or 3104.

I suspect that this would also be fantastic for moustaches and beards.  I might try a moustache, just to see how I do with it!

http://www.royer.co.uk/myshop.php?cat=3







Hugo Royer International Ltd. • 2905 Nylon mononet

Listed as 20/30 denier on the Royer website, this lace is slightly sturdier than the 3104.  Probably more suitable for everyday use, this nylon mononet is still incredibly fine and disappears nicely against the skin.

I think this would be my first choice for most wig making projects, offering a nice balance between sturdiness and delicacy.

http://www.royer.co.uk/myshop.php?cat=3

26 comments:

  1. Hello ! I too am found of Hugo Royer. I think I'm thinking of buying some lace for a closure of lace frontal... now, should I use the 3104 or 2905 ?

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  2. I think I would be tempted to use the 2905. In fact, I think I would choose the 2905 about 95% of the time!

    I'm going to try the 2906 soon as well, which I think would be great for sturdier foundations.

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  3. Alright then ! I'm a beginner, so I guess the 2905 would be a better choice. Thanks a lot for your review, very informative !

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  4. Happy to help, and good luck with the closure!

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  5. This is incredibly helpful. Most online sources about wig making are very vague when it comes to the difference between different materials and how they apply to different tasks in ventilating. As a novice trying to learn a little before making a decision as to what materials to purchase, your article was invaluable.

    I'm attempting to make a beard and mustache for the first time. Any further advice you have on that particular subject would be welcomed!

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    1. Thanks, I'm glad you're finding it helpful. I was just told by another wigmaker that Hugo Royer actually offers samples of all their various laces. I wish I had known that before buying them all... :) I actually need to update this post. I recently tried the Royer 2906, and it is my favourite of all their laces. It is slightly heavier than the 2905, but still very fine, and doesn't fray as the other tend to do! It is also much easier to work with because it doesn't stretch and move as much as the others.

      I still haven't ventured very far into the world of facial hair, so I'm not sure what advice I can offer you. I suppose I would suggest using human (or non-synthetic) hair so you can bleach the knots. Most beards and moustaches I see aren't bleached, and the knots are a dead giveaway.

      There is a great site that I use for inspiration: http://wigsandfacialhair.com. Their work is amazing!

      Please let me know how you get on - I would love to see photos if you feel like sharing your results!

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    2. Thank you so much for the update! I'll be working with a synthetic this time around since I'm a novice and I want to keep the price of this particular project down (it's for a character costume). Hopefully since I'm using a very light silvery white it won't show as much as a darker color strand might when knotted.

      The results you showed from bleaching the human hair at the root are really beautiful. I would love to attempt to do a higher quality facial piece using that technique and some mustache curlers once I have this first attempt under my belt.

      I'd be happy to share my result, but it will certainly be a humble offering in comparison to what you do here on your blog.

      Thanks again for the response!

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    3. No problem! Yes, synthetic grey should work well for your project. In fact I only ever use synthetic if I need to add white hair to a wig or hairpiece, and it always works well. (The reason for this is so that you can dye the wig if necessary, but since synthetic hair can't be dyed, the white hair will stay white.)

      Anyway, best of luck! I can't wait to see your result!

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  7. hi what kind of lace do you recommend to front and to base if I would like to wear wig for very long. I have to say that I am begginer

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    1. I think my choice would be the first one I reviewed from Amazing Hair Store:

      http://www.amazinghairstore.com/servlet/the-31/front-lace-wigs-clips/Detail

      It is very sturdy and easy to ventilate, but it still disappears well enough to use at the hairline. I think it is the same lace that most commercial wig sellers use to make lace front/full lace wigs.

      If it's easier for you to order from the UK, there is an eBay seller that sells the same lace for similar prices:

      http://www.ebay.ca/itm/251291460832?var=550253174534&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649

      If you eventually want to try a finer lace for the hairline, then I would recommend the Hugo Royer 2906 Nylon mononet.

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  8. you didn't show Hugo Royer 2906 Nylon mononet. here I unnderstand? . I got some samples from my friend and he gave me hugo royer I don't know what kind of them it is, but he told me that it's very fragile and not for begginers? I would like to have wig for long time and he recommended me to front some french lace from e bay

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    1. Oh, you're right! I'm sorry, I thought I had reviewed the 2906. It's the heaviest lace from Royer, but it is still quite delicate and will fray at the edges a little. The lace from Amazing Hair Store (or the eBay link I posted) is definitely much better for a beginner. It doesn't fray at all, and it is great for making a full lace cap. They call it Swiss lace, but it's actually more like what most wig companies call French lace, so it would be perfect for to to start with. Also it is MUCH cheaper than the other laces, so it won't be so bad if you make some mistakes!

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  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    Replies
    1. Please stop advertising your products on my blog.

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  11. Hi,
    Your blog is very informative, thank you. Is Hugo Royer out of business? I can't seem to find their website or Facebook page.

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    1. Thanks, I'm glad you find the blog useful! Unfortunately it seems that Royer has shut up shop due to health issues. I heard that someone will be taking all their stock and selling it at some point, but I haven't heard anything yet. In the meantime Banbury Postiche in the UK seems to be the best alternative.

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    2. Btw Banbury Postiche will send you samples of all their wig making nets if you send them an email request.

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    3. Hi Dave,

      do you have any updates about Hugo Royer's products? I'm from Hungary, we ordered 2 years ago some product for our wig making company, and we'll need again Royer HD Laces.

      Could you please provide me some possibilities to reach the Royer products somehow? Or the most similar product to Royer?

      I'll be very grateful!

      Thank you in advance!

      Best regards,
      Dora Barna
      dora.barna@hair-club.hu

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    4. Hi Dora,

      I haven't heard any news about the Royer products, unfortunately. However, swisstulle is the company that made the Royer laces, and continues to make all of the genuine bobbinet tulle that is used for wig making. They are a wholesaler, so the quantities may be more than you are looking for, but it would be worth you contacting them to see if it would be possible for you. Their contact information is below in the next message. Romina is very helpful, and sent me a beautiful sample book of all the available wig making nets.

      If you are only looking for small amounts then Banbury Postiche would be a good option. They will send you free samples of all the nets that they carry. The three fronting nets (20 / 30 / 40 denier) are quite similar to the Royer nets.

      Also in Europe are Kerling International and Atelier Bassi - both supply good quality nets although I haven't ordered from either place.

      One other option is DeMeo Brothers in the USA. They have 'Super Lace' and 'Nature Lace' which are similar to the Royer laces. They will also send free samples on request.

      However, if I'm not mistaken, all of these laces and nets are made by swisstulle, so if you are able to buy larger quantities then they would be your best bet.

      I plan to do an update post about lace soon, but in the meantime I hope this information has helped you!

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  12. Hi Dave

    I am happy to inform you that swisstulle Ltd. (http://www.swisstulle.ch/index.php/en/) is the company which produces all Swiss Bobbinet items. We do have some rolls in stock which could be interesting for you. Please contact us at info@swisstulle.ch.

    We are looking forward to receive your reply.

    With best regards
    Romina

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  13. Hi Dave

    I am happy to inform you that swisstulle Ltd. (http://www.swisstulle.ch/index.php/en/) is the company which produces all Swiss Bobbinet items. We do have some rolls in stock which could be interesting for you. Please contact us at info@swisstulle.ch.

    We are looking forward to receive your reply.

    With best regards
    Romina

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    1. Thanks Romina, I will be in touch soon!

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  14. I am just glad to see this article. very useful information.

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    1. I'm happy you found it useful, although unfortunately Hugo Royer is no longer in business so I need to make an updated post. Hopefully soon...

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