Video Wig Review: Evanna by Rene of Paris in Caramel Brown

First of all, this wig was kind of a mess when I made this video. Evanna is a messy style to begin with, but still. She’s looked better. Sorryboutit.

Secondly, we discovered yesterday that the respiratory problems I’ve had since September (post-Harvey) are due to dangerous levels of toxic black mold in our master bathroom. I’ve been coughing at night for seven months now, and have gone to various doctors and tried various remedies that, at the best, only worked for a week or so before the cough came back. I admit we were remiss in waiting so long to test the house, but it’s expensive and always felt like a last resort. So, with my cough gradually getting worse even after a hearty dose of steroids, we finally hired a company to test the house last Friday, and yesterday we got our answer.

For now, we are hoping that since the black mold is contained to one area, Doug won’t have to leave the house since he is not exhibiting any symptoms. We’re also hoping that as long as I stay out of the bedroom area I can at least be there during the day, and I’m spending my nights with my sister. I slept better last night than I have in a long time, but the cough is still there and is quite pronounced. The remediators (is that the right word?) think they can get the mold treated within 6-7 days once they get started, and once that is taken care of I should be safe to sleep there again. So hopefully this is all temporary. Who knows how long I’ll be dealing with this cough, though.

Anyway, so now I know what was bothering my throat when I filmed the other Evanna and Kai review a few weeks ago. I was coughing a lot when filming this one, too, but I think I managed to edit that all out.

Video Madness with Rylee and Hudson (and a quick pic of Kai and Evanna)

So first of all, I got Kai and Evanna in yesterday, and was hoping to film them today but have run out of time. So, reviews probably won’t be posted until Sunday. However, I took some quick pics last night (sans makeup) and I want to go ahead and show them. Spoiler alert: they are both great wigs!

Photo Feb 20, 11 38 14 PM

Kai in Mocha Brown

Photo Feb 20, 11 37 06 PM

Evanna in Mocha Brown

I have to say, I’ve never tried Mocha Brown before, and it is MUCH darker than I expected it to be. The base color (which is almost the entire wig) is darkest brown – like ROPs Dark Chocolate – and the highlights are only at the hairline, and are some odd color of brown that looks OK, but is a bit hard for me to describe. It is a nice color, but a bit dark for my taste. My first instinct was to put them both back in the box and return them for a lighter color – Caramel Brown, maybe? – but of course, I couldn’t resist putting them on and playing with them until I realized I was gonna have to keep them.

I will say, with Kai in particular, there’s nothing about the wig that feels like an ROP. Kai is a lot like Haute by Renau, without the HD fiber, or High Society by Gabor. On the plus side, this wig is not poufy at all and sits flat against the head, as opposed to how big and round older ROP styles always were. The downside of course, as I’ve already mentioned, is the silky hair fiber that has been replaced with something drier. But, in these two styles, that isn’t a problem – it’s just weird to put on an ROP wig and feel like I’m wearing a Renau or a Gabor. The cap is lighter and stretchier, which is nice, so this is not all a loss. And it’s good to know that out of the four ROPs I tried, only two were a total fail. That’s just still higher than ROPs usual average, IMHO.

So, videos will probably be up for these two sometime Sunday. In the meantime, enjoy some bizarre little videos I made while attempting to turn lemons into lemonade with Rylee and Hudson. You know me – if I can’t actually wear a wig out of the house because it’s too awful, I can always find a way to create some art out of it! Enjoy (don’t worry – each vid is 20 second long, at the most):









Lessons Learned

Lots to discuss. Mostly photography nerd stuff, but some other odds and ends as well, so let’s get to it.

On the tutoring front, things are going well. Surprisingly, I have enjoyed working with my two new elementary-school students (grades 4 and 5), so much so that I plan to pick up more younger clients down the road – I just haven’t done it yet as I currently have 5 clients total and am happy with my workload for now. But when I am ready for another wave of networking, I am going to send out my information to the elementary schools in the area, which I have not done yet, and offer my tutoring to the older-level kids; I don’t think at this point I want to work with emerging readers at all, but by fourth grade kids in general are definitely reading on their own, which is the point at which I can step in and help.

And on the art project front, a longtime blogger and follower Charlotte Hoather presented an idea to me in a way that really made sense to me, and gave me a path to follow with some of the opportunities that are on the horizon.Not that I’ve actually put a package together yet; I am still working out the kinks of functioning productively with my new schedule (meaning for the most part, I am still wasting WAY too much time goofing off as opposed to working on projects) but even that is getting better. It’s been almost a year now since I left my former school, after all, so at some point I was bound to get used to my new life; it seems to finally be happening.

So now, on to the photos:


I have been in a SERIOUS photo-taking mood lately; partly because I have had whole days to myself here and there, partly due to making some cool purchases lately I’ve been excited to work with (of the prop, costume, and software variety), and also due to learning some new techniques I am still perfecting. The results of all this have been mixed for various reasons, but the photo above is one example of a slam-dunk I’ve pulled off recently. Everything about that shot just works for me, and I’m really happy with it. Let’s get down to the specifics, for those that care. Or if you don’t, stop reading and just scroll and view the pics.

There’s two wigs on my head in this shot

As far as props and costumes, back in December I purchased a few of these face crystal sets from Free People and I loved them, but they ran out and didn’t replace the few styles they had with anything new. The brand name FP was selling was called Body Baubles, and a quick Google search turned up a website where I could buy more sets to work with. I had a hard time choosing, but in the end I picked up 3 or 4 more sets to use (I can’t recall off-hand exactly how many). These first two shots above are using some of the “baubles” from that purchase. They are really great little accessories; the adhesive is pretty tacky (although I haven’t found them wearable more than once, and haven’t researched if there’s a way to extend their shelf life) so they definitely stay on for the duration of a shoot. I do wear them with a ton of makeup on, so maybe with lighter makeup they last for more than one wear. When editing photos, they are really easy to manipulate and move to different areas of the face, which is fun – I can put them on once and use them for several different looks, then change up where they are placed on my face via editing later. Sweet.


A processing issue I’ve been addressing lately is my ongoing struggle with skin retouching. It’s so difficult to get it right, and for the most part the skin in my portraits has always come out too soft. It’s been bugging me for forever, but a few weeks ago I finally decided to do some internet research to try and add something to the skills I’ve already acquired via YouTube that could up my game. I found a pretty easy, albeit tedious, technique from another photographer that was pretty astounding in its simplicity – basically, you take a section of the skin that has good texture, copy it, run it through a few filters, and then paste onto sections of the skin that have lost texture and look too smooth. Not sure why I didn’t think of this before, except for the fact that it is very time consuming and boring to execute.

The idea is for the skin to be retouched so that unwanted wrinkles, shadows, and pores are minimized, which is what loads of filters will already do, but to keep the texture that makes skin look like, well, skin. Here’s an example of really amazing skin retouching, of the sort I still cannot do:


And here is an example of ‘bad’ retouching  – no offense to the lovely ladies in the photos, of course. This is also what most skin smoothing filters will do to your skin, such as the ones you can use in a phone app or a basic photo editing program.


I always say that portraits like this look like the subject has been sculpted out of butter; when you lose all the skin’s texture, and yes, even all the lines and pores, you end up with a photo that looks unnatural and blurred. So how to keep the lines and shadows and textures that you want, while still getting rid of the wrinkles, blemishes, and large pores that you don’t want? Well, that’s been my question forever; usually I end up somewhere between the good photo and the bad ones, but still too close to the latter for my liking.

The first thing I realized was that I needed to soften the photo less when working with the raw file, so I have more texture to work with from the beginning. The tendency is always to soften a portrait because in general that’s more flattering, but if a RAW file is softened too much you can end up without enough texture to use later. So, in my last batch of shots I was sure to keep the original sharper than I usually do, even though that means my original shots of my 47 year old skin are less complimentary than I would like. No one but me ever sees those, anyway.

The second thing I’ve been learning to do is add the right sort of texture back into the skin after attempting to retouch OUT the textures I don’t want. As I said, this can be tedious, especially if I have only really small patches of texture to work with and re-distribute over the face, but once I get this down I think the end results are going to be worth it.


Some early attempts; I keep them bigger so hopefully you can see the skin. I think the second one is better than the first. I actually really don’t care for either one of these shots all that much. Nothing wrong with them, I just think they’re both kinda boring.

By the way, back to props: in the two photos above I am wearing this faux alpaca-fur scarf I saw a while back at Nordstrom; it really is that bright, and it is huge – when throwing it over my shoulders it looks more like a big, long fuzzy vest than a scarf. I saw it at the Galleria store and was dying for it, but it was too pricey for me at the time; later on I saw it on sale half off online and snatched it right up. I am glad I did, even though we have had NO winter here this year and I have had no reason to wear it out of the house.

All of this skin retouching stuff got me excited about working with portraits, so last Friday I decided to try another shoot and give myself some newer stuff to work with. I’ve got my Portrait Pro software down to the extent that, in most of these photos I’ve already shared, I had nothing but foundation, highlight and contour, and powder on my face in the actual shots. ALL of the color on the face, including the mascara and the eyebrows, has been added digitally. This really helps me with prep-time for taking self-portraits, as so often the amount of time putting on a full drag face is so long that by the time I am done applying, I don’t much feel like doing the work of posing for the shoot. Now I can slap on the basics fairly quickly and get to work, although applying more makeup on the front end is always going to be preferable  – something I REALLY learned in this last shoot.


So, my basic idea was this: I’ve had some luck in the past taking half my face from one shot and layering it over another face to get the “perfect”look – in one case, for example, I loved the movement of the hair in a shot, but there was so much hair in my face it wasn’t usable as it was. I figured out how to take a section of my face from another shot and paste it over the hair-covered one, and not only did it solve the problem, it actually created a new-looking face that didn’t much look like me, but was still cool:


You’ve seen it before, but here it is again

I am always looking for ways to make me look less like me, so I got this idea to take a bunch of shots of myself standing in the same exact position, wearing exactly the same thing, but making a ton of different faces, with the plan being to use my facial features like a digital Mrs. Potato Head during editing and just steal a nose here, a mouth there, and create all these different-looking people out of them. However, this did not end up being nearly as cool as it sounded.

The basic ‘pose’ was like the one above where I have on the head scarf: I wanted to be looking straight ahead as that is the easiest way to edit using Portrait Pro as well as being the easiest way to pose in general, which I thought would help me keep all the different shots uniform. It didn’t though – you’d be amazed how much you actually move your damn head around even when you think you’re being perfectly still! So, there was actually a lot of variation among the different shots as far as exactly where my head was positioned, which altered the light and shadows hitting the faces, too.

But that could have been worked with – here was the real problem: these shots, even though they served their purpose of having at least somewhat interchangeable facial features to play with, were basically, well, boring. I am not sure why I decided to go with a head scarf instead of a wig, except that I must have thought the presence of wig hair would either be too limiting visually or just get too much in the way of the face. That makes sense, but then I should have gone on to do some shots looking at the camera wearing some sort of hair, because while it was interesting to mix up my facial features on different shots, the end results were just lame. Just me staring at a camera with a head scarf on, period. Very little color and no point of interest, unless like me you are able to look at them and appreciate the subtle differences in my face taking the Potato Head approach renders. Which, honestly, wasn’t even THAT interesting to me! So, I found myself spending a TON of time Potato-Heading myself only to end up looking at a pretty boring photo. As a result of that, I started to add a ton of weird textures and overlays just to cure my own boredom, which isn’t really something I care to look at in the end. I love filters and overlays, but I prefer to use them subtly so that the end result still looks somewhat ‘natural’ – in other words, the filter enhances the photo without overtaking it. In these shots, I got so bored that I let the filters take over.


You’ve already seen this one, but I’m showing it again because it’s the best example of the problem I created for myself. Although, I WAS briefly interested in the fact that I inadvertently made myself look like Ivanka Trump. 

One other thing I did during the shoot to liven things up, but that also didn’t work out all that well: a few times I held up some props to my face, thinking I could edit those elements out of the shots and apply them to my experimental faces as well – sort of like Mrs. Potato Head bonus features, if you will. But even that was primarily a fail; even though there wasn’t much going on in the initial shots that I had to deal with when compositing later, there was enough that it made it hard to use the props without them being obviously pasted onto my face. For example, I thought sticking a peacock feather over my eye would be kind of awesome; on its own it’s not such a grand idea, but if the peacock feather could look like it was actually growing out of my face it could be kinda cool. Except, when I held the feather up to my eye I didn’t center it properly, and when trying to move it around on another head shot, all the places in the original photo where the head scarf and parts of my face showed through the spines made it impossible to work with without looking totally ridiculous and I am not talented enough to highlight and copy something this intricate without screwing it up royally. To compensate for that, I filtered it to death, and what I ended up settling for in the final version was pretty much laughable and lame – when I look at this, I just think, and why does this photo even exist, exactly? It literally serves no purpose whatsoever, except to confuse the viewer as to why the photographer even wasted her time on such foolishness:


So, Ivanka Trump, in what appears to be a swim cap, sticks a peacock feather in it and then, what, takes a shower? Gets caught in the rain? WHY AM I LOOKING AT THIS?! And why is that peacock feather looking so much like a fish skeleton – I NEED ANSWERS!

Then there’s this beauty – that’s a Christmas tree ornament I held in front of my face in one shot, that once again I failed to put properly over the eye and had to adjust for that error:


For fun, I actually took the pink center of the star, stretched it out into a lip-like shape, and stuck it over my real lips. Then I stretched it out even more and put the glitter pattern of it into the head scarf. All of this took a crazy amount of time, and in the end helped the photo not one bit. Still boring. Although, I continue to be impressed with how good I can make fake makeup look.


Over-edited heavy filter compensation photo. There are actually elements of this one I like, but still, they don’t go together at all. Once I got the idea to use these different wall textures on it, I wished I hadn’t worked so hard to get that star placed on my face, because it literally makes no sense with what else the picture has going on.

Now, this next one I think was somewhat more successful. The placement of the silver tree branch was more workable, and the end result of putting it up against my face in a different shot is more interesting. My goal was to make it look like the branch was actually growing out of my face, but I’m not skilled enough at Photoshop to have made that happen in any convincing way, so I kind of abandoned the idea and decided to just say, hey, here’s me with a silver branch in my face. Enjoy.


At the time of editing, though, I wasn’t as satisfied with this as I am now, because I actually kept going with the filters until I’d gone WAY too far. Remember, I’m still getting used to the novelty of being able to use all my software on my new laptop, so I do tend to get carried away. Thankfully I saved a copy of the version above and didn’t totally trash it without having a backup to that previous, much less chaotic version.


Sinead O’Connor hiding out in the forest? Stop, already. Just stop. 

However, all hope was NOT LOST! Apparently I’ve learned something over the years I’ve been doing this (well and now, I’ve actually learned more, namely, that taking 50 photos of myself standing in the same spot wearing a swim cap is a bad idea) because I did take the time to throw on a few wigs, and some of the new Goodwill costume purchases I’ve made lately, and get some interesting shots before I packed it in for the day. So at least I can have fun editing those. Although – I can’t say editing this one was an easy ride:


It seemed I was just determined to make life hard for myself on this day, because right before I called it quits I decided to throw on some crazy makeup and take a few shots with it – I managed to draw those thick black lines onto my face PERFECTLY, then decided to try and blend them out a little with black eye shadow and effed that one over the eyebrow COMPLETELY. I was able to fix it in Photoshop, but it was a huge pain in the ass and took forever, so I’m not sure I’ll edit any more shots from this part of the shoot. That’s probably fine, though, because this is a pretty distinctive look, and I don’t think anyone needs to see more than one of this. Not sure I should have kept the brick wall effect on the orange and yellow eye shadow, but I am a bit obsessed with that particular texture and how I can cleverly incorporate it into shots without allowing it to take over. And that top is AMAZING for photos – it’s big and sheer and very caftan-y and it was only $3.99 at the Goodwill up the street.

Now, last but not least – from the ashes of a basically failed photo session comes this lovely Phoenix!


BOOM! Take THAT, Mrs. Potato Head! In reality, this wig is a dishwater-looking blond with a very drab green, although a bit of teal and yellow shows up in the underneath side of it. But using Photoshop I was able to draw out a ton of beautiful color, plus I feel like I really got the skin texture right here, if maybe a bit TOO textured. All of the makeup was added in PS, and the hair is actually taken from two different shots of it while I was blowing it around with a fan (the bit where it’s curling up towards the ceiling is from one shot, as well as the bit that is swooping over my forehead and back over my shoulder; that big swoop at the top is from another shot where it was almost falling back off my head, as well as all the strands coming forward onto my shoulders). Even the cheap cotton-knit yellow dress I’d just picked up at Goodwill and put on backwards (since that’s where the interesting detail was) really worked with the wig far better than I thought it would. I absolutely love this shot, at least as much as the very first one I posted in this long-ass thread, so, lesson learned – when it comes to portraits, I really need to start with some color, and some movement and interesting poses that I can enhance in Photoshop, rather than starting so basic that I have to rely on editing to do ALL the work. A little bit of PS magic is fine and fun for me, but if it’s ALL the photo has to work with to make it successful, it just isn’t my bag. Some people are really great all of that image manipulation, but it turns out that I do have my limits. So, onward and upward; more wigs it is!

Speaking of wigs, I did buy three new Rene of Paris ones over the weekend – a Zuma, a Sonoma, and an Evanna. I got one of them in the new pastel blue, then the others are in some of the new brunettes they came out with. The prices are very nice, which helped me decide to make the purchases. I should have them in to review soon!

Wig Salon Review: Headcovers Unlimited

My mom has been wanting to wear wigs for several years, and I’ve bought her a few shorties that never quite worked out and she never wore. She also tried to purchase her own online a few times and ended up falling prey to the cheap prices on some overseas sites that use pictures of good wigs like Raquel Welch and then ship the customer a piece of crap that in no way looks like the stock photo. Every time I go visit her, she calls me over to her computer and asks me to point out to her which wigs would look nice on her, which I do repeatedly, but she never pulls the trigger and buys anything.

So when I went out there last week and she started to do the same thing again, I insisted that we find an actual wig salon where she could try some on and make a decision; otherwise, she was going to spend hours clicking on the same pictures of the same wigs over and over at different sites and not buy anything (not that I don’t do the same thing all the time, but still). A quick Google search revealed that an online store I recognized – Headcovers Unlimited – had a physical store about 20 miles from my mother’s house, and, knowing that a lot of brick and mortar stores frown upon drop-ins (as well as knowing that without setting a date my mother probably wouldn’t ever go through with it) I called them up and made an appointment for her this morning at 11:30 AM.


I was surprised when we got to the store at how big it was – this was the front building, and there was another entire building behind it. It looked brand-new and even appeared to still be under construction, and although when we got inside there were no other customers, I noticed right away that the back parking lot was full (my GPS took us around to the back lot when we should have parked in the front one, otherwise I never would have seen any of this). I even made note of it to my mom, because I’ve never seen so many cars parked in a wig salon parking lot before. Keep this in mind because it’s going to be important later.

Photo Jun 28, 11 34 39 AM

There was a $50 charge that we had to pay upfront before the salesgirl would even work with us; I was not surprised by the sitting fee because I know how a brick and mortar store struggles to stay afloat when people can come in, spend an hour trying on wigs, and then leave without buying anything only to find a cheaper price online and purchase it that way. And Headcovers Unlimited didn’t do anything shady like cut off the tags so we did not  know what it was we were trying on, so okay, we paid the $50 upfront with the understanding that the price would be deducted from whatever we bought (well, the full $50 would be deducted if we bought something they had in stock, but if we had to have it ordered only $25 would be deducted from the price, but fine, whatever). Once we’d paid the fee, the salesgirl took us to a little corner of the foyer where they had a vanity table set up for her to try on the wigs.

Photo Jun 28, 11 34 24 AM

As you can see from the photos, the “store” section of all this space was actually quite limited, and was in fact just a tiny little sliver of the front foyer. The rest of the building, from what I could tell, was office space. NOT that I was allowed to see any of it, and I mean ANY of it – because here was the one real bitch of the whole experience, IMHO: by the time I’d driven the 50 miles it took to get to this place, where, might I remind you, we had made an appointment, the salesgirl WOULD NOT LET ME USE THEIR BATHROOM. And after driving fifty miles to get there, believe me, I  needed to pee! I kind of just stared at her and blinked a lot when she first told me this, but she insisted it could not be done because they didn’t have a bathroom at all in that building, and they couldn’t have me walking around to the other one due to ‘liability issues.’ Um, okay. She then told me there was a McDonald’s up the street that had a bathroom I could use, so I had to leave my mom at the store and drive back up the road, through fairly heavy traffic and one very long stoplight, to run into a nasty McDonald’s and use their toilet.

Needless to say, ya’ll, when I got back about 10-15 minutes later, I was – pardon the pun – PISSED. I’m not  going to lie, I pitched a nice little hissy about it at the time, asking the girl if they would SERIOUSLY make my seventy-year-old mother who could barely walk due to her back and knee problems load up in my car and drive to a fast food restaurant to pee after MAKING AN APPOINTMENT at their shop, and she insisted that because their restroom was in the ‘other building’ and there were ‘liability issues’ that yes, that would in fact be the case. I told her that was basically stupid and needed to be recitifed because it was pretty unacceptable, and she continued to apologize but stuck to her guns about the matter. Whatever.

Every time I’ve attempted to shop for wigs in a brick and mortar store, there’s been some sort of weirdness like this going on. My experience at Cookie’s store was better, but going there without an appointment was my first encounter with being treated like a criminal from the moment I entered because I didn’t have one. And yet, even after learning that lesson, I still got treated like a second-class citizen because, after driving almost an hour to get to the store where I’d been sure to make an appointment, I had the audacity to need to pee. What the hell IS it with these places and their bizarre rules and restrctive behavior?

Photo Jun 28, 11 34 34 AM

Speaking of rigid rules, this little section in the photo above was their entire collection of visible wigs (notice in the other photos it’s all hats on the mannequins), so I think you get the gist of how tiny the actual ‘salon’ area of the place was. And you can’t see it here, because my mom is blocking it in this photo, but at the entrance to this little area was a standing sign instructing customers not to go back there. So later, when my mom wanted to look at some blonde colors (she was mostly trying on grays) the salesgirl asked her to walk over to this little area and indicate a few blondes she wanted to try; my mom mistakenly thought that meant she was allowed to walk back there, and once she stepped past the sign the girl actually made her step back and stay out of there, instructing her to just point to which wigs she wanted to try. Seriously? I mean, I get that wigs are delicate and they don’t want their sample wigs being handled, or that I dunno, people try to steal them or something? But again, for someone who has already paid $50 just to try some stuff on, I mean, you really can’t let them walk back behind the counter and look closely at the wigs? Even with the saleperson standing right there to prevent whatever horrible damage it is they think someone might do if they get back there – set everything on fire with a blowtorch, maybe? Pee on the wigs because they’ve been holding it for an hour and aren’t allowed to use their facilities?

Maybe it’s the whole not wanting people to get too much of a look at the tags and brand names, but that didn’t seem to be the case here. All the wigs my mom tried on had their internal tags as well as the hanging tags, and the brand names and colors were clearly marked. In fact, we were instructed to look at all the wigs the store had available on their website and send the names of them in ahead of time, so they could pull what they had in advance. So I don’t get how it could be that. I did take those three pictures of the store, though, and I certainly didn’t hide that I was doing so, so maybe they didn’t trust me with my camera? I dunno, by the time they  went over to look at blondes I’d put up my phone and wasn’t using it at all, and if they’d had a problem with me taking pictures I certainly gave them the opportunity to tell me so, because again, I wasn’t hiding the fact I was taking pictures at all. So yeah, I don’t get it.

OK ranting aside, though, the salesperson did pull several short wigs for my mom and was helpful as well as patient (my mom wanted to try them all on over and over and wanted to try lots of different colors, and overall the appointment lasted an hour). And the wig my mom bought, which was the Winner by Raquel Welch, ended up only costing her about $120 which was a surprise to me. I expected a much bigger markup than this store was adding, and there was also no pressure to purchase anything at all. The girl didn’t try to talk my mom into buying a more expensive wig, or to buy more than one, and in fact, while she was as helpful as she needed to be and always pleasant and patient (even when I was chewing her out over the bathroom situation) she really wasn’t trying to sell to us much at all. She was definitely knowledgeable enough about the wigs she was showing, she just didn’t seem too concerned about whether or not we ordered anything.

Her laid-back attitude, the size of the salon space – especially as opposed to how big the entire two buildings were – and the weirdness about the bathroom all lead me to believe that a negligible amount of the store’s profit comes from in-store sales. In fact, if I had to guess (which I do) I’d surmise they make all their real money from their online store, and the whole operation is a warehouse and ordering center servicing their website, with a few square feet of space thrown in to offer the occasional customer a place to try some on. So, we were basically visiting their warehouse, which is why they didn’t have a bathroom for customers and wouldn’t allow me to go into the ‘other’ building to pee (this would also explain why there were SO many cars in the parking lot when there was no one but us in the store/foyer). Okay. Not exactly sure it’s legal to call yourself an open-to-the-public retail store and not have a bathroom on the premises, and even if it is, it really isn’t wise; but in the end, my mom was happy with the wig she ordered and the service she received, and she really had fun trying on different wigs and getting that personal attention.

So just like the strange experience I had the last time I shopped in a physical store, I will once again chalk this up to a place that can be useful to someone who really  needs a wig (my mom’s hair has thinned considerably over the years) and wants to be sure they get to try some on first before they  buy. But to get that priviledge you’re going to have to follow some really weird rules that may make you feel like you’re doing something sketchy, or secretive, or just plain icky. It seems to me that when dealing with people who have hair loss this would be the last way you want your clients to feel, but my guess is those personal interactions and appointments are so few and far between it’s not worth it to accommodate them any more than they already are. In fact, if you look at their website, it doesn’t advertise the aspect of a physical store anywhere; the only reason I thought to call and make an appointment at all is because the store has been in operation for a LONG time, and I used to work in the area, and back in the 90’s they did have a big physical store with tons of wigs to try on, so I was still remembering that when I Google-searched for my mom and was reminded of the location (they were in another space back then, BTW). 

It’s a shame, though; I get that online ordering has made having an online component a necessity, but it shouldn’t mean that good service goes out the window because of that; if a store really no longer has time to work with people in person because it isn’t worth their time financially, then they should just close up that part of the store and commit fully to their online model.

But hey, that’s just my opinion.

Video Wig Review: Robin by Noriko in Harvest Gold and Almond Spice

I think I finally found the solution to my camera problem – I won’t go into the details since they would only interest me, but suffice it to say that I am actually satisfied with the end result of this particular video, so I’ve learned how to deal with the Sony at last. I’m also using new video editing software (a slight upgrade from the Movie Maker I’ve been using all these years) so I did use some transition effects that may or may not be really cheesy, but I couldn’t help myself. At last, though, I can edit the colors a bit in a video to make them more vibrant; I’ve hated how dull the color has been on my videos for quite awhile, but of course MM has no way to increase saturation. (Although, for some reason, the video goes on for about 10 minutes after it ends, and I don’t know why – I promise there’s nothing to see past the six minute mark!)

The other good news is that Harvest Gold is beautiful in this wig; I’ve wanted to try something else in this color since buying Coco over the summer, but I was always concerned it would be too blonde or brassy for me. As it turns out, it’s gorgeous, and of course I’m trying to decide what to get next in the same color. I was bummed at first, because Noriko/Amore only make a few longer wigs in Harvest Gold (most of the wigs using this color are shorties) but then I remembered Tressallure wigs are the same as Norikos, and used a color conversion chart to figure out that Mocha Gold in that brand is the same color, and they have all sorts of wigs using that shade (their version of Angelica, Shilo, and Miranda all come in Mocha Gold). Now I just have to decide which to get first, of course.

I’m also showing my Almond Spice in Robin here; it’s another beautiful color, but I’m not nearly as in love with it as I am with the HG. Stay tuned for an upcoming review of Kristen by Jon Renau, too, in the new Toffee Truffle color from the Chocolate Collection!

Video Wig Review: Embrace by Raquel Welch in Color RL33-35

Still super-busy; the pool isn’t done yet, but it’s getting closer:


As you can see, the deck has been poured, and the backyard has been cleared of all the piles of garbage that had collected over the weeks of construction. Our landscaping is a total mess because we’ve had no opportunity to take care of it in almost two months, and there’s just dirt left where our big wooden deck used to be. So, lots of work to do there. But as far as the pool goes, all we need to do now is pour the plaster in the pool and fill it with water; that was slated to happen on Tuesday but may get pushed back now that a storm front has moved into the city and may drench us with rain over the next several days. We’ll see. But at least the mud is gone and we can actually walk into the backyard again. Moving on.

Work is busy and I’ve had little time for photos, but I’ve been processing older stuff as well as my flower and plane photos I took several weeks ago. But, I’ll share those in another post and upload a wig video for now.

Lots of fall styles coming out lately – I already mentioned Noriko, but now Renau’s come out with their fall line also, as well as Envy and Raquel Welch. I’m still not buying any of them; I will probably try one of the new Norikos eventually, but although I’d love to try a few of those new Renau styles I’m still totally irritated by the dramatic increase in their pricing and am unwilling to support it. So, you probably won’t see any of those reviewed here unless find something on a good sale. Plus, there’s some new clothing designers I’m currently obsessed with, so that’s taking precedence over wigs right now…but more about that later.

For now, let’s check out another oldie: Embrace by Raquel Welch. It’s the dreaded HD fiber, but it’s still a pretty wig that can be had for a nice price. Great color, too!

Wig Shopping Online: Sites I Use

Disclaimer: Although I have had good luck with the sites listed below, inclusion here is no guarantee that someone else won’t have a problem. Be sure to read the policies on each site before buying from them and call if you want clarification. In particular read their returns and exchanges policies carefully as each site has their own requirements, and they are generally strict guidelines. Great videos and categorized information about choosing wigs. Also has a TruColor system on certain wigs that provides very accurate photos of cut and color, and a loan program for color rings that can be very helpful. Prices are not the best, but they do have occasional 25%-30% off sales. Free shipping with a minimum order and coupon code, so you can’t get it when a separate code is required for a storewide sale. Their sites is very photo- and video-intensive, so pages take a longer time to load than normal.

Vogue Wigs: Not the best prices on the internet, but does have frequent storewide sales. Site has a lot of user reviews with photos which is very helpful. Unfortunately, they recently changed their members rewards program, so it’s no longer worth much to sign up. Rewards for reviewing wigs on the site have also been reduced, so it’s likely not as many people will review wigs there in the future. They have also added a shipping fee unless you place a minimum order and use a code, so, like, you cannot get free shipping during a sale that also requires a code. I don’t use them much at all since they’ve so drastically reduced the benefits of the rewards program; that really was such a good deal that it was main draw for me to the site. You can like them on Facebook for access to special contests and announcements.

Name Brand Wigs: Since this store is smaller but still has a nice selection, you can get more personalized service and assistance here via email or phone. Plus they have some of the best prices for the entire Rene of Paris line anywhere. No special sales here – things are listed at the price they stay. No free shipping either, but these things are to be expected with a mom and pop type site. If you need more personalized service or really good deals on Rene of Paris wigs, this is a good place to go. You have to call to get extra discounts on other brands, but if you do so you can get discounts on a lot of lines – Renau, Estetica, Raquel Welch, etc.

Gallery of Wigs: Definitely some of the best prices on the Internet on a regular basis. Another small store with an online component that provides more personalized service if that’s what is needed. A nice bonus here is the styling and customization the store will do for a slight fee – if your wig is too full or the cap is too big, they can trim it or tuck it for a small charge (as long as you bought it from their site). To get an extra 30% off any Renau wig, use code Renau30 at checkout. Many other brands will show the discount as soon as you add them to the cart. Very good customer service via phone or email if you have questions or concerns. No free shipping or big storewide sales; just good prices and service every day.

Wow Wigs: The bonus here is an actual clearance section with the occasional really good deal, plus fairly frequent 30% off sales that include the clearance wigs in the discount. No free shipping without a coupon code, and they tend to ship with a sign upon delivery requirement that makes me crazy, but I put up with it for the occasional $35 Rene of Paris I’ve snagged at their site. Be sure to sign up for their emails or like them on Facebook to get the sale codes.

Best Wig Outlet: Unexciting prices, but a big selection and a clearance section where you can occasionally find wigs that are discontinued and in short supply. Sign up for emails to get notification of occasional 30% off sales. Generally does not provide tracking information on shipping.

Wigsalon: An archaic-looking, hard-to-navigate site, but a big sale section and some nice prices. Also fairly fast shipping, free shipping over $75, and nice people who run the store. I give the sale section a review once a week and occasionally pick up some good deals. Sign up to be a VIP so you can see the special pricing when you put your item in the cart. Another mom and pop store selling good quality wigs at reasonable prices that can use our support. A nice clearance section that updates several times a week. I’ve also ordered full-priced wigs from them on occasion and their service is good, and the shipping is usually quick unless they have to order the wig from a manufacturer first before shipping it to you. If you buy a clearance wig it usually ships same or next day. Sometimes offers extra discounts on brands via coupon code.

Samsbeauty: Huge selection of AA wigs. Has 3-day sales every weekend and I’ve snagged some fun stuff for as little as $5 plus shipping (like this wig). Usually fast shipping and decent customer service; a few times I’ve placed orders that sat in the store for a week or more without ever shipping out and I had to remind them to do so; twice I canceled orders with them, though, and they gave me a refund without any runaround. I think this is a really big store that handles high traffic, so sometimes your order might get lost! But overall, I really like their sales and prices. I use their wigs all the time in my photography. Not to be confused with; the site is run by Paula Young and carries the entire PY line as well as some other lesser-known lines you can’t find many places, such as Jacklyn Smith or Joan Collins. They also carry popular lines like Renau and Noriko, but their prices on those aren’t the best. PY does have a good return policy, and they have a clearance section where you can snag a great deal if you’re willing to search around for it. Worth a scan every once in awhile, but I don’t purchase from them much. Paula Young wigs are reasonably priced, bit hit-or-miss as far as style and quality. But honestly, what manufacturer isn’t hit or miss? There is also a Paula Young website (carries the same stuff) and Especially Yours (geared towards the AA community) which are both run by PY.

Triple Star: Triple Star sells wigs on Amazon, so the prices are higher, but the service is great. If you are interested in a specific color in a certain wig, be sure to click that color choice exactly and look at the price before you put it in  your cart; for some reason different colors of the same wig will be priced differently. For example, I bought my Miranda here, and in Toasted Brown she was $50 cheaper than the Ginger-H I really wanted. That was a huge difference, so I bought the TB instead. I’ve had reason to email the owner on occasion and he has always been incredibly helpful.

Gothic Lolita Wigs: I love their wigs for costuming and photography. Not recommended for daily wear though; the caps are basic and not all that great. But the styles are fun and I use them often for photoshoots. They also last a good while and can take some pretty exhaustive beatings and hold their own – I know because I’ve really abused the heck out of them in my shoots – throwing them around, blowing tons of wind at them, excessive brushing and de-tangling. Pricey for costume wigs, in my opinion, but they are higher-quality version of the cosplay-type wigs you see in abundance on eBay. They are also a Houston-based company so I like to support them when I can. A nice collection of false lashes, too.

Video Wig Review: Miranda by Amore in Toasted Brown

Summer is winding to an end, and I have one last round of wigs to review before I may have to hang up my wig-hat for awhile and get back to work. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep reviewing once school starts, but the first month in particular is a bitch and I may have to put things on hold. But as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve barely begun to dig back into my archives (unlike a lot of people on YouTube I saved every video I ever made on a hard drive, so when I shut my channel down I didn’t lose them) so I can still go back and re-upload those when I get a chance if there’s no time for new ones.

Anyway, Miranda. I was always on the fence about this wig, because it’s more of a workhorse look than anything va-va-voom; this is one you put on and forget about and it doesn’t draw attention to itself. Which overall, is a good thing. It’s thinner than your average Amore and pretty easy to wear, but the bangs are a bit thick. I used some steam on them to move the part from the middle to the side – I’m all about the steam right now! But I accidentally steamed a little kink into one side of it; I doubt anyone else can tell but I can, so I may use a flat iron on low heat to smooth that out at some point.

Soon, I want to review a few more: Kenzie by Noriko (not good); May by Noriko in Butter Pecan-R (gorgeous color – and it’s a blonde!); Seville by Noriko in Macadamia-LR (haven’t gotten it yet); Stevie by Amore in Chocolate Frost (just shipped); and Angelica in the Macadamia (also just shipped). I did get a Stitch Fix yesterday, too, but I’m not keeping any of it and am going to go ahead and send it back without photographing, since the week has been too busy for a shoot and I have to go in and work all day today (we’re interviewing for a paraprofessional position to add to the program). The Fix was fine, but I’ve spent a small fortune on both my faux and real hair, so I decided to send this one back into the wild entirely.

OK, enough rambling. Here’s Miranda!

Disclaimer: I paid for this item with my own money and no one paid me to do this review. Opinions are mine alone; your mileage may vary.


Wig-Shopping: Finding Your Color

Choosing a wig color may be one of the most difficult parts of the online ordering process. First of all, you cannot rely on a computer to give you an accurate representation of the color of a wig, as the appearance of colors on computer screens varies from user to user. Secondly, there is a dizzying array of rooting, tipping, highlighting, etc. that manufacturers use to create color effects for their wigs; to make this process more confusing, each manufacturer will devise a different labeling system for these same processes (what one manufacturer calls a “gradient” color is called a “shaded” one in a different brand, for example). Some manufacturers describe their colors (dark brown base with golden blonde highlights), while others simply label them according to color number and process letter (6/27H), and still others may use a descriptive title in an attempt to describe the color in an appealing way (Caramel Cream).  For added fun, a simple medium brown in one brand (a color 6) may be as dark as the darkest brown of another manufacturer (a color 2). So how do customers sort through all of this to get the best color for themselves?

Top Notch by Jon Renau in Color 6

Start by knowing the basics of a color description. Colors are represented by numbers, starting with the darkest color at 1 (black) up to pure white at 60 (true platinum blonde, by the way, is 613). However, each manufacturer will vary in their numbering system as well as what they consider to truly be a 1 or a 613. Still, knowing when looking at a color description that numbers are colors is helpful.

Jon Renau Nina in Shaded Fortune

Processes are generally stated as letters – such as H for highlighting, for example (one of the most basic and commonly used examples). Again, each manufacturer may come up with their own system of naming a process, though, so it’s sometimes very difficult to determine just what process a letter is indicating. Raquel Welch wigs, for example, label the fairly recent and very popular shading process of giving the hair a darker root to mimic the appearance of regrowth  as “SS” (Shadow Shading) whereas Noriko would label the same process with a G (for Gradient – very dark root color) or R (Hybrant shades with a more blended, less prominent root).

Stylista by Gabor in GL29-31

Some companies will just use a combination of color number and process letter to describe a wig color (SS8/29) while others will get more detailed with special processes they name themselves (GL4-8+). What these numbers and letters mean vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so finding a color chart on the website from which you are thinking of ordering will be essential so you can read descriptions of what those letters mean (if the color chart provides a description).

Reese by Noriko in Chocolate Swirl (one of my favorite colors)

Color rings are one option you can utilize to determine the best color. These are literally rings of color swatches similar to what you find in a paint store or see on a chart in a hair salon where customers decide what color to dye their hair. has an excellent service which offers them for rental, while other stores have them for sale, but they can be pricey – between $35 and $50 per color ring and manufacturer.Knowing what manufacturer(s) from which you want to buy can determine which rings you get, if you choose to do so, but keep in mind it’s not unusual for these rings to leave out some rare, discontinued, or brand new colors that you might still see as options when ordering.

Ivy by Noriko in Almond Rocka-R (another favorite)

Depending on where you’re ordering from, calling the store may also be an option. Larger online stores might not be as useful, but the smaller mom-and-pop stores can be very helpful in determining what color to choose. Some will offer other services as well, such as sending them pictures of the haircolor you desire, or even snipping some of your own hair and sending it in for color matching by the salespeople. As with everything else, be sure to discuss what your return or exchange options will be if the color you get is not satisfactory.

Avery by TressAllure in Honey Bean

I’ll tell you what I do, but follow my example at your own risk: I search Google images when looking for a certain color in a wig, using the manufacturer name and the name of the color. This gives me an idea of the color, but I know computer monitors as well as ads are deceiving, so I also search YouTube for the manufacturer and color. There’s an online store called Best Wig Outlet that does quick, 10- or 15-second, 360-degree views of most of their wigs (and they have a ton) and they will list the manufacturer and color in their titles. This gives me decent idea of what the color is going to look like if they have a wig I can view. I do have a Rene of Paris color ring since they are my favorite manufacturer, but for me the little hairy strip isn’t enough to visualize what it will look like on a wig. Throw into the equation the fact that different wigs will have different ratios of highlighting to base color and the same color can look radically different on a different wig anyway. But the color ring does help me to know what tones are in a color and if I think it will work for my skin tone. Quite honestly, I rather like to try every color at least once, anyway. 😉

Freestyle by Raquel Welch in SS8/29

Video Wig Review: Courtney by Jon Renau in Color 6F27

Courtney made a big splash when she came out a few years ago, and for good reason – it’s a fully hand-tied cap so it’s very natural and comfortable, and the hair is very light in  density and quite natural-looking. Unfortunately, I bought Courtney in the 6F27 which is a lovely color but always problematic for me due to the lace front, which utilizes a lot more of the 27 color than it does the 6. When a lace front is too light and not a good match for my bio hair, my dark hair shows through it and it looks odd, so I eventually sold Courtney along and, due to the high price tag and my desire to never buy the same wig more than once (out of curiosity’s sake as well as for review purposes) I never bought her again.

But I’ve always wanted another one, so I’m about to take the plunge and get her in a better color for me. I’m thinking Shaded Peach this time; you can go check out the review of Elle I just posted in that color to see what you think. When Shaded Peach first came out I loved it so much I bought and Elle, a Zara, a Julia, and an Alia all in that color; they all looked pretty but since the lace front on Elle was so nice I assumed they would be on all of this wigs too, but no – some of them were still sparse. Boo.

Anyway, here’s Courtney, and here’s hoping in a week or two I’ll have another one to show you. My birthday is this month so I’m going to hit these Fourth of July wig sales hard to celebrate!

Disclaimer: I bought this with my own money. All opinions are my own – your mileage may vary.