Most store bought wigs are made by machine or largely made by machine, but hand finished. When a wig is hand made, a pattern of your own head has to be taken and from this, a foundation is made. There are different weights and colours of bases available, but the best is a strong, yet sheer lace, which when lightly stretched against the skin, becomes almost invisible.
A lace fronted wig, will usually be custom made and individual human hairs will be painstakingly knotted in to the tiny holes in the lace, creating a natural looking head of hair. The main advantage to a lace-fronted wig is it enables the wearer to have a natural looking hairline. It is also possible to have any style you may desire and lace wigs tend to be significantly lighter, cooler, better fitting and more comfortable than store wigs.
I would say that 9/10 actors, actresses, models, etc who are wearing additional hair in magazines, on stage or on film, will be wearing lace front wigs or hair pieces.
It is possible to buy lace fronted wigs in stores around the world and I have to say, these bare no resemblance to the type favoured by celebrities. Your average celeb will have paid to use to finest wigmaker, who will have sourced finest European hair, used their expertise to make the foundation fit perfectly, knotted this hair in, in such a way, it looks and acts like real hair and will have chosen lace, which matches that persons’ skin colouring. The wig will then be styled by and maintained by an expert (wig dresser) and the lace replaced as soon as it becomes worn. In real life, the only way, to replicate this look is to have a lace fronted piece made for you – Ladies who have bought ‘off the peg’ lace fronts are usually very disappointed
For Theatre/dancers, the lace is usually left an inch from the hairline, to support the wig, improve fit and help it to last longer in heavy use. Make-up is applied to blend in any areas, which may show. For film/TV (and in real life) it is necessary to cut more of the lace back so it cannot be seen up close, but a fringe (bangs) also helps conceal any lace.
Wigs that have ‘lace fronts’ often require re-fronting. The wig itself (if not bonded) should last for many years if well looked after, but may require a new front every 6mths – 12mths if worn every day. I regularly work on wigs which are older than I am and still look like new because of the care they receive.
Resident Wig Expert