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Friday, September 02, 2011

Sheital Leasing: A Good Deal or Not?

Hat Tip: VIN News

I'd like to hear from my readers who are regular, higher end, sheital wearers (and their husbands), as opposed to more casual wearers, what they think of the economics of sheital leasing. Is $75 a month (service included) a good deal, or a fleece?

The Ynet article quotes a marketing manager to who compares sheital leasing to car leases. I think my readers are well aware of my opinion that leasing a car is a very, very expensive way to get from point A to point B and is far from a thrifty way to operate a vehicle. Hence, a gut reaction that this too is a fleece. However, while I'm sure I will never be renting a sheital, it might not be a rotten deal at all.

In my, not-so-educated opinion, higher end sheital wearing doesn't compare well to operating a vehicle at all as the alternatives to are far more limited (no, I'm not addressing hats vs. sheitals) and the usable life of the product is much shorter. The bar mitzvah age vehicle sitting outside my house, with as many issues as your average teenager, still serves its main purpose in it's own awkward way. But, I can tell you this, I wouldn't wear it on my head if I woke up tomorrow to find the car had become a sheital. Ventilation is a must, and dents throughout would render the thing unwearable.

A car that has been driven into the ground still has a value, if only at the junk yard for scrap metal. A car that is quite functional can be sold to a wide array of potential, flexible buyers for some real cash. A sheital that has been driven into the group, so to speak, is completely and utterly worthless. A sheital that is perfectly functional has very few potential buyers, and even fewer with the needed flexibility. I've seen people try to sell their twice worn customs for 80% of what they paid. I don't think there are too many takers.

Where sheital wearing does compare better to vehicles is in the realm of maintenance. I believe higher-end sheital wearers do pay for monthly wash and sets, which can run between $20 and $30 a month, making the $75 a month price closer to $60 a month. And, well, with the option to replace the wig once a year. . . . perhaps there is a value?

So regular sheital wearers (i.e. those who wear nearly daily), is sheital leasing at $75 a month a good deal or not when you average out the cost of your wig(s) and their maintenance over their useful life less any resale value?


Anonymous said...

Just heard that the Yeshiva Ktana in Waterbury Connecticut will not open on schedule this year.

Apparently rabbeim are on strike due to lack of previous year's (or years'?) payment (reportedly $150K is owed).

Depending on who you talk to, school blames community for lack of support or community is up in arms over financial mismanagement.

Anybody know what's really going on?

Anonymous said...

I am an every day sheitel wearer, I buy one and spend between 1400 to 2000, use it for five to eight years and then buy a new one, so that I have one at a time. I wash it myself and only have it set if there is a special occasion, perhaps once a year or so. I would not use this proposed service, first and foremost because of the ick factor.

SiBaW said...

While I am not a sheitel wearer (I am male!) I do have sheitel loving wife so I know a little bit about the topic. I don’t think it make sense financially. For the amount of money you spend over the course of the lease you could easily get a sheitel that would last twice as long, dollar for dollar. The cost-benefit of added maintenance helps, but doesn’t defray the total outlay over the course of the lease under the circumstances. Financial it seems to be similar to leasing a car unless there are some tax ramifications in leasing vs. owning. ;-) The only way this would make sense is if the lease included weekly washings, then it might make financial sense and pay for itself. The only other use I can envision for this service might be for people who have hair colors which in sheitel form oxidize easily. I guess it’s also an interesting idea for people who want to experiment with alternative hair colors and styles without being stuck with a product for a decade or so.

Anonymous said...

Sibaw, weekly washings would actually shorten the lifespan of the wig dramatically, and result in an unattractive dried out hairpiece, so that would not be a benefit.

Car leasing makes sense if one is the kind of person who absolutely must have a new car every few years. Sheitel leasing would make sense if one is the kind of person who absolutely must have a brand new wig every year. Otherwise, it's not a bargain.

Anonymous said...

Nits? Lice?
If you rent it, what's to stop you from wearing it out in the sun and letting it change color? It isn't yours, so why get crazy?
This sounds like a dumb idea...

ProfK said...

Have to agree with the commenters who mentioned the ick and yuck factor. And the initial price for renting isn't a bargain at $900 per year even if a wash is included monthly. Unless the sheitle is super ornate a wash and style at home is simple to do. And there's this--most sheitle machers tell you that it's 3 days for the sheitle to be left for a wash and styling. That means, if you don't wear hats inbetween, that you have to have a second sheitle to wear while the first one is being washed and styled. Not the case when you wash the sheitle yourself.

Anonymous said...

Those of you complaining about the ick factor - I guess you'll never buy a wig, because to do so you have to try on at least one sample - you think no one else has ever tried it on? Same with clothing - even in a department store when you try on a dress, unless it is a brand new shipment that same day, some one has tried it one before you. You're in denial if you think otherwise...

And I guess thrift store shopping or gemach items are verboten - too much "ick" factor...

Orthonomics said...

I got over the ick factor long ago :) Our budget doesn't leave much room for the untouched if we want to continue sending to private school and not resort to eating a diet of daily lentils in retirement!

I almost exclusively buy barely worn shoes at consignment shops. I'm a bit shy about boys athletic shoes like cleats, but I'm trying to get over that too. I have no problem picking up a pair of used ballet slippers or tap shoes.

I don't generally buy used socks and underwear for anyone. . . although even there, never say never. . . I've had a kid ask for underwear in a consignment store. If it looks like it hasn't been worn, I figure the hot water cycle should fix the issue. And, hey, my kid get dirty. We share towels once they have been washed. The ick factor is probably overrated.

Back to sheitels. . . I'd say that, yes, sheitals are a bit different because of the sweat and the fact you can't send it through the hot cycle in the washing machine. Nonetheless, lots of people have bought a hardly worn sheitel or a taken a hand-me-down from a sibling or friend who is upgrading. And if I go to a sheitel sale, I'm trying on what others have. I guess I don't see my neighbors as ick!

Orthonomics said...

1st anon, please send me what info you have or a link. I don't write about what there is no article on. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Lady who buys old shoes and clothes - beware of bed bugs! It is not always SAFE to buy old things. Never take used couches or matresses or car seats off the street - they may look fine, but were thrown out for a good reason. A sheital with lice can be cleaned by sticking it in the freezer for a few days - lice will die, and then you can pick them out. If there are none to pick out, it feels great on a hot day to put on a frozen sheital.

JS said...

All I can say is that I'm glad my wife doesn't wear a sheitel. I can't imagine spending this much money to recreate the effect of your normal, everyday hair. To me, this just falls into the category of Jewish things we've turned into a "need" (silver candlesticks and kiddush cups and menorahs, etc.) and justified by hiddur mitzvah.

You can just wear a nice hat or kerchief. It's especially crazy when the tichel's are $10 maybe. To me, the conversation is like this: I need to get from point A to point B, should I lease a mercedes or just buy one? If you're loaded or need it for business reasons (clients expect you to be driving a nice car), then fine. But, if you aren't swimming in money how can you justify the mercedes when a camry or civic will do just fine? It's even worse actually since the $10 to $900 is a 90-fold increase in cost whereas the camry to mercedes is likely only a 5-6 fold increase.

I just don't get it since I see plenty of women of other races and faiths who cover their hair with a simple covering that can't cost more than $20. For some reason it's OK for them, but not for us. We all have to be fancy (even if we can't afford it). It's even more perplexing when you work or socialize with other frum people - if anything you'd think this would lead to cheaper hair coverings, but it never seems to.

I apologize if this offended anyone, but I felt the need to call a spade a spade.

Anonymous said...

JS, no offense taken, however, for those of us who use a sheitel in most cases, as in mine, we believe it covers the head in the best way possible, plus, it allows us to feel better about ourselves. Let's face it, for most women, it ain't easy to have to cover one's hair, being able to wear something similar helps us feel better about ourselves. That is not to say we should go overboard of course.

JS said...


But what about my last point:
"I just don't get it since I see plenty of women of other races and faiths who cover their hair with a simple covering that can't cost more than $20. For some reason it's OK for them, but not for us. We all have to be fancy (even if we can't afford it). It's even more perplexing when you work or socialize with other frum people - if anything you'd think this would lead to cheaper hair coverings, but it never seems to."

I see Muslim women, for example, who wear hijabs that can't cost more than $20. They wear them proudly, they don't have any lack of self esteem. I'd even venture to say they look stylish as well. Other cultures cover their hair also and they make no apologies for wearing a "tichel" and they feel good about themselves. Why do we have such a lack of self esteem? Why are we afraid to cover our hair like every other religion/culture does and do it proudly?

Beyond that, I can't understand why in shul of all places, where EVERYONE is covering their hair that it needs to be done with a $2500 sheitel that has just been washed and set. Or, women who work in yeshivas or in other completely frum environments. If you can't be comfortable amongst your own and if you can't feel good about yourself with your co-religionists, what does that say?

I'd just add, why is it acceptable for guys to wear colorful knit kippas or large velvet kippas or large-brimmed hats, which everyone can see and which clearly identify you as an Orthodox Jew, but women have to hide the fact that it's a religious obligation to cover their hair? Why the gender difference?

Anonymous said...

For me it's not a self esteem issue but an image issue, an image to myself. I'm not the 2500 dollar type, but I feel dressed when I have a sheitel on, I don't feel dressed with a tichel, hat or hijab style hair covering. In the same way that I wouldn't go out on the street with clothes that don't match or are not tidy, I would not go on the street without a sheitel. Because it's important to me, not to those who look at me, in fact I live in a place where there are very few frum Jews so for me 'frum peer pressure' is not an issue.

As to your last question, I don't have an answer right now, I'll look into it, but just thinking about it a little, the laws of tzniut in general are more stringent for women then for men.

Miami Al said...


Well, in BT circles, I know plenty of women that decided to start covering their hair. Their husbands, listing to their Rav's advice on being supportive, insisting that they get her a very expensive wig to do so... it makes sense in the "looking the best" putting the mitzvah in the best light approach, but it also trapped the women. These women, not rolling in money, now had a $3000 wig that cost as much as their car was worth, and couldn't STOP wearing it or it would be a constant reminder... good way to keep people wearing shaitels.

Very happy, that my wife, when experimenting with head covering options, economically bought a bunch of different things to try out... A collection of hats/scarves from Target + a cheap wig from a non-frum vendor and for a grand total of $150, she tried falls, shaitels, hats, scarves, before deciding on what she wanted.

Way better than a $2500 wig that trapped you.

suzanne said...

I teach in a yeshiva elementary school and a colleague told me one day that the head principal would not allow her to wear a hat instead of a sheitel because it "doesn't project the right image" for the school. The style of head covering one wears is a statement of what "group" one belongs to in the Jewish community. Wearing the "wrong" style has consequences.

tesyaa said...

Al, a secret even about FFB women: many of them are not happy with their first wig, even after shelling out the big bucks and going to the "in" sheitelmacher. That's why you see so many wigs for resale. It takes time to get used to the idea of wearing a wig, much less figuring out what style is flattering and comfortable, etc. No one should be pressured to buy an expensive wig (but most sheitelmachers do apply the hard sell). I think buying inexpensive mail order wigs is probably a great way to get started.

JS said...

To tesyaa's point, every friend my wife has who does have a sheitel has confessed to her that they absolutely hate wearing it. Complaints range from it feels "weird", they don't feel like themselves wearing a wig, it's hot and sweaty, and it ruins their natural hair. It seems some are in an endless quest to find the "perfect" sheitel and shell out big bucks to do so, only to yet again be unhappy (or at least not as happy as they thought they would be).

Simply cannot understand why every faith and culture in which women cover their hair can do so with $10, but Orthodox Jewish women need multi-thousand dollar wigs.

tesyaa said...

JS, just to show the other side, I never said that one cannot get used to a wig and one will always feel physically or emotionally uncomfortable about it. It takes time, like many other things; you are legitimately questioning whether it is necessary.

As a working female, I do think my non-haircovering coworkers (100% of my coworkers) spend a fair amount of money, time and attention on their hair. Professional hair coloring is not cheap, and most of my older female coworkers appear to color their hair. I have known people who spend $100+ on a haircut and $200+ on highlights or other treatments (not to mention the dreaded $400 "Japanese straightening"). To act as if a professional woman who spends $3,000 on a wig that lasts 5 years would otherwise spend $0 on her hair over those 5 years is incorrect. Also, the wig wearer will save some time in the mornings. Most of the time, I don't even know where my blow dryer is.

JS said...


Yes, women often spend a decent amount of money on their hair. I'm not saying those costs would disappear. But, the women getting very expensive sheitels are not exclusively professional women. In my experience they're often women who simply want to look nicer or have become frustrated with cheaper sheitels. I said before if someone is wealthy or needs it for work it's understandable. More often than not you see women without any degree of wealth who are SAHM's or work in jobs that don't necessitate an expensive wig (or, work in completely frum workplaces) with the expensive sheitels.

I'd have the same questions about costs if these non-professional, non-wealthy women were getting $100+ haircuts and $200+ colorings. What's more irksome here is that with the sheitel expenses it gets lumped under the rubric of "mitzvah" whereas spending the same money on one's natural hair would label one a spendthrift.

Be'er said...

This marketing plan is targeting the high end. The majority of readers here are not the main targets:

Target 1:Kallahs and or people tentatively moving up to a much higher end sheitl.

Target 2: Professionals/other who "require" high quality and high maintenance, likely with little time to do it yourself.

Reasons for #1: Trying it out, before you lock in, is very valuable. Less so, once you have worn a sheitel and or one of that class for a longer period.
Reasons for #2: low up front required. Could be attractive for a lease to buy, slightly less so for continual lease if you cannot switch to a different model in 2-3 years.
Good for starting off a professional career, until you build up savings.

Given the lower up front payment, and the option to switch Sheitels, this could be attractive as a lease to buy option. If someone knows a sheitel will last 4+ years, then it would be better to buy assuming one has the up front cash.

Anecdotally, my wife pays on the order of $35/40 month for cleaning. We view the majority of this expense as a cost of her salary, similar to dry cleaning and a portion of child care. We would break even in 3 years 3 months.

Assumptions 1) $280/yr in incremental maintenance (increased usage for work), 2) 2000 new sheitel, 3) non discounted cash flow (short term, low current risk rates)

Be'er said...

Note: calc above (1:40) assumed $75/month, all included.