Silk/Skin Tops: Hand Tied VS Machine Made

In today's alternative hair world, words, terms & phrases can get overwhelming. Each company, country & person can use multiple words to explain the same thing. In the alt hair world, everything is always evolving and constantly changing.

When Covid hit this industry, everyone had to adapt. With the lack of workers overseas, delivery delays & never ending shipping times, this industry had to come up with new ways to adapt. Wigs and toppers are always changing and amplifying for the better but what about when it comes to machine made vs. hand tied? Let's dive in to get a better understanding of what the difference really is.

What is a Silk/Skin Top?

A silk top wig or topper is defined by how the crown/ top of the piece is made. Silk top (see picture below) is a scalp-looking silk material where the knots are covered. A silk top can technically be hand tied or machine made and can also be referred to as a "skin top". Unlike lace, you cannot see your own scalp through this material but is a great options if you really want an invisible knot option. Silk tops can either be silk alone or can also feature a lace front. The unfortunate side of silk tops is the lack of inclusivity in colour. A typical silk top is pale white/ light grey and rarely comes in other colours. Silk tops can be dyed to match any tone/colour of skin but is harder to achieve. See below to see the difference in scalp appearance in silk tops vs lace tops. 

Our Terms: Silk Top = Hand Tied  | Skin Top = Machine Made

hand tied versus machine made


What does hand tied mean?

Hand tied refers to the way the individual hairs are sewn onto a cap. This process is done just like it's name; each individual hair is manually hand tied using a crocket-like method.

The Positive: This gives the most scalp-like appearance. Flat, flexible and "quiet". Hair has the same movement as natural scalp grown hair. 

The Negative: This process requires an extremely skilled individual and takes a lot of manual hours to complete. Due to the amount of work & time it takes to make, the cost is more compared to machine made. 

What is machine made?

Each hair is injected or tied base on the cap style by a machine. This process is more cost effective, completed faster and more accurate. Wefts (not the crown) on all wigs are generally machine made. As the hair is never really seen, the machine made weft vs hand tied wefts is unrecognizable. 

The Positive: Price is much more budget friendly. Looks the same as a hand tied silk top. Durability, consistency & lack of human error. Because there is a constant knot being made by a machine, there is less change of "loose" knots which can happen when a hand tied worker doesn't tie off knots as tight.

The Negative: May not lay as completely flat as natural hand tied silk. Has a "crinkle" sound when scratched. Longevity is truly unknown. As these are a new product, they have not been tested for 10+ years as classic wigs. However, you will still get the standard 1-2 years of life out of a machine made wig.

Which is better?

Obviously like any hair, to each their own. Everyone prefers something different and what works for one may not work for others. The higher the quality like hand tied is the better choice if you want the highest end, best quality. But if you're looking for something cost effective, serves the same purpose & to the naked eye looks the same, machine made may be the better option. 

With alternative hair, the best way to find what you like is to do a little trial and error. Each one is great!

Watch our IGTV on machine made skin tops here:

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