Sunday, January 3, 2016

Roller Piks (Picks or Pins)

I thought I would start the year with a posting about roller piks aka picks or pins, the things you stick though brush or mesh rollers to secure them. Its not as unimportant topic as you might think: the best piks can ensure  a rollerset is comfortable while keeping the curlers tight and secure. Bad piks can be agony or let your rollers fall out before they are dry. Good piks are almost essential to a good set if your using brush or mesh rollers (unless of course you use clips).

You often get a mixture of picks when buying vintage rollers, and as a result I  have a variety of them that are worth presenting here.

The two basic types are plastic and wire.

The BEST Plastic Piks

My favorite piks and in my opinion bu fat the best ones are vintage Wil-hold piks:

You can generally recognize them from the squarish bulb at the end, and perfectly smooth surface of the pin part (some picks seem to have a slightly rougher surface or with bumps). They also usually seem to be pink.

 I have an unopened box of  white ones, but not having actually used them, I don't know if the white ones are any different:

 In the photo above, the piks were included as a bonus with a package of Wil-hold rollers which are excellent too. The Wil-hold company seemed to make some of the best hair products in the '60s and 70s.

What makes Wil-hold piks so good is they are just the right thickness: just thin enough to fit through virtually all rollers (except German Drahtwicker), yet also just the right thickness to be able to bend slightly as your rollers are secured. Piks that don't bend at all are not forgiving at all when trying to adjust hair tension on the rollers: its so hard to find the right position for them that isn't too loose or too tight, and they don't give at all as your hair drys, also make for an unconformable set.

They are also the right length for anything but the largest rollers, and have a blunt rounded point at the end of the pin. I don't know why some other types have sharp ends - all that does it leads to pokes while setting and the piks being uncomfortable even when used properly.

And finally, they don't stay bent after use. Some of the other piks are no long straight after a few uses, making them harder to use with time.

Almost as good are these Goody piks:

The only thing that separates them from being as good as the Wil-Hold piks is they are slightly more slippery when used with traditional wire brush or mesh rollers and can sometimes work their way out while drying. They can also become slightly bent with use, although less so that many other types.

For securing larger rollers together, these ones are really good (don't know who makes them):

They do have pointy ends, but if only used roller-to-roller and not touching your head, its not a problem. They are great making sure rollers don't come out overnight: after securing rollers as you normally would with either the shorter Wil-Hold or Tip-Top piks, put long blue piks through two or three neighboring rollers. This second set of piks will make sure your rollers are completely secure so they cant more around and yank hair unevenly. I find doing this makes overnights sets more comfortable.

There also are some newer alternatives to the Wil-Hold and Goody piks. These "Nylem Roller Pix" are are about the same size and slightly thinner and will do if you cant the get the better vintage ones. They do get bent with use, but at less than $2 per 100, you can easily throw away the bad ones (although I hate being wasteful like that).

Too Thin

 Some piks are just too think to and flexible to secure rollers well. They to slip out as rollers dry when air drying, are often pointy at the end:

The red one above was already bent from use when it came with a bundle of used rollers. The Goody roller (bottom pink) shows how much thinner the top four are.

Piks with a Bump or Ridges

The bump is supposed to help keep the pick from slipping out. I have never found them to work well at all. On wire brush rollers with fabric mesh, the bump doesn't seem to do much, and it can push the mesh apart probably  ruining  the roller after repeated use. And the bumps often don't fit though the mesh on wire mesh rollers or plastic rollers unless the pik is really thin, in which case it is too thin to be of much use.

If you enlarge the photo above, you can see the ridges in the middle of each pik. This ones are so short they are only suitable for the smallest rollers. They are also made out of hard, brittle plastic and have sharp ends. Avoid ones like these.

Wire Pins

I have always found wire pins   to be  too ``pokey``.  Thin wire pins like these can be used with classic wire brush or mesh rollers, but only from roller to roller and really only for use under a dryer. I`d be afraid if you bumped your head while using them you could get a nasty jab.

These plastic coated ones are actually pretty good for roller-to-roller use:

And then there are these for German Drahtwickler (wire brush rollers) which have a much finer mesh than the American ones.

They are more like solid rods than wire and have no give at all, but seem to be the only ones that fit through Drahtwicker. Expertly placed with Drahtwicker they can create the most perfect, tight set, but there is no room for error as near as I can tell. Its hard to get them just right between too tight and too loose, but you succeed will be rewarded with about the best set ever. If  you have ever used them, please let me know - its hard to get tips on how to best use them on this side of the Atlantic.

Some Unique Piks

These came with some rollers for Ebay. No idea how they are supposed to work. Any ideas?

And these ones look like they were intended to secure large brush rollers from roller to roller:

Unfortunately the point at the end snags on hair and rollers when you want to remove them. They are also very brittle and break easily: the second yellow one has lost its end.

Flower Piks

I couldn't resist buying these because they are so unique and so vintage. I also can't bring myself to open the package to take a better picture.

Here are some closer views of  the flowers:

They must have been intended for air drying so that you could look nice while spending hours in curlers. My guess is that the set would be secured with a combination of regular piks and these ones, with the flowered ones being placed to look best. Well done it must have looked very nice.

They also were apparently intended to  be used in hair without rollers as shown on left above. Not sure how they were kept from falling out when used without rollers.

And on the back some classic 60's or 70s colorful artwork:

 They were made by "nino orginals", Minneapolis. A quick google reveals the company started in 1959, but sadly although there are numerous address listings on web pages there is no web presence. I wonder is they are still around, and what else they made.

So there you have a review of different piks/picks/pins. The Wil-hold and Goody ones are the best, but some of the other are nice too. If you doing vintage hair, hope you find this useful!