Mesh Crash Course: Selecting A Head

Note: While the images are from 2017 products, the content has been reviewed and is up to date as of July 2020.
Need more mesh help or info? Check out our full Mesh Crash Course.

Mesh heads are extremely popular due to their smooth, seamless look in comparison to system heads. Whether you’re looking for your first mesh head or your fifth there are a few basics that can help ensure you pick the perfect one for you.

Main Considerations

Of course what is right for others may not be right for you. It always comes down to your own needs and preferences. There are a few things to consider when demoing (yes, you should be using demos) and narrowing down the options for your personal taste.

Bento vs Static?

One of your biggest choices is if you’d like a bento or static head. I won’t get in too deep as we’ve already covered this, however it’s still important to touch on. The main difference between bento and static heads is the shape customization. Bento heads respond to the shape sliders so you can get various looks with the same head. Static heads don’t respond to the sliders and always have the same shape even if you alter sliders. Bento heads can work with bento animations, even from third party creators. Static heads are more limited and will not change with bento animations, but instead rely on the HUDs from their developer.

Alpha Options

Many people like to use different eyes, ears, or teeth instead of the standards that may come with a purchase. If you’re one of those people (or may be in the future) you’ll want to ensure your head will allow for it. If the head comes with those components you’ll want to make sure they are either equipped separately or can be hidden. Otherwise you will likely run into clipping issues and a weird mix of double features.

If you’re not sure why anyone would want to use something aside from the standards take a peek at this list. I’d hate for you to pick a head that didn’t let you hide ears than decide you wanted to be an elf in a few weeks!

  1. Eyes
    • Third party eyes may offer more options with colors, iris shapes, sci-fi or monster styles, etc.
  2. Ears
    • Third party ears may offer more realistic human ears or entirely different fantasy ears.
      • Elves are one of the more popular options, however furries, humans, merfolk, and more can benefit from specialized ears.
  3. Teeth
    • Third party teeth offer more shape and accessory options.
      • Vampires are an obvious one, but you can also get teeth with braces, grills, and gemstones.


Whether you’re just purchasing a new head or you’re redoing your entire avatar you’ll need to make sure your purchase is compatible with the other products you’ll be using.


Many skins, tattoos, makeup, beards, and other head textures are put on via objects called appliers. You’ll want to make sure your head is compatible with the appliers you want to use. Skins are especially important. You’ll want to make sure whatever skin you’ll be using is compatible with your head as well as your body. Please note that system skins won’t show on your Mesh head and applier skins won’t show up on non mesh avatar parts.

Not all appliers work with all mesh. You have to make sure you know what appliers will work with your head. Some brands have their own appliers, such as Catwa and LeLutka. Designers can make appliers specifically for these heads and they won’t work on other heads. The most common applier is Omega. Many heads are Omega compatible and can use any Omega appliers with the help of a third party relay. For more info on Omega and how to use it check out the Popular Applier Types section of our Appliers post.


Bakes on Mesh, or BOM for short, is a relatively new system in Second Life. It allows the classic style of non applier textures to be applied to your mesh. While many of the popular heads and bodies work with BOM, not all do. If you’re wanting to use non applier skins, tattoos, etc. make sure they actually work with the items you’d like to purchase.

It’s worth noting that as of the July 2020 update, there are even some heads that focus on BOM and are limited in applier use. Lelutka’s Evolution Line allows appliers for skin, eye products, lipsticks, but everything else is BOM. That means no hairbases, tattoos, etc can be put on with appliers.

Unfamiliar with BOM? Check out our informative Bakes On Mesh guide!


There are so many heads and so many bodies out there and no set standard for how they should fit together. This applies whether you’re using a mesh body or a system body. If your head doesn’t match your body it’ll look really silly! Make sure that whatever head you purchase blends into the body around the neck area. Some heads (and some bodies) have settings in the HUD to make it easier to make sure they fit together. It’s worth stating that the major companies tend to play nice with one another and have options to make their products work together, but not all of them do. Make sure to utilize your demos to be sure your purchases do what you need them to.

Some heads are made for specific bodies. This is most commonly found in brands that make both products such as Slink, Belleza, and TMP. There are always exceptions to this rule though, such as LeLutka heads and Maitreya‘s Lara body. When heads and bodies are made to match you have a clean fit and HUD options that match one another. Included skins, shine options, etc. will usually work with products that are made to be used together.


If you have a hairstyle that you’ll definitely be using you’ll want to ensure it works with the head. Keep an eye out for any parts of the head peeking through the hairline or hair clipping through the face. If you’re trying out a bento head you may be able to adjust the shape to work with the specific hair you’d like. Some heads come with alpha layers to hide parts of the scalp. Some hair can be modified to fit the head, though that varies brand by brand and even hair by hair.

Some designers make hair specifically for their heads. LeLutka creates hair and mesh heads, however if you’re using a bento head you can alter the shape enough that the hair won’t fit perfectly. Always make sure demo any products before buying, especially ones as important as your body parts.

Other Things To Consider

While the previous points are arguably the most important you want to make sure you know what you’re getting before you get it. Here are a few other things to look into when searching for the perfect mesh head.

In HUD Customization

Many heads, though not all, have extensive HUDs that give you a ton of different options. These options range from tinting (altering colors of applied textures) to included makeup or skins to animations. Make sure to explore all areas of the HUD so you know exactly what you’re getting. Many heads have lots of options. It may seem overwhelming at first, but learning every little part of your potential new head prevents accidentally passing up on a really cool feature you may have otherwise missed.

What’s Included?

Different heads come with different parts. Make sure to know what you’re getting so you don’t have any unhappy surprises! Common objects to look for are eyes, teeth, and hair. Most heads will have them included in the base head but some will have them separately. In the HUD keep an eye out for things like skins, makeup, lashes, animations, etc. Some heads (especially bento) come with at least one shape so you have a base look to start with. Informational notecards will help you get started with your new look as well. Make sure to check out everything that comes with your head so you know all your options.


Some brands offer add on packages to increase the value of the head beyond the initial purchase. Catwa is a great example of one of those brands. They provide products such as a facial animations, other types of teeth, different eyes, bubblegum you can chew and blow bubbles with, and more all sold separately. LeLutka also offers addons for their heads, one of which was a set of free animations given as a gift at a previous event. Check into what perks different brands offer so you aren’t missing out on a fun new option!

Pics & Credits

Ears – Swallow: Elf Ears HD

Left HUD – LeLutka: HUD Simone 2.7
Right HUD – Catwa: HUD Master v1.06
Head – LeLutka: Simone
Body – Maitreya: Lara
Shape – Regeneration: Vanessa
Skin – 7 Deadly s{K}ins: Lake
Hair – TRUTH Scout
Eyes – Catwa: Mesh Eyes
Eye Shadow – Arte: Myst Eyeshadow
Lipstick – SongBird: Lacquer Lips
Shirt/Jacket – ALT by Truth: Mischief Layered Jacket
Jeans – MODA: Paige Jeans
Shoes – MODA: Lourdes Platforms
Poses/Setting – Juxtapose: The Stairwell Pose Prop
Location – Comhar Photo Studio
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9 thoughts on “Mesh Crash Course: Selecting A Head”

  1. All very interesting, but not even remotely the ‘crash course’ I was hoping for.

    I’ve been combing websites and youtube videos for hours trying to find a simple tutorial explaining how to use a third party eye makeup applier (no, not Omega) because the two I’ve purchased – despite claiming to work with my Catwa head – just don’t.

    However, because I’m brand spanking new to mesh heads, I’m assuming it’s because I haven’t a clue how to do it, but do you think anyone will explain that to a mesh head noob? Do you think there are even any simple explanatory nc’s included with the ones I purchased?

    Ofc not.

    Websites and youtube vids either gloss over the whole thing or talk about ‘clipping issues’ that have nothing to do with the simple ‘how-to’ of the matter.

    It literally took me 4 frustrating weeks to figure out how to wear a mesh body because no one in the official community seems to think that information is important for new residents, so they just don’t bother.

    I don’t plan on spending another month trying to figure out eye makeup appliers if I don’t have to.

    It’s not like SL isn’t daunting enough for newcomers – or has everyone forgotten that simple fact?

    • Thank you for the feedback! We actually have a whole section of basics for newcomers:
      Based on your feedback it’s clear we should add a troubleshooting post and some more basics. I’ll add those to the to do list!

      You mentioned you have a Catwa head and Catwa makeup appliers. If they aren’t working right away there are a few things you can do to help figure it out. Make sure to equip the main HUD for your head (I believe it’ll be called “CATWA HUD Master” or similar) and explore the tabs in it. There will be sections for different types of makeup (eyes, blush lips, etc) and blend sliders for each section. On the makeup you want make sure to play with the sliders since they control the transparency of the applied texture. I believe all the way left is 100% visible, but you’ll want to play with it after applying just in case I’m wrong.

      Don’t be afraid to ask for help, ever! There is a Catwa group in game that offers support for anyone, newcomer or experienced player. It may be worth seeking out simlar groups for help when you need it.

      Update: This is also just one post of the Mesh Crash Course series. You can find more at the Newbie Hub link above.

          • Thank you so very very much – got it! The answer was in your reply and it worked beautifully! (was pushing the slider on the Master HUD the wrong way, ofc!).

          • You’re so welcome, I’m so glad it’s working for you now!! I already added a troubleshooting post and a basics of wearing mesh post to my to do list. Once I have time I’ll get those fleshed out and hopefully save others some time too <3

          • That’s brilliant, Asia! I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s experienced the frustration of trying to find simple info hard to come by – possibly because we don’t know the right questions to ask 🙂

            Thank you again!

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