One of the first questions we ask women when they visit our wig boutique is: “Are you looking for human hair or synthetic?” For first time wig wearers, the answer is often: “I don’t know – What’s the difference?” Understanding the difference in these two types of wigs will help you make the right decision for you.
Something to consider – both human and synthetic fibers wigs are available in different grades or qualities. For our comparison, we will discuss the differences in a top quality synthetic to Grade A Human Hair. Here’s how they compare:
You may assume that a human hair wig will look more natural than a synthetic, but this is not necessarily the case. Most people cannot tell the difference in human and synthetic just from looking at them. In general, synthetic will look a little shinier or more glossy than human hair. The higher quality synthetic wigs are not as shiny and look more natural than cheaper synthetics. Another difference in appearance has to do with movement. Human hair has more natural movement and bounce than synthetic – which tends to be a little stiffer. If you wear a short hair style, or use hairspray, this is usually not an issue. If you wear your hair long and loose, you may prefer the more natural movement of the human hair.
Human hair has a softer, silkier texture than synthetic. The exact texture of the hair will depend on where it’s from – Asian hair is thicker, straighter, and coarser. Indian hair is silky and wavy. European hair is finer, softer and has a very slight wave. The hair may also have been permed to recreate the appearance of Yaki hair.
Synthetic hair is not quite as soft and silky as human hair. The better the quality of the hair, the softer it will be. The texture of the hair is set at the factory and can range from straight to wavy to curly.
Both human and synthetic wigs can be washed. Synthetic hair should only be washed in cold water, with products designed specifically for synthetic fibers, then be allowed to air dry. The wig will retain its style.
Human hair can be washed in warm or cold water, and you can use any products that you can use on your own hair. We recommend using mild shampoo and a moisturizing conditioner. Products designed for color treated hair work well. Washing the wig causes it to lose its style and return to its natural pattern. To re-style, you will need to blow dry or style with heated tools.
Life Span A lot of factors will determine how long your wig will last – how long the hair is, how often you wear it and under what circumstances, and how you care for it. Synthetic hair is prone to friction frizz when it rubs against something.
Longer wigs are particularly susceptible, as they are going to rub against your back, neck, purse, chair, etc. Human hair, when properly cared for, withstands friction, so it will last longer. As a rule of thumb, expect a short synthetic wig to last up to a year, and a long one up to 6 months. A short human hair wig will last up to 2 years, and a long one about a year. So, in general, you can expect a human hair wig to last about twice as long as a synthetic.