What Is Synthetic Hair?

Ask anyone what the most important part of a wig is. We're sure you'll receive one answer: the hair! Cap type, size, and more are all incredibly important factors (especially concerning comfort), but the first thing you notice about a wig is the hair. You’re probably aware that there are two categories of hair in wigs: human hair or synthetic hair. But what is synthetic hair anyway?


Really—What Is Synthetic Hair?

What is synthetic hair?

Let’s do a brief breakdown of what human hair is first. Human hair is a protein filament made out of keratin. It  grows out of the hair follicles on your scalp (and various other parts of your body). The keratin that makes up human hair is actually a natural polymer.

Synthetic hair, on the other hand, consists of man-made fibers. Like human hair, synthetic hair is also formed from polymers, giving it a similar look and feel to natural hair. However, unlike human hair, synthetic hair is not made from keratin. Instead, it is most commonly made from various man-made polymers and plastics (although it can also be made from natural polymers and cellulose as well). It is often made from:

  • Polyethylene-terephthalate
  • PVC
  • Vinyl
  • Acrylonitrile
  • Acrylic
  • Single-filament polyester
  • Silk
  • Silicone

Does Synthetic Hair Look Fake or Real?

Does synthetic hair look real or fake?

Not all synthetic hair is created equally. It varies in quality depending on what it is made of and how it is processed. When you think of synthetic hair, you may imagine wigs you can buy at the Halloween store, or doll hair. In reality, name brand synthetic wigs are crafted from high quality fibers that look and feel natural.

The most common complaint about synthetic hair is that its too shiny, making it look unrealistic. This is because, unlike human hair, synthetic hair strands do not have cuticles, or the waxy outer layer that coats and protects natural hair. However, as technology improves, synthetic hair continues to become more and more realistic. Nowadays, high quality synthetic hair is processed to have a more natural, less shiny look that is often times indistinguishable from human hair. Have a look for yourself:

The difference between synthetic hair and human hair.

On the left is a synthetic wig, Mila by Jon Renau Wigs. On the right is Carrie by Jon Renau Wigs. As you can see, the two wigs are incredibly similar.

Furthermore, human hair is also available in a range of various qualities. It should be noted that high quality synthetic hair is actually nicer, softer, and more natural looking than lower-grade human hair in many cases.


What Are the Benefits of Synthetic Hair?

The benefits of synthetic hair - Down Time by Raquel Welch Wigs

We’re born with human hair coming out of our heads, so there are naturally benefits that come with wearing a human hair wig. Not only does high quality human hair look and feel very realistic, but you can style it with heat and dye it just like you would your own hair. A human hair wig will last a year or longer with everyday wear if you take good care of it.

With all of the benefits that human hair wigs provide, why should you consider investing in a synthetic hair wig? Synthetic hair wigs have their own set of pros. Let's take a look.


  • Synthetic Hair is Affordable 

A high quality human hair wig will generally cost you a minimum of $600, with most styles costing $1000 or more. On the other hand, you can get a high quality synthetic wig for around $100.


  • Synthetic Hair is Low Maintenance

Just like your own hair, human hair reacts to the elements and become frizzy and limp. While you constantly have to style a human hair wig (just like you would your own hair), it’s not uncommon to find a synthetic hair wig that you can pull out of its box and place directly onto your head. This is because hair has something called style retention. This basically means that synthetic hair will retain its style regardless of weather and other elements, making styling super easy.


  • Synthetic Hair Looks and Feels Realistic

As we mentioned before, technology has made synthetic hair extremely realistic in both look and feel. In most instances, it is nearly impossible to tell high quality synthetic hair from human hair.


  • Synthetic Hair Offers Various Options

Synthetic hair can be found in many vibrant colors like pink, blue, and bright red, as well as natural tones. Because synthetic hair has style retention, the amount of styles available on the market is huge. Choose from dozens of curly, wavy, and straight wigs, all of which will hold their style!


What are the Downsides of Synthetic Hair?

Downsides of synthetic hair

There are so many great things about synthetic hair... but there are also a couple of downsides:

  • Traditional synthetic hair cannot be styled with heat. Because it is made of plastic, high heat can cause the fibers to melt.
  • Typically, you shouldn't dye synthetic hair. Click here to learn more about dying synthetic hair.
  • Synthetic hair lasts a shorter time than human hair, with a lifespan of about 6 months of daily wear with proper care.


Can I Style Synthetic Hair?

Can I style synthetic hair?

Heat styling should be avoided on traditional synthetic hair, but there are some ways to straighten and curl your synthetic hair safely. You can also use synthetic-hair friendly gel and hairspray to change up your look.

If being able to easily style and restyle your synthetic hair for versatile looks is important to you, consider purchasing heat friendly synthetic hair instead of traditional synthetic hair. Heat friendly synthetic hair is made from polymers that can withstand high heat, meaning they can safely be styled with curling irons, blow dryers, and straightening irons. Like traditional synthetic hair, heat friendly synthetic hair has style retention and will always hold its most recent heat style.


How Do You Care for a Synthetic Hair Wig?

How to Care for Synthetic Hair

You might be wondering what the upkeep of synthetic hair is. It's actually pretty easy! So long as you use a wig comb or wig brush to detangle it on a consistent basis, you wash and condition it in COLD water with synthetic hair-friendly products (and then let it air dry once you’re done) every couple of weeks, and let it sit on a wig stand whenever you’re not wearing it, your wig should look good and last between 4-6 months.



At the end of the day, buying high quality synthetic hair is a great decision if you're looking for an affordable, low maintenance, realistic hair option. Check out our huge selection of beautiful synthetic wigs here, or click here to learn more about the difference between human hair and synthetic hair.


Featured Wig: Jaden by Noriko Wigs


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