Throughout most of history, wigs have come in two varieties – human hair and synthetic. Synthetic wigs were historically made of numerous hair substitutes, such as horse hair, goat hair, sheep wool, and even palm leaf fibers. However, the difference between the two styles were always readily apparent to both the wearer and the onlooker – until the 20th century.
Today, a quality synthetic wig is virtually indistinguishable from a human hair wig, both to the eye and to the touch. Thanks to modern science, they also come in just as wide of a variety of colors and textures – sometimes even wider. Best of all they offer an affordable option to many who would find the price of a human hair wig challenging or unnecessary for their situation.
What Is a Synthetic Wig Made Of?
Synthetic wigs are made from plastic polymer (most commonly modacrylic) fibers. Although these fibers are man-made, they very closely approximate the color, sheen, and texture of real human hair – although how closely depends upon the kind and quality of the fiber used.
Polypropylene fibers are some of the oldest and least expensive. Because of this, however, they are also the least realistic and in addition to having a “plastic” look, they are also non flame-retardant. Quality wigs in the United States seldom use it, but old, cheap, or foreign wigs, such as you might find online, may still incorporate these “hairs” to lower their cost. If a wig says it’s “100% synthetic” instead of specifying its makeup, it may be polypropylene.
Toyokalon® fibers are newer technology and create more realistic strands of hair than polypropylene. It holds curl well and resists tangling; however it is also slightly glossier than human hair when examined at close range.
Kanekalon® fibers are the most realistic and most popular fibers used in quality wigs today. High-quality Kanekalon wigs can fool even some beauticians with their natural luster, color, and flow.
Heat-resistant fibers are the result of modern technological advances in the field of plastics, and as their name suggests, they are similar to normal Kanekalon, but do not melt as readily when exposed to heat. These types of fibers are used to make “heat-friendly” or “heat-resistant” wigs.
How Are They Different From Human Hair?
Synthetic wigs look and act almost identically to human hair under normal circumstances. However, because synthetic fibers are made from plastic polymers instead of keratin protein, there are some differences in the way they behave under duress – such as when they are exposed to heat, water, wind, or humidity.
First of all, synthetic wigs never need to be styled – even after washing. Since synthetic fibers permanently hold their shape, you simply need to brush and go! They will never frizz under humid conditions or go limp in the rain. Your hair style will always look fantastic.
However, because of this, there are certain limitations. Synthetic wigs cannot be restyled, cut, or colored, and except for heat-friendly wigs, will melt if exposed to intense heat. If you like to frequently change your style, you may want more than one wig so you can have a wider selection from which to choose.
Synthetic wigs also wear out more quickly than human hair wigs; however, because of their price differential, this may or may not make them more expensive – they simply need to be changed more often.
When Might I Want a Synthetic Wig?
Both human hair and synthetic wigs look and feel beautiful and natural. However, synthetic wigs have some distinct advantages in certain situations. If any of the following sound like you, you may want to consider a synthetic wig.
- You only need a wig temporarily
Synthetic wigs are perfect for patients who are going through chemotherapy and will only need their wig for a few months, and for people who want a change of hairstyle for a party or special event. Although synthetic wigs need to be replaced more frequently than human hair wigs, wearers who don’t plan on using their wig daily for 2-3 years may not benefit from the additional longevity.
- You need a wig that can fit a small budget
Synthetic wigs are less expensive than human hair and more budget-friendly. If you are looking for a wig that has a low up-front cost, a synthetic wig may be your best choice.
- You would enjoy having low-maintenance hair
Synthetic wigs never require styling, which means you can simply brush and go. If you don’t like to spend much time at the mirror in the morning or have a busy schedule, a synthetic wig can help you avoid bad hair days without the work.
- You have an unusual hair color
Synthetic wigs sometimes come in a wider variety of colors than human hair wigs, due to the ease with which they can be manufactured. If you have trouble finding the color you want in human hair wigs or you need a non-traditional color, such as red or green for a special event, synthetic wigs are for you.
If you have questions about synthetic wigs or are ready to try some styles on for size, we welcome you to Wig-A-Do!
Please contact us or stop by our Mount Laurel location and talk to one of our knowledgeable staff members. We look forward to helping you find the perfect hairdo!