When you're wig shopping, you get to choose from synthetic wigs or human hair wigs. Well, there are other options, like wigs made from horse hair and some even made from feathers.

Human hair wigs are known to look more natural than synthetic wigs because they are made with hair from real people. Synthetic wigs have their own benefits as well, like having fun options if you're looking for a wig to wear for Halloween or to change up your look drastically.

What Is a Human Hair Wig?

woman wearing a wig

Just like it sounds, human hair wigs are made with human hair. There are charities, like Locks of Love, that take hair donations and specially make wigs for certain people, like cancer patients. Locks of Love uses the hair donated to them (which must meet certain standards, including a specific length) to make wigs for children.

The wigs you buy at the wig store, however, are most often made from hair that come from China, among other places around the world. There is a huge industry out there for human hair, and the more you read into it, the more disturbing it can get.

Now you're probably really wondering how they get the hair for human hair wigs that are on the market. It's not just for the wigs either. This is the same way that hair is accumulated to make hair extensions as well.

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    Human Hair Wig Options

When you start your treck into the world of human hair wigs, you'll run into a myriad of options that will confuse you. You can't just buy a human hair wig – you need to understand what all of the options mean.

From “Pure” to “Virgin” and even “Remy,” newbies in the world of human hair wigs can get lost trying to figure out what the terminology means. Virgin hair is hair that has never had any chemical treatments done on it – this includes perms, bleaching, and dying. Remy hair comes directly from the donor, rather than through a company or salon.

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    Where It Comes from Matters

Hair from European countries is considered more valuable. The hair has a finer texture, making it more diverse (and making it more expensive). Most hair for human hair wigs comes from Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and Eastern Europe. But that's just what advertisers say.

Much of the hair used in human hair wigs comes from China. This hair is usually thicker. It's still used to make blond and other color wigs, they just bleach it and color it from the natural dark tones (just like you'd do with your natural hair if you wanted to try a new color).

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    The Categories

Whether that hair is coming from a person or a collection of hairbrush leftovers helps to categorize the hair used in the creation of human hair wigs. They come in two categories. You can get processed hair or raw hair.

Raw hair still has the little white speck on it you see when you pluck a hair out of your scalp. It's not just a broken off piece of hair like you'd find in a brush. Raw hair wigs have a more natural look.

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    How It's Collected

Not all hair used to make wigs and extensions come from a haircut. Hairs can also be collected from drains and combs/brushes. These hairs end up becoming waded up hairballs. Hair from multiple people can be used in a single wig since they don't keep it sorted – especially when it's time for workers to detangle all those hairballs.

Differences Between Human Hair Wigs and Synthetic Hair Wigs

mannequins with wigs

Human hair wigs and synthetic wigs definitely have some major differences. There are plenty of people that enjoy wearing both, so which is better for you may depend a lot on your own preference as opposed to the specifics.

Synthetic wigs are made of plastic fibers. While those fibers can come from different materials, they are most often nylon. You can get well-made, sturdy synthetic wigs, but it varies based on wig style and who made it. Well-made synthetic wigs hold their shape, while cheap ones you're likely to get at the yearly pop-up Halloween shops will have numerous flaws.

Here are some of the things to be looking for in wigs and how the two different types compare to one another.

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    Wig Appearances

Human hair wigs are known to have a more natural look than synthetic wigs. Synthetic wigs sometimes look too glossy and plastic-like, while human hair wigs look like human hair. The non-synthetic wigs have a softer texture as well.

Some people pick human hair wigs because they can be styled. Not all synthetic wigs can be styled, and you normally can't color them (although you can find them in basically every color of the rainbow and more).  

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    Wig Prices

Virgin human hair wigs are the priciest option when it comes to wig buying. It's the price of human hair wigs that push most people to the purchase of synthetic wigs. Since they are made from man-made materials, they cost less to create and to purchase.

The cost of human hair wigs comes from numerous factors, which includes the fact that some of them are harder to make (like remy wigs). However, for many people, the durability and stylability of human hair wigs make them worth every penny.

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    Durability of Wigs

A well-made human hair wig will last far longer than any synthetic wig. You can wash it and style it without worry of it get frayed or wearing out. Most synthetic wigs can't even be washed.

You still want to make sure you're taking care of your wigs, human hair or synthetic. Keep them stored properly, clean them properly, and they will last longer.

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    Flexibility of Wigs

Because you have the flexibility of treating human hair wigs like natural hair on your head, you get more options. You can use heated appliances on them to straighten them or add some bounce with curlers or rollers. You can blow dry them after a quick wash, so you don't have to wait forever to get ready to leave the house.

Using heated appliances on synthetic wigs can melt them and damage them. You also can't color synthetic wigs, but you can use hair dye on human hair wigs.

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    Maintenance of Wigs

A good synthetic wig, when new, will hold its style, so you can just put it on and go (that's if you've been storing it properly). Human hair wigs, much like your own hair, can lose curl or waves when wearing it, so you want to give yourself some time to restyle it once in a while.

Basically, think of a human hair wig as the hair on your own head, because that's what it could have been.

How to Pick the Right Wig

wigs

When you are looking for a wig, you'll want to consider the options while determining which is the right wig for you. This concerns more than just whether or not you want a human hair wig or a synthetic wig. Here are some of the things to consider when trying to pick a wig.

  • Length and Style Options

You may want to look at length and style for the ease of putting your wig on and going, or you may want to consider whether it's the “perfect” style for you. You want a length and style that accents your face.

If you normally wear long hair in a ponytail, a short hair wig may be a better option. Shorter wig styles with simple cuts are the easiest when it comes to upkeep and getting ready as well.

Try them on, if you can, before you walk out the door with one. Length matters. Some people can get “drowned” out by too long of hair, especially if you're not used to it.

  • Customizing Possibilities

Can you color it? If it's a synthetic wig, it's less likely. You may not find the exact cut, color, and style you want, so you want a wig that you can turn into what you want. In this case, human hair wigs are your best options.

  • Lifestyle Considerations

What is your day like? You need to consider that when buying a wig. If long hair is going to get in your way, choose short hair wigs. Consider all of the things you'll be doing with your wig on (working out, going to work, hitting up the bar, etc.)

  • The Right Color

Since you can dye your human hair wigs, you have more options when it comes to choosing a wig. However, you still need to consider color when shopping (it's more difficult to make a dark wig a lighter color).

If you want crazy fun colors, like pink and orange, you might want to shop for synthetic wigs. You don't even have to wait for it to be Halloween to look. You can find synthetic wigs online, just like real hair wigs.

Make sure you choose a color that is flattering to you. Consider your skin tone, eye color, and even the colors of clothing you normally like to wear.

Get Shopping

Now that you know the differences between human hair wigs and synthetic options, you can start wig shopping. Consider shopping at a place that specializes in wigs so you can get one that fits well.

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