Wigs play an important role in modern life, whether for fashion, aesthetics, or medical needs. However, there are various types of materials used to make wigs, and they differ greatly in terms of price, comfort, and durability. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the advantages and disadvantages of different wig materials and how to identify them when choosing the ideal wig for yourself.
There are three main categories of commonly used wig materials: natural human hair, synthetic fibers, and animal hair. This article will introduce the characteristics of these materials individually and provide you with some identification methods to help you choose the perfect wig that suits you.
Wigs made from natural human hair are sourced from naturally grown human hair. They have excellent texture and flexibility, and with proper care, they can have a lifespan of 3 to 5 years.
Since real human hair is used, wigs made from natural human hair have a more natural appearance with authentic shine and texture, making them difficult to detect as wigs.
Furthermore, wigs made from natural human hair can be styled just like your own hair, including curling, dyeing, and perming. This flexibility allows for personalized styling according to individual preferences.
Moreover, due to the soft, lightweight, and breathable nature of natural human hair, wigs made from this material are generally more comfortable to wear and provide better airflow. They do not exert excessive pressure on the scalp or cause discomfort.
However, it should be noted that the process of collecting and processing real human hair often involves higher labor and time costs, making wigs made from natural human hair relatively expensive. Additionally, wigs made from natural human hair require care and maintenance similar to your own hair, including regular washing, conditioning, combing, and styling to maintain their good condition and longevity.
Furthermore, it is important to note that even within the category of natural human hair, there can be significant variations in quality and price, primarily depending on the origin, length, and processing methods.
1）Origin's Impact on Hair Quality
Based on the different regions of origin, natural human hair can be primarily classified as Chinese hair, Indian hair, Brazilian hair, Burmese hair, Vietnamese hair, European hair, etc. The main differences in hair from different regions lie in the texture and curl pattern. Chinese hair, Mongolian hair, Burmese hair, and Vietnamese hair belong to Asian hair textures, which are relatively coarse and straight. Among them, Chinese hair has the smoothest texture and is the most expensive. Brazilian hair and Indian hair are softer in texture with slightly larger curls, making them suitable for European and American hairstyles, often used for hair extensions.
2）Length's Impact on Natural Hair Price
The length of natural human hair is generally measured in inches and denoted by " " ". Additionally, lengths are typically categorized in even numbers (e.g., 2, 4, 6, etc.), and there are no finished lengths in odd numbers.
As the growth of real hair is limited by its natural growth cycle, the longer the hair, the longer the required growth time, and the scarcer the raw material, resulting in higher prices. Generally, if the length of natural human hair falls between 6" and 14", the price of raw materials per kilogram increases proportionally. If the length is between 16" and 22", the price difference per kilogram of raw material increases rapidly. As for 24" hair, due to the limited supply of raw materials, the price is highly unstable but generally falls within a very high range.
3) Three Grades of Natural Human Hair
Based on the collection and processing methods, natural human hair can be roughly divided into three grades:
- A) Virgin Hair: Virgin hair, also known as unprocessed hair, cut from the heads of girls who have never permed or colored their hair, retains the natural cuticle scales of the hair and the correct alignment of the hair ends. It is the most expensive material among real human hair.
- B) Non-Remy Hair: Non-remy hair refers to all non-virgin hair materials, mainly a collection of human hair tangled together during the collection process. Its characteristics include no distinction between the root and the tip, mixed colors, and relatively fine hair strands. Additionally, due to the inconsistent orientation of the hair cuticles, they cannot be directly used in the manufacturing process. Therefore, an acid wash is required to remove the cuticles, which inevitably damages the hair quality and reduces its lifespan. Remy hair is the cheapest variety among real human hair.
- C) Remy Hair: The raw hair material for remy hair is same to non-remy hair but undergoes an additional process called cuticle alignment. This process uses a special machine to select the root and tip of the hair, ensuring that the cuticles are aligned in the same direction, eliminating the rough and tangling issues of non-remy hair. Since this process requires specialized machinery and additional labor, remy hair wigs falls between virgin hair wigs and non-remy hair wigs in terms of price.
Ⅱ. Synthetic Hair Wigs
Synthetic hair wigs are made from synthetic materials, such as acrylic, polyester, or a blend of different synthetic fibers. They are designed to mimic the look and feel of natural hair.
One significant advantage of synthetic fiber wigs is their affordability. They are generally more budget-friendly compared to wigs made from natural human hair. Additionally, synthetic hair wigs require minimal styling effort, the fibers used in synthetic wigs are pre-styled and heat-resistant, allowing them to retain their original style even after washing without additional styling tools.
Moreover, synthetic hair wigs are relatively low maintenance. They are easy to care for and usually require less frequent washing and styling compared to natural human hair wigs. Additionally, synthetic fibers are resistant to environmental factors, such as rain or humidity, and can maintain their style in various weather conditions.
However, synthetic hair wigs have some limitations. The synthetic fibers do not have the same level of authenticity and natural appearance as real human hair. Although advancements have been made in synthetic fiber technology, it can still be challenging to achieve the same level of realism as natural human hair.
Additionally, synthetic fiber wigs have limited versatility when it comes to styling options. They cannot be heat-styled with curling irons, straighteners, or other heat-based styling tools. Applying heat to synthetic fibers can cause them to melt or become damaged.
Furthermore, synthetic hair wigs may have a shorter lifespan compared to natural human hair wigs. The fibers can become frizzy or tangled over time, and their appearance may deteriorate with prolonged use.
In terms of manufacturing processes, synthetic fiber mainly include several common types: regular temperature fiber, high-temperature fiber, protein fiber, and so on.
1) Regular temperature fiber
Regular temperature fiber is low-cost and effectively reduces the cost of wig products, which made it popular in the early days. However, products made from regular temperature fiber have obvious disadvantages, such as poor realism, easy deformation, difficult maintenance, low heat resistance, and being flammable.
2) High-temperature fiber
High-temperature fiber has made significant improvements in heat resistance compared to regular temperature fiber. It theoretically does not deform at temperatures below 160°C (in practice, the heat resistance temperature ranges from 100°C to 160°C depending on the manufacturing process of the high-temperature fiber). With controlled temperature, it can be heat-styled, easy to maintain, and has a significantly improved level of realism compared to regular temperature fiber. Therefore, many wig products in recent years are made from high-temperature fiber, which is slightly more expensive than regular temperature fiber.
3) Protein fiber
Protein fiber is a higher-quality material compared to regular temperature fiber and high-temperature fiber. It achieves a more realistic appearance and is currently the closest material in terms of feel and realism to real human hair. It is commonly used in the production of high-end wigs, which makes it relatively more expensive.
Additionally, with the development of synthetic fiber technology, an upgraded product of protein fiber has emerged: flame-retardant protein fiber. This flame-retardant protein fiber is not easily combustible and, when ignited, behaves similarly to real hair, turning into powder form, which reduces the risk of use. However, due to its high cost, it has not been widely applied.
Ⅲ. Animal Hair Wigs
Animal hair wigs are less common than wigs made from human hair or synthetic fibers. In fact, animal hair, such as horsehair, goat hair, camel hair, or yak hair, is sometimes used in the manufacturing of wigs. These wigs are generally less expensive than natural human hair wigs but more costly than synthetic fiber wigs.
Animal hair wigs can have a natural appearance and texture, similar to human hair wigs. They can be styled and dyed to some extent, providing a certain level of versatility. Due to limitations in demand and production, yak hair is the most common animal hair that can be used to make wigs. Since yak hair has natural Yaki (corn perm) properties, even after being permed in high-temperature water and straightened, there will be the existence of a little curvature makes it more popular among African friends.
However, there are some disadvantages to animal hair wigs. Animal hair is typically coarser and thicker than human hair, which may result in wigs that feel less comfortable or breathable on the scalp. Additionally, animal hair wigs may require more maintenance and care to keep them in good condition.
Ⅳ. Identification of Wig Materials
Identifying the material of a wig can be a challenging task, especially for someone without experience or knowledge in the field. Here are some methods that can help in identifying the materials used in a wig.
1) How to identify synthetichair wigs
a) Visual Inspection: a) Carefully examine the wig's appearance, texture, and shine. Natural human hair wigs often have a more authentic shine and texture, closely resembling real hair. Synthetic fiber wigs may have a slightly shinier or more artificial appearance.b) The root and tip of human hair are different in thickness. The root is slightly thicker and the tip is slightly thinner. Especially for long hair, there may be split ends. Generally, the thickness of chemical fiber hair is uniform.
b) TouchInspection:a) Because the strands of human hair are hollow, they tend to be lighter than synthetic fiber. b) Hold a bunch of hair with your hands and slide it down from the root. If it is real hair, it will feel smooth. If you slide it in the opposite direction, it will feel rough due to the action of the hair cuticles. Since synthetic hair has no cuticles, it feels smoother in both directions.
c) Heat Resistance Test: Take a small section of hair from an inconspicuous area of the wig and apply a low-heat source, such as a flat iron or curling iron, for a few seconds. If the hair melts or produces an unusual odor, it is likely a synthetic fiber wig. Natural human hair wigs can withstand heat without melting.
d) Burn Test: Take a small strand of hair from the wig and burn it with a lighter or match. Observe the burning process and the resulting ash. Human hair burns slowly, curls up, and turns to ash. Synthetic fibers often melt, shrink, or produce a hard plastic-like residue.At the same time, when burned, human hair will emit a smell similar to burning feathers, while synthetic hair will often emit a pungent burning plastic smell.
Of course, if after a period of use, synthetic fiber hair is more likely to generate static electricity and get knotted, then you should suspect that it is not a human hair wig.
2) How to identify animal hair wigs
The appearance and texture of animal fur depend on different animal species, and their malleability and durability also vary across species.
If animal hair wigs are crafted well, they can almost achieve a lifelike effect. This requires experienced and discerning individuals to judge and differentiate. Through frequent observation and exploration, one can understand the differences between animal fur wigs and human hair, including the texture of the strands, color, shape, and comfort, among other aspects.
Of course, there is also a relatively simple method, which involves repeated washing with hot water. After multiple rounds of washing with high-temperature water, animal hair wigs may gradually reveal their true texture and color, making the distinction from human hair even more apparent.
3) How to identify non-remy hair, remy hair & virgin hair
a) In order to eliminate the cuticle scales, non-remy hair wigs undergo a thorough acid-washing process, resulting in exceptionally fine hair strands that tend to curl. When you run your hand through the wig and notice a lack of elasticity and a thin diameter, it can generally be inferred that it is a processed wig.
b) Upon inspecting this wig, if you find hair follicles at thetips, it can undoubtedly be classified as a non-remy hair wig. Premium braided hair is directly cut from the scalp and does not possess hair follicles.
c) When examining the wig's color, if you observe a significant presence of hair strands with mixed hues, it can reasonably be concluded that it is a non-remy hair wig. The collection process for non-remy wigs can be disorderly, which compromises the wig's color purity.
It is important to note that while these identification methods can provide some insights into the wig material, they are not foolproof. Especially when merchants deliberately mix a small amount of synthetic fiber hair or animal fur into human hair —— this is often worthwhile due to the high price of human hair, which will cause greater difficulties in identification. If you are unsure about the material of a wig, seeking guidance from a professional wig stylist or retailer can be helpful. They have expertise in wig materials and can provide accurate information and guidance based on their experience.
In conclusion, each wig material has its own advantages and disadvantages. Natural human hair wigs offer a high level of authenticity and styling versatility but can be costly and require more maintenance. Synthetic fiber wigs are more affordable, low maintenance, and have style retention but lack the natural appearance and heat-styling capabilities. Animal hair wigs fall between natural human hair wigs and synthetic fiber wigs in terms of cost and versatility. By understanding the characteristics and identification methods, you can make an informed decision when choosing the right wig material for your needs and preferences.