In terms of the materials, hair extensions can be divided into two types: natural hair and synthetic hair. Though it might be easy to tell the main differences between the two, when it comes to distinguishing natural hair from synthetic hair mixed with human hair, many hair sellers fail to do so in reality. As a result, many starters have been cheated to buy mixed hair at the prices of the virgin one. In this article, we are going to give you an insightful overlook of these both so that you won’t be scammed by unethical wholesalers.
1. NATURAL HAIR AND SYNTHETIC HAIR: WHAT ARE THEY?
1.1. Natural hair
Natural hair or often known as human hair is collected from human donors. Unlike the fake sample one, human hair gives the wearer the natural feel and look because of the softness and shine it carries.
Now let’s learn about the structure of a strand of hair. The natural hair shaft is made up of 3 layers: the inner layer is the medulla, the middle layer is the cortex, and the outer layer is the cuticle. The medulla may not be present to naked eyes. The cortex contains pigment cells that are distributed throughout it, giving the hair its characteristic color. The cuticle is formed by tightly packed scales in an overlapping structure similar to roof shingles. The hair cuticle is the first line of defense against all forms of damage; it acts as a protective barrier for the softer inner structures, including the medulla and cortex.
1.1.2. 3 types of natural hair
Based on the structure of the hair, human hair is divided into three kinds: Virgin, Remy, and non-Remy hair.
- Virgin hair is considered the best and rarest raw hair and this kind of human hair is often most asked for. Known as single donor hair, it is the hair cut from one human head and stays chemically unprocessed.
So why people love virgin hair than the others though it’s more expensive? First, unprocessed before, it is very strong and durable. Therefore, hairdressers can use heat and apply dyes to personalize the look of the locks without fearing that the hair will be damaged. Secondly, virgin hair has the cuticle aligned according to the same direction, which holds it harmless from tangling. Thirdly, since collected from one person only, the hair texture is uniform, thereby giving the locks uniform hue when being dyed or bleached. However, virgin hair is not always available in every length and quantity. For those reasons, Remy hair has become more popular.
- Remy hair is collected from more than one donor. It has 70-90% of hair cuticle aligned and no chemical process or heat steam done on. Though not as excellent as virgin hair in terms of durability and smoothness, this kind of natural hair is more common and mostly hair extension in Vietnam is made from it thanks to its availability. Also, its prices are more affordable than that of the virgin one.
- Non-Remy hair is more popular among Chinese and Indians hair sellers. Unlike the others, non-Remy hair is susceptible to tangling and will become fizzy soon because its cuticle isn’t aligned. You can see the picture below to see the difference between Remy and non-Remy hair’s cuticle align. This kind of hair is very cheap but prices are always relevant to the quality. Hair extensions made of non-Remy hair can’t last long and will get tangled no longer after using.
1.2. Synthetic hair
Synthetic hair or artificial hair is composed of fine plastic fibers and looks like natural hair. In its basic form, synthetic hair is made from low-grade acrylic that is heated and strung into strands to make individual hair fibers. In the past, synthetic hair couldn’t be styled with any heat appliances and would melt on contact. However, in recent years, with technological advancement, high-quality synthetic hair extensions are somewhat heat-resistant and can be curled or straightened at low or medium heat.
The ultimate goal of synthetic hair is to resemble natural hair in the look and feel. That’s why nowadays synthetic hair has become harder and harder to distinguish from real human hair at first sight, especially to new hair sellers. In this article, we will also guide readers on the way to pick out each. But before we jump into that part, let’s see the differences between them in the next part.
2. NATURAL HAIR AND SYNTHETIC HAIR: COMPARISON?
- Artificial hair is less durable than human hair. While hair extensions made from high-quality hair can last for 2-5 years if properly cared, ones formed by polymer fiber can last for 3-4 months only. Also, human hair can hold curls better than synthetic ones. So if your customers are those who like following fads, plastic-fiber-hair extensions might be a better choice because natural hair extensions are more expensive.
- Synthetic hair can’t be restyled. If you buy synthetic hair extensions in curly styles, you can’t straighten it by using heat appliances. However, it’s not the case with natural ones. You can absolutely straighten or make it curly/ wavy like your real hair. On the other hand, it’s more difficult to style human hair than it is to fiber pieces.
- Synthetic hairpieces can’t give your customers a natural look and natural feel like human hair does. It has the plastic smell and of course not as soft as the real one. In recent years, with an increase in income, women lean toward authentic human hair products to get the most authentic appearance. For that reason, synthetic hair, though applied advanced techniques, has lost its popularity to natural hair.
- Synthetic hair has less resistance to heat than natural hair. If your synthetic extensions are exposed to an exorbitant amount of heat, the hair will burn or melt. This melting can easily mesh with your natural hair and can do major damage to your hair and scalp.
3. DISTINGUISH NATURAL HAIR FROM SYNTHETIC HAIR
As stated above the technology and techniques to produce synthetic hair have improved by leaps and bounds, making it harder and harder to tell the two apart. To make the problem harder, many unethical hair vendors have mixed human hair with fake human hair and sell them at the prices of human ones. So it’s of importance to differentiate the two when you start your hair business so that you will know for sure what you are selling.
3.1. Test by water
The easiest way to tell whether the hair you buy is natural or synthetic is to dive it into water. Synthetic hair will not remain in the original form while natural hair extension will still retain its current curly or wavy style
3.2. Test by burning
This is the most effective way to test whether human hair is authentic or fake. Human hair burns quickly, smells stink, and balls up into ash, while synthetic hair has a chemical odor and melts into hardball. In addition, the ashes of human hair will be easily crushed by hand and the ash of synthetic hair cannot.