Wig Shopping 101: Choosing the Hair Type: Human Hair (Remy v Non-Remy) or Synthetic (Regular v Heat Friendly)

Posted by Cheryl 04/27/2016 8 Comment(s)


When I bought my first wig, there was never a question of whether I wanted synthetic hair or human hair. The wig store I bought it from only sold synthetic, and I fell in love with the wig I picked out. But, I can only imagine my confusion if there were human hair options at that wig store too!  Much like we are faced with when we're shopping for wigs online, there would be so many choices! How would I know which type of wig was right for me? And is more expensive really better?

This blog post will help you decide which type of hair fiber is right for you. And .... surprise!  I'm NOT going to automatically push remy human hair wigs on you like many other sites. My goal is to fit you with the perfect alternative hair for you, your lifestyle and your budget. I want you to love what you get, and come back to us next time.


The very first thing you'll probably notice (if you're anything like me) when looking at human hair vs synthetic is the cost of the human hair wigs. You'll also notice that some human hair wigs are "remy human hair" and others don't have that magic word "remy", and some will flat out say "non-remy".  So, first let's tackle what this "remy" is they speak of. If you look at the drawing below, those images represent extreme close-ups of single hair strands. The tulip-shaped breaks you see all along the strand represents the cuticles of the hair strand. Human hair consists of many cuticles along each strand (much like the scales of a fish only much much smaller) that always run in the same direction on the hair. When collecting human hair for wig making, remy hair is collected carefully and tied so that the cuticle always runs in the same direction.



Imagine a hair salon owner wants to sell their hair clippings to a wig manufacturer. They collect everything off the floor, and send it in. When the wig manufacturer gets the hairs, they separate the straight from the curly, then dye all the similar hairs the same color, sew them to the wig, cut and style.  Now they have a human hair wig. Can you guess if that wig is remy or non-remy?  If you said non-remy, then ding ding ding... you are right!  There's no way of knowing what direction the shaft is running on all those hairs they sewed in, plus they could have come from any number of sources. If you unsuspectingly bought that wig, what would you find when you tried to wear it?  If you said a tangled mess, or hair that flies away in all different directions, or any combination of that (along with maybe a few choice words) you'd be right! The hairs in that wig will never behave. You'll be fighting with it constantly, and it will always tangle.  You'll be very disappointed. You may get this type of wig from the cheapest wig sources online. But no reputable wig manufacturer (and certainly none we sell at Pinkee Promise) would make this type of wig.


Instead, the wig manufacturers we partner with will first process non-remy hairs to remove most of the cuticle so that the hair will lay straight and not tangle. If you can imagine that picture above on the right, and what it would take to chemically remove the cuticle, you can see that you're going to lose approximately 1/10th to 1/5th of the thickness of the hair. Will that be noticeable? If looking at wigs side by side, probably. But will it matter that much? Probably not. If you want the very thickest, most luxurious human hair wig, and you have the budget for it, then that's when you should only be looking at remy.  But, if you want a beautiful human hair wig that is much less expensive than remy, and only slightly less full, then non-remy human hair fits the bill for you. On our site, any human hair wig that does not say remy is non-remy. Aside from the slight difference in denier, you can expect our remy and non-remy wigs to behave very much the same.  Some wig sites will tell you that remy hair is hair that has never been chemically treated - never colored, nor permed. That's an incorrect definition of remy hair. Fact is, no one can follow someone around from the time they're a small child to grown adult and donating or selling their hair to know if it's ever been processed. That definition probably started from someone misunderstanding the term "chemically processed" when told by the manufacturer that their remy hair wigs were never chemically processed to remove the cuticle; instead hearing "never chemically processed" and thought it meant that the hair had never been bleached, colored or permed. This information is passed on, and passed on to others. And there are now a tremendous number of people out there with the wrong definition of what remy hair is. There are also less reputable wig sites that will deliberately misrepresent their wigs in order to get a sale. I hope by now you know not to shop at those stores or websites. You may get a horrible quality wig with unmanageable tangly hair that you will never enjoy, and chances are, your sale will be final.


The next trait you may read about when deciding on a human hair wig is the origin of the hair.  The most common are Indian, Chinese and European hair, and each of these origins has different characteristics. There are differences in the denier (thickness) and texture depending on the hair's origin. As you can see below, Chinese hair is the thickest and the straightest hair in the world. Indian hair has more texture, and is slightly thnner. European hair is the very finest hair, and because it's so fine, you will get hair that lies very smooth. Since a European human hair wig consists of much finer hair than the Chinese human hair wig, to make the wig look fuller, many more hairs will be needed. Therefore, the price will be higher.  Most of the human hair wigs on our site are a 50/50 combination of Chinese and Indian human hair. If a wig is made of European human hair, that will always be mentioned in the description of the wig. If origin isn't mentioned on our listing for a human hair wig, then expect the 50/50 blend which offers both the gorgeous thickness of Chinese, with the texture and movement of Indian hair.





Can a European hair wig be remy at the same time? Can a Chinese hair wig be remy? Absolutely!  We've just learned that "remy" hairs have been carefully gathered and tied to be certain all the hairs run in the same direction with the cuticles intact, so a remy human hair wig can be of any origin!


Now, just to set your expectations right... if you buy the Blake by Jon Renau, which is a remy human hair wig, and then buy another the following year, can you expect the exact same wig? The answer.... is no, you will not get exactly the same wig. Human hair is not created. The actual hairs are worn for years by different people before they're cut and made into a wig. It would therefore be impossible to create an exact replica. But, quality control standards will ensure the wig is as similar as possible, with the same country of origin of hair, and it will always be remy, and it will be the color you're ordering -- but that color may be slightly different...just slightly ... because the different human hair may absorb the hair dye differently.  But, it will be close. It may feel a little different, and look a little different. No two human hair wigs will ever be exact replicas. Just remember that and have the correct expectation going in.


One other benefit to human hair wigs, is that human hair breathes much better, and doesn't trap heat as much as synthetic hair. You'll find out why soon in the synthetic hair section of this blog. So if you are looking for a wig to wear in the summer months, or you live in an area that is especially hot or humid, or you find that synthetic wigs have been too hot for you, you should consider human hair.


By now, you may be saying to yourself "I can't imagine anyone wanting synthetic".  Or, "I guess synthetic is only for people who don't want to spend a lot on a wig".  Not true!  Human hair wigs require time to style them, and an owner that will really treat them well. You don't just throw a human hair wig on and go. You can expect to spend about 20-30 minutes each day working on your hair... and you'll want to wash and blow dry that wig every 6-8 wears. You'll blow dry in small strands, with proper styling products (which I'll cover in another blog) and the drying process can take about 40 minutes each washing. And that doesn't even include styling, if you want additional curls. If you're the type who enjoys styling hair and doesn't mind the time to invest, then this is a great match for you! But, if you're a very busy person, and you can't take that kind of time every day with your hair, then human hair will not be the best choice for you, and you should consider synthetic.


There are two types of synthetic hair:  One I'll call "regular" (for lack of a better word) and the other "heat friendly".  Wig manufacturers have their own names for their synthetic hair lines.  Raquel Welch uses "Vibralite" for their regular synthetic fibers, and "Tru2Life" for their heat friendly.  Jon Renau uses "Kanekalon" for regular synthetic hair, and "HD" or "Heat Defiant" for their heat friendly wigs. Whatever the name for it, you do need to know what you're buying BEFORE you dare think of putting a curling rod to it!  I'm going to share a little secret with you!  As real as the synthetic hairs look and feel (and they do look and feel so real that if I find one on my work area, I can't tell if it's a human hair or a synthetic hair, even when looking at it way up close), they're actually made from a type of plastic.  And what happens when you apply heat to plastic? That's right... it melts, and it bonds together. There is no quicker way to ruin a wig, and make a wig owner feel sick to her stomach, than to apply heat to a regular synthetic wig. So... don't do it! Don't ever do it!  However, many of the wig manufacturers have created their own synthetic fibers that CAN withstand heat. They can be straightened or curled using curling rods or straightening rods up to 350 degrees (with 280 as the happy heat temp).  We'll get into styling heat friendly wigs in another blog. But for now, I want you to understand this one very important thing:  regular synthetic wigs are styled, and will stay that way. You can't change it, and you should NOT attempt to. They will maintain their style when washed, springing right back when dry.  Heat friendly wigs arrive styled, and you can wear them that way forever and never change them. But, if you wanted to change the wig, you can! You can straighten or curl, and then you can change it up again. Once you have styled the wig the way you want it... like magic, the style will stay! Even after shampooing! The only way the style can be changed again is with heat being applied again. So if you get a heat friendly wig, and you play with it and get the hair exactly the way you want, with the right curls here and there... unless you change it again, that is the new style, and it will remain wash after wash. Pretty exciting, huh?


So you may be saying to yourself, well if there's no downside to the heat friendly wigs, why wouldn't I just get one of them so I can decide if I want to change it up later? Well, sadly there IS a downside, and it's something wig stores won't always tell you, but all wig wearers of heat friendly wigs know:  heat friendly wigs tend to frizz more on the ends and where there is tension (like where the hair is rubbing against your neck or along your shoulders) than regular synthetic wigs.  Frizzing will also happen with regular synthetic wigs, but NOT AS MUCH as on heat friendly synthetic. There are methods and products for maintaining heat friendly wigs and reducing frizz, and we'll get to them in another blog. But, you do need to know when you're shopping that there will be increased maintenance time for a heat-friendly wig, and the more you style the wig, the shorter the life span of the wig.


Since I like little graphy tools, I'll put it like this:




Okay, that last bit is an exaggeration, but you do need to be prepared to spend a lot of time with your human hair wig if that's what you decide to purchase! If you don't want to spend time styling and maintaining your hair (or you just can't) then synthetic is the right type of wig for you.


There's one last thing you should know when you're shopping for a wig:  How long will the wig last? This is a consideration, because it may affect your budget. You might be surprised to learn that if you properly care for your human hair wig, you should be able to wear that wig every day for about a year -- maybe even longer. The first thing you'll probably notice when the wig starts showing its age is that the lace front will start to lose its shape. A synthetic wig will last about 6 months, and heat-friendly synthetic about 3 months. Both types of synthetic wigs will show their age first with frizzing, and secondly with the lace front losing its shape.  If you don't take care of your wig, it will not last nearly as long as these guidelines.


I hope this helped you choose which type of hair or synthetic fiber is right for you when you're shopping for a wig. If you have any questions, leave a comment below, or write us at [email protected]

8 Comment(s)

Victoria Brown:
06/22/2016, 06:17:45 AM

Thanks for the informative post Cheryl, i think human hair is far more comfortable than synthetic hair, :)

08/15/2016, 04:58:18 PM

Thanks for the comment, Victoria! I have a few human hair wigs that I will wear if I'm going to be outside, especially on hot days! If I just need to run out quick, I love to throw on a Synthetic wig. The most important thing is to know what the pros and cons are for both hair types so we can know which is the best lifestyle match for the client. :)

Anne Geiger:
10/18/2016, 05:23:40 AM

Hi there, human hair wigs much better than the synthetic hair wigs. I have read somewhere that we have to take special care of synthetic hair wigs whereas the human hair wig is a type of a natural. The life span of human hair wigs is more as compared to the synthetic hair wigs.

01/03/2017, 03:57:08 PM

Hi Anne,You do need to "take special care" of both synthetic AND human hair wigs. They both require different types of care. But, in actuality, synthetic wigs require less care than human hair wigs. But, you are correct that (if taken care of properly) human hair wigs do last longer. Synthetic wigs will frizz with time, and therefore will need to be replaced. The lifetime of a synthetic wig is approximately 6-9 months (if wearing daily). Human hair wigs can last years!(I did remove the link in your original post because you were advertising a website that I am unfamiliar with, and to be honest, I think maybe that was the intention of your post -- to simply advertise your website. Remy Hair wigs should never be as cheap as the ones on the website you advertised here, and this is exactly what I was warning my customers about when I wrote that they should be very careful about buying non-brand wigs from internet sites that do not have a stellar reputation).

03/07/2017, 10:05:53 PM

I learned a lot. Thinking about a topper. My hair is thinning and my ass is not. I need to switch that somehow. I'd also like to give a shout out to my man Pud. Seriously, I am looking around and I hear great things about your customer service.

03/12/2017, 02:43:54 PM

Hi Abbe,Thanks for your comment. We do have great customer service! We treat our clients the way we'd like to be treated because we were hair loss clients ourselves. If you need help picking out a topper that's right for you, write us at [email protected].

Coby Brian:
09/12/2023, 09:49:09 PM, www.emulatorpc.com/state-of-survival

This blog post offers a refreshing perspective on wig shopping, emphasizing the importance of choice based on individual preferences, lifestyle, and budget rather than automatically promoting one type of wig. It aims to empower readers to make informed decisions, ensuring they find the perfect alternative hair that suits their unique needs and style.

faith e bader:
09/17/2022, 02:54:08 PM

What an informative blog! I learned so much from this! Thank you?

Spinner Man:
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shawn berkman:
06/08/2023, 09:15:21 AM, treesurgeonburystedmunds.co.uk

I'm so happy that I rediscovered you.

Pearl's Peril - Download Now:

This informative blog post offers valuable guidance on choosing the right hair type for wigs, addressing the common dilemma between synthetic and human hair options. It emphasizes the importance of considering individual preferences, lifestyle, and budget when making this decision, without automatically favoring one type over the other. It promotes an inclusive approach to wig shopping, ensuring customers find the perfect match.

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