Synthetic or Human Hair? What's the Difference?

Posted on January 03 2019

Synthetic or Human Hair?  What's the Difference?

Hair extensions and wigs have always been popular.  In recent years, wearing these hair enhancements have been seen as stylish and trendy way to show off your hair.  No longer is wearing a wig or hair extension seen as a “dirty little secret” that must be kept away from the public. 

Numerous celebrities openly state that they wear hair extensions, giving the average person at home confidence to go out and buy hair extensions as well. 

While this fashion statement continues to grow, one questions plagues many new buyers:  “which is better?  Synthetic or human hair?  Also, what’s the difference?”


Synthetic Hair

To begin with, synthetic hair is made from man-made fibers such as:  acrylic, polyester, kanekalon, and polyvinylchloride (PVC).  Some of these fibers have specific uses of wear. 

  • Polypropylene – Does not hold it’s shape will and heat should not be applied to it. It’s primary use is for braiding.
  • Polyvinylchloride (PVC)/ Toyokalon – Is also used for braiding. It holds it’s shape better than polypropylene.  With this fiber, the hair can be curled or flipped at the ends.  However high temperatures can not be applied to it. 
  • Kanekalon – Can be used for a variety of wear, such as: hair extensions, wigs, and braids. This type of fiber can withstand high temperatures, it can be easily curled without the fiber melting.  This fiber is very similar to human hair. 


Human Hair

Obviously human hair is prized over synthetic because it gives the most natural look and feel.  Unlike synthetic hair, human hair can be curled at high temperatures.  Furthermore, human hair can last for a long time, depending on care and if the hair cuticle remains intact. 

Remy Hair is when hair cuticles are kept running in the same direction during the collection of the hair.   When the cuticles are in the same direction, tangling is greatly reduced and hair looks and feels smoother.

There are four types of human hair commonly used for hair extensions and wigs: Chinese, Indonesian, Indian and European/Caucasian. 

  • Chinese hair’s texture has a tendency to be very straight. Because of it’s straight texture, it can be somewhat resistant to curling and can be harder to style.
  • Indonesian hair is easier to acquire and is more affordable to manufacture. It can often be found in ethnic style hair extensions and wigs.
  • Indian hair has thinner mass and it’s texture is closer to European textured hair.
  • European hair is the most prized. Its fine texture makes it very popular.  Because it has a limited availability, it is more expensive. 


  Pros Cons
Synthetic Hair
  • Most synthetic hair extensions and wigs come ready to wear right out of the box.  The heat resistant varieties make it a nice option for those who want to change their hairstyles and keep them in place for a long time.  Additionally, because it is synthetic, a preset style can be maintained without constantly styling it.  So the hair can be washed without losing the curled preset style.
  • Another key feature of synthetic hair is that they are inexpensive.  Most synthetic extensions and wigs cost between $10 and $75. 
  • And finally, depending on care synthetic hair can last 3-6 months.  Synthetic hair is very low maintenance and the hairstyle will not fall out of place due to too much wind, rain, or humidity. 
    • They can’t be color treated.
    • Because of the man-made fibers, the synthetic hair will normally have an un-natural shine.  Giving it a very fake look.
    • At certain high heat temperatures the hair will melt.
    Human Hair
    • The hair can be dyed.  This is a great feature to have when the hair doesn’t match your color exactly, or you want to add highlights or create an ombre or a balayage effect.
    • The hair can withstand high heat temperatures when using a flat iron, curling iron, or blow dryer.
    • Because the extensions are just like the natural hairs on our heads there is a variety styles that can be attained and the hair will blend seamlessly with your own and still look natural.
    • Based on how often they are worn and care given, human hair can last anywhere from 6 months to 1 year or longer.
    • Because the hair is human, it does not come pre-styled or pre-curled. 
    • Since the hair is human, the color can fade, the hair can be hurt from too much heat styling.
    • Just like your real hair, human hair extensions and wigs can become frizzy, limp, or dry depending on the weather.
    • The upfront cost can be expensive.  However, with proper care the hair can last up to a year.



    In addition to the look, feel, and price of the hair, you can also apply the "Burning Hair" test to see if the hair you have is Human or Synthetic.  

    Step 1:  Get a lighter or match.   

    Step 2:  Take a few strands of the hair from the extension or wig. 

    Step 3:  Light the lighter or match. 

    Step 4: Hold the lit match or lighter to the end of the strands of hair.  Please be careful when doing this.

    If the hair turns to ash, it is real Human hair.  If the hair turns to a sticky ball, it is synthetic. 


    Both types of hair have their pros and cons.  As a buyer you should be aware of these pros and cons. 

    We know that it can be frustrating when trying to decide which type of hair to use.  That’s why Moroccan Indigo uses only premium, 100% Remy, European Human hair.  We strive to make sure all of our hair is from healthy donors.  We want to make sure all of your hair buying experiences at Moroccan Indigo are pleasurable. 

    Please be sure to check out all of our hair. 


    1 comment

    • Cindy Diaku: October 17, 2022

      Thanks for sharing such an informative article. This really helps me out in which quality hair extension should I purchase. No doubt human hair extensions are the best as they have pure human hair which gives natural looks.

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