Human Hair vs Synthetic Hair

Human Hair vs Synthetic Hair: What is the Difference?

The difference between human and synthetic hair can be easily detected via burning. Human hair has natural protein, so when it burns, it smells foul, becomes ashy and shows white smoke. In contrast, synthetic hair will become a sticky ball after burning and will show black smoke.

The fibre is what makes the difference between human and synthetic hair. Synthetic hair is better at holding its style. However, human hair is natural, feels real, and has to be restyled after washing like the natural hair on your head.

Most human hair comes from live human donors, collected mainly in India (Southern India), Malaysia, Cambodia, and China. Some human hair also come from Eastern European countries such as Russia, Romania, or Ukraine. At the top of the human hair market are “Raw” hair, “Virgin” hair, and “Remy” hair.

Human Hair

Synthetic Hair

  • Blends well with natural hair
  • Inexpensive and readily available
  • Can be bleached, coloured, textured and style
  • Can be worn right out of the box with little styling
  • Can handle heated styling very well
  • Hold up in all climates with no frizzing
  • Soft, silky and less prone to tangling
  • Little to no maintenance

What is Raw & Virgin Hair?

Raw hair has not gone through any form of processing or has not been chemically altered. This hair is in its natural state. It behaves just like human hair that is growing out of your head. Raw hair can be coloured to a #613 Blonde or #60 Platinum Blonde.

Virgin hair on the hand has been steamed processed to give it texture, including aligning the cuticles. Virgin hair will usually colour up to a #27 - Honey Blonde.

What is Remy Hair

Remy hair means that the cuticle (outermost layer) is kept intact – not stripped. All the cuticles are in the same direction, reducing tangling and matting that can occur with hair extensions. This process ensures that the hair will remain smooth, shiny, and relatively tangle-free throughout its lifetime. Remy is most desirable as it is made of the same material as natural hair - keratin.

What is Synthetic Hair?

Synthetic hair extensions contain no human hair as they are made from a variety of artificial materials. They can be made from acrylic, nylon, or polyesters, which are heated and sent through tiny microtubes to mimic the look and feel of hair strands. As synthetic hair is made from artificial material, it may never really look like human hair. Synthetic hair can be stiff or move differently, have an unnatural shine, and be more identifiable as hair extensions.

How Can I tell if I am Purchasing or Purchased Synthetic Hair?

Some vendors may describe synthetic hair as the following:

  • NextGen faux fibre
  • Vegan synthetic fibre from Japan
  • 100% high heat synthetic fibres

These names are some of the fancy ways to avoid saying “fake fibres” or “fake hair.” Some hair vendors may also refer to their synthetic hair extensions as heat resistant. However, unless extremely low heat is used on synthetic hair extensions, they cannot be heat styled as they will melt or damage very quickly. You may also do the burn test that was referenced above.

Synthetic hair usually lasts an average of 1–3 months, while the average lifespan of human hair extensions can be up to a year or longer, depending on how they are used and cared for.

Can I dye synthetic hair extensions?

Synthetic hair extensions are made with plastics, nylons, polyesters or other fake fibres, and they cannot be chemically treated - dyed. If you try to apply dye or ammonia to this type of hair, they will most likely fall apart in your hands.

On the other hand, human hair extensions can be dyed to suit any changes to your natural hair colour. They can also be dyed up to a #27 – Honey Blonde, #60 Platinum Blonde, #613 Russian Blonde, and more!

Can I wash synthetic hair?

We would say no as if you do; it may become tangled, matted – ruined.

Have any more questions about the differences between human hair and synthetic extensions? Reach out to us at, and we'll be happy to help.


  • Sandra Thompson

    It’s great getting an understanding of the different types of hair and this makes a lot of sense. Very informative and useful information. Thank you.

  • Sandra Thompson

    It’s great getting an understanding of the different types of hair and this makes a lot of sense. Very informative and useful information. Thank you.

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