Human Hair Wig vs. Synthetic: Everything You Need to Know

Human Hair Wig vs. Synthetic: Everything You Need to Know



human hair wig styling

human wigs vs synthetic wigs

Wigs are more common than many people like to think. Whether experiencing hair loss, undergoing chemotherapy, keeping your natural hair protected, or wanting to try a new look, choosing to wear a wig can amplify your unique style and enhance your confidence.

With the global wig market reaching $2.1 billion, this industry is experiencing rapid growth. Due to enhancements in wig technology, there are so many types of wigs to choose from. A particular area of confusion for first-time buyers is human hair wigs vs. synthetic wigs. 

In this guide, you will learn about the differences between synthetic wigs vs. human hair wigs, the quality of each, and how to choose the right wig that meets your needs.

What is the Difference Between Human Hair and Synthetic Hair Wigs?

The ease of instantly changing your style has transformed wigs into an essential staple of the contemporary wardrobe. If you’re searching for the perfect wig for the first time (or the first time in a long time), you may wonder about the differences between wigs available on the market today. 

So, what are wigs made of

Most wigs are commonly made either from state-of-the-art synthetic or natural human hair. With various styles, textures, sizes, and colors, beginning with the material is the easiest starting point.

Synthetic Hair

Synthetic fiber hair wigs have come a long way. Like any good product, well-made synthetic wigs can match the texture and feel of human hair.

What is synthetic hair specifically?

Synthetic wigs are created from human-made hair fibers. Specialized technology preps and manipulates these fibers to give them the authentic, realistic appearance and feel of human hair.

These wigs also contain “style memory retention,” enabling them to be worn straight out of the box. They maintain their style, whatever the weather, with minimal maintenance. Synthetic wigs are an option for those searching for a wig to match a particular style quickly.

Types of Synthetic Hair Wigs

Three major types of synthetic wigs exist on the market include:

  • Toyokalon – These wigs are softer and less prone to tangling than most synthetic wigs. However, convenience is traded for a less natural look. These wigs are most commonly used as temporary wigs rather than for everyday wear.
  • Kanekalon – Kanekalon wigs are more durable and lighter than toyokalon wigs. Wigs made from 100% kanekalon can be styled on very low heat, but you must take extra care to keep the wig from melting. 
  • Monofilament – Monofilament wigs gain their name from the manufacturing techniques used on the wig rather than the material. Any number of plastic or nylon materials may be used for these wigs. Monofilament wigs are the most natural-looking but are also the most expensive. These wigs are practically indistinguishable from natural human hair.

Your choice of wig depends entirely on your needs. Consider whether you want to style your wig and how much maintenance you want to deal with before making your purchase. 

How Long Do Synthetic Wigs Last?

Like any product, a premium synthetic wig will last the longest. However, low-cost synthetic wigs may only last for a few washes before they begin to fall apart.

Synthetic fiber hair wigs have shorter lifespans because they tend to tangle. The extra tangling means the wig’s resilience will gradually erode over time. 

If you’re looking for a wig that will really last, you will want to consider a human hair option. 

Human Hair

In the debate over synthetic hair vs. human hair, the top pick is human hair. If you want a natural look, you likely want to choose a wig that matches your natural hair. 

You may also want to go for an entirely new look. Human hair wigs are more suited for frequent heat styling, giving you the ability to always switch up your look. 

While some people think human hair is not as durable as synthetic hair, that’s far from the case. There are far more styling options, and your wig can last for many years with the proper care and maintenance. 

It’s important to note that human hair wigs must be washed and dried carefully. It’s easy to assume you can wash your wig with the same products and methods you use on your natural hair, but that isn’t the case. Remember that human hair wigs are made with hair that is sometimes dyed and chemically processed, so you must maintain them accordingly. 

You can’t beat the natural look and versatility of a high-quality human hair wig.


Types of Human Hair Wigs

Like synthetic wigs, human hair wigs come in various types. Your choice of wig depends on the style and look you’re going for. It also depends on your coverage needs.

Some of the most common types of human hair wigs include:

  • Lace Wigs – These wigs are one of the most popular among wig wearers and provide full-cap coverage. The hair is attached via a monofilament cloth to allow your scalp to show and solidify the natural look. 

When it comes to lace wigs, you can choose between lace fronts that feature lace in the front section of the wig and full lace that features lace over the entire wig base. You can find human lace wigs in straight, curly, and wavy variations.

    • Skin Top – A skin top wig features a section on the top that resembles a natural scalp found on traditional caps closest to the crown or parting of the wig. Keep in mind that with skin tops, you are unable to change the parting, so make sure the wig features the part you’re looking for! 
  • Topper  – Also known as a partial wig or wiglet, this option only covers part of your hair. One of the great features of toppers is that they provide additional length and volume to your natural hair. These wigs are great for framing the face and showing off some of your natural hair. 
      • ¾ Wig - these wigs are ideal for wearing bands, scarves or styling back with your blended front hairline to create a flawless look.
  • U-Shape – these wigs are U-shaped and include a fine sheer mesh and clips underneath to attach to your natural hair. They are particularly popular for their versatility, given that you can section out and blend it with your own (bio) hair to give it a more natural look. 
  • The construction of human hair wigs is largely consistent. How these wig types are attached differs. In the debate over human hair wigs vs. synthetic wigs, you can find all of the above types in synthetic variations.

    In most cases, the choice boils down to the wearer's personal preference.

    How Long Does Human Hair Last?

    Human hair wigs and toppers, also known as wiglets, are an investment designed to last, especially if you invest in a good quality one from a reputable company.  You can expect your human hair wig to last for up to a year with daily wear. If you only wear your human hair wig occasionally, it should last for up to three years. But, all of this is also dependent on how you take care of your wig or topper, how you store it, and how rough or gentle you are in putting on and taking off your alternative hair.  While more expensive than synthetic hair, these human hair wigs and toppers more than justify your initial investment.


    How to Tell Human Hair from Synthetic

    If you’re investing in a wig, you want to ensure you are purchasing a quality product. If you buy a wig claiming to be 100% natural human hair, you want to know that’s what you have.

    Unless you are a professional, you might not be able to tell human from synthetic by looks alone. However, there are various tests you can perform to increase your chances of distinguishing the two. Nearly all of them require you to have a natural and synthetic wig to compare.


    First, there is a difference in weight. Someone wearing a wig is unlikely to notice the difference, but holding two wigs in your hands will reveal a difference.

    Synthetic fiber hair is far heavier than natural human hair. Hold up both wigs and stretch out your arms. You should find that the synthetic wig is two to three times heavier than the human hair wig.


    One of the downsides of synthetic wigs is their lower lifespan. 

    Synthetic wigs are relatively easy to tangle. High-quality wigs behave like normal hair, but you will still notice the difference. Natural human hair is perfectly aligned with your head, meaning it faces the same direction and is difficult to tangle.

    Human hair wigs can still tangle but detangling them is far easier than synthetic hair, which requires extra attention.

    Aesthetic Differences

    In the past, you could tell the difference between synthetic and real human hair by looking at them. Natural hair strands were always thinner and contained a natural shine that a conventional wig could not replicate.

    Advanced technology has diminished these differences, making it more difficult to tell by looks alone.

    The Burn Test

    There is just one foolproof way of testing for authentic human hair in your wig. Burn a strand of human hair, and it will turn to ashes. It will also develop the smell similar to a  burning feather.

    Synthetic fibers will have a pungent chemical smell when burned. They will also melt into a solid rather than ash.

    Performing this test is simple. There’s no need to burn sections of your new wig. You need no more than a strand and a careful eye. 


    Find Your Perfect Wig 

    The human hair wig vs. synthetic wig debate is about deciding what you value most in your wig. If you’re looking for a top-quality wig that will last for years to come,  consider choosing Milano Collection Wigs.  

    We specialize in producing the finest European human hair wigs to make your dream look a reality. Each wig is personalized and ready to wear upon completion! 

    We provide tips and tricks for choosing your wig, whether you’re going for a long or short style, desire bangs, or want some leave out for more versatility. 

    We know how difficult the wig-buying process is so we’ve even created a quiz to help you determine your ideal wig or topper. 

    Work with a Milano wig expert as part of your free personal consultation. Your ideal wig is only moments away. Schedule your consultation now!