Which to Choose? Human Hair Vs Synthetic Hair

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No matter if you’re wearing hair now or considering it, the “human hair vs synthetic hair” debate will at some point have played out in your head. Even though I’ve been wearing synthetic hair for the past year, I constantly run through the arguments for human hair vs synthetic hair all the time.

Because, you know, the grass is always greener.

So, let’s discuss. Hopefully if the “human hair vs synthetic hair” question has been one of the reasons you’ve been holding yourself back from wearing hair, this will help paint a clearer picture for you.

Human Hair vs Synthetic Hair

Up first, let’s look at synthetic hair, shall we?

Human Hair vs Synthetic Hair: Synthetic Hair Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Synthetic hair is easy to care for: Just wash, dry and shake!
  • It holds its style no matter what the weather
  • You can try a variety of colors and styles without visiting your hairstylist
  • Synthetic hair is relatively inexpensive (anywhere from $100-$250 for a topper, and $150-$400 for a wig)
  • Synthetic hair has been accused of  looking “too perfect” (yes, there is such a thing!)

Cons:

  • Some synthetic hair comes with an unnatural shine
  • You can’t get a silk top with synthetics – your scalp will look less-natural than a human hair piece (in some instances)
  • They don’t last very long: Expect your synthetic wigs and toppers to last 4-6 months, on average
  • Unless you get a heat-defiant version, you can’t straighten or curl them
  • The fiber doesn’t feel like most human hair (although this is only apparent when you have a human hair and a synthetic side-by-side)

Why I Love It: Living in the humid south, it’s capital-A awesome that the style holds even when the weather is terrible. Prior to wearing hair, if there was any humidity in the air I either had to wear my hair in a pony tail or sprint from my car to my cubicle. Now I couldn’t care less what the weather’s like.

Why I Loathe It: The shine on synthetic hair is a big factor for me. There are several methods I use to help lessen the shine (have you read my post on the Ellen Wille Mega Mono wig? She’s a synthetic wig that has close to zero shine out of the box and is amazing), but even after employing all those methods, some shine remains on most of the hair pieces I’ve worn. Boo to that. I know I mentioned that synthetic hair can sometimes look too perfect, and the shine definitely plays into that.

Human Hair vs Synthetic Hair: Human Hair Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Human hair can be colored, permed and styled just like your bio hair
  • It comes in a variety of textures and can exactly match your own hair’s texture
  • There are a many scalp options to get an extremely natural look
  • They last a long time with proper care: Expect your human hair toppers and wigs to last over a year
  • Human hair simply feels superb and looks incredibly natural

Cons:

  • There is more upkeep involved: Expect to have to wash more often, deep-condition and straighten (in some cases) regularly
  • It’s harvested from an actual human head, people! This means it’s going to be more expensive than synthetic hair, so save your pennies for both the piece and the products to care for it (the cost varies immensely by just about every factor out there – expect to pay $300+ for a stock topper and $700+ for a stock wig)
  • If you custom-color it, it’s hard to replicate the exact result if you need to replace it or want a backup
  • It behaves like your own hair – it gets dry and it droops in humidity

Why I Love It: I’ve done some minor experimentation with human hair even though I wear synthetics. Hair loss feels ever-so-slightly less painful when your hair looks and feels like your bio hair should (I won’t even say “used to” since my bio hair was always crappy). The hair moves and shines just like your bio hair would.

Why I Loathe It: If I could duplicate the cost bullet above 16 times, I would. Wearing hair is SUCH trial and error that it physically makes me sick to think about spending big bucks on a piece that might not work out. Yep, you know where I am going with this. I’ve been there, done that (but that’s for another post).

What’s My Pick?

What I’ve figured out through this year of hair-wearing is I want both, dang it all to hell. I’m not big on curls and crazy styling, but there are times where it would just be nice to have a piece that is real hair on my head. The human hair vs synthetic hair debate, for me, is a draw.

The only thing that has held me back from going the human hair route is that buying a piece could be an expensive mistake, but sometimes you just have to take the plunge. So, I’m looking into some human hair options to see if there’s something that will work.

In my ideal world, I’d have both a synthetic hair and a human hair topper (colored to match my syn option) that I could interchange. I’d definitely wear my synthetic hair topper on the weekends to help extend the life of my human hair piece.

So, the search is on.

For those of you currently wearing hair, what’s your take on the whole human hair vs synthetic hair debate? What do you wear?

For others who are deciding where to start, what are you leaning towards?

P.S. Want to see my full collection of toppers and wigs? Check it out (but don’t tell my husband, I don’t think he understand the gravity of the situation. Bless his heart).

31 thoughts on “Which to Choose? Human Hair Vs Synthetic Hair”

  1. It’s nice to know that human hair wigs can be dyed and styled just like the hair on your head. My mom has been losing hair recently and told me that investing in a wig would help to increase her confidence. I will let her know that she can style it however she wants to and see if she might even be interested in a custom made wig so that it suits her well.

  2. “Unless you get a heat-defiant version, you can’t straighten or curl them”

    But you made a video where you specifically straightened a synthetic with heat?

    • Which video is that? If you’re talking about the video I did that shows how to soften and revive synthetic fiber…that’s very low heat coming out of a hot air brush. It won’t work to really “straighten” per se, but it softens the fibers and brings it back to life. You shouldn’t, on the other hand, use heat tools that typically perform best around 350-400 degrees on synthetic hair…it’ll frizz and/or melt.

  3. Hi Lauren! I’ve been following your blog recently because I was experimenting hair loss because of a dramatic weight loss, and all that dieting took some necessary vitamins my hair needed. I can’t explain how scared I was when I was washing my hair and it kept falling in my hands.
    I live in Argentina and wigs are not part of the culture, so I ordered some online. I currently have a few synthetic ponytail extensions and
    4 lacefront wigs, all of them synthetic. Maybe some day I try human hair, but what I like about synthetic hair is that all the crazy colors (black to pink/blue/red/violet ombre) stay the same over time. And yes! You are totally right about the shine but with a little few tricks here and there I managed to fool a few coworkers lol.
    I think the biggest issue I had was forget about what other people would say and feel good about myself, and if I can do that with black and pink hair….. awesome! (thank you for that by the way! )
    I hope you keep writing and giving support always.
    Lots of love from your readers in Argentina ❤

  4. Your site has been an inspiration to me since I found you a couple of months ago. I have battled my hair my entire life. Thin, fine, frizzy, over-processed, etc. Been thinning worse and worse since my hysterectomy almost five years ago. Recently, had a hairdresser fry my hair and I lost about 8 inches from my hair from that experience. I purchased two human hair “toppers”, the easipart by Jon Renau. Love them. Gave me confidence I have not had in years. However, because of the extensive damage on my hair (especially in the front), I have already noticed thinning in the areas I attach the topper in the front. I am terrified I will end up with bald spots. I have worn synthetic extensions pulled into a ponytail for years and have had bald spots in the back of my head from the clips, but those were easy to cover up. Decided this week that I needed to just bite the bullet and purchase a wig. I purchased human hair wig and it cost a fortune. I am taking it in tomorrow to get it thinned out so that it will hopefully look more natural and not so “wiggy”. I ordered the Gwyneth wig by Jon Renau (love their specialty colors). I am nervous about it not working out as I have spent so much money on this issue now. I am hoping it will be the answer for me. I haven’t gone out of the house (or heck, even in my house) without some hair added into my bio hair in so many years. Makes me feel better that I am not alone dealing with this. All of my friends have always had fabulous hair. I never have. Thank you so much for all of the great tips you have here. You always look amazing!

  5. My mother has been undergoing Chemotherapy, and as a consequence has lost most of her hair. We are looking at getting a wig, and as you suggested, I think a natural hair wig would be the best option. I would think that a human hair wig would be the most comfortable for her. As you said, they just look so much more natural. We will be sure to take these tips into account when choosing her wig. Thanks for sharing!

  6. For anyone interested in a human hair topper at a reasonable price with excellent customer service, check out http://www.fortunewigs.com. You can get toppers in many sizes/configurations – with more or less coverage – and choose your length and whether you want it straight or slightly wavy.

    I was completely new to wearing hair, and the first piece I tried – the ” Knot-free Large-Part” – was amazing, and only $200 so it wasn’t a huge investment if things didn’t work out. The hair is from their regular “Mazali” line (vs premium), but the hair is really nice. The front area of the topper has a realistic hairline that can be clipped as far forward or back as you need. And the color I got, 16/10, is a nice light brown/dark blonde with some ash tones (hard to find in HH), which matches my level 7/8 bio hair perfectly (other than the fact that my bio hair has the texture of cotton candy).

    I have since purchased their smaller “Knot-free Middle-Part”, which I call my “gym” version because it has just enough coverage and amount of hair for ponytails and updos (you can also use the Large Part for this if you need more coverage/hair).

    And finally, for times when I really want to look my best, I bought a “Wefted Topper French Top” which is absolutely gorgeous, but generally more coverage and hair than I need for everyday purposes.

    All of these pieces are the same color and texture, so I can change up my style without a noticeable change.. And the cost for all 3 was less than $900… for lovely human hair! I hope this info helps some folks who are wary of trying out a topper, or making a move to HH.

    • Andrea,

      You posted the above almost two years ago and I wondered if you still felt the same way about the toppers you mentioned. I’m new to this quest to find the perfect hair topper and I’m totally overwhelmed by it all. In your post you mentioned your hair color and texture which describe my hair as well. While cost is a factor, if I could find a topper that looked natural and was relatively easy to maintain and was comfortable I’m not sure the cost would be a deal breaker. The biggest thing for me is that no one know I’m wearing one. My hair loss is just really starting to be noticeable, So having more hair may not be the giveaway, it will probably be the smooth hair texture. That is why I feel HH is a better option for me. Anyway, I’d appreciate any advice on these wigs or anything you’ve learned in the last couple of years. Thanks

      • Hi Laura, if you haven’t signed up for it already, I have a free 5-day email series that’s on my homepage that walks through each of the aspects you should look at when it comes to helper hair to make it less overwhelming. And I agree – I don’t want anyone to know, either! Human hair will give you that imperfect look. I hope Andrea replies for ya! 🙂

  7. I’m in the midst of this dilemma and currently considering a Follea. My alopecia is well beyond – for now maybe – a topper so it’s a “thousands $$$” decision. But what I’m wondering is – if I’m potentially going to be wearing a wig permanently, would I prefer the realistic, looks like, feels like, can get near a stove, wear in any active conditions, human hair to the always styled but but scratchy feel of synthetic. Since I’ve not worn the cap of the human version for any length of time, I have no idea what hours in it would be like. Such a tough decision when I kind of like the always looks good synthetics.

    So, for those of you wearing wigs vs. toppers, and permanently vs. to hide some maybe temporary spots, what do you think?

    • Lori, I’m not wearing wigs full time (only toppers) but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when I do move to wigs full time I will have at least two – one synthetic and one human hair. I’ll wear them interchangeably. I’m slowly moving that way with my toppers, for all the reasons you mention!

  8. I live in Florida and have a very serious problem. The Florida heat and sun “fries” my synthetic wigs and the wig looks completely phony, frizzy and dry looking. I choose synthetic wigs because I do not want the work and hassle of styling human hair….also, I cannot afford the cost of human hair. Please don’t mention wearing a hat in the sun as I have gone that route and don’t want to wear a hat whenever I go outdoors….trips to the store, shopping, etc. I’ve even refused to accompany my husband to any outdoor activities or events because of the damage the sun will do to my wigs. Also, why are all mono wigs sold straight and flat…as I have a longer and thinner face and must have some fluff on the top and sides of the wig. Do you know of any mono wigs, medium length, that have some height and fluff…not overly curly, just wavy with a side-swept fringe? I purchased a Raquel Welch wig once and was disappointed in the fact that the wig looked nothing like the pictures. I even bought a curling iron and tried to replicate Raquel’s style. The wig wouldn’t take any style. Waste of almost $400!

    • Not all mono wigs are long and straight – Jon Renau makes several that have some swing/waves. Heidi, Julianne to name a few off the top of my head. And about the Florida sun, hmmmm…I lived in South Florida for many years while wearing hair and never had that problem (actually, living in TX now the heat is more brutal). Are you using a deep conditioning treatment on your synthetics? I just posted about a product I’ve been using which may help, called Silicon Mix Bambu. Also, on your straight styles, a hot air brush might work well, too!

    • I just bought the Julianne version and loved it in the South Carolina heat as it stayed beach waved throughout. Got loads of compliments too :).

  9. I like to try new styles in synthetic first and then if I like them I get a similar human hair topper. I save a ton by buying them on aliexpress.com direct from the wig makers. I have also bought human hair weft and extensions that I sew into hair bands and toppers myself so I can get just the style I want. I buy hair closures ( real hair with a lace front.) then just hand sew it to my head shape by making darts and add wig clips this only costs $134 Canadian! for nice Indian hair with a natural wavy hair line, if you look on u tube you can find tutorials on tweezing the hair line of your closure for an amazingly real looking hair line. This web site has a great refund policy but it can take up to 2 months to get your hair from over seas.

  10. I, too am considering a HH topper. I have a consultation on Mon. to see what might work for me and the cost. I am currently wearing a hideous wig to cover the top of my head-overkill! What I need is a nice topper that will cover the fact that I lost my hairline where my bangs were and thinning crown area. I don’t want lace, but I do think mono top. I need fluff and everything is so flat and straight which has always looked horrific on me. This has been, to say the least- pardon my language-a hell-ish journey that I never signed up for! And everyone is financially profiting off of my misery. Yes, I am resentful! Hopefully a topper will bring peace and comfort my way. Wigs don’t work for me. Sorry for the rant and most of you feel the same-group hug!!!

  11. I have bought 2 human hair toppers. I just recently started wearing them daily. I have to say I feel way better in the topper, but I still feel very self conscious. Eg: I don’t like talking to people while I am sitting and they are standing, as it offers a birds eye view of the top of your head. Socially I feel fine in them, but at the office its a different story. It feel super sensitive. But my bio hair is so bad now that it would be way worse to be without a topper.
    I just ordered a synthetic topper (inspired by Lauren) and I was kind of shocked when I opened the box. It was called Rene of Paris Long Top Piece. It was really awful. Looked nothing like the picture on the website. The part was full of little singed looking hairs that looked like they had been fried and glued on. Thankfully the store will accept exchanges.
    I am reluctant to try another synthetic, maybe unless its the exact one that someone can recommend. You can’t tell anything by the pictures on the web.
    I could post a picture of the terrible hair piece if anyone is interested (before I mail it back)
    good luck out there.
    Wren

    • Oh no, Wren! I had a synthetic mishap once that I posted about…the straight topper I was supposed to receive (Jon Renau) arrived in ringlets. Turned out it was old stock.

  12. I have been reading your blog for quit some time and debating on buying a topper for far too long. Well I took the plunge this weekend and my only regret is I didn’t do it sooner! I decided to go with a human hair topper and I went to a salon that specializes in hair loss and the experience was better than I could have hoped for. I am only 30 and losing my hair has been an awful experience between trying to conceal it, not wanting to sit outside because the sun makes hair loss much more obvious, to avoiding swimming in public its made my life miserable. But I wanted to tell any woman reading these comments to TAKE THE PLUNGE and buy a hair piece it will make you feel so much more confident. I am sure I didn’t go the cheapest route going to a salon but it was worth the trip, they highlighted my hair to match the topper perfectly and being in an environment knowing I wasn’t being judged or having to explain to a hair dresser that I have thin hair blah blah blah made all the difference in the world. Thank you for your blog!!!

  13. Hiya — have you tried human hair? I just got the Jon Renau human hair topper, and luckily I got it from a place that takes returns. It was not great. The color was a bad match even though in his synthetics, the 8 is a perfect match for me. I’m pretty set on HH, I just don’t really know where to look now. Have you research HH toppers and if so, did you find any you liked? Thanks! You’re an inspiration 🙂

  14. Sorry about the link. Looks like it was changed after I shared it. The discount code still works though. 🙂

    Happy Hair Shopping.

  15. Hi…

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now and decided it was time to post a comment.

    First, Thank You for sharing your story. I am so inspired by your courage to share.

    While I don’t have hair loss, I was blessed with parents that both have very little, baby fine, hair. I love my parents, dearly, but I can’t stand my hair. It’s always been one of my biggest confidence killers.

    I’ve purchased several different hair “enhancers” and was never in love with a single one of them. They all just felt fake to me and therefore, while others may not realize it, I ultimately wasn’t comfortable wearing them.

    I recently came across a gal on Youtube talking about her “topper”. She just started a line of toppers and extensions for gals like me with short/fine hair. It’s called Tressmerize. She’s based in upstate NY and she’s adorable. She does tons of various tutorials and shares lots of pics of others using her product.

    I just ordered one and plan to do a review of it after I’ve used it for awhile.

    You can find her on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Here is a referral link if you’re interested.

    Lauren note: Link removed – did not work. It appears this is the site: https://www.tressmerize.com/.

    If you decide to buy a “kit”, you can use my discount code FAWN20 for $20 off.

    Thanks again for sharing your story.

    Jessica

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