Which is best?
If you have ever shopped for wigs you will have seen that wigs predominantly fall into two main categories –human hair and synthetic. Which is best? Of course the obvious answer is human hair, right? Wrong!
Human Hair isn’t the best?
Not for everyone. Who gets to define what is best for everyone? Only you can decide what is best for you.
Of course human hair is superior in quality to synthetic, but only if it is a good quality human hair to begin with. There are different types of human hair, remy, Brazilian, unprocessed, virgin, Asian, Chinese, Indian, European…the choice is overwhelming.
Synthetic fibre can either be Synthetic or “heat friendly”, sometimes known as HD or heat defiant.
When it comes to deciding which is best for you, it’s important to factor in your lifestyle and look at what you want from a wig. If you are looking into a wig due to chemo related hair loss, hopefully your hair loss will be temporary during your course of treatment and will grow back once chemo stops. In which case, a cheaper, synthetic style may be ok to see you through treatment. Lots of women find it unbearable to wear a wig at all during treatment and therefore you could end up wasting money on a wig if you prefer headscarves. In the UK we are lucky enough to have the NHS and on the NHS you are entitled to support with a wig during chemo or if you suffer with medical related hairloss/alopecia. It may be wise to start with synthetic until you find a style that works for you first, before committing to the cost of a human hair wig.
So which am I wearing?
That said, I have been wearing wigs for 9 years now and my latest styles are all synthetic. I have had human hair and yes, it was lovely, it was nice to run my fingers through and feel how natural it felt, but my did it take some upkeep. I guess after five years of wash and go with synthetics, the novelty of being able to wash, dry and straighten soon wore off.
With human hair, expect it to behave just so. You can wear it in the heat, the sun (expect colour fade), you can dye it, you can trim it, condition it, wash it, dry it, use your straighteners on it. You can also expect it to go slightly frizzy in the humidity if the source hair is prone to it, expect the style to wash out or drop if you don’t use hairspray, expect it to get a kink if you tie it up. Yup, it behaves exactly like human hair because it is human hair!
With synthetic wigs, the colour won’t fade but you can’t dye it. You can however expect a wider range of colours to begin with (chocolate cherry syrup anyone?). You can put it up without kinking it, but friction from your clip or scrunchie may frizz it. You can expect collar rub where it is in contact with the back of your neckclothes and shoulders, it will frizz. You can expect it to hold its style and be pretty much wash and go. No need for styling products, no need for straighteners or hair dryers, unless it is a heat defiant fibre.
The style I am currently wearing, the julianne by Jon Renau is a beachy wave. If I were to get this look on a human hair wig I would have to wash, dry, curl and set it and it would last a day or two – maybe more given that I don’t sleep in my wigs (you should NEVER sleep in your wig, not even if he is Brad Pitt!). That is a lot of hassle for a day of curls. I have gotten used to not having style time in my routine and I’m fine with that.
I recently purchased the HD (Heat Defiant) Drew by Jon Renau. I was looking forward to it so much, thinking it could pass as a straightened version of my Julianne. It looked fantastic, I was really pleased with it, for five days. After five days of wearing it for around 8 hours, it looked a mess in the back. The fibre had frizzed and tangled so dramatically despite regular combing, I sent it back. The company I bought it from were more than happy to refund me, given that after five days it shouldn’t look like that. They suggested a non HD style after that. I personally therefore do not recommend HD styles as they do tend to tangle terribly. Besides if I really wanted to use heat, I’d buy human in the long run.
How long do they last?
Synthetic wigs should last approximately 3-6 months. I can average four but I hope to get longer using two at a time. A human hair piece should last around two years if looked after. It is cheaper in the long run to buy human, but only if you really want to be stuck with the same style for all that time.
What if I am an NHS patient?
If you are an NHS patient in the UK, you will normally only be offered a synthetic or “stock modacrylic” as my trust calls it. I can claim two per year if I choose a cheaper, non monofilament top, or one if I choose a more expensive one. Each NHS trust will set its own limit, or the supplier will. It’s not always cheaper to pay the £70.15 prescription charge. You need to shop around and find the best deal. Remember if you are wearing for a medical reason you do not pay VAT on the wigs, most suppliers should be able to issue you with a form to complete to declare this so they can either refund the VAT or knock it off the price at the time of purchase.
Style, style, style
You also need to factor in the cost of styling products and tools when choosing your wig. Most wigs need washing weekly. Synthetic wigs require a shampoo for synthetic hair and a conditioner. I also recommend a fibre spray to help avoid frizz and tangles, a wide tooth comb or brush should be the only tools needed for everyday maintenance.
Human Hair wigs will need a good quality shampoo, I use argan oil products, argan oil and mythic oil spray. I only use a wide tooth comb and tangle teezer on the hair. A hairdryer, straighteners and any styling products to hold your style.
For both types a wig block, stand or polystyrene head is recommended for styling. I use a polystyrene head and have a clamp.
Whichever type you choose you need to take care of it so be sure to follow the manufacturers recommended care routine.
Do you have a style or hair care tip to share? Comment below.