Friday, April 12, 2013

What Is Synthetic Hair And Is It Good For Hair Extensions?

by Melissa L. White
Licensed Hair Stylist
Certified Hair Extension Artist
This is one of the top questions I hear from women who are not very experienced with hair extensions, or perhaps are considering them for the first time. Usually it comes in the form of, "Why can't I just go down to my local beauty store and buy a pack of hair extensions?" or, "What's wrong with the hair extensions I can get from Sally's for twenty bucks?"

Mannequin with
Synthetic Hairpiece
 Synthetic hair is made of a wide array of different synthetic fibers. Synthetic hair does not last as long as human hair because it quickly gets damaged by friction and heat. Heating appliances such as curling irons and straightening combs, crimpers or drying brushes generally should never be used on most types of synthetic hair.

The quality of hair varies greatly. Depending on quality, it may never look like human hair, as it can be stiff and move differently than human hair. (Think department store mannequins!)

Synthetic hair is much less expensive than human hair, but it does need to be replaced more frequently, making the overall cost sometimes very expensive. Synthetic hair is most commonly sold in wigs, falls, weaves, clip in hair extensions, and sometimes for lesser quality bonded hair extensions.

The pros and cons of synthetic hair versus 100% natural human hair is sometimes hotly contested. However, most women who are experienced with wearing hair extensions do prefer human hair and feel it is well worth the additional cost. Here's some specifics:

Synthetic vs Human
100% Natural Human Hair Extensions
Synthetic Hair
Hair Extensions
How long can the hair in extensions last?
Quality human hair extensions can last up to six months or more. If well cared for, high quality extensions can sometimes last even longer with proper maintenance, visits to your stylist and “move-ups” as your natural hair grows out.
Usually an average of 1 month for base quality synthetic hair. High quality synthetics, special shampoos and avoiding heat can sometimes extend them to 3 months before they begin to look “ratty”.
Can I use curling iron or hot rollers?
Yes. 100% Human Hair Extensions are heat-friendly and can be styled using heating tools, just like your own hair!
No. Most Synthetic hair will melt when exposed to any type of styling heat. There are some that advertise they can withstand heat, but usually only low, minimal heat at best.
How easy are they to maintain?
Yes. 100% Human Hair Extensions require very simple daily care. Although they’re fun to style, it is not necessary to be a slave to them. Proper care eliminates most all problems.
Yes and No. Synthetic hair is often used for clip-in extensions, which most women tire of quickly due to the daily time they require. They also require special shampoo and tend to accumulate buildup.
Are they easy to style?
Yes. Human Hair Extensions are natural hair, so anything you do to your own hair can be done to them. You can easily wear a wide variety of styles and have great fun doing it!
Synthetic hair extensions are pre-styled which can really limit your styling options. Since heat cannot be used, curling is limited and, braiding can leave permanent kinks in the hair.
Can I color the hair?
Yes. Human Hair Extensions can be color treated, but as with any natural hair, coloring can damage the hair. Remember, a good stylist will pick a shade that blends or compliments your hair, so coloring is usually not necessary unless you’re looking to change your entire look.
Synthetic Extensions CANNOT be colored or treated in any way, as it WILL damage the hair.
Do the extensions look and feel natural?
Yes. 100% Human Hair Extensions look the most natural. A good stylist will know how to blend them with your own hair so that they look like your own natural hair.
No. Synthetic Extensions, and many of the methods used to attach them, tend to create bulk. Your own hair can look like a “shelf” because they do not blend well with your own hair.
How much do they cost?
Prices vary around the country. Although human hair extensions are more expensive up-front, they last longer and require less work.
Synthetic hair extensions are relatively inexpensive but do not hold up long. Over time, they can become more costly because you must replace them more frequently.
I've never worn any type of hairpiece.
Which is better?
Hair extensions work extremely well for everyday wear as well as special occasions. They are extremely versatile because of their natural look and styling options.
Synthetic hair extensions are a good option if you’re only wearing them for special occasions or very occasional use. The require time to put in and remove with every use.
Will anyone else notice the difference?
There is a reason you see celebrities wearing human hair extensions! Many people wouldn’t know they had them unless they were told.
Most people can pick out hair extensions when they’re synthetic…they tend to look “fake”.

So, now that we've looked at the pros and cons of synthetic hair for use in hair extensions I know you're curious to know what exactly IS synthetic hair made of?

Here are the basic materials in synthetic hair:

  • Polyester     
  • Toyokalon         
  • Kanekalon         
  • Monofilament 
  • Silk
  • Silicone    

I'd encourage anyone considering hair extensions to consult with an expert. See a hair extension stylist who has at least several years of experience in a variety of different extension types so that you're not getting steered into the single brand that their salon happens to carry. Your stylist should be able to make recommendations based on your hair type, length of hair, hair color, and type of bond which will give you the best possible look.

Your stylist should also take into account your wishes. What type of lifestyle do you have? How much time are you wanting to put into maintaining your hair extensions? What length hair do you want? How thick? Do you have coloring needs? What style hair do you wear most frequently and what styles are you wanting to wear because you are getting hair extensions? And much more.

A lot goes into a good hair extension consultation to ensure that you'll be happy with your investment of time and money. A professional stylist wants you to look your best. A dedicated and conscientious stylist also wants you to love your hair extensions.

Melissa White is an experienced, licensed hair extension artist and stylist whose passion is to bring out the natural beauty in everyone by enhancing their own individual features with the use of exquisite hair extensions. Melissa has over 10 years of extensive training with the industries top hair extension companies in the newest techniques. Melissa is also a certified Brazilian Blowout stylist. Originally from Boston, Melissa has been in San Antonio for the past 8 years. She believes that everyone should be able to access and afford the hair of their dreams . . . thus the creation of Extensions of Yourself, San Antonio's first salon which specializes exclusively in quality hair extensions.