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Although I have a fabulous curly natural coif, I love to experiment with weaves, wigs and extensions. Until recently, however, my weave world was limited to human hair.

All that changed last Saturday. As I was thumbing through magazines looking for inspiration, I stumbled upon a picture of a lush curly hairstyle that was created using synthetic hair. My immediate reaction was shock because it seems like now-a-days everyone uses Remy hair and 100% human hair imported from India, Malaysia and Italy.

Needless to say, my curiosity was piqued so I sent a text to one of my weave-connoisseur friends posing the question: “How do you feel about using synthetic hair?”

“Ew! Don’t use that,” she responded. “I have used synthetic hair in the past, but I prefer human hair because it looks and feels more natural.”

While that opinion is shared by many, I believe a large part of the hair experience is how you take care of your weave and wigs, not necessarily whether they are made of synthetic or human hair.

Team Human Hair

Celebrity hairstylist Amoy Pitters shared similar sentiments with my friend on synthetic hair being an “absolute no-no,” and she says she only uses imported human hair on her clients.

Imported human hair can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars and with proper care (cleansing, wearing heat protectant when using heat and nurturing the hair like it’s your own), this hair could last for up to a year. But for some of the more frugal beauties, human hair from a local beauty supply store is the next-best-thing.

There are many shoppers who stray from using synthetic hair because they want the luxury of hair that looks and feels more natural to them. However, anti-synthetic hair weave wearers should know there are loopholes in how human hair labeled.

“People get confused and think that as long as a brand of hair has some type of human hair in it, they can say on the package 100% human hair,” Amoy says. “You should do your research because they could mix that hair with a synthetic blend.” This was especially fascinating to me because some of my friends who swear off synthetic hair, wear it without even knowing it.

Team Synthetic Hair

Celebrity hairstylist Ursula Stephen said she uses human hair on her clients but has no problem using synthetic hair from time to time, especially curly textures.

“The best curly hair comes in synthetic form,” says Ursula. “Wearing a synthetic wig is a good investment in between weaves because it helps cut the cost of you spending so much money on your hair.”

There are styling limitations to using synthetic hair so it’s important to be conscious of the amount of heat that’s applied. You also can’t brush it too much. “Heated rollers are great for styling and you should wash the hair in warm water and let it air dry,” Ursula says.

I’m open to using either hair texture depending on the style that I want and the amount of care that I’m willing to dedicate to maintenance. I know that my synthetic hair needs a little oil sheen and good paddle brush to help me tame curls and I know that for bouncy human hair I should stray from heavy oils and let it flow. In my opinion, all is fair in wigs and weave.

What’s your take on the human hair vs. synthetic hair debate? Do you prefer one over the other?

-Margaret Francois

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  • Leanee

    I don’t wear weave anymore, but when I did, synthetic was it for me. I have worn human hair, but the idea of plopping some other chicks hair on my head grossed me out. With the synthetic hair, I’d only wear it for 2 weeks at most and then toss it. As far as blending issues, if I were to get a weave, the blending wouldn’t be an issue because I would never have worn a straight weave. The texture would have to be frizzy/coily to match my texture.