Fake Hair vs. Virgin Hair - How to Tell the Difference

We spend a lot of money on human hair wigs. Buying hair is like an investment, which is why it is important to understand if you're getting your money's worth.  It is hard knowing if vendors are selling us what they say they are.

At NAIJ Hair, we want to help you  spend money on products you will love using. We offer a variety of virgin hair wigs that give you the most styling options.

human hair wigs black women smiling

Here’s how to tell the difference between synthetic hair vs human hair.

Synthetic Hair vs Human Hair

Virgin hair is chemically unprocessed human hair that naturally grows from someone’s scalp. Each bundle  is different because every person has a unique  composition of hair. It can be steamed processed to get textures such as wavy or curly hair.

The beauty of  human hair wigs is that  they can be styled and dyed to match your specific needs. These wigs are versatile, so you can accomplish anything you want with them.  Synthetic hair is less versatile and chemically processed.

human hair wigs different textures

Performing Tests to Determine Real Hair Wigs

No one wants to be tricked into buying a synthetic wig; so do these tests to help you determine whether it’s synthetic or human hair.

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  1.     Smoke Test

Take a lighter or a match and gently light the ends of the wig. If it's virgin hair, it’ll burn white smoke, and turn into ash. If it burns black smoke, and turns sticky when cool, it’s synthetic hair.

  1.     Burn Test

Cut and burn a strand of hair from the wig. If it isn’t human hair, it should slowly melt into a ball and give off a rubbery scent. It’ll also produce black smoke, proving that it’s synthetic hair. If it easily catches fire,  and immediately curls into a ball, it is human hair.

synthetic hair vs human hair smoke test

Synthetic hair will melt, and human hair will burn.

  1.     Non-Uniformity

Since human hair wigs come from someone’s scalp, the hair should not have a perfect uniform pattern.

There should be some irregular curls, waves, or ringlets from the root to the end of their hair. Their hair can also be different textures, so it is normal to see virgin hair bundles with a non-uniform pattern.

  1.     Check for Leftover Chemicals

Human hair should never be processed with chemicals, including dyes, perming, and relaxers. Keep in mind that heat processing is not the same as chemical processing because it uses water.

Here is a quick test to check if the hair you bought is processed with chemicals.

Wet the hair and apply a neutralizing shampoo in the size of a dime. Then massage the hair with the shampoo. If there are chemicals added, the shampoo foam will turn pink.

Be careful though. If the vendor has taken the time to wash the chemicals out, this won’t happen. Many vendors don’t take the time to wash their bundles, but this test might not always be 100% accurate. 

The sniff test can also help you determine whether your wig is human or synthetic hair. Just smell the hair bundle for chemical odours like relaxers or perms. If you sniff it and feel a burning sensation chemicals have probably been added to your wig.

human hair burn test smell gif

  1.     Texture

A virgin hair bundle will have cuticles present. If they are not there, then the hair has been  infused with chemical processors. This  isn’t always a bad thing. These types of hair can still last a long time, roughly 9 months. 

But you can do a hair cuticle feel test to find out.

Run your fingers up and down the length of the hair. The hair should be smooth when feeling downwards and resistant when feeling the hair in the opposite direction. Synthetic hair will feel smooth when doing the test in either direction. 

So why should you know the difference between synthetic hair vs human hair? 

Well, human hair is soft, more durable, and shinier, so human hair will give you the natural look you deserve.

  1.     Tangling

While it’s normal for human hair wigs to tangle, synthetic wigs tangle excessively. The longer human hair wigs are, the more likely it is to tangle, especially the hair behind your neck.

  1.     Shedding

If your wig has an uncontrolled amount of shedding, it’s probably synthetic. A human hair wig should only have a small amount of shedding, and only when the hair is being brushed. To reduce shedding, comb it with a wide-tooth comb from the ends to the roots, and seal the weft to ensure the hair stays on the human hair wig.

  1.     Waving after Washing

Real hair wigs will always curl when wet because it goes back to its natural state. It should always  have a bounce to it, your wig  should never be stiff.

  1.     Price

Virgin human hair wigs can be priced as high as $500. This is why you should know the difference between synthetic hair and  human hair so you can get your money’s worth. .

If the hair is sold for cheap or sold with special offers, this can indicate that it is actually synthetic hair.

This doesn’t mean that you should be buying overpriced hair, but try to find the average cost of the hair you are looking for.

The Importance of Brand Research

Researching brands and their background can help you  decide if a vendor is right for you.

Product transparency is something all vendors should hold as a priority. If you aren’t completely comfortable with a certain vendor, it may be time to find someone more reputable.

A vendor should have a clear understanding of their audience,, and should always provide information that is easy for them to follow..

When researching, look for photos of  the actual product. This ensures that the vendor is showing you the real products they sell, and not using a picture they got off of Google.

At NAIJ Hair, we want to give you the best experience. It’s important for us to give you options while staying completely transparent about what we offer.

We want to empower black women by giving them the knowledge they need to make amazing hair choices.

So now you are an expert on synthetic hair vs human hair.

Let us know how helpful you found this post. Leave a comment below, we love hearing from you.

If you use NAIJ Hair products, don’t forget to post a picture and tag us @naijhair and use the hashtag #NAIJHAIR! 


1 comment


  • Dee Dee

    Will a strand of synthetic hair feel like it has a bump or knot in it a little past “root end” compared to my hair feeling smooth all the way down past the root?


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