How to Tell If You Are Getting the REAL Deal With Hair Extensions
monique macintosh May 06, 2019

It is always great to find incredible deals when shopping for hair extensions. Whether you are opting for a full weave, exotic braids, luscious extensions, or just a splash of color, there is no shortage of styles, lengths, textures, and colors in today’s hair market. For most of us, budget is a priority, and we always want the best bang for our buck. Maybe you’ve used synthetic hair before with some pretty good results but today, you are looking for REAL Indian or Brazilian hair bundles for that special do. You check the internet and find that the choices are overwhelming. Your bundles arrive and you are suddenly nervous. How do you know if your purchase is real human hair or a synthetic bait and switch?  Let’s rewind for a moment and discuss the differences of real versus synthetic hair, and ways to tell if what you are buying is real hair deal.

The first thing to do is think about the source of your purchase. Local beauty supply stores can be a great place to learn by doing a hands-on comparison. Reputable supply stores will have hair and wig samples displayed so that the customers can examine the quality and texture before making a purchase. The packaging should state that the hair is real. Read carefully and watch out for colorful language like "Remi like" "Human Hair Feel".  

If you are making your purchase online, you are going on the faith that the hair supplier has some principles. So, let’s talk a little about synthetic hair. Look closely at the strands. Do they look and feel artificial? The cheapest versions of synthetic hair are made from plastics derived from low grade acrylics. They look rough and fake, the kind of hair you would wear with your Halloween costume.

Higher grade synthetics are softer and smoother because they go through a more complex processing. Some have been processed to be heat resistant so they may even hold up a little to a flat iron. Also, some of the better-made synthetics have built-in highlights and will feel very soft and smooth, but they will never feel quite like real hair.

Real hair is made up of thousands human cells called cuticles. They are layered like roof shingles and surround strong fibers of protein. Cuticles give hair it’s smoothness. Natural hair color comes from melanin which is the same substance that gives us our skin color. Some of the less expensive brands do not take time to line up the hair so that each strand has its cuticles laying in the same direction. Although these brands are budget worthy, they may be more prone to getting tangled and unruly. Slightly higher end hair has been processed to remove the cuticle. The product will look and feel very smooth and silky but because of the processing, it may appear slightly thinner and break easier.

Remy hair the highest quality authentic human hair. Remy hair has almost all the strands lined up from root to tip in the same direction. This method gives the hair a more natural look, will last longer, and will be tangle free. The cost of Remy hair will also depend on how the hair drawn. Single drawn hair will still have shorter hair pieces incorporated in the bundle while double drawn hair will have strands of mostly all the same length. Double drawn hair gives it superior thickness and will have the most density at the tips

Single Drawn Hair

Real hair also comes with a grading system. Expect to see a grade of 5A-10A depending on factors like the stitching, styling, color ability, bundle weight, Remy versus non-Remy, single or double drawn, single or multiple donors, and percentage of human hair (no synthetics added).

So how do we tell the real from the fake? First, try the heat test. Although some synthetics are heat resistant, they are not fire proof. You need a tiny cluster of strands, a lighter, and some water. USE CAUTION AND EXPERIMENT OVER A SINK FILLED WITH WATER. DO NOT HOLD YOUR HAND ABOVE THE HAIR CLUSTER SINCE FIRE CAN TRAVEL UPWARD QUICKLY. When you apply a flame to synthetic hair, there will be a toxic smell of plastic and the synthetic cluster will melt into small hard clumps.  While you can to burn real hair, instead of melting the fire will just singe it off into a fragile lifeless mess. A less risky method is to try and lighten or lift the hair color. Real hair will change color while synthetic hair will not lift regardless of how long the colorant is left on.

Hair Test

Hair extensions, wigs, and hair pieces are fun and give us plenty of options and versatility when it comes to styling our hair. The type of hair you use is a personal choice, and even on a budget there are many ways to look amazing. Our job as the consumer is to be fully informed. Always do your research by reading, examining product, comparing, understanding return policies, and checking out consumer ratings!