Synthetic Hair: A Comprehensive Overview


Education Guide For Synthetic Hair.

Table of Contents

When it comes to synthetic hair, you have so many different options to choose from.  After you read this article, you’ll be able to converse with any Certified Hair Extension Specialist in the world.

Let’s get started.

What Is Synthetic Hair?

Basically, it is fake hair manufactured from man-made fibers that are formed from polymers.  By creating synthetic hair in this fashion, it allows the finished product to be very similar in regards to the look and feel of natural hair; especially with hair made from kanekalon fibers.

Synthetic vs Natural Human Hair Extensions

From a birds-eye view, the obvious difference between these two is pretty straightforward; one is synthetic (not natural) and the other 100% natural.

Now, let’s talk about the less obvious similarities and differences.

Natural hair is made up of keratin, which is actually a natural polymer.  If you remember from our definition above, synthetic hair is ALSO made from polymers. This shared commonality is what allows fake hair extensions to look and feel so real.

You may be wondering one of the two following questions… but if you’re like me, I wondered both…

  • “What the heck is a polymer?”
  • “What’s the difference between synthetic and natural hair if they are both made from polymers?”

I’m going to answer both of these in this next paragraph…

According to,

a polymer is a naturally occurring or synthetic compound consisting of large molecules made up of a linked series of repeated simple monomers.

Wait… what?

Let’s break it down in much simpler terms:

  • “poly” means “many”
  • “mer” means “parts”

Thus, a polymer is “many parts” and the “parts” in reference, are monomers (small molecules).  Basically, a polymer is made up of chains of specific molecules.  Based on the specific arrangement of the chains on monomers, this will form uniquely different polymers.

So, to answer the second question, the difference between natural and synthetic hair is strictly based on the polymer used to create it.

Natural hair is made from a polymer known as keratin, while synthetic hair is not made from keratin.

Check out this picture for a closer look at hair follicles, cuticles,

Common Polymers Used For Hair Fibers

Since we now know that synthetic hair is made from polymers, the question we must now confront is, “what specific polymers are used to create synthetic hair?

Here is a list of different man-made, polymer-derived, types of hair:

  • Polyester, created from coal and petroleum. The acid and alcohol collide in a chemical reaction to create a durable and popular fiber. The durability of the fabric makes it perfect for cushioning and insulating items such as bedsheets and pillows.
  • Rayon, a semi-synthetic fiber made from reconstituted wood pulp with a similar comfort level to natural fibers while also having nylon properties.
  • Spandex, characterized by its extreme elasticity and form-fitting comfort; adored for its stretch and overall practicality, especially in the fabric used for workout clothes and loungewear.
  • Acrylic fiber, formed from polyacrylonitrile, are usually made from mixing vinyl acetate or methyl acrylate.
  • Microfiber, an extremely fine fiber that measures less than ten micrometers, which is about a fifth the size of human hair.

More Options Equal Happier Customers

The hair industry is innovative, there is no doubt about that.  Back in the horse and buggy days (not literally), there were only a few options to choose from; single-colored synthetic hair wigs and hair weaves.

Can you imagine going to your stylist and only having those two options? Or how about:

  • no crochet hair
  • no pre-looped extensions
  • no kanekalon hair (click the link to learn more)
  • no human Remy hair
  • no protective hairstyles

What a nightmare…


Must give gratitude where it’s due.

Read a brief description and view a picture gallery for added transparency.

Synthetic Braids

Synthetic Braiding Hair Extensions

  • Jumbo braiding hair
  • ombre braiding hair
  • crochet braiding hair
  • pre-stretched braiding hair
  • Marley hair (afro styled hair)

Synthetic Faux Locs (Synthetic Dreads)

Most fibers used to create dreads, AKA, dreadlocks, AKA dread locs, and textiles are either synthetic or natural. Natural fibers are ones that usually are produced by plants, animals, and geological processes. Synthetic fibers are artificially created. There are many pros and cons to using both of these materials. The biggest issue with natural fibers is the rarity and time it takes to produce. Synthetic fibers can be made quickly and crafted to many specifications to meet the high demand. This has more positive environmental impacts than the regular collection of natural fibers.  Common types:

Synthetic Twists

Some of the most common synthetic twist hairstyles are Senegalese twists, passion twists, spring twists, kinky twists, Marley twists, rope twists, and Havana twists.

Synthetic Waves

Deep-water waves.

Synthetic Wigs

Not to be confused with naturally curly wigs and human hair wigs that are made with real human hair, synthetic lace front wigs are specifically what we’re here to discuss. Commonly and mostly worn by African American black women because of the simple fact that they have super-duper curly hair.  You can always consider dreadlock wigs, but those are more for recreational fun. 

Installation Methods & Processes

In the world of synthetic hair, there have always been a lot of options when it came to the installation process. Synthetic dreads and dreadlock extensions are no different.

Synthetic dreads are installed with a hair clip, twists, braids, crochets, and cornrows, just to name a few.  Synthetic faux locs are made to resemble real dreadlocks. This allows the wearer to look and feel real dreadlocks without having to endure the locking process.

Loc extensions have a similar variety of ways in which they can be attached to the hair. Comparably to synthetic dreadlocks, you can install dreadlock extensions to cornrows, braids, and crochet braids.

Dreadlock extensions can also be attached to natural dreadlocks and on the roots of existing clip-ins.

DIY Maintenance & Styling

Before we even begin talking about maintenance, proper care, and styling options, please make sure that your extensions are made from “heat-friendly synthetic fibers“.  Failing to do this could lead your new hair updo to turn into a burnt, frizzy hair mess.  Read more on dealing with baby hairs and frizzy locs.

Common Practices

– Hot Water will 100% help you control hair frizz.
– Apple Cider vinegar


Some of the best styling tools include:
– Blow dryers
– Curling Irons

Hair Products

– Hair Shampoo
– Hair Conditioner
– Rubber bands
– Headbands

Styling Ideas For New Hairdos

A high ponytail and half-up hair bun are definite fan favorites. One of the best ways to limit the amount of hair upkeep is to purchase higher quality hair.  This is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to acquire a low-maintenance hairstyle.

Famous Celebrities

– Vivica A. Fox
– Megan Good


Can I Make Synthetic Hair Extensions By Myself?

Synthetic dreads are made with synthetic hair locked in a cylinder or plait shape. Synthetic dreads closely resemble cyber locks and dread falls. Fake dreads are often called faux locs or dreadlocks extensions. More popular synthetic dreadlocks use kanekalon or CrochetFauxLocs synthetic. This is because these fibers mostly resemble high-quality human hair. Most synthetic dreadlocks can be made Double-ended or Single-ended dreads. Single-ended dreadlocks, SE dreads, come with a loop at the end to help with installation. Double-ended dreads, DE dreads, are one long piece folded in half. This will double the thickness of the dread.

Is installing fake hair bad for my own hair?

The simple answer is no; synthetic extensions are not bad for your hair… especially since the majority of synthetic hair products are considered a protective style.

Some synthetic dreads are coated with products to help them reflect light, hold, and look shiny. New customers should always when the chemical ingredients labels if you have a sensitive scalp or any other allergies.

Adding dreads to your hair will create tension. Hairstyles that require a full set will have tension. Tension can be harmful to hair growth and follicle health if your hair is not strong enough to withstand the protective hairstyle.

Is it possible to install hair extensions by myself?

Yes, very much so.  We have plenty of informative articles and video tutorials explaining this process from A-Z.

What is the average lifespan for hair extensions?

High-quality extensions don’t need as much hair care as other dreads hair might need. Having said that, a good quality synthetic dreadlock can last someone up to 6 months if it is taken care of properly.

There are many things to consider when you are properly caring for your hair and scalp. Alongside keeping it properly cleaned and moisturized, the length of your synthetic dreadlock should also play a factor in the decision.

When dreads still look great, you can keep those beautiful locks as long as possible. It’s not about how long CAN you keep your loc styles, but rather how long SHOULD you keep them.

What brands offer the highest-quality crochet hair extensions?

X-pression, Sensationnel, Yaki, Ruwa.


Make sure to check out some of our other articles on dreadlocks to get all your knowledge and history, plus the best ways to accessorize your hair. Please don’t be afraid to leave us a comment below and let us know your favorite synthetic dread style

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