Human hair, Weaves, Wigs

What are Synthetic Extensions Made Of?

Published By: Kennedy

Last Updated: June 20, 2022

Synthetic hair is a popular alternative to human hair extensions because of its affordability but not many people know what it is actually made of. This article will go into the details of what goes into synthetic extensions. 

Here’s the answer for what are synthetic extensions made of?

Many hair extensions are made from synthetic hair. Synthetic hair is composed of artificial hair strands of plastic – usually acrylic or nylon – that are made into ultra-thin fibers and chemically processed to mimic real hair.

Synthetic hair comes in many different assortments of colors and textures. However, the color or texture cannot be changed as human hair can with products like dye and relaxers.

The best quality synthetic hair on the market right now is made of Kanekalon fiber. Usually, because synthetic hair is made of plastic, it is not heat resistant like human hair is. Kanekalon is heat resistant, and able to be straightened, unlike nylon fiber which would melt if straightened. 

The lower the quality, the shiner the hair is. For example, Kanekalon fiber has less shine than polyester. You can tell synthetic hair from human hair by the difference in luster because human hair is not as shiny. 

Read more: What is the Difference Between Kankelon and Synthetic Hair?

Acrylic Fiber

Acrylic fiber is a material made of monomers that are pulled from coal and petroleum. Through polymerization, a chemical process, the monomers turn into long strands of plastic called polymer. These strands of plastic get melted down and formed into thin strands, almost like thread. 

It is a synthetic material that has the soft feel of wool when made very thin. It is also lightweight and easy to wash which makes it a good hair alternative. One of the concerns about acrylic fiber is that it is not biodegradable, which is a concern for pollution. Some people may also have an allergic reaction to acrylic.


Nylon is also a synthetic polymer. Nylon fibers are very strong and elastic, while also being very soft and lightweight. Nylon can also be easily dyed and washed. 

Nylon is a popular fiber used for synthetic wigs because of its flexibility and smoothness, however, it does not have much static resistance – which makes the hair frizzy faster. Nylon also does not burn, which is why it is used for synthetic wigs that you can straighten. 

Also read: How To Stop Synthetic Hair From Frizzing

How do I know if my extensions are synthetic or real?

There are several ways to tell if the hair is synthetic, if you are unsure then you can test it. A smoke test can be done by burning some strands of hair. If the smoke is white, then it is human hair. If you burn the hair and the smoke is black, the hair is synthetic.

 A burn test is done by cutting a strand of hair and it slowly melts into a ball, with a rubbery scent, it is synthetic. If the hair immediately catches fire and curls into a ball, it is human hair.

Human hair is not the same length all around, some strands are going to be shorter or longer than others. Also, if human hair is not the same texture all around, curls and waves are not going to all look the same. If the hair looks the same throughout, with the same pattern, it is most likely synthetic. 

Synthetic hair also tangles excessively, especially the longer it is. The place where it happens the most is the hair behind your neck. It is also less expensive than human hair.

Read more: Synthetic vs. Human Hair

The Final Word

Synthetic hair may be a mystery at first, but knowing its qualities will help you to know if it is the best option for you.


I have always had a love for writing and have been blogging for about 3 years now. I have a passion for teaching what I have learned over the years, especially about hair. I have had almost every hairstyle - typical of a cosmetologist’s daughter- including the big chop in 2015. With all the knowledge I have gained, I feel it is my duty to help others on their healthy hair journey. I believe education can be fun, and I strive to make it fun to learn about beautiful black hair.

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