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What are the Different Types of Synthetic Wigs?

By Amanda R. Bell
Updated May 21, 2024
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There are three main types of synthetic wigs, all of which are considerably cheaper than natural wigs. The least expensive of these is toyokalon, followed by kanekalon, and the industry preferred monofilament variants. While many people believe that wigs made from animal hair, such as yaks, are considered synthetic wigs, this is not the case.

A toyokalon wig is softer than most synthetic wigs and less prone to tangling, though it does not look as natural as kanekalon or monofilament wigs. It is typically used for temporary wigs, such as those worn at Halloween, rather than for everyday wear. As with all synthetic wigs, toyokalon is colored and styled in the factory and this color and style is permanent.

Kanekalon wigs are lighter and more durable than toyokalon as well as slightly more expensive. Wigs made from 100% kanekalon can possibly be styled with very low heat, although specialized styling products are necessary to protect the wig from melting. While the style can be changed slightly, it cannot be colored. Kanekalon also looks more like human hair than toyokalon, though this does mean that it mats and tangles very easily.

The term monofilament actually refers to the construction of the wig itself, rather than the synthetic material used for the actual hair. Monofilament wigs can be made of any number of plastic or nylon materials. The cap of this type of wig is what makes it the most natural looking, and expensive, synthetic wig on the market. The cap is made from a see-through mesh and each individual hair is hand tied to the cap. This allows for a person’s scalp to show through, providing a more natural look; it also provides for an increase in movement and styling capabilities, making this type of synthetic wig almost indistinguishable from human hair.

The type of synthetic wig one chooses to purchase and wear varies greatly with the purpose of the wig. While toyokalon wigs are typically used for costume purposes, kanekalon wigs are more often used by performers. For those who wear wigs on a daily basis, whether for aesthetic or medical purposes, monofilament wigs provide the most natural look. Regardless of the type, almost all synthetic wigs are unable to be styled with any kind of heat, especially a blow dryer, curling iron or flat iron, or dyed a different color. They also must be washed using specialized shampoo and conditioner, as well as allowed to air-dry on a stand.

A synthetic wig can be a cost effective way to change one’s look or cover up balding. They are relatively easy to care for, and most can last for at least a year if worn daily — longer if only worn on occasion. With the choices of a toyokalon, kanekalon, or a monofilament synthetic wig, there is a synthetic wig on the market to meet almost anyone’s needs.

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Discussion Comments
By Nefertini — On Mar 10, 2014

@Ceptorbi - There are two types of lace wigs. Lace front wigs only contain lace at the front of the base and have another material for the rest of the base. Full lace wigs have bases made entirely of lace. The hair in this type of wig is attached to the lace base, and the wig is attached to the wearer with a liquid adhesive or a double-sided tape.

By Ceptorbi — On Mar 09, 2014

Synthetic wigs are fun when you need a costume for Halloween, a costume party, or a play. Some look more real than others. For people who need a wig because they've lost their natural hair due to chemotherapy or other health-related issues, a human hair wig or lace wig, which is a human hair wig with a lace base, are good options in addition to the monofilament wig.

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