Synthetic Hair and Hair Waste:
The hair industry is a very pretentious issue. This is because they are not focusing that much on more eco-friendly wigs and weaves that will last for a long time. In fact, this might be known as the Fast Hair Industry.
The issues with Synthetic Wigs
As synthetic wigs get more and more realistic, people are more likely to purchase them. However, the main issues come when the hair is finished being used. When the wig is matted or tangled, many people would rather just toss them out than to work with the matting.
Synthetic hair also does not last quite as long as natural hair wigs. A typical synthetic wig will only last about 6 months, but if the wig is heat-resistant (able to be straightened and curled, etc) it may only last upwards of 3 months. Typical natural hair wigs, for example, may last up to a full year.
This does not take into account other issues such as microplastics. Brushing, combing, etc, of the hair can cause them to break apart. If this gets into the water supply, such as down a drain, it can get into the oceans, causing even further problems. Since plastic does not biodegrade, it will remain in landfills for thousands of years. Biodegradable wigs can also be costly, up to thousands of dollars for a single wig, and often does not last much longer.
That being said, there does seem to be a single way to recycle synthetic wigs, and that is through a company called Terracycle. They can take waste hair and turn it back into plastic.
Are natural wigs better?
Natural hair wigs are certainly better when it comes to end of life, and they are even more likely to last longer. They are able to biodegrade, although many people still toss them in the garbage. However, many people don’t like them due to their higher price tags, and the fact that it still gets frizzy like your own hair does.
But this does not mean that natural hair does not have their faults. Many women are vastly underpaid for their hair, which they sell in order to make money to feed their families. Many women have the hair forcefully shaved off of their heads and sold to be made into wigs and hair extensions.
What to do:
The best thing to do would be to wear your wigs as long as possible if you need to wear them, and to take great care of them. The best ways to do this would be to use hair care products made specifically for wigs. Many regular shampoos can cause irreversible damage, thus wearing your wig out quicker.
If we make sure that we take care of our wigs when they are being used and even when not in use, we can help them to last longer, and reduce the impact that they may have on the environment. It may not seem like much, but every little bit helps.