The hair industry has always been a fascinating and controversial topic, especially when it comes to wigs and hair extensions. While these products can provide a quick fix for hair loss or simply add some extra length or volume, they also come with their own set of problems. Synthetic hair, for example, is often discarded after just a few months of use, contributing to the growing issue of hair waste and microplastic pollution. On the other hand, natural hair wigs raise ethical concerns regarding the sourcing of hair from marginalized communities. In this article, we will delve into the issues surrounding synthetic hair and hair waste, as well as explore potential solutions for a more sustainable and ethical hair industry.

Remember, every little bit helps, and by taking small actions like these, we can make a big difference in the long run.

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 issue of synthetic hair and hair waste is a growing concern in the beauty industry. The demand for wigs and hair extensions has led to the creation of a massive market for synthetic hair, but this has also resulted in a significant amount of waste. As the article mentioned earlier, synthetic wigs have a much shorter lifespan than natural hair wigs and are often discarded after just a few months of use. This has led to the rise of what some call the “Fast Hair Industry,” where wigs and hair extensions are produced and consumed at a rapid pace, contributing to the growing problem of waste and environmental degradation.

by Michael Myers Makeup&Hair by Jo Franco

Unfortunately, the industry has not been focusing enough on more eco-friendly alternatives that can last for a longer time. Instead, manufacturers have been focused on making synthetic wigs more realistic and affordable, which has led to an increase in demand for these products. However, this has also led to a significant increase in waste, as these wigs are often thrown away once they become tangled or matted.

One of the biggest issues with synthetic wigs is that they shed microplastics when they are combed, brushed, or washed. These microplastics can enter waterways and oceans, where they can cause harm to marine life and contribute to the growing problem of plastic pollution. Additionally, the production of synthetic hair requires the use of non-renewable resources, which further contributes to environmental degradation.

Despite these issues, there are some solutions to the problem of synthetic hair and hair waste. For example, companies like Terracycle are now recycling synthetic hair and turning it back into plastic. However, this is only a small step in the right direction, and more needs to be done to promote eco-friendly alternatives and reduce the amount of waste generated by 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.

Nina Anthony by Michael Myers Makeup&Hair by Jo Franco

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.

When it comes to reducing the impact of wigs on the environment, one of the most effective things we can do is to make sure we take proper care of them. By taking care of our wigs, we can extend their lifespan, reducing the frequency with which we need to replace them and minimizing the amount of waste we generate.

One of the best ways to do this is to wear your wig for as long as possible. Try to avoid replacing it just because it is no longer the newest or most fashionable style. Instead, focus on maximizing its usefulness and ensuring that you get the most out of your investment. This can be especially important if you have a synthetic wig, which is more likely to break down and shed microplastics over time.

In addition to wearing your wig for as long as possible, it’s also important to take good care of it. One key aspect of this is to use hair care products that are specifically designed for wigs. Regular shampoos and conditioners can cause damage to the fibers of the wig, leading to tangling, matting, and shedding. By using products that are specifically formulated for wigs, you can help to preserve their quality and extend their lifespan.

When not in use, it’s important to store your wig properly. You can use a wig stand or mannequin head to help maintain its shape and prevent tangling. Additionally, try to keep your wig away from direct sunlight and other sources of heat, as this can cause damage to the fibers.

By following these simple steps, you can help to reduce the impact of wigs on the environment while also getting the most out of your investment. Remember, every little bit helps, and by taking small actions like these, we can make a big difference in the long run.


Creator of the slow living and sustainability blog: She is Awake and NGO founder.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *