When it comes to the world of wigstensions, all that hair jargon can get a little overwhelming. We consulted our hair industry experts so we could bring our readers up to speed on must-know terms that will help decipher all that hair vocabulary.
Remy: Remy simply means that the hair cuticles in a bunch of hair are all facing the same direction. One of the problems with hair extensions and wigs is that hair tends to tangle easily, so remy hair is less likely to do that. Other than the fact that is doesn’t tangle as easily, remy has no bearing on the quality of the hair.
According to one beauty industry insider, Dafina Nya Smith of Sunny’s Hair in Atlanta, Georgia: “Remy hair refers to the method of collecting the hair. It means that the cuticles…are all aligned in the same direction. The only way to ensure this is to cut the hair directly from the donor (such as cutting off a ponytail or a braid).”
100% human hair vs. 100% synthetic: The advantages of human hair over synthetic are that human hair can be treated like exactly that—your own hair. It can be styled, dyed, etc. using any process you would use on your own natural hair. 100% synthetic hair, on the other hand, may not last as long as human hair, may become damaged in the sun, and may not look as natural as 100% human hair. But our in-house expert suggests that a mixture of human and synthetic hair can be another good option and may even be the optimum choice for some hairstyles.
Dafina Nya Smith had this to say when we asked her about human vs. synthetic hair: “It all depends on what and why you are looking from in your hair piece. I recommend for avid wig wearers to get synthetic wigs especially if they are looking for frosty blonde colors or short spiky styles. Human hair requires a lot of maintenance and “wiggies” tend to be looking for a low maintenance style when opting to wear wigs. For hair extensions, human hair is usually best. For braided hair extensions, I usually recommend synthetic hair unless you happen to have an allergic reaction to the chemicals used to produce synthetic hair.”
Cuticle Hair: Hair is made up of layers of cuticles. Cuticle hair means the outer layers of hair have not been stripped. Another way to describe cuticle hair is “raw.” Again, it does not really describe the quality of the hair. It just means that it hasn’t been processed. Think of this in terms of salad vegetables. When you first take them from the field or market, they haven’t been washed and sliced. They are in a more “raw” state, but that doesn’t necessarily make them “better.”
Bundle Hair: Another name for cuticle hair. One hair company in New Jersey explained it this way: “Bundle hair is kind of a nickname of unprocessed hair. When people started to sell unprocessed hair, hair was bundled in a plastic bag. Therefore people started to call it bundle hair.”
Brazilian, Peruvian, Malaysian: These terms can be confusing because they don’t mean that the hair you are buying actually comes from Brazil, Peru, or Malaysia. In fact, they almost certainly do not. Brazilian, Peruvian, and Malaysian are all mostly used as marketing terms, although this does not render them meaningless. They refer to different styles or textures, created to mimic the hair of ethnic groups from the countries for which they are named.
Indian and Chinese hair: You may not see hair advertised as Indian or Chinese, but you are almost definitely purchasing hair from one of these countries. Chinese hair, especially, is very thick, and this makes it ideal for processing into wigs and extensions.
Flame retardant: Any material that is flame retardant (hair or any other substance) will be slow to catch fire. It doesn’t mean that it can’t burn but that it will be resistant to catching flame. Flame retardant hair is usually synthetic hair you can curl without first having to dip in water, as with some synthetic styles. It’s meant to mimic human hair, so you can use a curling iron on it. Flame retardant also means it won’t melt. (Some synthetic braid-hair is burned or melted at the ends to seal the braid.)
Yaki: A Japanese word meaning steamed. Hair is steamed while being pressed firmly under a net. Ms. Smith: “The net creates a ‘crinkle’ effect that is meant to mimic the coarse and dry feel of African American relaxed hair.” It has nothing to do with the animal, yak.
High Quality Hair vs. Low Quality Hair: Quality of hair can be determined by referring to three characteristics—thickness, consistency, and processing. The thicker hair is to begin with, the better it will stand up to stripping, coloring, etc. Consistency refers to a strand’s consistency in thickness from top to bottom of each strand. As humans, our bodies don’t always produce hair at the same rate and thickness depending on health, nourishment, etc. This causes inconsistencies in our strands. Processing refers to the quality of products used and time taken to process hair when stripping out layers, coloring, etc.
For example, companies who use industrial grade acid to strip outer layers are able to produce processed hair more quickly but end up with a lower-grade product. Companies who use a product like apple cider vinegar to strip outer layers must be more patient, used more man- power, and will often charge more for a higher-quality product made using gentler materials. This also applies when it comes to coloring hair. Companies like Great Lengths, who sell higher-quality products, use a process that takes time and can’t mass-produce their extensions, but end up with more natural looking color which costs more.