Cuticle hair is also referred to as remy hair and is human hair used in the making of wigs, hairpieces and hair extensions. Cuticle hair, or remy hair, is the highest quality human hair used in the making of artificial hair products because it still has the cuticle intact, making it shiny, natural-looking and easy to style. Without having suffered damage to the cuticle, either from over-styling or chemical processing, this type of hair produces the highest quality hair products because it lies flat, reflects light, and looks and feels like real hair.
In most cases, cuticle hair is harvested during routine haircuts and is collected in salons from people who have chosen to donate their hair. Several organizations accept human hair for the express purpose of providing the material to manufacturers of high quality artificial hair products. Virgin hair, or hair that has never been chemically treated, is the most desired type of cuticle hair; however, healthy hair with a smooth cuticle layer is also valuable.
The cuticle layer of the hair is the outermost layer of a strand of hair. If examined under a microscope, this layer would appear similar to the shingles on a roof or the scales of a snake, with one overlapping the other. They run in the same direction, lying flat, which creates the appearance of smoothness, softness, and general natural health.
When the cuticle layer of the hair lies smooth, natural light can be reflected and makes hair appear shiny, healthy and smooth. Synthetic hair lacks this cuticle layer and gives off an artificial sheen that does not reflect light naturally and lacks the silky texture of natural cuticle hair. The other advantages to using remy hair are its longevity in wear, which can last up to one year, the ability to style it without tangling,– and the ability to color it to precisely match natural hair if necessary.
Alternatively, human hair without the cuticle layer intact and synthetic hair are both treated with an artificial outer layer made primarily of silicone or acrylic. While less expensive to acquire, it makes for a lower quality end product than natural cuticle hair. People who are looking for a permanent hairpiece to replace hair loss caused by disease or accident often prefer natural human hair over synthetic hair. On the other hand, synthetic hair can be useful for temporary use because it is considerably cheaper and can be made to look natural.