While the same textile dyes may be used for most human hair, synthetic, and heat-friendly synthetic wig colors (regardless of the material), the way that these colors show on the wig can vary significantly based upon the material used.
This is because these fibers all have radically different chemical compositions and take to the color differently.
A great example can be seen below . . .
The above is Jon Reanu’s luscious Salted Caramel color (a rooted version of their popular Caramel Syrup FS26/31). As you can see when the two color swatches are held next to each other, there is a slight variation. This will ALWAYS be the case when you compare wig colors in one material versus another.
Some (general) rules of thumb:
Traditional synthetic fibers generally take the textile dyes used for wigs the best. The color in these is the truest and the most consistent.
Heat-Defiant / Heat-Friendly / True2Life / Futura and all other heat-resistant synthetic fibers usually make the colors LIGHTER and BRIGHTER than conventional synthetics. So, for example, shades with a little auburn in them – like the Salted Caramel above – will appear to have a slightly more pronounced copper tinge than their traditional synthetic counter parts. (PS: The color can also dull if you style it aggressively, so be careful about that.)
Most mass-produced, batch-processed human hair wigs (though not all) are also dyed with the same textile dyes used for synthetic wigs. Human hair almost universally takes to this kind of dye in a way that presents SLIGHTLY LIGHTER than traditional synthetic hair. (PS: The color on most human hair wigs will fade with washing and regular wear, so we recommend adding a tinted protein filler to your normal conditioning routine to help keep the color bright in between washings.)
Because reds are difficult for most women to pull off, so they don’t sell particularly well. Like with all mass-produced products, the more popular it is, the more likely they are to make more of it. This is why you’ll see lots of demure brunette shades and rooted blondes, but reds are in short supply for most styles.
Because red is a very rare hair color in nature, it is difficult to duplicate in salons, and by extension, extremely difficult for wig manufacturers to convincingly duplicate in their factories. There is a danger zone that exists called the “Uncanny Valley” – if something artificial gets super-duper close to approximating the real thing only to fall a little short, the closer it gets to the genuine article, the more uncomfortable we feel about it. In short, if the color isn’t ABSOLUTELY PERFECT, then it looks completely fake and we hate it. In rare hair colors like this, it becomes a knife-edge, all-or-nothing game betwixt the manufacturers and the consumers. Most manufacturers opt out rather than risk losing money on a mass-produced color that nobody likes.
Because most red hair wearers are EXTREMELY picky about the EXACT color they want to wear. In my experience, no two red-hair-loving wig wearers (myself included) are looking for the exact same shade. This is not exactly ideal for a mass-produced product, where the entire goal is to appeal to as wide of an audience as possible . . . with a single product in as few colors as possible to minimize overhead and manufacturing costs. (That may be a revelation to many of you, but that is in fact the goal of most of the wig companies at the end of the day.)
So what do you do?
I am also a red-hair-loving wig wearer. I can tell you up front that most of us have four options here:
Settle for a color that you like. (It won’t be perfect, but you like it and look great in it, so it’s not the end of the world.)
Keep searching for the magical unicorn red shade . . . but BE WARNED. Your perfect shade may not actually exist in the ready-to-wear, mass-produced wig market. Be prepared for frustration and know when to call it a day if, after a long search, you come up empty. (Or, even better, you find something like described in Option #1 that’s über-pretty and that you can live with happily, even though it isn’t perfect.)
Keep searching until you become the one rare person among us lucky enough to find their perfect red shade. (They DO exist — they’re just rare and super lucky!)
Turn away from natural-looking hues and start investigating fashion reds instead! (They are WAY easier to find because they are WAY easier for the manufacturers to produce and bring to market — IE: no “Uncanny Valley”!)