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Animal friendly buys: Should silk, satin wraps be imitation or from silkworms?

How will you know if your wrap cap is fake or from silkworms?
How will you know if your wrap cap is fake or from silkworms?
(Shamontiel L. Vaughn)

Walk into any retail store's cosmetics section and chances are high that there will be a section dedicated to black women's hair. Dangling on nearby racks are usually silk wraps, satin wraps and/or doo rags to protect hair from breakage or to increase waves.

But how does the animal friendly consumer decide whether to purchase a real silk or satin wrap or an imitation version?

According to Associated Press, faux fur and vegan leather are gaining in popularity as holiday gifts. Synthetic fibers and replacing older plastic like PVC with improved polyurethane has made faux fur look more realistic and feel similar to real fur. Even stores like Pottery Barn are selling faux fur pillows from man-made polyester.

However, popular head wrap brands sold in popular beauty supply stores, such as Sally Beauty Supply, boast of 100 percent premium high quality satin material for their Lady Vamp Evolve Nighttime Go Satin Wrap Cap. Same goes for Style It Up and other satin wrap brands.

And shoppers can always walk into fabric stores, such as Hancock Fabrics, and just buy silk by length to make their own head wraps.

But what exactly is done to make silk or satin?

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a silkworm is an insect that goes through four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult caterpillar. Silk comes from the cocoons of larva so chances are high that these insects don't survive to the pupa stage of their existence.

Silk Painting Gallery provides steps for what happens after the larva secrets silk through its head. The cocoons are delivered to the filature (factory) and the silk is unwound from the cocoons. Raw silk is made from three to 10 strands. The strands are collected into skeins to be sold.

WiseGeek confirms that satin can made from silk but also can be made from man-made products, such as polyester, acetate, nylon and rayon.

Some consumers may agree and disagree with the results of using man-made silk and satin head wraps. However, if your hair is not damaged, stays moisturized, protected and in a reasonable state overnight, is it really necessary to spend more money or purchase a product made from dead insects to protect a hairstyle?

Only the consumer can make that call, but if your answer is "no," make sure to read the product description before purchasing your next head wrap. If the product description says "silk and polyester," it could be a mix of both.

Recommended Reading:

Down and silk: Birds and insects exploited for feathers and fabric

How silk is made

Vegan leather, faux fur are hot holiday gifts

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