How fake fur differs from natural fur

How fake fur differs from natural fur

  Natana Nikola

  Fur Industry Technology Consultant



Fur products have long been used by people for insulation in the cold season, especially by those living in harsh climates. With the development of civilization, a purely decorative purpose for fur products—magnificent women's fur coats, beautiful shoe finishes, creative interior design in various styles—was added. Warmth and beauty are necessary qualities of any fur item, regardless of its origin, whether natural or fake. When choosing a type of fur, you should first determine the following:

  • What you expect to get from the item you are buying.
  • How its price stacks up against the possibilities of your budget.
  • The pros and cons of the performance of natural or fake fur.

You can only make a conscious and wise choice by answering these questions.


What is the difference between fake and natural fur?

Natural sheepskin is a fluffy type of fur. It is quite dense, but at the same time, it provides normal air exchange, removes moisture, and retains its original appearance for a long time.

How fake fur differs from natural fur

In contrast, fake fur is usually a pile material consisting of acrylic fleeces connected to a fabric or knitted base made of polyester. But artificial sheepskin is produced not from synthetic fibers but from sheared sheep's wool, fixed in a special way on a fabric or synthetic base. In the past, fake fur may have been used as an insulating lining or decorative element of clothes and shoes; thanks to innovative modern technologies, it has become visually indistinguishable from natural fur and is actively used for clothing and textiles.

The differences between these two types of fur are best appreciated in a comparison of the main qualities and performance characteristics:

  • Temperature: Natural fleece is warmer and better copes with thermoregulation. The wearer will never be too hot or cold, while the base of artificial sheepskin is not as effective at insulation. Natural fur contains a lot of air between the fibers, which reduces heat conduction. It is impossible to overheat in sheepskin—thermoregulation is perfect in it, and due to high hygroscopicity, there is no intertrigo and discomfort, even in the case of sweating. But cut wool, sewn on the base, has a different structure, especially if it is a synthetic pile, so it does not warm up as well. Natural fur is much better and retains heat for longer while creating a comfortable air exchange; in other words, it is a "breathable" material. You will feel the difference between synthetic and natural material at just -5°C — you will freeze in a coat of fake fur, while in natural fur, you will not feel even 20-degree frost. At the same time, sheepskin has special healing properties and original beauty, like these gorgeous examples of a women's sheepskin coat.

    Warm sheepskin baby booties for winter
  • Hypoallergenicity: Generally, sheep’s wool used in both types of fur does not cause allergies and, therefore, is intended for people, even as a medical sheepskin, starting from infancy. However, in the imitation version, the textile backing has completely different properties and can provoke irritation and allergic reactions. 

  • Lanolin: The natural leather-based sheepskin contains lanolin, a substance that improves skin condition and helps relieve swelling and fatigue. In the imitation version, the base is fabric, and lanolin may be present only on the surface of the fibers; because of this, the effect is less pronounced. 

  • Micro-massage: This property is inherent only in natural sheepskin. It is possible due to the special density of the fibers and their specific mobility in contact with the body. As a result, the tone of the skin and muscles is normalized. Artificial sheepskin has a different density, so it does not create a stimulating effect. 

  • Durability: With competent storage and compliance with the rules of care, natural sheepskin will last for dozens of years, but complying with these conditions is a rather painstaking process. In contrast, the service life of the artificial product is much shorter: over time, the fibers begin to fall out and peel off because they are poorly fixed on the fabric. After two to three seasons, there will be splotches on the surface, it will lose warming properties, and its aesthetic properties will be diminished. 

  • Status value: The status value of natural fur is much greater. Yes, it costs more, but it looks much better, retains its presentable appearance for years, and implies that the owner is not afraid to take care of himself. It is a great investment, especially since fur has become more affordable, and everyone can buy a fur coat or order sheepskin slippers for their comfort.

Artificial sheepskin is made of natural wool but placed on a different base. Therefore, verifying it is much more difficult than other synthetic types of fur because the main sign of synthetics—the smoldering and melting of torn-out lint when checking by fire—in this case does not work. Wool, as in natural sheepskin, will burn. Therefore, it is necessary to focus on other factors of distinction of artificial fur. To learn more about how sheepskin differs from sheep's wool, you can read our article.

Difference between fake and natural fur


Difference between fake and natural fur – what to focus on when choosing shoes and clothes

When determining the naturalness of fur, pay attention to the following points:

  • The type of base. In natural fleece, the base is a porous, badly crumpled leather, and in artificial, it is a dense or knitted fabric. If there is no opportunity to view the base, you can try to pierce it with a needle. If it is easily pierced, and the needle does not get stuck, it is likely not leather. In addition, the presence of folds and easy crumpling indicates an artificial origin. Honest manufacturers typically do not sew the lining in certain places so the buyer can see the construction. If the lining at the hem is tightly sewn, it should alert the buyer that it may be artificial.
  • The structure of the fibers. In natural fur, the ends of the hairs are sharp. In synthetic, they are square. This explains the exceptional softness and pleasant tactile sensation of stroking natural fur. If it is sheared wool on fabric, it will also be quite soft. But synthetics will be more coarse and hard, and can pick up a static charge even from stroking. 
  • Natural fur has a glossy sheen and shimmers in bright light, slightly changing color depending on the lighting. Synthetics are characterized by a matte shade.

Difference between fake and natural fur – in which ways are fake fur better than natural?

Sheepskin vest for men


In general, fake fur beats out natural fur in only two criteria:

  • Easier care and cleaning. Fake sheepskin can be washed by hand at low temperatures, although dry cleaning is still preferable.  
  • The cost is noticeably lower than for natural fur. However, this savings is questionable due to the short service life. The difference between natural and fake fur, including price, directly reflects the length of time the sheepskin product will retain its warmth, softness, and beautiful appearance.

In general, the advantages of natural sheepskin are much greater than those of artificial sheepskin. If possible, it is better to choose natural sheepskin. One high-quality thing will serve you better than several with weaker properties and a short service life.


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