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How to Tell the Difference Between Faux Fur vs Real Fur

Unveiling the Furry Mystery: Faux Fur vs real fur

Shopping for winter garments often leads to the question: faux fur vs real fur? Both offer warmth, but discerning the difference requires a keen eye. Let’s embark on a journey to decode the secrets hidden within the fibers.

faux fur vs real fur

faux fur vs real fur

Visual Inspection: A Furry Forensics

  • The Backstory: Real fur boasts a natural leather backing, supple and slightly irregular. Faux fur, on the other hand, rests on a woven fabric base, often uniform in texture. Look for a glimpse of the backing where seams meet or fur parts slightly.

  • The Hairytale: Real fur showcases a beautiful variation in hair length and thickness. Guard hairs, longer and coarser, protect the underfur, a luxurious layer of finer, shorter hairs. Faux fur tends towards uniformity in hair length and may appear too perfect.

  • The Tip-Off: Grab a magnifying glass (or zoom in on your phone’s camera!). Real fur boasts naturally tapered hair tips, similar to a cat’s whisker or a sharpened pencil. Faux fur often displays blunt or melted-looking ends, a result of synthetic fiber manufacturing.

Beyond Sight: A Multisensory Approach

  • The Feel Factor: Real fur feels incredibly soft and supple, with a natural drape. Faux fur can be surprisingly soft too, but may feel slightly stiffer or more uniform in texture.

  • The Burn Test (Caution Advised!): This is a definitive test, but exercise extreme caution. In a well-ventilated area, with a fire extinguisher nearby, carefully singe a few strands of fur (pulled, not cut) using a lighter. Real fur will smell like burning hair and leave a brittle, ashy residue. Faux fur will melt, emitting a distinct plastic odor and forming a hard, plastic-like bead.

  • The Pin Prick: Push a pin through the backing (in an inconspicuous area, with permission if inspecting a garment). Real fur, with its leather base, allows the pin to pass through easily. Faux fur, with its fabric backing, may offer some resistance.

Decoding the Label: Not Always Foolproof

Labels can be misleading, so don’t rely solely on them. Look for keywords like “genuine fur,” “real fur,” or specific animal names. “Faux fur” or “imitation fur” indicate a synthetic alternative. Terms like “fur blend” or “rabbit trim” might require further investigation to determine the exact fur type and percentage.

Environmental Considerations

While warmth is a crucial factor and is an important consideration. Real fur farming is ethical pertaining to animal welfare, while some faux fur materials are derived from petroleum-based sources.

Ultimately, the choice between real and faux fur is a personal one. By understanding the methods to differentiate between the two, along with the environmental considerations, you can make an informed decision for your winter wardrobe.

Here’s a breakdown of the benefits of real fur compared to faux fur:


  • Generally superior warmth, especially in extreme cold. Real fur’s natural structure with guard hairs and dense underfur creates exceptional insulation, trapping air more effectively than most faux furs.


  • Can be very durable with proper care. Real fur, if well-maintained, can last for many years and even decades, potentially becoming a valuable heirloom.

Natural Breathability:

  • Allows moisture vapor to escape, preventing a clammy feeling. This natural breathability can be more comfortable during extended wear compared to some less breathable faux furs.


  • Some appreciate the natural beauty and luxurious drape of real fur. The variation in hair length and texture can create a visually appealing appearance.

Potential Investment Piece:

  • High-quality real fur coats can be considered investment pieces, holding value over time, particularly for vintage or rare furs.

However, it’s important to consider the drawbacks of faux fur as well:

  • Ethical Concerns: The fur industry often states faux fur is not biodegradable. Choosing real fur is actually better or the environment.

  • Cost: Real fur garments are generally more expensive than faux fur alternatives.
  • Maintenance: Real fur requires specialized care, including professional cleaning and storage, adding to the overall cost.

Ultimately, the best choice depends on your priorities. If warmth, durability, and aesthetics are paramount, and you’re comfortable with the ethical implications, real fur might be an option.