How to Tell the Difference Between Faux and Real Fur

Retailers have been found to be mistakenly selling real fur that’s labelled as faux, so compassionate consumers have to be extra careful.

Telling the difference between real and faux fur has become increasingly difficult as the quality of fur alternatives has improved – they now often feel and look just like animal fur. Not only is spotting a cruelty-free alternative becoming more difficult, but real fur can end up on low-cost clothing that isn’t labelled correctly, meaning that people are unwittingly ending up with animal skins in their wardrobe.

Have you seen or bought an item that you suspect may contain real fur, even though it isn’t labelled as such? The following three checks will help you determine what it’s made of:

  • Separate the fur and look at the base.

Faux fur generally has a mesh or threaded fabric backing. Real fur, on the other hand, will be attached to skin.

  • Look at the tips of the hairs.

Real animal hairs taper to a fine point, unless they’ve been sheared or cut. Faux fur, in contrast, typically has blunt ends. So if the hairs narrow at the tip, play it safe and leave the garment on the rack.

  • Do a burn test (if you already own the item).

Remove a few hairs, use tweezers to hold them over a non-flammable surface, and then ignite them with a match or lighter. Burning animal hair smells like burning human hair. Fake fur, which is commonly made from acrylic or polyester, smells like melting plastic when set alight.

If you’re still in doubt as to whether the material is faux or real, it’s best to leave it on the shelf.

If you discover you’ve bought real fur by accident or as a result of mislabelling, you should contact the retailer immediately and let it know about the problem.