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October 9, 2015

Tips to Identify Real Fur from Faux Fur

Humane Society International/United Kingdom

  • This cruelty can't go on. Jo-Anne McArthur

HSI has conducted a number of high-profile exposés revealing that real animal fur can be misleadingly sold as faux fur on the UK high-street and online.

With the quality of faux fur so improved, and animal fur frequently dyed so that it might appear fake, it can be difficult to tell the difference, especially when you can’t rely on the label or seller information.

Here are HSI’s top tips for telling animal fur from faux fur.

What to look for

1. Check the ends of the fur. Real fur tends to taper to a point at the end of each strand, whereas the tip of faux fur tends to be blunt where it has been cut in the manufacturing process. (Note: This is not fool-proof because any real fur that has been sheared will not be tapered, but this is the exception, not the rule.)

2. Check the base of the fur. Part the hairs at the very base of the fur. Faux fur will be attached to a fabric backing, identified by its weave look. At the base of real fur, there will be an animal’s skin (leather).

3. The burn test. You can’t do this test in store obviously, but if you already own the item, then simply burning a small sample of a few hairs can be helpful. If it’s real animal fur, it will singe and smell like burnt human hair, whereas if it’s fake, it will melt and curl into tiny balls, and smell like burnt plastic. (Note: Please only conduct the burn test in a safe environment, and on a small sample cut from the main item.)

Download our pocket-sized faux vs real guide.

What NOT to look for

1. Labels can lie. It’s not uncommon for the label on items, or the on-screen description if sold online, to give misleading information—so don’t rely on them.

HSI has found numerous examples of items described as faux fur, or as comprising acrylic/synthetic, when in fact they are mislabelled real animal fur. Shoes or non-garment accessories such as handbags and pom pom keychains that contain fur don’t have to carry any labelling at all.

2. The price is not right. Our research shows that a large proportion of consumers still mistakenly assume that if the price tag is cheap, it’s unlikely to be real fur. But the truth is that life is so cheap on fur farms that fur trim can be bought by manufacturers for the same price or less than faux fur.

Report it!

If you’ve applied our top tips and you think you’ve found real fur labelled or described as faux/synthetic fur:

1. Contact us so that we can check it out. Fill out our online form, or email the details to: info@hsiuk.org.

2. If you have purchased a deceptively advertised or labelled fur-trimmed garment, we encourage you to contact Trading Standards via the online Citizens Advice consumer helpline or contact them by phone (UK only) at 03454 04 05 06—and please let us know, too.

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