Giell Blog - All About Cosmetology Mannequin Heads (2023)

If you are shopping for a cosmetology mannequin head for the first time, chances are you’ll find the experience a bit confusing.

Whether you need a mannequin for a cutting class, a state board exam, a competition or simply to learn hair styling techniques on your own, you need to make sure you get what you pay for.

In this tutorial we help you better understand how mannequins are made and what attributes make the prices vary so much.

You can watch the 3 videos for detailed information on the following topics:

Video 1: We look at the different type of hair, as well as hair quality.

Video 2: I talk about hair length, density, layering and types of implants.

Video 3: I talk about the different kind of mannequin heads and holding stands.

The bulk of the cost of a cosmetology mannequin is driven by the cost of hair.

There are 3 different types of hair used for mannequins: human hair, animal hair and synthetic hair.


Human hair for mannequins comes mainly from Asia with China, India and Korea being the most common sources. European hair is also used but since it’s more expensive you will find mostly on premium quality mannequins. Some people believe that human hair for trade comes from dead corpses; they do not. Hair trade is a popular and lucrative activity in Asia. Some people sell their hair to generate revenue, whereas others may donate their hair for religious reasons. Hair trade is a whole subject on its own and goes beyond the purpose of this tutorial, but at least it is helpful to know where the majority of the human hair for mannequins comes from.

Human hair is classified into different quality categories. When it comes to cosmetology mannequins, we will focus on the most important three quality categories, they are: processed hair, virgin hair and Remy hair. To better understand these classifications, let’s look at the biology of a human hair.

Hair is mainly composed of proteins that are organized into three structures. The outside part of the hair is called the cuticle. It is made of several layers, which grows in the same direction from the root to the tip of the hair. All the layers are stacked on each other, just like the shingles on a roof. The cuticle protects the inside part of the hair.

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The inside part of the hair is called the cortex and is made of long protein fibers giving the hair its strength. The cortex is also where the pigments of melanin are found, which is what gives the hair a specific color.

Giell Blog - All About Cosmetology Mannequin Heads (1)

The third and most inner part of the hair is called the medulla. It is a small and hollow space inside the cortex and not present in all hair fibers.


Processed hair, or sometimes referred to as “tangle-free” hair, is the most common and economical type of human hair used for mannequins. Hair is collected into large containers, where it is sanitized. Since the hair has not been kept in alignment (or in other words, all the roots and tips are mixed up), the cuticles are not facing the same direction. If they were kept like that, the hair would easily tangle. To resolve this problem, the hair cuticles are removed using an acid. This eliminates the friction and allows for tangle free brushing of the hair. Processed hair is also typically sold as a uniform color, so the hair is dyed to achieve a specific color level.

Finally, without its cuticle the hair would look dull and brittle. To re-create the appearance of healthy and shiny hair, a laminate product is also added. You can think of this laminate as a replacement for the cuticle.

So in a nutshell this is what how processed human hair is made.

Now here are a few things to note about processed hair:

  • Since the cortex is still present, the hair can be colored or permed.
  • Because the cuticle has been removed, it will be more difficult to give volume.
  • The laminate that was used to replace the cuticle is not as tolerant to heat than the natural human hair cuticle. So processed hair should be curled or flat ironed at lower heat settings.
  • This laminate also won’t last forever, especially if the hair is chemically treated with a dye or a perm. After several uses, your mannequin’s hair will become more fragile.


Virgin hair means that the hair has not been colored or permed. Virgin hair is usually made with a higher quality of hair but it is possible that it too had its cuticle removed, similar to processed hair.

Virgin hair is better used for coloring classes because the hair cortex is all natural and has not been damaged by any prior treatments.


Remy is the term used to designate the highest grade of quality for human hair. Remy hair has retained the cuticles in proper alignment. If the hair has not been colored, it is sometimes also referred to as “Virgin Remy”.

Mannequins made with Remy hair can be quite expensive and is often used by hair coloring educators in trade shows or other educational settings to make sure their coloring product will produce optimal results.

It is the closest thing to working with an actual person.


Some mannequins are totally or partially made with animal hair. The most common animals used are horse, camel and yak. These mannequins will either be less expensive, or as a trade-off have a higher hair density. This can be a great alternative if you only need the mannequin for styling and cutting. Animal hair does not react the same way to chemicals than human hair, so it is not recommended for hair coloring or any other chemical processes.

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Mannequins with synthetic hair are a lot cheaper than the ones with human hair. Most synthetic hair will not tolerate heat, so these mannequins are usually recommended for braiding, cutting or styling without the use of heated tools.

Because of its lower cost, synthetic hair mannequins usually have very long hair.


Synthetic, animal and human hair are sometimes blended together to lower the cost of mannequins. Reputable vendors will disclose the ratio of human hair vs. synthetic hair composition. Unfortunately some vendors fail to disclose the hair composition or ratios, sometimes even concealing the fact that a mannequin may contain animal or synthetic hair blended with human hair. Since it can be difficult to inspect your mannequin to find out what the hair is really made of, don’t be afraid to ask questions ahead of time.

As a general rule, if the mannequin is described as 100% human hair, that’s what it is.

If it only says “Human Hair” without a percentage, this most likely means it’s some type a blend.

Cosmetology mannequin heads can be quite expensive, and you may find it difficult to figure out what makes the price vary between one model and another. In the previous section, we discussed hair types and quality levels. The type and quality of hair is the first factor that impacts the cost of a mannequin. The second most important cost factor is the hair length. Since hair length is such an important factor in pricing a mannequin, it is important to understand how they are measured. Not everyone measures the same way.


Hair length is typically measured from crown to ends. The crown is located on the top of the head, toward the back. By placing your measuring tape on the crown and dragging it down all the way to the tip of the hair in the back, you get the overall crown to ends measure.

The second most popular way to measure hair is from the hairline (at the forehead), down to ends. There is about 3 inches length between the hairline and the crown, so it’s important to find out how the vendor measures the hair.

The crown to ends method is widely used and accepted, so naturally it is also the most common.

Now length alone is not enough to understand what you are getting, because hair is often layered.


Almost all mannequins have layered hair. A layered hairstyle simply means that shorter hair is blended in with longer hair. If you look at the following illustration, you see that hair from the top do not necessarily extend all the way to the bottom.

If a mannequin is made with hair grafts of the same length all around the head, you end up with dramatic layers around the whole head. So typically the mannequin is made with longer hair at the top and shorter hair in the back and at the nape.

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This produces a more natural layering effect. If you find a mannequin that is described as “one length”, it means there are no layers. These hairstyles are also referred to as a “blunt cut”. Non-layered mannequins are not common.

The last thing about layers that’s common with mannequins is the mixing of short and long hair across the head. As you can see on this diagram, different hair lengths are mixed in. This reduces the cost of the mannequin without compromising the overall hair length. This is also very common with most cosmetology mannequins.


Hair density is the final factor that will impact the cost of your mannequin. Density is determined by how close each graft of hair is implanted next to each other. Cheaper mannequins usually have a lower hair density. For a hair cutting class you may not want to spend the extra dollars for higher density. However once you get into more advanced styles, or updos, the extra hair density may become important.


Typically, hair grafts are implanted at a 90-degree angle, or angled toward the back. This is not how human hair grows naturally, so you will also find some mannequins that mimic natural human hair growth pattern. They are especially important for bob cuts, which requires the bangs to fall forward.

You can easily distinguish between the two by looking at the hairline. Standard implants are coming straight up and natural implants are coming down and to the side.


You may have noticed that the word “mannequin” or “manikin” is not always spelled the same way. Both spelling are correct. The “manikin” spelling is typically used for medical or anatomical dummies. The “mannequin” spelling is typical of display dummies such as those you see in the window of a clothing store. Mannequin heads kind of fall in between these two definitions so this is why we find them spelled both ways.

So if you search online for information on mannequin heads I recommend doing your search using both spelling to get more results.


You may also have noticed that mannequins have a name. As an example, one of our popular mannequins at Giell is named Joanne. It is part of our house brand of mannequin heads (Giell).

The outside of cosmetology mannequins is made of rubber and the inside is filled with polyurethane. The hair is permanently attached to the head. Light makeup is painted on the face as well as eyes and brows. The head is about 12 inches tall and has a circumference of about 21 inches. This is slightly smaller than an actual human head.

The standard, medium length, human hair, female mannequin head is the most typical type of mannequins on the market.

Another example of a standard mannequin head is the model Debra from Celebrity. Celebrity is another brand of mannequins we carry at The main difference is that Joanne has a natural neck design, whereas Debra has a plastic band at the neck. Other than that, they are essentially made the same way.

Another type is called a “slip-on” mannequin head. The bottom mannequin serves as a holder for the hairpiece, which looks somewhat like a mask. Although you may think that these would be cheaper, they are not. That is because they are not as popular, and also because the majority of the cost is derived from the hair and labor.


There are mannequin heads with a shoulder base. These are mostly used for competitions and stand nicely on their own. Some of them have pierced ears so you can install earrings if you want.

Mannequins come in male and female versions, as well as different ethnicities. Some male mannequins have a beard and these are used in barbering school. Male mannequins are also slightly larger than the female ones.

Ethnic mannequins are offered with curled and straight hair. It is important to know that these mannequins were also made with Asian hair so the curled mannequins have been chemically permed.

Another type of mannequin heads is called a “Quad”. It has four different hair colors and is used for hair coloring. One of the four quadrants usually has gray hair.

Miniature mannequins have appeared in recent years. They are not as popular but they can serve a purpose. They can be made with human hair; they are just smaller. Be aware when you shop to look at measurements, as the mini mannequins can look exactly like the larger ones on a photo.

Not all mannequins come with hair. One for example can be used to practice makeup, facials, massage and eyelash extension training. It is made with a different kind of rubber that is softer and feels more like facial skin. It also has a flat back so you can work with it on a table. Another one has no hair at all. It can be used with wigs but also for display purposes, or photographic and cranial studies.


All cosmetology mannequin heads have a hole at the base, which mounts on a stand.

There are two types of stands: table clamps and floor tripods.

Table clamps are inexpensive and comes in a variety of materials and length. You would typically use a regular clamp with short hair mannequins, and the longer version for long hair mannequins. Some clamps come with extenders so you can adjust the length. Other, like this one for example, has a long rod that can be adjusted to various lengths.

Every stand is adjustable so you can tilt the head in any direction.

Floor tripods are definitely more convenient; especially in a classroom or trade show setting. You can setup your work are anywhere you want.

These are the two major different types of tripods, where one has small legs at the base, and a center pole, which is adjustable. The second type has legs extending from the top to the floor. In that case, each leg is adjustable. The advantage of the first type is that it occupies a smaller footprint. That can be convenient if you don’t have a lot of room to work around. The other type, when the legs are fully extended, has a much larger footprint. Because of this it will be more stable.

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Both of these are quite sturdy and made to last. They are either made of aluminum alloys or light steel. Tripods also come with carrying bags.

Be aware that some tripods are made with modified camera tripods. They are appealing because of the lower price, but they are too light to serve their purpose. They are often made with several plastic parts, and you will only end up throwing them away and buying the real deal.

By know you should have learned all the important factors about cosmetology mannequin heads and stands. I hope the information will be helpful in guiding you through your buying decision process.


Which mannequin head is best? ›

The Best Mannequin Heads With Hair
  • Training Head 26"-28" Head Hair. Hair length: 26-28 inches (from the forehead to the back hair end),Individual...
  • Hairingrid Head 14" 100% Real Hair. Material:100% Real Hair, all the hair has been chemically washed and disinfec...
  • Hairingrid 26"-28" Head Hair.

What are cosmetology heads called? ›

Cosmetology mannequins (also commonly spelled manikins) are heads with hair used by beauty school students, or hair stylist, to learn, practice or perfect a variety of hair styling techniques.

Where does the hair for mannequin heads come from? ›

Human hair for mannequins comes mainly from Asia with China, India and Korea being the most common sources. European hair is also used but since it's more expensive you will find mostly on premium quality mannequins. Some people believe that human hair for trade comes from dead corpses; they do not.

Do hair mannequins have lice? ›

A: Head lice can't live on mannequin head. So while it is possible lice is in human hair, lice can't servive on a plastic head for long periods of time.

What is the best size mannequin head to buy? ›

A head with a 21- or 22-inch circumference is a pretty standard size. Some mannequins are larger and smaller if you prefer. Most will run somewhere in the 20-something-inch range, however.

How do I choose a mannequin? ›

Remember you need to breathe, so the tape should be snug, but not tight – definitely no “dig in” to the body but not too loose either! Just wrap the tape around the area of the body being measured and hold it in place. You should be able to fit a couple of fingers behind the tape, but no more than that.

What is a male cosmetologist called? ›

The term barber usually refers to a male hair stylists, but in truth, gender is not the deciding factor between who is a barber and who is a hair stylist—the main difference is that barbers are licensed to shave with a straight razor, in addition to all the other hair styling skills.

What is the highest level in cosmetology? ›

The highest cosmetology degree available is an associate degree, usually offered by private beauty schools and community and technical colleges. However, those with an associate degree in cosmetology can go on to earn a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as business or hospitality management.

Why are mannequins so expensive? ›

Brand new mannequins are much pricier than used ones; why? New mannequins from quality sellers are often made of a more durable, quality material such as fiberglass and are actually molded after particular human figures. Brand name full-priced mannequins are molded by artisans and sculptors.

Can mannequin hair be washed? ›

Shampoo using a non-alkaline shampoo and lukewarm water. Avoid tangling by running fingers through hair from scalp to ends. Avoid excessive scrubbing or agitating of the hair. Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.

Can you straighten a mannequin hair? ›

Similar to bleaching and coloring, straightening or curling mannequin hair is easiest to do on a human hair mannequin head. While most synthetic hair will burn or melt when exposed to heat, there are heat-friendly and heat-resistant synthetic hair mannequins that can be styled with curling and straightening irons.

Can lice live in fake hair? ›

For these reasons, the risk of transmission of head lice from a wig or other hairpiece is extremely small, particularly if the wig or hairpiece has not been worn within the preceding 48 hours by someone who is actively infested with live head lice.

How do you soften mannequin hair? ›

Using Fabric Softener
  1. Soak the hair in fabric softener. Choose a high-quality brand of fabric softener for the best effect. ...
  2. Comb out the hair with the fabric softener still in the hair. ...
  3. Rinse out the hair. ...
  4. Brush with a fine-toothed comb.

What size are most female mannequins? ›

Most display mannequins wear small sizes between 34 and 36. Sometimes a size is more generous depending on the different labels. You sometimes have to try different sizes until you find the right one for your display mannequin.

What can I use instead of a mannequin head? ›

Styrofoam heads are similar to mannequin heads, but they are cheaper, more portable, and lightweight. Styrofoam heads also allow you to pin down your wig when you are storing it and styling it. Since you can pin your wig to styrofoam heads, they will keep your wig from sliding off its stand.

What are the different types of mannequins? ›

Our Guide on Types of Mannequins to Hire
  • Mannequins in a fashion show.
  • Female full body mannequin.
  • Seated male mannequin.
  • Child full body mannequin.
  • Female bust mannequin.
  • Natural skin mannequin.
  • Dog mannequin.

What's the difference between a mannequin and a mannequin? ›

A website called says pretty much the same thing: “The main difference between manikin and mannequin is that the manikin is a life-sized anatomical human model used in education and mannequin is a doll or statue used to show clothing in a store.”

What is the average mannequin size? ›

Most mannequins are 5'11" to 6'. His smaller stature makes him ideal for museum military uniforms or 1950s~1960s men's clothing.

Why I quit being a hairstylist? ›

The most common reasons why hair stylists quit are stress, boredom, and earning potential. Many hairstylists also leave the profession due to the necessity of small talk with their clients. Many introverted hairstylists dislike this aspect. Hairstyles often cite boredom as the reason they quit.

What is the difference between a cosmetologist and a hair stylist? ›

Hairdressers, or hairstylists, provide coloring, chemical hair treatments, and styling in addition to shampoos and cuts, and serve both female and male clients. Cosmetologists perform scalp and facial treatments and conduct make-up analysis.

What are 5 typical duties of cosmetologist? ›

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists typically do the following:
  • Inspect and analyze hair, scalp, and skin to recommend services or treatment.
  • Discuss hairstyle options.
  • Shampoo, color, lighten, and condition hair.
  • Chemically change hair texture.
  • Cut, dry, and style hair.
  • Trim facial hair.
  • Receive payments from client.
Sep 13, 2022

Who makes the most money in cosmetology? ›

High Paying Cosmetologist Jobs
  • Freelance Makeup Artist. Salary range: $45,500-$63,500 per year. ...
  • Barber. Salary range: $30,000-$59,000 per year. ...
  • Performance Makeup Artist. Salary range: $26,500-$56,500 per year. ...
  • Licensed Barber. Salary range: $31,000-$56,500 per year. ...
  • Airbrush Artist. ...
  • Makeup Artist. ...
  • Beauty Artist. ...
  • Nail Technician.

What state pays cosmetologist the most? ›

Although there are abundant cosmetologist jobs in America, a large number of them are in the South. West Virginia is the best state in the country for cosmetologist jobs, and Montana has the second-highest median salary in the country.
1. West Virginia.
Total Cosmetologist Jobs:81
Highest 10 Percent Earn:$63,000
3 more rows
Apr 6, 2021

Which state has the highest paid cosmetologists? ›

West Virginia

What is the life expectancy of a mannequin? ›

The average lifespan of a mannequin at a retail store is 7 years.

How much does the average mannequin cost? ›

A typical full body mannequin will cost an average of $149, with prices ranging from $142–$156. A male or female mannequin torso will cost an average of $89.

What is a female mannequin called? ›

She was the actual model for a mannequin called the judy. Her form was supposed to be “perfect” so they used it and called the mannequin the “judy.” When people refer to a “Judy,” they typically are referring to this style of dress form.

How do you clean a mannequin head? ›

Create a paste-like substance by mixing some standard baking soda with distilled water. Now take a small amount of this paste, place it on the end of a toothbrush, and scrub the affected areas of your mannequin. This should make easy work of even the toughest stains without damaging your mannequin.

What do you wash fake hair with? ›

For synthetic wigs, use cold water and a tablespoon of synthetic hair shampoo, followed by a tablespoon of synthetic hair conditioner. Wigs should be washed once a week. For hair extensions, wash at least every 2 days. Use a cool or cold shower, pressing shampoo into your hair without rubbing.

Why is mannequin styling important? ›

Mannequins help the customers to understand what would look good on them. The customer might not understand how a particular bag would look with a particular dress or for that matter which fashion jewellery would add elegance to a particular outfit. The retailer must smartly decide the entire look of the mannequin.

Can you dye a mannequin hair? ›

It is acceptable to change color, can be dyed or bleached. High-temperature resistance fiber hair, allowed to be curled, straightener or gone through other heat practice. It is suitable for the beauty teacher, cosmetology students or anyone to practice cutting, braiding, designing and also dyeing and so on.

What is dressing a mannequin called? ›

Visual merchandising is a unique profession that requires a combination of creativity, marketing expertise, and a keen eye for fashion trends.

What is a smart mannequin? ›

A smart mannequin allows you to combine your digital experience of online shopping with the advantages of a physical shop. Your customers indicate via sensors what garment on the mannequin they want more information about. The information is displayed on a touchscreen, which they can then use as they see fit.

Why are they called mannequin? ›

The word comes from the Dutch term “manneken”, which literally means “little man”. The French form of the word, mannequin, was used in English to mean “artificial man”. Store front mannequins were later introduced as artificial models to display clothing.

Can lice be killed with hair dryer? ›

Heat Method:

There are recent studies that show that treatment of lice with heat can be quite effective in killing head lice. Products such as Lousebuster are very effective but even a home hairdryer can successfully treat lice.

Can black people have lice? ›

African American people can still get head lice. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that African American people get head lice much less frequently than other people. The reason for this may be that most head lice in the United States have claws that more easily grip onto uncoiled hair.

Does lice like hair with hairspray? ›

Hairspray makes it harder for the louse to grab hold. The smell of hairspray and the use of solvents (sad but true) in them can also deter creepy crawlies from finding their way in. Not to mention that if you're tying longer hair back, you've got a double whammy.

How do you make fake hair less stiff? ›

The first step to soften the wig is to wash them with cold water and all your love. Always remember that hot water damages the wig texture and makes them rough, so wash them with cold water. Add one cup of fabric-softener in it to make the wig texture sleek and soft. This fabric softener also adds shine to your wigs.

Can you use coconut oil on doll hair? ›

If your doll has rooted hair, you can use a wide-toothed comb or even a special doll brush to gently comb out the tangle. For synthetic hair, you may need to use a fabric softener like fabric conditioner or a light oil like coconut oil to help untangle the hair.

What is professional ghost mannequin? ›

The ghost mannequin effect is a powerful post-production technique for apparel photography. This technique involves editing together photos of the interior and exterior of your garment and removing all traces of the model or mannequin, leaving behind a photo that perfectly represents how your product fits in 3D.

What is the difference between mannequin? ›

The main difference is that mannequins are stationary models that advertise products, while mannikins are more realistic and anatomically correct models that are capable of simulating real-life medical scenarios. In fact, some manikins are so advanced that they can even simulate real human sounds and emotions.

What are semi realistic mannequins? ›

Semi-abstract or semi-realistic mannequins are mannequins that are somewhere between abstract and realistic. They often have some facial features, just like the realistic mannequins, but to a much lesser extent or in a more abstract way. Examples of this are the Paris and the Studio Collections.

What is the mannequin called that designers use? ›

Professional dress forms are special mannequins usually used by designers and tailors to fit and pin clothing.

What is an invisible mannequin? ›

Invisible ghost mannequins for photography are exactly what they sound like. They are mannequins with removable pieces to showcase your clothing without any distractions when you are photographing your clothes.

What is a professional mannequin? ›

Professional mannequins are typically used by seamstresses, designers, and tailors to fit and pin clothing. Mannequin Mall offers an assortment of models for all your sewing and tailoring needs. These mannequins are made for professional use.

Why do designers use mannequins? ›

Benefits of Using Mannequins for Sewing:

Allows you to see exactly how a particular garment looks on the human form. Even if a garment is unfinished, you can pin pieces of it to a mannequin to maintain its form and figure. Measuring a garment is easier when it's placed on a mannequin as opposed to a table.

Should I use a mannequin? ›

Putting clothes on a mannequin creates a more realistic and intimate idea of what that item will look like on either the shoppers themselves or someone they are shopping for. Being able to see clothing modeled on a “human body” is crucial to the overall decision-making process.

What is the best drawing mannequin? ›

  • TAMASHII NATIONS Bandai S.H. ...
  • Phicen Male Muscular Seamless Body — Best Poseable Artist Mannequin. ...
  • Uranny Body Kun DX Set Male & Female Figure — Best Body Kun Drawing Figure. ...
  • HSOMiD Flexible Wooden Hand Model — Best Wooden Artist Mannequin. ...
  • 5. Female and Male Anatomy Figures by 3dtotal — Best Realistic Drawing Mannequin.
Aug 3, 2022

How tall are the real real mannequins? ›

Most mannequins are 5'11" to 6'.

What is an abstract mannequin? ›

Abstract mannequins are the contemporary pieces of art displayed in retail stores all over the world. In general, features such as muscles, fingernails, some facial characteristics, elbows and so on, are not sculpted, the end result being a modern fiberglass sculpture.


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