Boise Hair Salon – Hair Extensions – How are hair extensions made?
Top quality hair extensions come in beautiful packaging and many colors. All the strands are nicely bound to an attachment and look shiny and feel smooth. Given the marketing and branding, sometimes it’s easy to forget that hair extensions are a product collected from another person’s body. Under what circumstances are people giving up their hair? Are they shaving their heads? How is the hair collected? Is the hair sanitized? What hair texture is the highest quality? Is the hair processed or “virgin”? Are the attachments well-made, or cheaply tacked together? Hair extension quality and durability has a huge variance depending upon the answer to the above questions. At Tease Boise Hair Salon, we have seen clients with many types of hair extensions. Some have spent hundreds of dollars on hair extensions that fall apart after a few months. Some have cheap tape attachments that are super sticky and are very damaging and difficult to remove from the hair. There are many steps it takes to get the hair from another person’s body to the hair extension consumer and we will explore it in this blog post.
Global exports of human hair are dominated by China and Russia and come in many textures which vary depending on their origin, however, Indian hair has a reputation for quality, and its exports are worth $300 million a year. India is one of the world’s largest supplier of human hair, accounting for 80% of the market exporting at least 1,300 tons annually. Companies such as Nandalala Enterprises process and export hair to over 10 countries. Where do companies such as these get all that hair that ends up in Boise Hair Salons and around the world? An astonishing amount of this hair is collected from those devoted to the ancient religion of Hinduism.
Hindus sacrifice their hair to the Gods in a ritual known as Tonsuring. With a population of over 1 billion, pilgrims come from far and wide to Indian temples to make this sacrifice. This is why this hair is referred to as “Indian Temple Hair”. These sacrifices of hair come with a prayer by the offerer such as a prayer for a new baby or healing of an aliment. The removal of hair symbolizes the surrender of the ego, shedding all vanity, modesty, and a fresh start. Some devotees offer their hair to the gods several times in a lifetime. Small babies, men, and women all participate in the ritual. For example, daily, the Tirupati temple averages 50,000 pilgrim visits where more than a ton of hair is collected from the devotees! Despite the extreme poverty level of many in India, no devotee would ever dream of asking for money or profit for this sacrifice. They are not “donating’ hair for the production of human hair products. Many devotees have no idea that their hair is sold after the offering. These devotees are simply making a whole-hearted offering to their God in the hopes of answered prayers or as a thank you to the Gods for having answered a prayer. Each pilgrimage to the Hindu temple is viewed as an act of divine deliverance for which the temple rewards them with food or religious serenity.
Prior to the development of the booming hair market, the offered hair was simply burned by the temples. In modern times, human hair export has become huge business with temples auctioning off the hair to the highest bidder every other month after 100,000 pounds or so of hair has accumulated. Indian Temple Hair is considered the best hair to use for wigs and extensions due to it’s ability to maintain its luster, silky texture, and durability after coloring. Therefore bidding at the temple hair auction is highly competitive. For example, a kilogram of hair 16 inches long can sell for $166. Even gray hair can fetch $144 per kilogram. Many companies come from different places and the hair is sold to the highest bidder. From there, the primary dealer sells it to industrialists who then process the hair and export it around the world. The chain of events- sacrifice, collection, sorting, auctioning, transfer to primary dealer, sale to processing plant, to industrial floor production- all effect the end quality of the final product.
The handling of the hair throughout this entire process will determine whether the hair is “remy” hair. Remy hair is the desired hair because the cuticles all run in the same direction. When the hair is “non-remy”, it will quickly tangle. Keeping the cuticles aligned requires that each bundle of hair be managed carefully after it’s collection and throughout the numerous transfers and extensive processing. At the processing plants, workers manually comb through human hair and meticulously disentangle, categorize, delouse, wash, dry and color the hair. Then, by hand, bundles of combed hair are sewn together to make a hair extension, or pulled through lace to make wigs. After being shampooed, rinsed several times and customized to the clients wishes, these hair products are ready to be shipped out.
Human hair extensions and wigs are a lucrative international business. Many hair extension companies have popped up to grab a share of the pie. Additionally, there are many online sellers who promote their hair extensions as a certainly quality, only for the end consumer to find out that it’s not. Cheap hair extensions can have animal or synthetic hair mixed into the piece and this will quickly result in matting and tangling after a few washes. Those companies who do find honest suppliers, keep their sources a secret, as quality hair sourcing is competitive. If it were easy to buy a quality hair extension or wig product at wholesale pricing, Boise Hair Salons would be able to carry their own brands. Since this is not the case, consumers can expect to pay hundreds of dollars at Boise Hair Salon just to purchase the quality hair that they want.