Hair extensions come in different lengths, textures and colours making them an a great way for ladies to change their appearance overnight. Some come pre-packed with colourful labels while others are available as bundles. They are available in weft form to use as weaves and in bulk form for other attachment methods such as fusion bonding or Brazilian knots and braids. Hair and beauty stores have shelves piled high with different options the consumer can choose from.
Have you ever wondered where your extensions come from?
With the large amount of stock retailers hold one has to wonder where all this hair comes from? While synthetic hair is pretty easy to source since it is factory made hair, human hair extensions which are the better quality of the two aren’t as straight forward. Who are all these people supposedly cutting their hair for us to use as hair extensions?
Well human hair extensions used to mainly come from China and India. Nowadays there are other sources from South American countries like Peru and Brazil.
Indian hair extensions
Indian hair extensions used to be sourced from temples where people would cut off their long ponytail and remit it to the temple so that their prayers will be answered. In the Hindu culture the length of a woman’s hair is a sign of her beauty. By donating their hair, these women are giving a sacrifice to the temple.
Men, women and children have their heads shaved so that they might practice the ritual of “washing away” their past and beginning brand new. The temples do hold private auctions to fund many things in India such as education and health care. The ladies in India do not cut their hair to make money. They only cut their hair as part of religious routine and it is sold for their community benefit.
This act of remitting their hair gave these types of extensions the Remy name now commonly used to describe good quality human hair extensions. The people who remitted their hair usually came from local villages and communities where colouring and perming was rarely done to their hair. The hair was Virgin hair and the best quality you could buy as the cuticles were intact and undamaged. Indian hair is similar in texture to Caucasian hair.
Chinese hair extensions
Hair sourced from China is of a completely different texture to Indian hair. The Chinese have thicker and coarser strands of hair than Indians and Caucasians. Chinese wholesalers tend to source their hair from locals who are willing to sell their hair. So although the hair is paid for, the person selling the hair wouldn’t get paid a great deal of money. The emphasis on virgin untreated hair isn’t as high and as a result Chinese manufacturers tend to coat the hair in silicone to coat the hair strands that may or may not be virgin in order to seal the cuticle and reduce tangling. The coarser texture of Chinese hair made it an ideal choice for hair extensions targeted at Black people due to its close resemblance to relaxed Black hair. Because there isn’t enough demand for coarse hair, believe it or not even with the amount of weave Black women run through, the Chinese also import hair from other countries.
Peruvian and Brazilian hair extensions
Peruvian hair and “Brazilian” hair is really hair that has been sourced from countries in South America. Brazilian women don’t cut their hair to sell to anybody. The love long hair and hair extensions so much that they even have their own attachment method called Brazilian knots. Brazil is a big hub for processing hair from other South American countries and that’s where the term “Brazilian hair” comes from. Peruvian hair is also sold in Brazil and around the world after it has been processed in Brazil as Peruvian hair. Peru is also a big processing hub. They get their hair from indigenous Indians – like most South Americans from villages and women willing to sell their hair. Like Indian Remy hair this is usually good quality Virgin hair.
Malaysian Hair Extensions
Malaysian hair extensions are often sold from Chinese vendors and they are not from Malaysia. The truth is that Malaysians do not even have a venue for selling hair and the hair is usually from Chinese vendors who mislabel the hair so that it is sold quickly. The hair industry is not regulated so this is what happens when people buy hair from unscrupulous vendors in China.
Cambodian Hair Extensions
Cambodia is a very poor country and many women sell their hair to feed their families. There are small villages where ladies will have their heads shaved and sell it for food for their families. This is a way to feed their families and the hair is Virgin hair. Hair extensions are a way that the Cambodian people can earn money at least every six to eight months. The collectors for the hair will travel through the villages during these time periods to collect freshly shaved hair from the residents of the villages.
Many of the people who sell their hair to these Hair Extension manufacturers come from poor areas and actually use the money they get paid for their hair to feed themselves and their families. Some factories will even go as far as to feed these women so that they have a healthy head of hair that grows long and thick. These women line up and get ready to give the only natural resource they have which is their hair. In many cases these ladies will have their heads shaved and not just have their ponytails cut.
Some East Indian ladies do not even consent to having their hair cut off and sold as hair extensions. These unsuspecting women are usually conned out of their gorgeous locks of hair not even getting a profit for losing their beautiful natural locks of hair.
It is worth noting that contrary to what the packaging might say, there is no such thing as Chinese or Brazilian or even Peruvian Remy hair. The hair they sell wasn’t remitted at temples. They might sell Virgin hair that is unprocessed with intact cuticles, but it wasn’t remitted at a temple. The term Remy symbolised excellent quality virgin hair and is now being misused on product labels!
Some unscrupulous factories collect dead hair from salons and hair brushes for hair extensions, sort it, brush it, add silicone and then sell it on as Remy hair. China also now imports hair from other regions such as India re-label the hair as Brazilian hair to unsuspecting clients. Chinese hair extensions can be labelled anything from Russian to Brazilian and even Indian. The truth is that this hair is collected from salons and is sold as virgin Remy hair extensions.
To tell the difference between Virgin hair and non virgin hair, put the hair in a ponytail and run your hands from the roots to the tip, then the other way. When running your hair from the roots to the tip, the hair should feel smooth, which means the cuticles are intact, and lying flat against the hair shaft. When you run your hand in the opposite direction you should feel some roughness as you are running your hand against the direction the cuticle lies in. If it feels smooth in both directions then the hair has most likely been coated in silicone to seal the cuticles and reduce tangling. The hair will have an acid like smell or a silicone type smell and will not last long. This is because frequent shampooing eventually washes the layer of silicone off. The hair will start to tangle making it unusable and the unsuspecting client then has to go out and buy some more hair.
Packaged hair is labelled and regularly sold here in the UK. Many hair extensions are labelled falsely so do be aware of the vendor you use and the hair quality that these extensions promise. Things are not as they seem in the hair extension business so make sure you get what you are paying for when you buy hair extensions. Shops who have a large stock of hair on display in packets definitely don’t sell the best quality hair. Most of this hair is derived from brushes and salons. It is definitely not Virgin hair. To buy Virgin hair look for a small retailer or hairdresser that sells hair in unpackaged bundles.