Today we take a look at the journey of hair extensions, where they originate – from, the process as illustrated in the pictures above to the end result of how many women experience major hair envy as they see the hair on someone’s head. It’s a rarity that celebrity women reveal their true tresses. Often times their hair is locked up in a protective weave style namely Indian, Peruvian, Mongolian and Brazilian hair as well as lace wigs.

Hair extensions are more and more used by women who want to thicken their hair.  All Remy hair comes from India.  Women in India naturally grow their hair very long.  They cut their hair and donate it to their temples.  The temple keepers take the hair and sell it to the highest bidders and then put the money back into the temples and community.  

The business started to be consistent during the 1980s for producing wigs, but the real boom took place during the last 10 years with the increased popularity of hair extensions. 

Indian hair is considered the best in the market for its quality and length.  Moreover Indian women from the villages don't use any chemicals and take great care of their hair: they comb it frequently and only use coconut oil on it.  Many hair extensions find their way back to India, to Mumbai's high society.

There are different qualities of hair extensions.  The ones made out of Remy hair, which means long Indian hair in a unidirectional fashion, are the most expensive ones.  Companies like Great Lengths have developed and patented innovative ways of colouring and applying the hair and this is also part of the cost.

Hair is offered as a sacrifice to the hundreds of thousands of gods in the Hindu pantheon for reasons as diverse as seeking to ward off ill-health to wanting to bring luck and fortune.

The practice is common in southern India, especially at temples in Tamil Nadu state, where people from all over the country come to be shaved.  On a religious festival day, up to 1,000 people, including 50 to 60 women, undergo the ritual at the Tiruttani temple north of Chennai.

Tonnes of tresses are cut every day and mostly sold at auction to wholesalers, which then prepare and export them for use across the world. The practice has even become a lucrative sideline for temples, who use the money raised for charitable activities.  Some suppliers have also gone into business themselves, cutting out the need for wholesalers.

The most expensive type is “Remy” hair, which is shaved directly from the scalp.  It makes up 25 per cent of the market; “non-Remy” hair, which accounts for the rest, comes from comb waste.

For centuries Hindu pilgrims have donated their hair in a ritual of purification.  Today this hair has become a precious commodity and an extraordinary economic resource.  For hundreds of years, devotees have donated money or jewellery.  Many will not hesitate to offer the only thing they own, their hair in a ritual purification.

Hair India follows the journey of human hair from the holy temples of Southern India to the production lines of Europe and on to high class beauty salons around the world.

The donors want to make a sacrifice to God and wouldn't take any money for that.  People are donating their hair for a spiritual reason as a sacrifice to God.   For them the hair was something they got rid of and whatever may happen to it afterwards is none of their concern. Until a few years ago the hair donated to the temples was burned or used to stuff mattresses.  Today this hair has become an extraordinary economic resource.  


October 2013
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