One of tens of thousands of women in Britain end up getting extensions for their hair, a number that has risen by almost 70% in the past five years.
Popular celebrities like Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Liz Hurley and Mary Berry swear by the beauty of hair extensions that can give anyone the red carpet look in no time.
Britain imports hair extensions in bulk and is recorded as the third largest hair extension importer in the world. It imports almost 43 million tonnes of human hair/year, which can almost cover two million heads, or can be stretched around the world 3,200 times.
But where these do these hair extensions come from is a
thought not many have pondered upon. Let us give you a brief insight on how this
multi-million-pound hair trade keep sustaining
through countries like Britain.
‘VIRGIN’ DONORS IN INDIA
In Southern India, at the renowned Yadagirigutta Temple, many poor women wait patiently in line to donate their tresses. These women have virgin hair that is untreated human hair that has never been colored, chemically treated or even blow dried. This ‘virgin hair’ is seen as a prized export product and is expertly snipped off in mere five minutes or less by trained barbers with steel blades.
Women participate in these ‘tonsuring’ ceremonies, get their heads shaved, are pictured with steel blades and all this is done as a holy offering to Lord Vishnu. Ironically, this same hair will be exported to countries like Britain for some dollars and grace the head of some international client later on. Many women donate their hair knowing it will be marketed by dealers for raising funds.
At times 50,000 women queue to get their head shaved. The act itself is seen like a pilgrimage, where the head is coated in antiseptic sandalwood paste once shaved. These women believe that hair is the most defining beauty in a woman, and so when donated, the beauty goes straight to the Lord’s heart.
Though dark colored, the hair collected from these temples of South India is of extremely high quality and take well to bleaching. They are mostly colored blonde to suit requirements of clients frequenting British salons. This is one reason Indian hair is famed internationally and India is one of the top human hair exporters, worldwide.
Tonsuring has led to much controversial debates in the West, mostly because many of these pilgrims are children, with some of them being no more than five or six years. Funds raised through tonsuring are said to be used in erecting new schools and hospitals, though most times, no transparent records are maintained and so the money becomes difficult to trace.
SHADY DEALERS TARGETING THE POOR
Apart from temples that can be seen as a mediator in this international trade, there are many hair dealers, who travel all across Asia and Eastern Europe looking for young women who would be interested in trading their locks for a paltry sum of money. Many times, they even target willing husbands who are then expected to coax their wives to participate in this entire mind boggling business.
Some husbands even force their wives to do so, while there are even reports where women are being attacked and their hair is hacked by gangs. Even children in slum are not spared and are often tricked into getting their heads shorn for goodies and toys.
Eastern European hair or Slavyanka hair (because of women’s Slavic origins) is an equally popular product. It is soft, lustrous and unlike Indian hair, it is naturally blonde. Siberia and Ukraine hold monthly cutting fares where women sell their hair for a mere pittance.
There have also been gory rumors where it is believed that extensions and wigs also come from Eastern European prison inmates who are forcefully shorn by wardens.
Then there is South American hair, mostly from places like Brazil and Peru. This hair is demanded for its high volume. Mostly dealers travel from door to door targeting women who are desperately in need of money.
Chinese hair on the other hand is considered undesirable as they are thick and coarse. However, it is often sold in the guise of Indian or Peru hair.
HUNTING FOR HAIR ON RUBBISH HEAPS
Hair fall is a normal process and an average woman loses almost 50 to 100 hair strands in a day. Pedlars across Asia pick this ‘dead’ hair from houses and hair cutting salons in the region. Hair is also collected from rubbish dumps or swept from doorsteps.
This hair is then detangled, which can be considered the first step of the hair extension making process. This low quality hair, also known as ‘comb waste’, is then deposited in special warehouses, from where it is passed on to firms who engage in the trading of shorter, lower-quality hair strands.
PRICELESS STASHES OF ‘BLACK GOLD’
Collected hair stacked like heavy bales of hay is then transported by road and air to factories where workers are appointed for the business.
Most factories observe a secrecy policy and are hesitant in revealing details related to the hair collection, cleaning, bleaching or processing.
Detangling or untangling collected hair by hand. This is a tedious process and one person can afford to untangle just 150g of hair in a day. Often times, a simple needle is used for the process.
Detangled hair is then hackled, where it is vigorously pulled through a comb with sharp iron prongs. This helps in making the hair smooth and uniform
The drawing out or sorting the strands starts next, and in this process the hair is sorted into different lengths. Sorted hair is then combed and tied into bunches.
The hair is then soaked to remove germs and make it blonde. For instance, the comb waste is soaked in acid and high- quality hair collected is placed in an osmosis bath. The composition of the bath is a closely guarded secret.
Chemicals then eliminate the dark pigments from the hair without ruining the cuticles. The shiny strands are then ready to be dyed, and it requires almost 20 days for achieving the desired colour.
Before immersing hair into the bath, workers painstakingly sew each strand to clean, white strips of fabric. This is done to give a straight and flawless finish to the hair.
In cases where hair needs to be curled, it is dried and then wrapped around sticks. These are then baked in ovens at a temperature of almost 240c, which facilitates the curl to permanently set.
Processed hair is then distributed to wholesalers, especially in the U.S. Here, the hair is packed and labeled and made market ready.
The real deal can be found here as the Asian factories only get a fraction of money that these wholesalers extract from the British salons. Salons in the UK order directly from these wholesalers and pay them exorbitantly depending on length and volume of the hair.
This hair sells like hotcakes in Britain. In the hair extension process, it t is fitted near the scalp with the help of a high end keratin glue. The hair then fuses to the strands once heat is applied. These extensions usually last for around three months, and sometimes with the help of an expert stylist, the same strands can be re-glued several times, as and when required.
Today, hair is more than just a symbol. What started as a trend when Victoria Beckham sported long hair has now become a big business, thanks to fashion conscious British women of all ages wanting enviable hair extensions.
Synthetic hair (hair collected from animals) is priced low as this cannot be styled (curled or straightened). So salons are always on the lookout for the real deal - human hair.
Since time immemorial, original hair has been prevailing over the artificial one. With the view to the fact that Artificial hair is fashioned with the sophistication of technology. But the preparation of original human hair like Skin Weft Hair demands the perfect fusion of technology and high level of artistry. We do not make tall claim that our collection matches to the 100% original hair, however we make all possible endeavour to provide our clients with the-best-in-the quality Skin Weft Hair.
We have developed an in-house quality inspection salon, outfitted with a series of latest hair analyzing & testing equipment and appliances. Our expert hair doers are dedicated to supervising the whole process so as to assure the production of high quality hair. As Quality is the success Sloka in Hair Extension Ventures that inspires us to keep the quality and satisfy the clients.
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