Where Did You Get That Hair?


Modern hair extensions and wigs have been commonly worn by performers and people with particular health ailments in the past. But more and more women – specifically in the United States and Africa – are going to salons to enjoy a different look with the help of hair from millions of people from the Asian corner of the world. Professional hair dressers apply the extensions of the consumer’s choice via the clip-in or postiche methods.

The process of collecting different hair for wigs and extensions involves complex procedures and techniques. Until recently, India was the leader in artificial hair integration, but was circumvented by independent businesses in China due to the high demand in the West, making China the highest hair trader in the world.

The production of hair extensions is big in the Chinese city of Xuchang, which has a population of 4 million. Compared to China’s overpopulated regions specializing in different industries, this small city has turned into the world’s hair center and has a history dating back thousands of years. The city stands out with hundreds of hair extension facilities. For the past 20 years Xuchang has made significant investments in wigs and other hair extension tools.

All natural hair is collected from around the world, although it primarily comes from India, China and Indonesia. Hair is brought to the giant hair factories of Xuchang to undergo a series of chemical treatments and processes to turn it into attractive, artificial hair that costs more than 40 or 50 times the hair’s unprocessed price. The hair is first washed in large vessels,  followed by the color separation process where the hair is dyed and left for drying. At the final stage, the dyed hair is separated and sent to the appropriate division to be prepared as the final product. The factories can produce nearly 10 tons of artificial hair by using the hair of 40,000 women. In other words, the hair of 4 million women is required to produce 1,000 tons of artificial hair.

Millions of women sacrifice their hair to earn a few dollars each year. Some women do it for the money, others for religious reasons. According to some Indian traditions, women cut their braids off at sacred temples as part of their marriage rituals. The hair is then collected by priests and sold at auctions.

The hair extension industry is a win-win situation for all: Asian women sell their hair to the West in exchange for $60.00 USD. However, the artificial hair is sold for up to $8,000.00 at beauty salons and by independent hairdressers. The total profits from the hair extension industry exceed $200 million, annually.

With respect to the cost of living in Asia and India, $60.00 can be very useful. Those who can sell their hair to collectors consider themselves lucky because the facilities accept only the best quality of hair types. Color, brightness and softness are the main considerations given, although the hair is examined according to seven quality measures.

One has to wonder why Asia is the number one source for hair extension manufacturing. The answer is simple: the hair of Asian women is not generally exposed to harsh chemicals. Their natural oils fortify hair growth. Although Indian women praise their hair, the blond hair of Ukrainian women is the highest seller; Ukrainian women can earn more than $100.00 USD because their hair is the rarest of hair types and doesn’t require hair coloring through chemical process.

While hair extensions offer a different look, they can also be harmful. See the hazards of hair extensions at ABC News.. Tread carefully.


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