How many times have you looked at your gorgeous wig or topper and wondered where the hair came from?
Ever wondered if it is actually virgin remy, or true Slavic?
I have spent years as a stylist in this business, and a wig wearer myself trying to unearth the truth behind vendors and hair sourcing. It’s a tough nut to crack.
The harsh reality is that more times than not, the description of what you purchase is not what you get. This is by no fault of the seller, and sometimes by no fault of the seller’s vendor.
The multi billion dollar per year alternative hair industry has always been a very shady business. In the 1800’s hair was cut from women like animals, in the 1900’s hair brokers were even banned from Ellis Island for attacking women for their hair.
Lack of regulation across the globe leads to misrepresentation in alternative hair sales. This is something that many sellers and vendors alike are trying to change by being as transparent as possible. By doing so, we are able to keep prices reasonable for a product that is truly what it says it is.
Eventually, I hope that the hair industry becomes more of a fair trade type business. We have a long way to go.
One way that consumers can help change this industry is to become more aware of industry terminology and where hair comes from.
Here's some facts I've learned from my years of experience.
The vast majority of what we purchase in the alternative hair world is from China. However, here's a brief description of each hair type:
East Asian hair is naturally thick, dark and straight. Can withstand a lot of processing. Readily available and least expensive. Because it can withstand processing well, this hair will be sold a lot of times as “Brazilian or Mongolian.”
Usually when we see the term Brazilian or Mongolian, it is referring to the texture of the hair, not necessarily referring to where the hair came from.
Brazilian hair is in high demand, but due to lack of true Brazilian donors, it is pretty rare.
Indian hair is mostly collection from temples in India and can cost as much as $700+ a pound. Millions of Indian men and women sacrifice their hair in a sacred ceremony called Tonsure.
The hair collected from the temples in India has turned into a $7M per year business for India. This hair ends up being put into big piles and then is sold to hair brokers.
European is the finest density of all hair. Has the most natural color variety, ranging from a level 1 black to a level 8 medium blonde. It can easily be colored.
Slavic hair, a subset of European hair, has been coined as being the highest quality on the market today, essentially diamond standard. It is highly sought after because it has naturally lighter colors and is extremely fine yet durable.
True Slavic hair will have been collected from donors in Central and Eastern Europe. Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
The marketing industry has blown up keywords that women look for when they are purchasing alternative hair. REMY, VIRGIN, etc… Here is a breakdown of what all those key words really mean:
VIRGIN - Human hair untouched by chemicals. Donor never chemically treated hair and hair is not treated after collection. The bundle comes from a single donor. Cuticles are aligned.
REMY - Human hair that is carefully collected and processed. Usually from multiple donors. Can be and is usually chemically processed. The cuticle is kept intact and aligned.
100% Human Hair - Human hair that is collected from several donors. Cuticle is not kept aligned, the hair is heavily treated and stripped to remove the cuticle. Usually covered in silicone to restore shine.
Fallen - Very widely sold as remy and virgin hair. The demand for virgin remy hair far outweighs the supply so companies fake it by chemically processing hair from various sources.
Coming from drains, floors and brushes, it is then processed with harsh chemicals and coated with silicone. They process this hair and strip the cuticles so that to you, it looks shiny and beautiful.
Another little tid bit that’s good to know is if the hair has been single drawn or double drawn.
Double drawn hair - the most expensive, and better only in the sense that one person has spent hours and hour hackling the hair and pulling out any shorter pieces. So the bundle you get will all be one full, thick length.
Single drawn hair - multiple lengths of hair in a bundle
As a whole, the hair industry itself is very corrupt and unregulated.
Hair used for wigs and extensions can go through many hands before it reaches you. The hair donor, the hair collector, the broker, the factory where the piece is made, the wig seller, the salon for customizing and then finally you.
So are you truly getting Mongolian, Brazilian, European, Russian, Slavic, Indian, or Chinese hair?
In order to ensure that you are getting the product you paid for, it's important to work established sellers, like those on Silk or Lace.
These trusted sellers have done hours and hours of research and have made sure that their product is sourced as ethically as possible.
They take all of the guesswork out of it for you as a consumer. They’re also there to answer any questions about whatever it may be, hair type, hair texture, etc.
As always, we are here to answer any of your questions!
Leave a comment and let us know how you felt about this article and what else you’d like to learn about hair.
For an in depth look into the hair sourcing industry I highly recommend watching this video as well: https://youtu.be/VlZ1SWLBfPE
Questions? Find me on Instagram @audrarackleyhair!
Thank you for bringing up this topic. Great article!!
This was eye opening, I have often wondered where the hair on my topper came from. Thank you for providing me with some much needed education!