Where Does Human Hair Come From? Our Wigs & Hair Extensions
Posted by The Essence Luxe Couture Team on
We all know celebs like Kim K and Kylie Jenner love their wigs. But their Instagram photos and paparazzi photo ops are merely a glimpse into their vast collection of wigs. Whether they're made of human hair or not, these wigs cost thousands of dollars. Wigs are often expensive because of the massive demand for human hair and the lucrative nature of the industry. But the human hair industry has a secret... A dirty little secret. It's a tale of lies and deceit. Let's dive in.
In early Medieval Europe, wigs were popular among wealthy men and women. Most of whom were suffering from some kind of hair loss. After some time, so many wealthy individuals were wearing wigs, that it became a trend. Every aristocrat wanted one. At that time, wigs were usually sourced from poor people (as though their medieval plight was not enough) or made from animal fur. Thank man's best friend, buffaloes and trusty yaks.
Centuries later, as demand for wigs increased, animal hair was no longer acceptable. Most animal fur could not meet needs for lengths over 18 - 20". So the majority of hair used in wigs and extensions began coming from actual people located in India and China. Indian religious people made, and continue to make, pilgrimages to temples such as the Venkateswara Temple in Tirumala, India, where they would shave/tonsure their heads in a ritual of devotion. Hundreds of barbers shaved a new person's head every five minutes. The temple then took these strands, which could go as long as 30 inches, and sold them at auctions. 'Temple' hair could cost $700 a pound!
Unfortunately, as demand for human hair rose, many in the hair extension industry began playing marketing tricks. You see, a majority of the hair on the market is actually purchased inexpensively from the poor in China (medieval much?). This hair is then marketed as Brazilian or Peruvian hair, and sold for twice the money.
But why the lies? We'll take Brazil for example, Brazilian women are synonymous for their exotic beauty, which we all assume to equate with beautiful exotic hair. It just sounds better than Chinese hair. It sounds so good, millions of women are willing to pay that much more for it. There are little to no regulations in the human hair industry, so most, if not all, hair manufacturers are able to get away with it.
While sourcing raw hair for our products, we had to beg manufacturers to tell us the REAL origin of their hair. I mean literally beg. Even after insisting that we knew there was no such thing as Brazilian hair.
Think about it... how on earth could you get all that Peruvian hair from Peru. Have you ever seen Peru on a map?? There aren't enough heads, male or female, to fulfill the world's demand. What's sad is that most boutiques and hair vendors don't even know the difference. They believe exactly what their manufacturers tell them. And why blame them?
So, we pretty much just shattered your world... now let's unshatter it.
Unlike most vendors, we know where our hair comes from. We mainly use Cambodian, Indian, Malaysian and Burmese hair. Burma is a small country in Asia, next to Thailand. They've only recently been importing raw hair from Burma, as demand for human hair continues to skyrocket, so you won't see much of this hair on the market. But believe you me, we've got it!
Indian Human Hair
Indian Hair originates from spiritual places like the Tirupati temples, where men and women shave their heads as an offering to the gods.
Indian hair usually comes thick and straight. After washing, you'll notice that the hair becomes slightly wavy. It's easy to find Indian hair in lengths up to 40". Indian Hair normally comes in dark natural colors so if you come across hair that is listed as Indian, and is anything lighter than color 1B or 2, it's dyed.
Malaysian Human Hair
This hair comes from Malaysian women who donate their hair at temples in Malaysia, in order to help themselves financially, or as an offering to the gods.
This silky and shiny variation of human hair comes in darker browns or natural to jet blacks. The hair is heavier, thicker, more dense, softer and silkier than Indian hair. And the hair dries straight with a slight wave.
Burmese Human Hair
Burmese Hair is sourced from the few Hindu temples within Burma, as well as local Burmese women, who donate their hair, to acquire money to pay for school or medical bills. A lot of the hair from Burma is sent to Taiwan, Japan, Thailand or India, often for it to be sold as Indian hair, since Burma itself is little known among consumers.
Burmese Hair is a cross between Chinese hair and Indian hair. The hair is extremely healthy and resilient, and takes heat extremely well compared to other hair origins. The hair is naturally straight with a slight curl at the ends and comes in dark black and browns shades. The only downside, is that this hair is quite a stubborn curler. If your able to curl it, they won't hold long without product.
Cambodian Human Hair
Our Cambodian hair is sourced from the rural parts of Western Cambodia. Cambodia has a population of approximately 15 million and its official language is Khmer. Its ethnic makeup consists of 3 main groups, Austroasiatic, Malayo-Polynesian and Tai. Our hair is sourced variably between those peoples, but come mainly from the Austroasiatic peoples.
Cambodian hair features soft waves, a smooth and silky texture. Our Cambodian hair has a high sleek gloss with a super soft touch. Cambodian hair is light, silky and lustrous in texture which is why it’s our preferred type of hair. The light texture of this human hair makes it effortless to wear and maintain.
We love wigs and hair extensions! And we know you do too! But love is better when you know the truth. Right? Riiigghht