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Insane Facts About the Human Hair Used in Wigs and Extensions

Fashion Jessica 19 July 2018

Many of us have been blessed with a natural, full head of hair. But unfortunately for millions around the world, wigs and hair extensions are an unescapable reality. Hair thinning and loss have become so common that wigs are no longer considered unusual and have become a part of the world culture.

Hair wigs and extensions come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Besides hiding the obvious, they also have their cosmetic appeal, with many celebrities wearing them for fashionable effect.

It is a huge industry, and not without its trivia. Here are some weird and interesting facts about wigs and extensions made out of human hair.

It is a multi-billion-dollar industry

The value of human hair has grown exponentially, so much so that it has now evolved into a multibillion-dollar industry. Not only is hair used for making wigs and extensions, it is also being used for making fake eyelashes, fertilizers and amino acids.

It can cost $700 a pound

A pound of hair can go for an average rate of $700 at an auction, and in some cases much more depending on the length and quality of hair. The value of human hair can be understood by the fact that hair salons are now regularly getting burglarized for it.

It is important to note that this is the rate for hair in their ‘raw’ form – freshly cut and often not cleaned, filled with sweat, blood and in some cases even lice. They have to be cleaned, processed and sorted out, after which they can fetch a much higher value.

Human hair mostly comes from India and China

India and China are the two most populated countries in the world. Therefore. it makes sense that they should be the largest suppliers of human hair, varying in size, color or quality. Religious people in India get their heads shaved at temples during pilgrimages as acts of devotion. Most temples have now started collecting the shaven hair and selling to local buyers, who then process and import the hair to countries abroad.

Unfortunately, this demand has also given rise to criminal activities in developing regions, where individuals or gangs kidnap people and cut off their hair to sell later on.

Wig-making is an extensive process

It is not easy to make a wig. It takes many days. First, hair in its ‘raw’ form needs to be untangled and then sorted out based on its size, color, quality and texture. This is a very painstaking task. Then, it needs to be cleaned and gotten rid of lice (if any). After that, the hair is washed, dried and dyed. Only then can it be picked off to be made into a wig, which itself is an intricate task requiring many days to complete.

Blonde hair fetch twice as much money

Naturally blonde hair can fetch much more money than any other hair color. There have been reports of women getting very high rates for their blonde hair. A woman in Indiana is said to have gotten $1,500 for her golden locks! And a blonde wig made out of that hair went on to fetch a price as high as $8,000!

Mostly sold in rich economies

People living in rich economies, such as in the U.S. Europe and Australia, are likelier to buy human hair, and at a higher price too. That is why hair is usually bought from poor economies at a low price and sold in high-end economies at a much steeper price.

Hair of all sizes is sold

Typically, long hair is more sought after and desirable, and fetches the best price. But short hair finds its market as well. It may not fetch as high a price but still has widespread applications, from toupes for covering up partial baldness in men to industrial processes such as making fertilizers, and amino acids. In fact, these amino acids are used for further purposes, including making dough that does into making a pizza! Yes, actual hair is used in making pizza!

Buyers don’t worry about the origin

In countries such as India, poor people are more than willing to sell their hair for some bucks. However, not all cases are voluntary, nor do they always get a fair price. The ethics of the trade can be questioned at times. However, unlike other businesses where people are conscious about the origins or labor involved (the leather industry, for example), people involved with the hair trade do not tend to ask too many questions.

Human hair are giving way to synthetic fibers

Don’t get me wrong – there is great demand for healthy human hair worldwide. However, with passing years, the supply isn’t quite keeping up as it used to. Most human hair come from India and China – economies that were not very strong a couple decades ago but are now beginning to boom. With this economic progress come greater awareness, better education and higher standards of living. People are less and less inclined to donate their hair for money, which has caused a decrease in the supply of human hair.

The demand is still high, which has forced scientists to synthesize better and more reliable synthetic hair, which are now more and more commonly being used for making wigs and hair extensions. These synthetic wigs may not fetch as high a price, but for some people they can do the trick just fine.

It is really fascinating how the hair industry has boomed. Whether you want to get rid of excess hair on your body, or are worried about excessive hair loss on your head, there are remedies for everything one way or another.