Yeh Hai Life!

Where The Hair For Hair Extensions Come From

In Business, Entrepreneurs, Fashion, Human Rights, India, Women's Issues on June 24, 2009 at 7:57 am

By Antoinette Alexander

Apparently not even the hair business is free of dodgy dealings as Indian locks are being swept up from Hindu temple floors. Some claim the hair is hacked from the heads of unwilling women – all so others worldwide can glue the hair and sport stylish manes.

In the hair extension world, unprocessed and 100% natural, or “virgin,” Indian hair is highly prized because of its flexibility, durability and texture. And thanks in large part to trend-setting celebrities, hair extensions in recent years have hit mainstream. Women everywhere are paying hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars for the best-of-the-best in faux tendrils.

It is a big business. In India, the human hair trade has been estimated to be worth more than $US300 million annually by some accounts.

But where does the hair come from? Well, it is gathered from the floors of Hindu temples where women each day have their heads shaved as part of religious practices. Not only have the temples turned the ritual into a profit by collecting the hair daily from the floor and selling it to international wholesalers to pad temple coffers but some argue it is nothing more than a sweatshop, as factory workers apparently as young as 12 years old spend their days sorting, combing and cleaning the hair collected.

Even more hair-raising is that some officials have stated that all of the Indian temples together contribute only 20 out of every 100 locks of hair sold abroad. So where does the rest of the hair come from?
Some women claim they have been victims of razor gangs who attack young women and shave off their hair to be sold to collectors, while others say their husbands or families forced them to shave their heads to make some money.

Perhaps today the underlying concept of tonsure is that hair is a symbolic offering to the gods—the money gods!

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