Hair extensions have become huge of the last few years and we all love to add a little length to glam up our look for a big night out- but have you ever wondered where that hair really comes from?

"It's horse hair," swears my friend, "Or from dead people. Honestly who would really cut off all their own hair if it was that long?" Well he's wrong. There are in fact thousands of people around the world who do just that every day and they don't always get paid for it.

The best quality hair comes from Asian or Eastern European countries where poverty is high and work is poorly paid. These women often see selling their hair as the best way to make money and feed their families.

The 'hair factories' are very serious when they sign women into a contract to grow their hair a certain length and have strict conditions under which the hair must grow.

The women- and sometimes whole families- must keep their hair away from any contact with pollutants and make sure it is kept in top condition while to grows. Sometimes the factories even provide food for it's workers to ensure that the hair grows to a good enough standard.

When the time comes for the hair to be harvested the women line up at the factory before their heads are shaved completely bald and they are sent out to start the whole process again.

This may seem like a girl's worst nightmare to you but for many of these women it is the easiest and most effective way of providing for their family and the alternatives are much much worse.

However not all hair 'donors' benefit financially from such a huge sacrfice. In some parts of India women are conned out of their precious locks without even knowing they are then being sold to beef up the hair of beauty conscious women around the world.

In 2006 the Daily Mail reported how in the hills of Tirupati, in India, a Hindu temple has become the second richest religious site in the world- due mostly to it's sale of human hair.

The newspaper reported how every day, up to 4,000 women visit the temple to take part in a religious ceremony, called tonsuring, during which they shave off their hair as a sacrifice to the god Vishnu.

These women believe that taking part in the ceremony is a sign that they are willing to give up their pride and vanity, and to thank the gods or ask them for health and happiness in the future- but what they don't know is they are also making a lot of money for those who run the temple.

After the ceremony all the hair that is collected is combed, sorted into lengths and dyed before being shipped to Western countries to sell as wigs and hair extentions.

So while we see our extensions as a great way to give us a beauty boost and make us feel great as we hit the town- there is in fact a much bigger human story behind every lock of hair.

Caz Moss- Female First

  1. by Nick 22nd Jul 2008 23:55

    Let's not forget nuns. There's a pretty large market for what they call "virgin" hair - i.e. the hair that haircare companies experiment their products on - which has to be pure and unt... Read More

  2. by haireality 23rd Jul 2008 14:59

    Read my blog posts

    The Globalization of Indian Hair


    haireality.blogspot.com

  3. by Amanda 30th Jul 2008 09:09

    this is the scariest and most inhumane thing that some people do to others without them knowing.

  4. by christina castelo branco 25th Oct 2008 12:07

    Im in bed browsing the net, doin some homework, as Ive thought 'mmm.. might get some hair extensions' Reading that is mind boggling, thinking bout what im buying and what people who are in poverty go through.

  5. by Fiona 03rd Sep 2009 21:43

    Just a small comment in response to Nick, two of my aunts who I am very close to are nuns and your description of their lives could not be more ignorant or stereotypical. They are not i... Read More

  6. by michelle taylor 30th Dec 2009 21:56

    i work for a hair company and the thing that annoys me most is the customers who have no respect for the hair,they drop it on the floor walk over it,and i think people should show respe... Read More

  7. by PURPLEPOISON 23rd Feb 2010 23:01

    I think this is absolutly gross and disgusting. The people that are expoited and are either giving their hair for free or are being paid very small amounts. The companies on the other e... Read More

  8. by aheadofhair.biz 18th Apr 2010 12:56

    This is an interesting article , but i think this is only half the story, the article fails to mention that a majority of the hair used for hair extensions is gathered (mostly in Asia) ... Read More

  9. by Jamie 27th May 2010 10:32

    I feel gross reading about that, because I wear my extensions each day and now i look at them differently. thinking about the poor person who had to shave their head for little or no mo... Read More

  10. by sophie 30th Sep 2010 15:48

    fair enough people get conned to shave their heads etc... but at the end of the day its all just business. People are always going to want extensions and people are always going to want... Read More

  11. by Ellie 01st Dec 2010 05:44

    well all i can say is thank you to the peeps that shave yer head so i can be HOTT thanks

  12. by Shawna 03rd Oct 2013 13:04

    I do feel bad that these poor women shave their heads so that we can have hair extensions. At the same time, us buying these hair extensions is what is allowing them to feed their families. I agree that the next time that we buy hair extensions that we should whisper a little "thank you" out into the universe. And no doubt, a little mother is whispering a "thank you" in return. It indeed makes me more grateful to these women and at the same time, more respectful and appreciative of what they've given to us.

  13. by Missura 08th Oct 2013 16:42

    Same here!!! I wear mine daily too and I had no idea about this. I will go to cut and dye my hair tomorrow to lt it grow naturally. Nomore hair extensions for me! I'll probably donate mine to cancer patient.

  14. by julianne 15th Dec 2013 15:27

    me too i didnt know they shaved there heads to make me look glam ..wonder if i can adopt some off these women and i will feed them i will do any thing to get cheaper extensions..thank you ladies for your hair it really does mean a lot to me and i will always used them xxxx

  15. by Lizzie Scott 01st May 2014 19:31

    at least it saves them from doing worse things for money to bring up their families like prostitution, in this case everyone wins. yes maybe western countries should be grateful for what they get from the poorer countries but who do we say thank you to and if we stop buying their hair they would stave and many people would die or turn to other ways to make money for example human and drug trafficking, prostitution and other illegal stuff :/

  16. by FearlessFem 25th Jul 2014 23:33

    this comment is sicker than the article itself. "Can I adopt some off these women and I will feed them"? You want to adopt women in order for you to have cheaper extension hair? What th... Read More