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New Delhi– From shaggy to bob cut hairstyles, there’s something for everyone. With the snap of a finger, hair extensions can transform your appearance completely. But have you ever considered where these extensions originate?

Because of the increased demand for natural hair extensions, these extensions are selling at a high price in the market. But are the traders well-treated and well-compensated?

Human hair extensions are made from real human hair donated by a donor sourced specially from India’s temples. Jitendra Sharma, Founder of Hair Originals speaks to IANSlife.

* How and where do you get your hair extensions?

Jitendra: Our products are 100% made in India. We have established our manufacturing division in Gurgaon, Haryana. We primarily collect and source natural hair from the temples of South India where people donate hair as a devotional ritual. We process the hair in our factory to make it into different products while retaining the quality. The supply of original and unprocessed human hair from India has marked its identity in the hair extensions and wig industry. These human hair are in high demand because of their shinier, healthier and high quality. They also sustain multiple washes. India is one of the major sources of human hair used in the hair extensions and wigs industry. It contributes to about 33 percent of the total global hair market. Human hair has been one of our leading export items since independence.

* What steps do you take to improve the lives of hair traders?

Jitendra: The intermediaries involved in the collection of mass hair for the hair extensions and wig industry belong to different social and economic spheres. There are many social and financially backward households that are involved in hair trading. By getting involved in this trade, they are now earning their livelihoods. It is quickly attracting unemployed people, mainly from remote areas. We are connected with women who belong mainly from small cities. With their earnings, these women are capable of raising their livelihoods and supporting their families economically. They have gained financial independence while working with us. Also, we ensure fair market policy wherein we impart training regarding the segregation process of hair.

* India is regarded as the most ethical hair source. Why?

Jitendra: Globally, commercial hair is procured from countries like China, Peru, Russia, and Ukraine. India is among the largest hair exporters in the world. Indian human hair is one of the most attractive materials in the global hair extensions and wig industry. This is because of its smooth appearance and ability to endure styling without any damage. In India, men and women of all ages offer their hair to the god as a part of a religious ceremony known as ‘Tonsure’. There is no applied force or pressure for them to do so. While in other countries, the commercial hair trade delves into the practice of forceful hair procurement, hair theft, and even dabbles in the lines of consent vs exploitation. While in India not only the sourcing happens ethically, the hair industry also employs women/workforce from tier 2 and tier 3 cities to process the human hair, empowering them in the process. For ethical reasons also, Indian hair is in demand globally too.

* The ability to completely transform one’s appearance with hair extensions is amazing, but at what cost?

Jitendra: People love to change their looks by trying different hairstyles and hair colours. Hair extensions are extremely useful for those who are struggling with thin and rough hair. It works like a magic mirror for both men and women. These extensions add volume and desired length to the original hair. It is also used by people with medical conditions (cancer/hair loss) who have lost the majority of their hair. Those people can look for hair extensions to enhance and beautify their look. Customers are able to instantly transform their appearance according to their choice with the help of extensions. Coloured hair extensions are also a healthy replacement for hair colour. Hair colours are chemical-based and can damage the texture and quality of scalp and hair, while coloured hair extensions do the same job without the damage. There are no metrics to gauge the spike in confidence, benefit to people, and so many other comforts wigs/hair extensions bring to people.

Weighing the benefits vs cost, the benefits certainly rise up. Indeed, the hair extensions cost a bit high in the consumer’s pockets. It is so because a lot of effort is required in perfecting and luxe styling of hairs. But, there are cost-friendly options available in the market. For example, Hair Originals provides the finest and 100 percent. The wide range of bold and vivacious prints will inspire many women to adopt sarees in their wardrobe natural human hair extensions at a comparatively low price. The price ranges from INR 7,000 – 22,000, depending on the length desired. There are DIY options available too which start anywhere between INR 1500-1600. With our own manufacturing technology, we have been able to come up with this solution. We also offer free installation service by certified stylists without compromising the quality.

* The hair extensions industry is worth a million dollars, but there are some dark secrets lurking behind the scenes. What are your thoughts on this?

Jitendra: In 2020, the global market value of the hair extensions industry was USD 2.35 billion. It has been estimated that the industry will reach a market value of USD 3.45 billion by 2028. The industry is expanding with a CAGR of 13 percent. To mark this, the eye-catching hair extensions industry has some drawbacks as well.

There are many instances where people, especially women are exploited in countries like Ukraine and Vietnam for their hair. They are paid very low for their well-nourished hair. There are a lot of hoarders who smuggle hairs through the Bengal route to China. Also, there are many middlemen involved in the illegal transportation of raw materials from India to China and the United States. There are many brands in the hair industry that use “comb hair” and “waste hairs” collected from drainage to make their hair extensions. These hairs are untangled by workers. This process is labour-intensive as 1.5kg of hair takes 80 hours of labour to untangle. The workers assigned in this process are underpaid for their hard work. The companies then synthesize and treat these hairs chemically to give them a shiny look. Customers who buy these extensions are unaware of such scams. Our brand buys hair primarily from temples and the amount paid in exchange is then used for the community development of the country. We pay a fair price to the temples and the women who are employed in the hair trading by our brand. (IANS)


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