Where Does Human Hair Weave Come From?

If your hair is short, hair weaving can make it longer; if it’s long, you can have a shorter look without cutting your hair.

The art of hair weaving involves attaching your own hair to synthetic or human hair. A variety of techniques are used to attach the hair: braiding, keratin bonding, sewing the hair onto cornrows, and weaving the hair into cornrows. At the beauty supply there is a huge selection of human hair in various textures—ever wonder where it comes from?

What is a weave?

A weave is an artificial or natural hair extension that’s fixed into human hair by sewing, gluing or clipping. Weaves originated in Egypt around 3400 BC when people dyed human hair or sheep wool and attached it to their heads with resin or beeswax. Cleopatra was noted in the ancient world for her peacock blue weave.

Today weaves are one of the basic hair extension types popular among black women. Unlike clip-in hair extensions, which can be removed daily, weaves are meant to last for several weeks. A weave is not a wig. Rather than covering hair as a wig does, a weave is sewn directly into natural hair, accentuating and beautifying it.

How To Tape Hair Extension Blank
How To Tape Hair Extension Blank
  • Extension – Synthetic or natural hair that is usually clipped or taped in to add volume and length to a person’s real hair.
  • Weave – A hairstyle that weaves real or artificial hair into a person’s natural hair to create a thicker, longer, or more glamorous look. A weave is a type of extension.
  • Leave out – The part of one’s hair that’s left out to cover the weave. Typically, when you wear a weave, you leave the front of your hair out to cover up any braids or weave tracks (AKA wefts). This gives you a more natural look because your real hairline is visible.
  • Closure – A closure is a circular piece of weft hair, typically used with a full weave to cover all of the wearer’s hair. It’s usually made of silk or lace. A cosmetologist attaches the piece to a cornrow base to hide any of the wearer’s real hair.
  • Frontal – Made from the same material as a closure, a frontal covers a larger area, usually the front of the hair. It gives a straight ear-to-ear hairline.
  • Pack – A pack contains a certain number of hair bundles, usually 4-7, which all match in color and style and all lie in the same direction. A pack can also include a closure.
  • Bundle – A single collection of hair usually amounting to three ounces. Bundles are sold separately or as part of a pack. Full weaves require 2-5 bundles of hair depending on the length of the style selected.
  • Virgin – In the hair world, virgin refers to a collection of hair taken from a single donor and not chemically processed. All cuticles must be intact and run in the same direction.
  • Weft – A bundle of extensions in which individual hair strands are attached to a reinforced stitch. To make this type of hair extension, technicians sew or “weft” bulk hair together into a bundle. A weft can be thin and strong or thick and loose. Some wefts are hand-tied while others are machine-sewn.

The human hair industry is extremely lucrative.

In fact, it’s a multibillion dollar market. Hair is so prized that in one extreme case, the hair on a woman’s head was literally cut off by a gang. It goes toward the making of wigs, hair extensions, and fake eyelashes, as well as fertilizers and amino acids used to make dough (for pizza and bagels).

Does weave come from horses?

Horsehair fabrics are woven with wefts of tail hair from live horses and cotton or silk warps. Horsehair fabrics are sought for their lustre, durability, and care properties and are mainly used for upholstery and interiors.

What is weave made out of?

A hair weave is made of human or synthetic hair extensions that are sewn onto a weft either by hand or by a machine. These wefts of hair are then either sewn in, clipped in, or taped into the natural hair in order to enhance or change its look.

What culture started weave?

Ancient Egyptians

Worn by both men and women, the invention of hair weaves can be traced all the way back to Ancient Egypt.

If you look at pictures of hieroglyphics and statues from that period, you will see the very popular images of the hairpieces they wore. These can be described as early wigs and weaves.

People who were of a higher class, and could afford real human hair, tended to wear wigs the most. Due to a very hot climate, they would shave their head completely, but wear a wig in public.

However, those who could not afford an entire wig would use hair extensions, which is similar to the present day hair weave.

These extensions would rarely be made of a human hair – because of how expensive it was and difficult to acquire – so many people would create them out of animal hair or plant fibers instead.

Sometimes wealthy Egyptians would add these extensions to their wigs, giving them a more luxurious and voluminous look. The making of a wig was very similar to attaching a weave to the head. Both techniques require attaching hair wefts to a base – whether it be a cap, net, or natural hair.

Hair was not the only adornment that would be attached, those who could afford it would also add items like gold, silver, ribbons, or beads.

After around 1150 BC, extensions with color became popular. Some of the common colors for extensions in Egypt were indigo, bright blue, green, and yellow.

These hairpieces could also be attached in different ways. For example, Cleopatra was said to have worn weaves made out of human hair and dyed sheep wool that were attached by knotting it to her natural hair. Another way of attaching to the head would be brading.

The French

After the ancient periods, the popularity of wigs and hair extensions took a major decline. It was not until the 16th and 17th century in early France, that they were worn more regularly.

At this time, hair pieces were usually worn by men as a symbol of status.

A popular style among French men was to wear their hair in locks, with one lock hanging lower than the rest. That longest lock would more than likely be achieved by adding false hair.

Weaves were also used in order to cover thinning hair in those times. King Louis XIII wore wigs and hair pieces to cover his hair loss, and soon, others followed his example.

Some men would wear a headpiece called a tour, which was achieved by sewing hair wefts to a skull cap- very similar to today’s weave technique.

There were women that also started wearing hair pieces, especially when their hair started to thin. Marie Antoinette was famous for her elaborate, piled-high hairstyles, which inspired other women at the time to make their hair bigger using extensions.

Are weaves made from Indian hair?

  1. The human hair industry is extremely lucrative. In fact, it’s a multibillion dollar market. Hair is so prized that in one extreme case, the hair on a woman’s head was literally cut off by a gang. It goes toward the making of wigs, hair extensions, and fake eyelashes, as well as fertilizers and amino acids used to make dough (for pizza and bagels).
  1. The majority of human hair used in wigs and extensions comes from India and China. Religious people make pilgrimages to temples such as the Venkateswara Temple in Tirumala, India, where they shave/tonsure their heads in a ritual of devotion. Hundreds of barbers shave a new person’s head every five minutes, leaving “bloody scalps and hair balls” all over the ground. The temple takes these strands, which can get up to 30 inches long, and sells them at auction.
  2. Hair from the temple can cost $700 a pound, but when it gets purchased at auction, it’s not really in great shape. “Sweat, blood, and lice” can be found in the hair, which ends up in warehouses that “reek of mildew and fungus.”
  3. It takes days to make a high-end wig. First, the hair needs to get untangled and sorted. Then, lice (if there are any) have to get picked out of the hair. That gets followed by washing, drying, and dyeing. After that, it gets made into a wig.
  4. You can’t untangle hair from economics. Historically, the movement of hair has always gone from the poor to the rich. It’s no different now, where hair comes from China and India, and gets sold predominantly in the United States and Europe, as well as Africa.
  5. If you have long, naturally blonde hair, you can get as much as $1,500 for your hair. One wig retailer told Priceonomics that one woman from Indiana got that sum for her hair, which was then turned into a wig priced at $8,000.
  6. Short hair also gets collected and sold. It’s not as pricey or desirable and is mostly used for industrial purposes.
  7. People buying wigs aren’t too concerned about the ethics of where wigs come from or how they’re made. Though most human hair comes from India and China, only a fraction of that hair comes from the temples. “Where the rest comes from, we have no idea,” a regional minister for textiles and commerce in India told The Guardian in 2006. Still, the mysterious origins of all that hair don’t bother consumers — they just want to know that it’s hygienic.
  8. Synthetic wigs are getting better and better. The Chinese and Indian economies are much stronger now than they were 10 years ago, which also means that its citizens are wealthier, and there aren’t as many hair donors now as there once were. But that means companies are coming up with other ways to make wigs and extensions that are just as good to style as real human hair.

Where do human hair extensions come from?

While there is an exception to every rule, most human hair extensions come from live human beings, collected mostly in India (especially southern India), Malaysia, Cambodia, and China.

Keywords: “Virgin Remi”. “Remy” or “Remi” – different spelling, same thing. In the extensions biz, this means hair that has never been chemically processed (never straightened, dyed, highlighted, permed) that is cut from a person’s head in one sitting. Typically, the hair is tied back, pulled into a tight ponytail, then cleanly cut at the nape. The person’s head may then be shaved, because, throughout Hindu Asia, the hair is often cut as a traditional religious ceremony. This is known as tonsure or tonsuring, and is part of many religious traditions, including monastic Christianity.

From a technical point of view, the fact that the hair is cut this way is important, because all of the cuticles will be facing in the same direction. This means a smoother weft.

This type of hair is also called “temple” hair, and it’s usually cut from the head of a woman or a child in a ritual blessing. Other buzzwords you’ll hear are “Single Donor Temple Remy Hair,” meaning that a woman or child went to the temple as part of a pilgrimage to venerate the Hindu Remover of Obstacles, Lord Ganesh, offering her hair. “Single donor” means that the hair will be consistent and again, smooth and easy to process.

Prior to the current demand for hair extensions, these offerings of cut hair were used to stuff mattresses or burned. Now, they are auctioned, and the money goes to support the good works of the local temple.

In some parts of Asia, there is no religious aspect. Women simply allow their hair to be cut and sold as a renewable commodity.

Where does weave come from – The majority of human hair used in wigs and extensions comes from India and China.

Religious people make pilgrimages to temples such as the Venkateswara Temple in Tirumala, India, where they shave/tonsure their heads in a ritual of devotion. Hundreds of barbers shave a new person’s head every five minutes, leaving “bloody scalps and hairballs” all over the ground. The temple takes these strands, which can get up to 30 inches long, and sells them at auction.

Hair from the temple can cost $700 a pound, but when it gets purchased at auction, it’s not really in great shape. “Sweat, blood, and lice” can be found in the hair, which ends up in warehouses that “reek of mildew and fungus.”

fusion extension
fusion extension

It takes days to make a high-end wig.

First, the hair needs to get untangled and sorted. The lice (if there are any) have to get picked out of the hair. That gets followed by washing, drying, and dyeing. After that, it gets made into a wig.

You can’t untangle hair from economics.

Historically, the movement of hair has always gone from the poor to the rich. It’s no different now, where hair comes from China and India, and gets sold predominantly in the United States and Europe, as well as Africa.

If you have long, naturally blonde hair, you can get as much as $1,500 for your hair. One wig retailer told Priceonomics that one woman from Indiana got that sum for her hair, which was then turned into a wig priced at $8,000.

Short hair also gets collected and sold. It’s not as pricey or desirable and is mostly used for industrial purposes.

People buying wigs aren’t too concerned about the ethics of where wigs come from or how they’re made.

Though most human hair comes from India and China, only a fraction of that hair comes from the temples. “Where the rest comes from, we have no idea,” a regional minister for textiles and commerce in India told The Guardian in 2006. Still, the mysterious origins of all that hair don’t bother consumers — they just want to know that it’s hygienic.

Synthetic wigs are getting better and better.

The Chinese and Indian economies are much stronger now than they were 10 years ago, which also means that their citizens are wealthier, and there aren’t as many hair donors now as there once were. But that means companies are coming up with other ways to make wigs and extensions that are just as good to style as real human hair.

Fallen Hair

Most human hair sources are located in Asia and China.

Local residents sell hair that has literally fallen in the natural shedding process to hair farmers. The hair farmers sell the hair to processors who treat the hair with an acid bath and silicon to make it shiny. This fallen hair method is the way most human hair weaves are produced.

Remy Hair

The term “remy hair” refers to that is cut, or harvested directly from the head.

This hair could come from any country. A major source of Remy hair is Asian countries. Remy hair is processed, leaving the cuticle layer intact. The hair is cut in one direction so it does not tangle when processed.

Indian Origins

Most hair weaves come from India.

Some Indian hair comes from Hindu temples where men and women cut their hair in hopes of receiving blessings in life. In one temple in southern India, more than 50,000 people come every day and one ton of human hair is collected. The temple sells the hair and much of this money is used to fund schools and roads. Many Indian women brush their hair two to three times a day to collect fallen hair to sell and support their families.

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