What did I do about the shortage of good hair extensions?

Jennifer walking

I have been a hair stylist for 27 years now. I can’t even believe it when I write that! From as far back as I can remember in my life I always knew this would be my passion, my career. Being a hairstylist has taught me so much about life. It has given me a thick skin. It has taught me to accept criticism even when I don’t want to hear it. It has taught me that while I make people beautiful, true beauty lies within.

Hair extensions came into my career ten years ago. Since I have started doing hair extensions I had the fast fleeting thought, “what if there was a shortage of hair?” While there is not a shortage of hair, there is a shortage of GREAT hair. Hair that withstands the test of time, curling irons, flat irons, washing, and brushing. I have used amazing hair and not so amazing hair. I have had to replace hair that was matted and a mess at my cost due to poor quality.

In that time I started to figure out the BEST hair comes from India. The reason being that the Hindu religion believes in a religious sacrifice called tonsuring. Many people make the pilgrimage to the temples and sacrifice their hair to the gods. It is believed that to sacrifice something so beautiful to the gods, by shedding their egos, the gods will bless them with good luck in return. The people know the temples will sell the hair and the earnings are put back into the community for improvements. When the hair is collected in the temples it is held together in a ponytail. The ponytail holds the hair together where it is closest to the scalp. This is important because then all the hair is flowing in one direction. That means the cuticle is all facing the same direction. This is called Remy hair.

Why is this important? A strand of hair has an outer layer named the “cuticle”. If the cuticle is not all facing the same direction (from scalp to ends) and it is turned into an extension the hair will tangle something fierce! A cuticle looks like a pine tree of sorts and if some are upside down it catches. That brings me to “cuticle intact” which means that the hair has not been put through an acid bath where it strips the cuticle off. This is done in factories where the hair has been sold to them from hair markets. At the hair markets the hair is collected from brushes, drains and floors. It looks like a SOS pad and is sold by weight. This is a common practice in China. There is no way for them to tediously go through every strand, under a microscope, to figure out which way the cuticle is directed. So they gather the hair, brush it out and dunk in an “acid bath” that strips the cuticle away. The hair then is coated with silicone. It resembles Barbie hair. It feels like a horse tail. (There are instances in which the real hair is even mixed with animal hair to make it thicker. If you are allergic to animal hair, you will have an awful reaction to this hair that you just paid a small fortune for!)

The silicone is applied to make it smooth and shiny. The silicone masks what has just been done to the hair. I have learned that silicone is not an extension’s friend regardless of why it was put on the extension. After several washes it is gone and you are left with hot mess of tangles. It does what we call “crawling” which looks like a matted mess after brushing 10 minutes prior.

Double Drawn is also an important term with hair extensions. When they draw the hair it is pulled over a series of what looks like fine combs. The first time it pulls out 25% of the strands that are much shorter then the length of the actual ponytail. The second draw pulls out 15% of the shorter strands leaving you with the best density possible of long hair and some shorter. It is still important to have some those shorter strands because it mimics natural looking hair. We have multiple lengths throughout our head as we shed 50-100 hairs a day.

The business of hair extensions is growing by ten fold on the daily and so is the amount of companies that produce the hair to supply the demand. But not all extensions are created as equal as you have read. I sit back and watch and listen as social media battle it out for the good, bad, the beautiful and the ugliness of hair extensions. As I observed and learned there is a huge need in the hand tied hair extensions market for this exceptional hair from India.

As a result I have established a connection and relationship with a reputable supplier in India who uses hair direct from the temples. I have sampled the hair. I have put it in many heads. I continue to put it through the ringer. Teasing it to purposefully tangle it. It brushes right out. I wash it and tangle it, it brushes right out. I curl it, flat iron it and the hair remains in all its glory, stunning.

Time after time. I have found a diamond in the rough and will be making it a reality in the US. We are currently building up our hand-tied extension inventory at Adored. In about 3 weeks, Adored Salon will be exclusively using only Adored Signature Hand-Tied Hair Extensions. Come see for yourself and experience the Adored difference.