Cover Story Fashion Lifestyle

Making human hair extensions

From India to Myanmar to China to Peckham: The journey human hair takes before it’s sold online and on British high streets. 

2 May 2017

Some of the world’s best-quality hair comes from India. At Tirumala temple barbers tonsure 40,000 pilgrims daily and cut 800kg of hair. In 2013, the longest lengths of hair sold for £230 per kilogram, auctioned to large companies specialising in high-end wigs and extensions for the international market.
1. Cheaper wigs and extensions are made from combings (fallen hair, from several sources). This hair is untangled, cleaned, sorted and hackled by hand in factories in India and Myanmar. It takes 80 hours to untangle 1.5kgs.

2. 90% of hair is processed in factories in China, where its texture is manipulated and it is packaged up as wigs and bundles. Some companies buy hair direct from factories.

3. Hair is otherwise sold to agents, largely based in Hong Kong. It is sold and shipped across the world.