Hair extensions might seem like a new invention but in reality hair additions have been around as far back as the Egyptian times when both men and women work wigs. Since then hair pieces have been in and out of fashion ever since.
In 1800 fake hair was frowned upon and women left their hair to be natural until the Romantic era was in full swing when women wore elaborate Apollo knots. Come the mid Victorian era and hair pieces were used a lot more extensively. Then strangely in the early 20th century Edwardian women wore false hair additions to create the pompadour hairstyle which looked like a woman was wearing a teapot on her head. How that became fashionable I don’t really know!
Around the 1920’s less hair was the big thing so hair pieces took a dive around that time and it wasn’t until the 1940s when long hair came back into fashion and women starting indulging again. Then in the 1960’s big hair was back with a vengeance. Coils were the in thing or the updo as better known to us were seen of many women, this was created by very extravagant human hair pieces. Briagolong Wigs made from real or fake hair were commonly worn around this time too and carried on into the early 70’s. Come the 80’s and big hair was in but only natural hair. Famous singers wore wigs but that was about it.
Hair Extensions: Where Does the Hair Come From?
If you are anything like me, you thought that the hair extension was a fairly recent invention and only affordable to the rich and famous, like your favorite celebrity. Well, call me 'surprised' to learn that hair extensions, and wigs for that matter, were used by ancient Egyptians as far back as 3400BCE5 (and if anyone can tell me what the 'E5' means, I would be most grateful!).
Back in these days they were always made from real hair, and like today, real hair was expensive to purchase. To the Egyptians, hair was such a valuable commodity that it was ranked alongside gold and incense in value and they would save the hair from their own heads to use whenever possible! Today they are made from real or synthetic hair, and also from feathers. They are affordable to almost anyone and the variety of styles and methods is wide and wonderful!
Apparently back in old Egyptian times, both the rich and poor used hair extensions to improve their styles and elaborate their hair accessories, some of which were very 'whacky' in the very least!
Although in our day and age some men wear hair pieces and wigs, and possibly hair extensions as well, the Egyptian women wore them all the time! Egyptians, male and female, hated body hair in general. Some men would shave from head to toe every day or so. While women didn't shave their heads like the men did, they wore hair extensions most of the time, often adorned with elaborate hair accessories to ornate the piece. They used hair extensions to give some thickness to thinning hair as they aged; they were sometimes braided and/or made especially elaborate for their burial. Considered so important were these 'hairy' creations, as well as wigs, that it was deemed consequential that the collection be buried with them!
Now today, our celebs in particular are great aficionados of modern hair extensions. Take a look at the hair of some of your favorite actors and you will more than likely be viewing at least one image of the wearing of the quintessential hair extension, in one form or another. There are several types and methods for securing them.
Clip on Extensions are gentle and reasonably easy to use and can be used to add highlights to your hair if you don't want to use colored dyes. Prices range from as low as $10 to as high as $400, depending on what type you choose.
Bonded and Sealed Extensions are plaited to your own hair and then bonded with a sealant. These will last up to four months. After this the bonding will start to weaken. You have many choices of hair in this method. You can have Indian, Asian, European hair etc. and they can cost as little as $5 a piece up to $100 a piece, depending on the type of hair and size of the extension required. Keeping in mind that one might need a dozen pieces to do the required job, this can be a pretty expensive method. Then the installation and maintenance are extra cost factors to consider! This hair extension method is often what you will view when your favorite star struts about with glorious, thick and flowing locks.
Weaves are braids that are very small and hold hair extensions in place against your scalp. This can cause some tension to your head and is of some concern for when you wash your hair as it is hard to dry the hair that is beneath the braids. These are really inexpensive ranging from around $8 to $100.
Feather Extensions are rooster feathers in either single or packaged bonded feathers and are a lovely way to beautify the hair in a natural way. They come in many colors and are the simplest way to add an exclusive touch to your hair. Inexpensive and easy to attach for the novice (like myself), they range from $10 to around $40.
So there you have it in a nutshell. From Egyptian Pharaohs and peasants to the likes of our new-world rich, famous, or simply stylish women, and maybe even men; the hair extension plays an underrated if elaborate part in our lives. I have yet to hear of our modern-day beauties holding their hair in such esteem that they 'will' their hair extensions, wigs, and hair accessories to the grave along with themselves. But anything is possible.
The History of Briagolong
I was watching a TV show the other day about human hair extensions and what a big business it is and it really shocked me. Now I have been a supplier of hair extension technicians to go to peoples houses and applied the extensions for a long time, I am also a trained nail and eyelash technician so I know about the industry but what I found out about on the show shocked me.
Where do you think your human hair extensions come from, have not got a clue, me neither. I knew that some of the cheaper hair extensions came from horses hair and I knew the real hair extensions came from real people but did not really think about it anymore than that really. I suppose I thought there were females all over the place growing their hair for the purpose of selling it on to make some money but to be honest I never really gave it any thought.
The TV show the other night showed a reported going to the depths of Russia to find out where human hair extensions came from and I can tell you now it was not pretty. First of all they got together with a hair extension technician from Russia but living in London that charges six hundred minimum to do hair extensions and she makes a packet I can tell you, she also gets all her products from Russia and because of this she was the best person to take the reporter on the journey.
Before they set off there was a scene where she received a box of human hair extensions from her supplier and she opened the box to check the quality. Whilst going through the merchandise she proceeded to throw to one side all of the extensions that were not to her standards, the reporter asked what she was going to do with them and she replied that she would send them back for money off of the next order, she had no real care for were they came from or anything.
On arrival in Russia they were met by a provider of hair extensions and taken to his office to show the products they had and it was quite amazing to see the amounts of hair they had lying around, there was literally hair from the floor to the ceiling. The reporter asked where the hair was purchased from and that was when the eager to please host started to get a bit vague with answers and started to talk to the others in Russian.
Hair Extensions - Russian Vs European and Asian Hair
The quality of hair that you receive within a set of extensions will play a major part in the difference between a good and a bad set of hair extensions.
We all know just how popular extensions have become throughout the world and, with the demand for them getting more and more everyday, the extension market is becoming very saturated, rapidly.
More and more manufacturers are skimping on quality, as the price of natural human hair rises. With new competitors appearing throughout the market everyday, all retailers are feeling the pressure to perform.
As with anything, the price that you pay for your extensions will generally reflect in the quality of product that you receive, however the extension market is renowned for being a highly unregulated, so this cannot be taken as gospel.
This series of articles is designed to educate you as a consumer, so you can make an informed decision about the type of hair extensions that will choose to transform your look.
Origins have nothing more to do with the quality of extensions that you will receive other than the texture; however this still plays an important part in how our hair extensions look. We must also understand that companies will sometimes treat the hair using chemicals to change the texture, which can also affect the quality.
Everybody's natural hair texture is different and, although not imperative, it is a good idea to look at the type of extension origin in relation to the texture of your natural hair, before buying.
Lets look firstly at probably the cheapest and most readily available; Chinese hair. This has a very coarse/ thick texture and comes in dark colours, mainly black. With Chinese hair you have much more chance of it being put through a chemical process; manufacturers know that extensions are very popular for people with that of Caucasian hair so they will strip down the cuticle to make the hair resemble this texture.
Next we have to remember that with Chinese hair, any extension colour other than black, will have to go through some kind of colour stripping process to reach its desired colour. This normally means some kind bleach product will be used, so again, especially with the lighter colours quality will be affected.
It has such a coarse texture, it is not well matched to the majority of Caucasian types of hair. It is personal preference as to whether you are happy wearing this hair. To give you an example; my hair is quite fine with lots of layers and, as I prefer a thicker, coarser look and my hair extension stylist is very good at blending I do not see much of a problem using Chinese Extensions. I reiterate that personal preference is key!
So then we move up the scale to Indian hair. Texture wise this is a much similar texture to Caucasian hair but will still have the same issues colouring wise as naturally it is found in very dark colours and blacks.
Indian Temple hair is hair that is sacrificed in temples throughout India. It can be seen as a very good type of hair to use as long as it is not over processed. Good Indian Temple Hair will cost a bit more to buy, but will be worth the investment.
Then we move on to European hair. This can mean it is collected from countries within the EU; a massive area with a lot of countries in it. However not many where people cut their hair off and sell it! Consequently we are narrowing down the availability already. Again texture wise this is much more suited to Caucasian hair, however you will find that countries where hair is available from for example Spain will also be in the majority of dark colours. We need to also bear in mind that companies will label their extensions as e.g. 'Spanish Hair' when actually the hair has been sourced from China, but processed in Spain, giving its apparent 'Spanish' origin!
Russian Hair is another origin of hair where supply is extremely limited and consequently cost is high. This is because a lot of time and money has to be spent travelling through isolated Russian villages finding hair donors. Russian hair is classed as the finest best quality hair suited to Caucasian hair that money can buy. Please note the last section of this sentence; this is hair is from one of the most expensive origins. Russian hair comes in a variety of natural colours meaning the need for dying and bleaching is limited if not non existent. It is also renown for being soft and silky to touch therefore doesn't really need any processing so there are no problems with drying or matting after washing.
Again we must watch for these companies that will use only a percentage of Russian Hair in their extensions and sell as Russian hair and companies claiming their hair is Russian, when actually it has just been processed in Russia and nothing else.
So, to conclude, the second statement in our Hair Extension Article Series; What Do You Know About Hair Quality? Chapter 2 is; 'The texture best suited to Caucasian Hair, regarding hair origin is Russian Hair. This hair is very expensive and hard to find. Buy using a good hair Extensions Technician, we can use blending techniques to disguise the texture of other coarser hairs e.g. Chinese. Textures and Hair Origins are all to do with personal preference and must be analysed carefully. '
Please read my other Articles within the Hair Extension Article Series; What Do You Know About Hair Quality? To start piecing together the whole story about what to look for in Hair Extension Qualities.