In western countries people spend around 60 euros to get natural hair extensions, and they tend to prefer those coming from India, for Indian hair is known to be of very good quality. Indeed, the country exports around 500 tons of Indian hair and it has become a leader in the « black diamond business ».
But how can the country find so much hair to export, and what special treatment do Indian girls use to make their hair so popular among Hollywood stars?
A very useful tradition
One of the Hindu practices consists in offering one's hair as a sacrifice to one or several Gods, at the end of a pilgrimage, of for a special occasion in life. This ritual is quite common in South India and especially in the Tamil Nadu area.
At the end of the shaving, most important Hindu temples sell huge amounts of hair by auction to wholesalers, who comb them and get them exported. It is indeed a unique occasion for hairdressers to get « remy hair », which means an entire sample of hair coming from the same head.
The turnover generated by this business is thought to go up to around 130 million euros.
The silky, strong texture of Indian hair may be partly natural, but Indian ladies have some secrets to take care of it...
A tedious care
Indian women used to wash their hair with henna. This plant helps reinforce scalp and makes the hair silkier. Then, they used to dry it with incense to give the hair a nice perfume.
Nowadays, henna is still used, and especially the coloured one for dyeing the hair. But Indian women are mostly known for their regular oil hair masks. Indeed, once or twice a week they apply oil on their hair and leave it on overnight. The oil they use may be sweet almond, olive, coco, amla or sesame oil. It reinforces the hair and makes it look brighter.
They also often use paste made from different powders.
Neutral or coloured henna is already well known and often used by western people. But Indian women use many other powders depending on the effect they are looking for. Thus, Kapoor Kachli powder is often used. It is made from wild ginger ("spiked ginger lily") that has been picked and dried. It thickens and smoothens the hair. It makes a perfect hair conditioner and Indian women like its fresh and perfumed smell.
Shikakaï powder is also very popular among Indian women. This powder softens and reinforces the hair. It also helps remove dandruff. It is called "hair fruit" in Tamil and it is made from fruits of the acacia concinna tree, which grows mostly in Asia.
Numerous other powders are used: Brahmi, Maka or Amla to help grow the hair and make it look darker, but also Aritha against greasy hair. When mixed with water, the powder turns into a paste that Indian people leave on for a quarter of an hour before applying it on the hair. Each powder has specific advantages.
"Folk remedies" are also widespread across India, as everywhere else in the world. Lemon juice against dandruff, yoghurt and eggs against dry hair...
A daily hair care
Traditions remain present everyday. Indian women tie up their hair. Indeed, letting hair loose has a very sensual connotation; this is why they only do it in front of their husbands. What is more, young people tend to prefer wearing braids so that dust does not infiltrate the hair. It is also more practical and makes it easier to bear the heat.
Every morning, they add a jasmine garland to their hairdo, thus beautifying it and giving away a nice perfume. Those garlands can easily be found in the streets anytime of the day. People can buy them weaved or not. Women who weave them do it very quickly, though any Indian woman knows how to weave the flowers.