After many discussions, explanations and questions with leading hair stylists, salon owners and participating in beauty shows, I wanted to organize my thinking and write on "How to define the quality of hair extensions." Given that this is a long topic, I wanted to start writing this in a series of meaningful chunks.
Taking a very basic view of quality, I will start with the most fundamental aspect - Truth. Absence or presence of truth in the product is the hygiene factor in quality. This is the most challenging aspect of this product. The supply lines of the product are far outside of its main consumption geographies. The product changes many geographies, state and national boundaries before it reaches the final consumer. Many times, the end consumer is dealing with sellers over the internet across the different nation, there is no liability of the seller to the consumer on truthfulness. Most intermediaries in this market are unorganized, hence their own ability to investigate the truth is limited beyond the claims made by the seller. It is not uncommon to find, many hair stylists and end-retailers narrating stories of how they were taken for a ride. In this scenario, where end - product claims cannot be substantiated or verified easily or accountability established, it is critical for the buyer to do their own evaluations and judge the counterparty besides judging the product.
First, an important element of checking the quality is the truth about the source. It is critical to know the source of the product and the type of product. The elements of this include - Virgin or nonvirgin, geographic origin of the product, human vs animal vs synthetic origins of the product. Many series of investigations have revealed that the truthfulness about the source is extremely weak and misleading. The knowledge about sources today is widespread. A very critical investigation on the sourcing of hair by factories in China was recently done by BBC. There have been various other studies which point to hair sourcing within India and its exports. It is very important to distinguish virgin Remy sources from non-Remy hair in India. India exports the variety of hair to countries such as Brazil, China, and Italy. Indian hair is processed in these countries and sold to different parts of the world. At times it acquires either new names, or change its name to attract the higher price. Other sources of hair which have recently developed include East Asian countries where hair trade has started. In these places, hair is largely purchased for money. The difference between East Asian and Indian hair is thickness and waviness. The East Asian hair is thicker and more straight as compared to Indian hair.
This important knowledge about the source is critical as the product is sold as a natural product and origin marking is important for the buyer to differentiate the product. Once the truth about the source is established or to some extent confirmed, there are other important dimensions of quality which are important.
I will discuss them in my this series.