The Human Hair Trade Is A Growing, And Very Lucrative Industry
Siva Kumar's father worked 15 years at the temple as a piece-rate barber. Back in the day, the rate was Rs.2 per person, he informs. Today, it's Rs.7 for a full tonsure and Rs.3 for a partial one. All barbers must wear white sampradaya vastra or traditional clothing and a tilakam on the forehead. And only those from the Nayee Brahmin (a term sometimes used interchangeably with Nai) caste can work at TTD temples. Barbers from other castes won't find a way in. The skill of the temple barber lies not just in big tonsure counts. It's about being able to do clean mundans of wailing, flailing tots. A nick is like a teacher's red ink on one's report card – particularly in the case of infants aged 3-9 months as their scalps are tender. "It can be tough," Rayudu smiles. "Children get agitated, so we don't rush if parents have a hard time holding them still." Dealing with senior citizens and the differently-abled too can be challenging, he says. Although they form separate queues for darshanam (worship), there's no such provision at the Kalyanakatta.
Their fatigue, as also that of thousands who spends hours in the queue, makes them cranky and irate. Because of the swelling numbers, the barbers' lunch break lasts barely 10 minutes. A job as demanding as this is bound to have repercussions. Being constantly seated and having no breaks after overworking the arms results in sore legs, wrists, shoulders and a bad back. "But you get used to it. In fact you can't use a barber chair after shaving heads this way. What takes several minutes in a chair is done in half the time here," Rayudu stresses.
RUSSIAN HAIR COMPANY
You can find websites with most ridiculous hair products advertised as "Russian Hair." Be careful with vendors who sell “Mercedes” and “Yugo” on the same lot, you might find “Yugo” parts in your new “Mercedes”. Mixing "Mercedes" and "Yugo" parts makes an "affordable Mercedes". If a vendor sells "Remy" hair and "Russian" hair, most likely all of it is just a processed "Indian Temple" hair. Some vendors play a "wise" trick on customers - they have several websites: one sells "Russian Hair" and another one sells "Other Hair". One company in Dublin, Ireland, that obviously sells processed "Made in China" hair, shamelessly advertises it as "Spanish Hair", and then, offers the same products as "Russian Hair" on another site sugar coated with pictures of Moscow. Needless to say what kind of "great deal" for ”Russian Hair" at the "wholesale price" will arrive to your door.
Why it’s not Russian hair? Because the supply of natural, real Russian hair is extremely limited, so it is impossible to color process it in the industrial way similar to huge quantities processing of Indian/Asian hair. Not to mention that during the color processing there is a 30% loss of hair. Imagine the cost of the final product if that would be real natural Russian hair industrially color processed? Only cheap hair in huge quantities can be acid processed and colored that way. Besides, why would someone process and pre-color this very limited, precious, most expensive natural Russian hair if the only reason why it is so expensive is because the availability of this hair in its natural state is extremely limited.
Vendors who sell real Russian hair would never pre-color it before the customer evaluates the hair in its natural condition. The supply of real Russian hair is not sufficient for an industrial coloring and the cost of such process with already very expensive raw hair cost would be astronomical. That is why well-known hair extensions corporations with retail or "via hairdresser classes" distribution systems simply don't carry real natural Russian hair, although they are pretending to. So, if you see someone offers pre-colored "Russian Hair," you can be sure that the hair you will get is not real Russian hair. Real natural Russian hair is so expensive and rare for a reason - it supposed to be 100% natural at the start point.
Up to four tons (8,000 lbs) of raw hair arrives in Nepi, near Italy’s capital, from India every month. Here the hair undergoes very time consuming and elaborate processes, primarily by hand, to ensure hair is treated as gently as possible. This requires specially trained employees for the hair bundles to become the extensions women around the world are delighted to have added to their hair. Before immersing the hair in the osmosis bath for 10 to 20 days for depigmentation, workers sew each strand to white strips of fabric to ensure the cuticles of the hair all follow the same direction during subsequent production steps.
Info: No other genetic structure is as similar to European and North American hair as that of Indian hair. Asian hair, for example, is noticeably thicker. To modify it to the texture of our hair, the surface would need to be treated with acid. The consequence: The cuticles are destroyed; the natural shine as well as the elasticity and resilience are lost. The secret of the composition of the osmosis baths which gently remove the hair pigments from the raw hair in 15 to 20 days is guarded similarly to the Coca Cola formula.
Only a few Great Lengths employees know the actual recipe which eliminates treating the surface of the hair with chemicals, which would damage the outer texture, i.e. the cuticles. Instead, osmosis baths slowly, hence very gently, remove the dark color pigments from inside the hair. This gentle process – without any harsh chemicals – preserves the natural cuticles of the hair. And so the hair also keeps the shine and the elasticity of high-quality extensions. The time the hair remains in the bath essentially depends on the desired color: The lighter the extensions, the longer they undergo depigmentation.
Specialists dye extensions.
Once the extensions have been in the osmosis bath for the required time, trained employees in Nepi can continue processing them. The extensions are colored, also referred to as pigmentation, just as gently as the depigmentation.
The gap in the texture of the hair resulting from color pigments being removed during the depigmentation process can now be filled with the desired color molecules – a valuable process Great Lengths adopted from coloring the precious natural fiber cashmere. Other coloring processes would not allow the color molecules to penetrate the hair as deeply. So the color would remain on the surface of the hair and would lose brilliance and shine after just a few washes.
The Great Lengths coloring process is meticulously planned: In addition to the time it remains in the respective color bath, the temperature of the bath is also crucial: If it’s too low, the color pigments won’t penetrate deep enough into the texture of the hair, if it’s too high, it will damage the hair. Accuracy and precision are key. After drying the hair is blended into strands of different shades by hand, just as natural hair. If the strands only consisted of a single shade, the transition between the natural hair and the Extensions would be obvious. Purposefully combining various shades, on the other hand, yields a very natural looking result. For this purpose, employees mix and draw bundles of different shades across a special tool, known as a hackle, over and over again until they have reached the desired blend.