Natural Human Hair vs Synthetic Hair Extensions
Real human hair extensions are the best type of hair extensions since they look and feel natural, and can also be treated very much like your own hair. Synthetic hair generally looks fake, feels unnatural, and cannot be treated and styled in the same way as human hair, since it will not react in the same way. Essentially, synthetic hair is plastic and will melt under high temperatures, and therefore hairdryers and straightening irons should not be used.
A common misconception in terms of quality that many people make is that all human hair extensions are the same. Many people believe that if hair extensions are made from human hair, then the hair was created out of good quality. Real human hair extensions vary greatly in terms of quality, just because a package of hair reads '100% human hair extensions' doesn't indicate that the hair will be of high quality.
There are many factors that contribute to great hair extensions. Besides the technique and skill that goes into applying them, the quality of the extension hair also plays a large part in determining whether or not the extensions will look real, how they feel, and how long they will last. You may consider the difference between a Ford and a Ferrari – both are the same type of product but have a distinct difference between quality and performance. The same applies to hair extensions, with quality and performance relating to the way the hair feels, the way it looks and moves, the way it falls, the way it sits on your shoulders and down your back, how it behaves, and how long the hair lasts. The finest quality hair comes from Russia and Europe.
Remy / Remi Hair
Remy or Remi hair is a term which is often confused in the hair extensions world. The term originally referred to the process of sorting raw hair into same direction - a method used during the early days of wig-making, to ensure the wigs remained tangle-free. However, due to the time-consuming and expensive nature of this process, and the presence of modern technologies, this method is no longer used. Nowadays the term remy/remi hair usually refers to hair that has been collected from ponytail cuttings, where the cuticles remain intact and are aligned in the same direction from root to tip, i.e. remy/remi hair means 'cuticle correct hair'.
Normal Non-Remy Hair: POOREST QUALITY
Non-remy hair is the most common form of human hair available, and is usually collected in Asia. It is also known as 'fallen hair', 'brushed hair' or 'combings'. Many women in China and India literally gather hair from their hair brushes and sell it to hair collectors. Hair is also gathered from salon floors and sold. The roots and tips are all mixed up in non-remy hair, and therefore tangling is a problem (see our Human Hair Structure page for further details).
There are two types of non-remy hair:
- Normal or unprocessed non-remy hair
- Processed non-remy hair
With Normal Non-Remy Hair (left), the cuticles are still present, but because the hair is aligned in different directions, the hair is prone to constant tangling. It is extremely difficult to brush, and even after brushing the hair will continue to tangle. Ultimately, this is the cheapest and lowest grade of human hair.
Non-Remy Processed Hair: LOW QUALITY
The next grade up from Normal Non-Remy Hair is Processed Non-Remy Hair.
This hair is subjected to intense chemically processing to reduce friction and tangling. The hair is stripped of its cuticle by initially soaking it in an acid bath. Once the cuticle has been stripped, the hair loses its shine and vitality, so this is then replaced by coating the hair in silicon oil, which gives the hair a synthetic feel and an unnatural shine (rather like doll's hair).
At first the hair feels soft and silky, but as soon as the hair is washed the silicon oil begins to wash out, and the hair quickly loses its sheen, and becomes dull, dry, rough and brittle. The hair is now exposed, revealing remnants of the destroyed cuticle, which inevitably causes the hair to tangle and mat constantly. Every wash will worsen this condition, and very quickly the hair begins to take on a consistency similar to horse hair. The hair doesn't look real, it doesn't move like real hair does, it remains quite stiff, and it tends to separate into strands making the hair extensions very apparent.
Caution should be taken with buying processed hair, since it is often marketed as 'Euro Hair' or 'European Style' or 'European Quality' hair - i.e. the hair is of Asian origin but processed to appear like European hair.
Indian Remy Hair: MEDIUM QUALITY
Indian Remy Hair is considered medium grade hair. It still has its cuticles intact and the roots and tips are aligned in the same direction. Indian Remy hair is usually regarded as highly ethical as much of the hair is collected from Hindu Temples where woman, children and sometimes even men have their hair shaved in prayer or as a sacrifice to God. The Temple then sells the hair and the money that is made is funneled back into the local community.
Indian hair is often quite coarse in texture, and is naturally very dark in color. Therefore the hair is often processed to soften the texture, and it is difficult to produce blonde colors without the hair deteriorating in quality. The minimal amount of processing the hair has, the better the quality.
Dyed Russian Hair: HIGH QUALITY
This exceptionally high quality hair comes from Eastern Europe. It is naturally very straight, beautifully silky, very strong and extremely durable. Naturally this hair is very dark but is specially dyed to produce a wide range of colors. It is very similar to our Virgin Russian hair, the main difference being that this hair is pre-dyed and is slightly heavier and denser per strand.
European Hair: HIGH QUALITY
European Hair is very high quality hair. You should not confuse genuine European hair with the terms 'Euro Hair' or 'European Style' hair which is Asian hair that is processed to appear like European hair. Genuine European hair usually comes from Southern European countries such as Italy and Spain. The hair is collected by taking raw ponytail cuttings, ensuring that the cuticles of the hair are correctly aligned. It is beautifully glossy, extremely soft, fine in texture, and is naturally wavy. Besides coloring the hair to produce a wider range of colors, it is left unprocessed and remains in its natural, healthy condition.
Cheap Hair Extensions
Many hair extensions salons and technicians use lower quality hair because it is cheaper, and it allows them to offer natural hair extensions at relatively low prices to attract customers. However, the truth is that cheap hair extensions are a false economy, since not only do they lack quality but they simply do not last. At best they are only suitable for temporary clip-in hair extensions. They are certainly not suitable for permanent hair extensions, since the quality of the hair deteriorates so rapidly and would need replacing very quickly.
It is important to be aware of hair extensions salons and technicians that offer hair extensions at seemingly low prices, because unquestionably they will use poor quality human hair. This is fine so long as you are not concerned with the longevity and condition of your hair extensions. But if you only want the best – if you want your hair extensions to appear authentic, to look beautiful and to feel amazing, then Virgin Russian hair and European hair extensions are the only option.
Many salons and technicians claim to use 'the highest quality human hair at a fraction of the price'. However, the cost of human hair varies for a reason, and fundamentally you do get what you pay for. The best quality human hair is expensive but is well worth the investment as it looks and feels real, it is incredibly soft and beautiful, it lasts so much longer and therefore can be reused for multiple reapplications.