Virtually all the hair being used in hair pieces available on the net and in the salons is processed hair. There are several reasons for “Processed” hair. First, the hair used in productions comes from many heads. The hair must be treated to reduce or flatten the cuticle. The typical technique is an acid wash that causes the cuticle to flatten to the hair shaft. With the cuticle flattened it is less likely to catch on other hairs causing extreme tangling. It is impossible to remove the cuticle as this is the protective layer of the hair shaft not unlike our own skin.
The newest method of flattening the cuticle is the use of Silicone based products. Silicone on the hair shaft fills the cuticle and damaged hair and protects it. The silicone used is more concentrated than the hair care products you’ll find available in the salon and will remain on the hair for an extended period of time. It will however eventually wash off. This is why you sometimes get a hair replacement system that’s ok for awhile then suddenly after a washing, tangles. Silicone is almost always used after acid wash to give the hair a smooth silky feel and greater shine.
Processed hair also includes bleaching, dying and chemical waving (Perms). 99.9% of human hair used in production comes from China and India. Generally the hair most suited in China comes from regions where the diet consists more of wheat products than rice products. The growing hair in these regions has more characteristics found in European hair, meaning it is softer and has a thinner diameter than hair coming from other regions of China where the hair is straighter, thicker and generally very straight.
The hair used comes in basically 3 shades—Black, Blacker and Blackest. In order to meet the demand of the Western market this black hair has to be bleached down to get the myriad of colors of hair found in the Western world. For the darkest colors generally you’ll find 100% Indian hair is used. There is enough color difference in Indian hair to accommodate all dark shades with minimal bleaching. Indian hair is more like Caucasian hair in diameter and wave. For dark red and brown colors the will have a combination of Indian and Asian hair. While the hair undergoes more bleaching than the dark shades the inclusion of the Asian hair helps to buffer the chemical treatments required and the two types of hair become more Caucasian in appearance.
For the Lightest shades of Blonde and Red it is almost exclusively Chinese hair that is used. The reason for this is that the Chinese hair can be bleached to a higher level than Indian hair. If the factories were to bleach Indian hair to the level needed for the lightest blonde colors the hair would turn to MUSH. Chinese hair once bleached to the highest level becomes softer and more accepting to color and perms. However, this is the most delicate color range to work with. The amount of hair lost to High Level colors is tremendous which is why it is sometimes more expensive to obtain a product with very light colored hair.
This is an incredibly huge subject but let’s just say that Processed hair is the norm, it’s probably in your current hair replacement and it is designed to make your life easier by eliminating the negatives connected with Cuticle / Virgin hair.