5 Things I've Learned as an Insider in the Multi-Billion Dollar Hair Industry
1. The “100% Virgin Remy” hair at your local beauty shop or online retailer isn’t “virgin” or “remy” at all. But you knew that! Here’s the breakdown: The 100% Virgin Remy bundle (100g) you purchased for $99 at your local beauty shop, wholesales for $300/1kg from hair distribution companies in India, China, Vietnam, Myanmar, etc.
On average, 1 kilogram of hair comes from roughly 10 women ($300/10 = $30/bundle). To break even, these companies would be buying one bundle at $30 a piece. However, no company would simply want to break even, they need to turn a profit and cover overhead. This means distribution companies have to buy their hair for less than $20 a bundle in order to receive any return on their investment.
So where do these distribution companies get their hair from? Hair collectors: sole proprietors who traverse the countryside in search of women willing to sell their hair. Since hair distribution companies will pay less than $20 per 100g (roughly one bundle), hair collectors would then need to buy hair from women for less than $15. So exactly where does the hair come from that hair collectors get? Mostly from the floors of hair salons, used hair extensions, and drains hence, the silicone coating. It’s safe to say that the “pure Virgin Remy” bundle you have, does not embody any of those characteristics at all.
Let’s look at closures & frontals while we’re at it. Your average 4×3 closure costs $100. Closures, on average, have 110×150 holes—that’s 16,500 holes. On average, closures require 4-6 days to complete. 16.5K / 5 days = 3,300 holes/day (400+ holes/hr). Say average pay is $2/hr. $2 x 8hrs/day = $16 x 5 days = $80. $80 + $20 (cost of hair) = $100. No profit. Frontals are 3x the size of closures—50,000+ holes, require 200g of hair, and take 3 weeks to complete. Extrapolate the $80 x 3 (weeks) = $240 + (2x) hair. Even at $1/hr, it’s $120 + (2x) hair. No profit.
Economically, there wouldn’t be 1000s of hair companies if they were selling genuine, Virgin Remy hair since none of these companies would be turning a profit. Enter synthetics, animal hairs, vegetable fibers, chemical baths, and silicone. These “Virgin Remy” bundles are often a combination of hair from hair salon floors or drains, mixed with with synthetics and other non-human fibers.
But you don’t buy cheap hair from India or China. You buy premium hair from [insert shop name] for $250 or more per bundle. Unfortunately, it’s the same hair with different branding plus a markup.
Note: In India, thousands of women tonsure (shave) their hair for religious purposes daily. Since it’s shaved, it’s no longer virgin since it needs to be sorted, cleaned of nits, and chemically processed to remove the cuticles since the cuticles are misaligned.
2. “Premium European Hair from Eastern Europe” isn’t European at all. It may be sold in Europe by European companies but many of them travel to China to source their “premium European” hair. It’s called ‘white labeling’ and with a large enough order, most companies will oblige for an additional cost. We’ve heard firsthand accounts from hair collectors and hair company employees that sell to Eastern European buyers monthly. Does that mean there’s no genuine, European hair? Like the gangs in India that lop off women’s hair while they’re asleep, there are unscrupulous proprietors in Eastern Europe who operate unethically by paying negligible amounts and source from morgues, incarcerated women, or from war-torn conflict zones.
3. Companies don’t source their own hair. It’s cost-inefficient, resource-intensive, and decreases the bottom line. Ask any of the 1000s of hair companies and they’ll say “100% Virgin Remy” and “we have factory in [country]” but won’t be able to provide video proof on its origin. It’s easier to buy hair from Chinese companies who purchased their hair from hair collectors that do the laborious work of traveling great distances in 90+ degree heat for less than $5/day.
4. Companies don’t buy real hair. We’ve tried. We wanted to know how much they paid for their hair. Turns out, they’re not interested in buying quality hair from young women. That requires paying high prices, utilizing human resources, and further decreasing the bottom line. It’s much easier for these companies to purchase low quality hair in bulk from hair collectors that deliver to your doorstep. Everything is processed and they believe consumers won’t know the difference anyway.
5. Premium quality, Virgin Remy hair is rare. We’ve taken our hair to local hair companies, custom wig makers, and even amongst the top celebrity hair stylists in NY & LA. The response has always been the same, “Wow! This hair is beautiful! Where is it from? My clients would love this hair!” It’s from real women being paid fair wages. Its helped students cover rent, tuition, and living expenses—its helped mothers put food on the table for 3-4 months; and its given others an opportunity to work and earn a living.
This is not an attempt to disparage any company. I simply wanted to share my experience and shed some light on why your “100% Virgin Remy” hair hasn’t lived up to its claims. The only way to ensure that you’re getting genuine, Virgin Remy hair is to pay premium prices and ask for receipts. Here at REMY NY, we do all of that, and more.