CHENNAI: Proud of your lovingly fashioned, multi-hued and cosmetised hair? Well, however well-kept you think your hair is, it is far less valuable than the natural tresses that adorn the heads of the rural populace. When it comes to quality, say hair exporters, cities come a very poor second to villages.
The hair export trade in the country, and in Chennai, is big business, and has been for a very long time. But what has changed over the decades, say hair exporters, is where the hair is procured from. Villages now contribute to more than 90 per cent of the hair that is exported out of the country and the main reason procurers go to villages is because of the deplorable quality of hair shared in the city.
“The advent of cosmetics and hair products has lowered the quality of hair everywhere,” pointed out K S Prithviraj, president of the Indian Human Hair Exporters Welfare Association. “But the hardest hit have been cities.” The biggest culprit, he went on to say, is bleach.
“Too many people bleach their hair in the city. And while modern hair-care products make hair feel nice, they reduce the quality of hair. Nothing beats oiled hair for thickness and weight and we find that only in villages nowadays,” he admitted.
If you feel that isn’t a big deal for you, you may change your mind when you find out how much your hair is worth on the international market. According to Prithviraj, even hair of the lowest quality of six to eight inches in length sells for more than `3,000 per kg. And for the best, more than 30 inches and of the best quality, the rates are 10 times that. “Top quality hair that we get almost exclusively in temples in rural areas, sells for about `25,000 per kg. It may go for as much as `30,000 at auctions,” Prithviraj pointed out.
Another reason that exporters are sourcing their supply from villages and temples seems to be because cities do not give enough hair of sufficient length to make it worth the cost. “Short hair is fashionable here. You just don’t find the type of tresses that fetch a good price in the city these days,” said Prithviraj.
So the next time you look at plaited, waist length oiled hair and think it unfashionable, just remember - hair for hair, it is ten times more valuable than yours.