What happens to all the hair donated at the temples in India?

Before the emergence of demand for hair extensions in the western countries, the temples in India used to burn all donated hair on a regular basis. However, as “temple hair” got recognized as the premium quality hair used for hair extensions, temples started selling the hair to the “hair collectors” through contracts and auctions. This led to the development of the next tier of “hair extensions’ industry, where the “temple hair” is cleaned, conditioned, sorted and bundled. Then hair pieces (such as keratin strands, wefts, wigs etc.) are manufactured so that the hair is suitable to support one of the many hair extension methods. Extensions manufacturing industry employs thousands of poor men and women in India and provides them with job and income.

Do people in other countries donate hair?

In India, as a part of an ancient tradition, thousands of people visit temples every day from different parts of the country, in order to sacrifice their hair to express humility and gratitude. This includes men, women and children. This tradition has been in existence since thousands of years, long before the advent of the hair extensions industry.

In some other countries (e.g, Russia, Ukraine), hair is collected from the donors, in exchange for money offered by the “hair collectors”. In this case, typically the donor does not shave off her head. After the hair is grown to a longer length, the extra length is cut off and sold by the donor. However, such donors are hard to find on an ongoing basis and the volume of hair collected through this arrangement is extremely small.