The first question almost everyone who’s buying a sheitel asks: “Is it European hair??” But what exactly is European hair? And is that the hair you really want for your wig? The majority of people who ask for European hair are unknowingly asking for high-quality hair that still has its cuticle intact. The most outer layer of hair is the cuticle. The cuticle protects the hair from damage and gives the hair its natural look. It’s important for cuticle-intact hair to be running in all the same direction to prevent the hair from tangling. When manufacturing wigs or hair extensions some manufactures strip the hair of the cuticle so that collecting the hair and creating the wig will be less time consuming. Below is a guide to understanding hair and hair types to help you determine which type of hair you would be happiest with.
First, let’s start with an understanding of virgin hair. Virgin hair is hair from any origin that is completely free of any processing. This means it is not colored or chemically treated in anyway. Virgin hair is extremely expensive, especially in lighter colors and different textures. Beware of cheaply priced virgin hair. Virgin hair only comes in the natural color of that country’s origin. For example, virgin Brazilian hair will most likely be a dark brown, while virgin European hair is most likely to be medium brown to blonde.
Remy hair is virgin hair that has been colored or treated in some way. Remy hair still maintains its cuticle. The majority of sheitals on the market (with the exception of dark colors, which are generally virgin) are this type of hair, known as color-processed hair.
European hair does not necessarily mean the hair comes from Europe, as few Europeans actually harvest and sell their own hair. European hair means it comes from a country with an Anglo or European descendant.
Brazilian hair is currently the most sought-after texture on the market right now. It’s texture, in general, has traction, and it is usually thick and heavy. This hair type is glamorous and soft to the touch. Brazilian hair does not frizz as easily as other types because of the heaviness of its density. If you want a thick and bouncy effect, Brazilian hair is highly recommended.
Brazil is genetically diverse. Brazilian hair’s features are determined by the region and genetics of the hair. There are two classes or grades of hair that we use for wigs for Jewish women.
Grade A is from the area of Brazil that is mostly of Anglo or European descent. The texture of the hair is very fine and is silky straight. The majority of the virgin straight sheitel hair on the market comes from this area and is generally referred to as European hair.
Grade B hair has become very popular for those who want wavy sheitels. The hair is thicker than the grade A version, and slightly wavy in texture. It can come in a range of colors from dark brown to light copper. This hair is highly resistant to the sun.
Russian hair is hair of European descent. Because of their nutrient-rich diet, Russian hair is the silkiest, thinnest and finest of virgin hair on the market. The colors it generally comes in are light blonde to medium brown. This hair is extremely hard to source and is therefore the most expensive hair on the market.
Mongolian hair is a cross between Malaysian and Chinese hair. Mongolia is located in east-central Asia and borders Russia and China. Because the countries are so close together, travel has allowed for intermarriage and over the years this type of hair became unique. The hair strands are soft and shiny and come in a variety of colors and textures. Because of its small population this hair is limited in supply and therefore expensive.
In summary, virgin Russian hair is one of the best types and most expensive virgin hairs you can purchase today; think several thousand dollars. The so-called European hair in the Jewish market generally refers to cuticle-intact hair that will preserve the lifespan of the wig and protect the hair from damage. At the moment the market is flooded with so many different types of hair for wigs and extensions, from all different countries, that it is nearly impossible to keep track of the source the actual hair is coming from. Most of the hair is colored or processed in some way to get the look you want. A very small and exclusive percentage of the hair that ends up in Jewish wigs is actually legitimately virgin hair, for colors lighter than brown. For that type of hair you will pay a few thousand dollars. The texture you want, your hair color and the budget you have will determine which type of hair will suit your needs best.
By Sari Friedbauer
Sari Friedbauer is a licensed and certified cosmetologist and wig maker. She can be reached for consultations at 201-694-5319.