About our Hair
A hair strand is made up of an inner core and an outer layer of cuticles. The cuticle layer is formed by tightly packed scales in an overlapping structure similar to roof shingles. Most hair conditioning products simply affects the cuticle. The pigment cells that give hair its color is embedded beneath the cuticle layer within the inner core of the hair strand. The hair cuticle is the first line of defense against all forms of damage and is responsible for much of the mechanical strength of the hair follicle. A healthy cuticle is more than just a protective layer, as the cuticle also represents the structure that controls the water content of the fiber. Much of the shine that makes healthy hair so attractive is due to the cuticle.
The cuticles of hair strands are all directed in the same direction. If the cuticles were positioned in opposite directions, they would “catch” on each other like fish hooks and tangle. For this reason, the hair industry puts a premium in value on the services of hair collectors who cut the hair directly from people's head, in the form of a ponytail so that all the hair strands are maintained in the same natural direction.
This hair is sometimes referred to as “cuticle” hair, or virgin cuticle hair (with the term virgin implying that it (cuticles) has not been damaged through artificial processing (i.e. coloring or heat)). It turns out that south India is the only place in the world where women donate their long flowing virgin hair as a religious sacrifice (at the temples). Ironically, it is these religious customs in south India that are the “key” to the supply of the ultimate human hair on the world market.
The term “Remy” hair is originally derived from the Indian practice of women “remitting” their hair to religion at temples. Remy hair can more broadly be applied to refer to human hair that has been harvested from the scalp in such a manner as to keep the individual hair follicles and cuticles all aligned in the same direction (head to tail).
Remy hair is considered “virgin” as long as it has not undergone any processing to change its structural composition (such as chemical dying or heat-based texture changes). Hair that has undergone any kind of artificial physical alteration is considered processed hair. Natural Indian women’s hair comes in black (#1), natural black (#1B), and dark brown (#2) – all other colors are created through chemical processing and dying. Technically, such hair is no longer virgin as the chemical process causing some damage to the cuticle layer (as the coloring process requires chemicals to open up the cuticles to strip the original dark pigment and allow the new color dyes to impregnate into the hair shaft).
Similarly, the hair industry employs heat processing to change the texture of hair. The natural virgin hair textures of Indian women include straight, wavy, and curly hair. Processed hair includes a variety of textures: Yaki (closely resembling relaxed African-American hair), silky (resembling very straight Asian hair), “European” texture hair, as well as varying degrees of wavy textures (Body/Deep/Jackson wave). Importantly, even though the Remy hair undergoing dying or texture change technically is no longer “virgin,” the source hair that SalonLabs works from is in such pristine, undamaged condition that even the processed hair maintains a high level of integrity. For this reason, the SalonLabs nomenclature remains “Remy” even for such processed hair. It is important to note that Indian women, unlike their western counterparts, do not treat their hair chemically - through coloring or heat - and nourish their hair with oils to ensure beautiful long flowing hair that cannot be surpassed in natural luster, body, versatility and durability.
However, in today’s market, this terminology is no longer accurate, with the word "Remy" is being completely abused on and falsely advertised on packaging for even synthetic blends. Ultimately, however, quality comes through tangibly – and those who feel and wear true Remy hair appreciate it as the ultimate in human hair.
Non-Remy hair is often referred to as ‘fallen” hair because it can be procured in barber shops or other unknown sources - and is the most commonly available form of hair. In other common hair-harvesting methods, the hair is simply shorn from the head and bagged up with no regard for the way the cuticle layers of the hair shafts are aligned. When the cuticles are not aligned, tangling and knotting is a problem. Yet because of its inexpensive price, non-Remy hair is the largest selling kind of hair in the world (and the one most prevalent at beauty supply stores).
Interestingly, non-Remy hair is sometimes chemically processed to strip off the cuticle layer from the hair shaft in order to create “tangle-free” hair that can be used in making extensions, wigs and hair-pieces. It should note that the strands still run in opposite directions, even without the cuticle coating, noting that the head of a hair strand is thicker than the tail (accounting for the feathery feel to the ends of natural hair). Sometimes referred to as “tangle-free” or “silky” hair, this cuticle-free product is considered somewhat superior to standard non-Remy hair. While still inexpensive, this processed hair lacks the strength and durability, versatility, natural luster and shine of unprocessed hair.