|processed or virgin? only he knows...|
A: The word "virgin" indicates hair that has never been commercially processed in any way. It's not dyed and it's not stripped of cuticle or coated with silicone. The hair is basically cut off some lady's head, washed, cleaned, brushed, and sewn into the sheitel cap. Virgin hair could technically come from anywhere—virgin European, virgin Mongolian, virgin Indian. It may last a few years longer than processed hair (if it's good hair to start out with) but it's very pricey. I would not expect to buy a true virgin hair piece for less than around $2,000.
Q: Nu, and processed hair?
A: So "processed" has a much less specific definition. Processed can mean hair that's simply colored or permed, but it can also mean hair that's been bleached, stripped of cuticle, re-dyed, and coated with silicone. There are brands of sheitels sold as European, but they are actually stripped of the all important cuticle. There are sheitels that are Mongolian, but are virgin hair. It's very confusing, but one thing to know is that most sheitels, from the cheapest to some of the most expensive, are generally "processed" in some way.
Q: In view of this, what does "European hair" really mean?
A: In my humble opinion, it's very hard to know.
Let me tell you a story…back in the day, before I knew anything about sheitels, I bought one that was advertised as "affordable" European hair. The web site had this section about how the owner of the company wanted to provide well-priced European sheitels to everyone, basically out of the goodness of her own heart (forgive my cynicism).
So, I bought two, that's how cheap they were (less than $500 for a full sheitel, about $400 for a fall). When they arrived, I took them to a friend who was a sheitel macher and learned my first hard lesson about sheitels: when something seems too good to be true, it is. Lo and behold, those sheitels were stripped of cuticle. Then, to add insult to injury, when the whole Indian hair crises came up a few months later, the same company emailed all recent customers to let them know that there was a percentage of Indian hair in these "European hair" sheitels.
End of story? Nope, that company is still in business, and they advertise their sheitels as European. Nowhere in their literature does it say anything about the hair being stripped of cuticle. So, unless you know to ask, you would never know.
Also, the term "European" doesn't always signify terrific hair. European hair should come from the heads of women in Europe, generally former Soviet countries in Eastern Europe. But, there are many different levels of quality. A woman who is well-fed and takes good care of her hair will have much nicer hair than another woman who is malnourished, impoverished, and a smoker. Yet, a sheitel can be made with either woman's hair and still be called European.
Q: So what should I do? How can I know?
A: This is my advice. First, ask a lot of questions when you are buying a sheitel. Second, cultivate a relationship with a sheitel macher who has a good reputation and feels trustworthy to you.
And third and most importantly, stay tuned for my next blog entry! I'm going to be teaching you how to become an educated sheitel consumer so that the next time you buy a sheitel, you'll know what you are doing!