Artificial Hair

Women wearing artificial hair

We are of course not as hairy as chimps, but humans do have hair on most of their body parts except palms and feet soles. Human hair filament is made of protein named keratin, which grows out of hair follicles present on the scalp and other body parts. These may not be as dense as that in chimps, but they are present. Humans became furless about 1.7 million years ago but have started depending on Artificial Hair.

What is the evolutionary purpose for having this hair?

  • Protection from UV radiation, dirt and rubbish
  • Regulation of temperature
  • Detection of sensations as these are surrounded with nerve endings
Types of hair

Human hair is generally classified into two types:

  • Terminal hair
    • Thick-pigmented hair found on scalp, beard, axillae, pubic area
    • Generally growth rate is affected by hormonal changes
  • Vellus hair
    • Fine, non-pigmented hair which covers most of the human body
    • Generally growth rate is not affected by hormonal changes

Hair on Head

An individual generally has about 1-lakh hair on their head at any time, which translates to about 800 to 1300 hair per square inch.  These hair grow at a rate of about 0.4 mm / day. Interestingly, humans have about 5-lakh hair on its complete body, similar to that in any other primate. Hair on head helps protect brain from sunlight, and retain heat during the cold. You will be amazed to know that, number of hair on head also depends on the natural hair colour, and is listed in graph below:

Hair colour vs Number of hairs

Hair Loss

Some of the common reasons for hair loss are:

  • Heredity:
    • Most common cause
    • Medically called as androgenic alopecia
    • Also known as male-pattern and female-pattern baldness
    • Occurs steadily
    • Can be predicted
  • Hormonal changes:
    • Can lead to permanent or temporary hair loss
    • Can be attributed to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, thyroid problems etc.
  • Medical conditions:
    • Medically called as alopecia areata
    • Related to immune system of the person
    • Can lead to formation of patchy hair loss or cause scalp infections
  • Medications:
    • Side effect of certain drugs used in curing cancer, depression, heart problems, high blood pressure etc.
  • Radiation therapy
  • Stress:
    • Hair thinning can occurs due to physical or emotional shock
    • Is generally temporary in nature
  • Hairstyling:
    • Traction alopecia – caused due to excessive pulling when creating pigtails or cornrows
    • Hot-oil hair treatments
    • Scarring during hairtyling can also lead to permanent hair loss

Some statistics

  • By the age of 35, about 40 percent of men suffer from hair loss, while by the age of 60, percentage increases to about 65. Whereas, by the age of 40, about 40 percent of women suffer hair loss, while by the age of 60, percentage increases to about 80
  • Approximately, 50 to 100 head hair are lost every day
  • Androgenetic alopecia is the reason for hair loss in about 95 percent of men
  • Baldness gene is the reason for hair loss of 1 in 7 men
  • Global hair transplant market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 26.5% creating a market value of USD 42 Billion by the year 2027
  • In the year 2012-13, India had a market of about 450 cr and is currently growing at a CAGR of more than 25% in all the major Indian cities
  • In India, cost of each graft can vary from INR 50 to 200, depending on the transplant technique used
  • Major global players in hair transplant:
    • Bernstein Medical
    • Restoration Robotics
    • Cole Instruments Inc.
    • LaserCap Company
    • Apira Science
    • Harris FUE Instruments
    • HairMax Inc.
    • Shaanxi Xingmao Industry Co.
  • Major hair transplant techniques:
    • Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
    • Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
    • Robotic Hair Transplantation
  • America is the biggest market for hair transplant
  • Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, minerals such as iron and zinc helps make hair stronger

Brief History of Unnatural hair

  • Some anthropologist studies suggests usage of unnatural hair (wigs), about one-lakh years ago in southwestern France.
  • Egyptians, in 2500 BC, wore wigs made of porous fabric attached with human hair, sheep’s wool or fiber obtained from palm leaf to protect their shaven head (for cleanliness and comfort) from sunlight. Figure below shows 3000 year old Egyptian wig found in the Temple of Isis at Thebes; still retaining its tiny curls. Wig was made using human hair attached with beeswax and resin.
3000 years old human hair wig at British Museum
  • Wigs in ancient Greece were made from the heads of German captives. It was found that Caesar (to hide his baldness), Hannibal and Nero used those wig as disguises.
Julius Caesar, Hannibal and Nero
  • In sixteenth century, Italian wigs were used in England, which were made from human hair or silk threads. They were introduced there during the reign of Stephen in the twelfth century.
    • Louis XIII: 1630. Used to hide his baldness
    • Louis XIV: 1665. Used to look taller
Louis XIII and Louis XIV
  • A French inventor reported usage of flesh-colored hair net in 1805

Synthetic Hair

  • Ms. Christiana Jenkins, an African-American woman, from Ohio, USA, patented the hair weave technique, wherein hair is attached to a net by sewing and then adhered to the scalp.
Patent by Christiana Jenkins


  • Various man-made polymers used in making the synthetic hair are:
    • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
    • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
    • Acrylonitrile
    • Acrylic
    • Silk
    • Silicone
  • Video below shows the manufacturing process (melt spinning) used to make synthetic or artificial hair
  • Video below shows the synthetic or artificial hair (cutting and packing) manufacturing process
  • Video below shows the wig making process using the synthetic hair

Some Recent Developments

  • On 13thAugust 2021, Mr. Filipe Nyusi, President of Mozambique, inaugurated artificial hair manufacturing factory named “Beleza Moçambique” a subsidiary of Indian Godrej group. Built over an area of 22,000 square meters, it will be providing employment to 3000 workers.
  • Group of three scientists from Israeli Technology company named ‘Hairtetics’ developed a 45 min synthetic hair implant technique using tiny stents. The technique is currently available only for women, as it requires long neighbouring hair in the process. Interestingly, the technique was first tried in India. The technique offers options of 7 colours for selection.
  • Ms. Ciara Imani May founded a company named ‘Rebundle’, in 2019, which makes banana fiber based non-toxic and biodegradable braiding hair under the trade name ‘Braid Better’. They sell 3.5-ounce bundles of black, brown or blonde hair, having length of 28 inches, priced at $20 each.

Dear Readers, do go through the above content on Artificial Hair and let me know your viewpoints in the Comments section.

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