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February 16, 2011


My friend and I were talking about hair extensions and were wondering where they originated. I think it was India and she guesses that they were first created somewhere on the African continent. Can you settle our friendly dispute?

Pershawn A. – Jennings, Indiana


No one seems to be making a claim as to the origin of hair extensions so let’s explain how they came about.

Indian women have a long and established tradition of hair care and lengthy, shinny locks. Many women donate their hair to temples dotted around the country when blessings come to their family. So hair has a sacred origin in that culture.

Likewise, African women have used braids and weaves as a practical way to care for hair and make a statement about their beauty. African braiding has been adopted by many cultures as a fashionable alternative in many local communities. However, neither Indian nor Afro-Caribbean cultures have used extensions as a standard means for lengthening hair. They just let it grow.

It was the Europeans who noticed how women residing between the Tropic of Cancer and The Tropic of Capricorn – that middle part of the planet – created an alluring image using creative braiding, weaving, or silky straight hair.

Europeans from Paris to Prague wanted the same look and the fastest, easiest way to get it was by weaving human hair onto a braid or cornrow. As Europeans found it fashionable, then Americans were only two steps behind in adopting the practice.

The U.S. is now the pacesetter. As with many style trends, North Americans are wearing and promoting hair extensions more than any other continent in the world.

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