The Human Hair Industry in India | How Big Is It and What Is Its Future?

The Human Hair Industry in India | How Big Is It and What Is Its Future?
Human Hair Industry in India

Hair is one of the most important parts that play a role in enhancing the beauty of a being. But very few know that it is not just a beauty enhancer but it also has diverse uses that make it an essential component of many industries. The high demand for human hair is what fuels the growth of the human hair industry, with India leading the way in producing the largest volume of human hair as compared to other countries. India is the largest exporter of human hair in the world, with the industry generating billions of dollars in revenue every year.

According to Statista, India exported human hair worth $14.3 million in 2020, making it the second-largest exporter after Hong Kong, which exported hair worth $44.4 million. In this blog, we will delve into the growing future of the human hair industry in India, exploring its various uses and its economic impact.

The Human Hair Industry
The Human Hair Industry in India
Different Categories of Human Hair
Uses of Human Hair in India
The Smuggling Case of Raw Indian Human Hair
The Future of the Human Hair Industry in India

The Cost of Human Hair Trade

The Human Hair Industry

There is a difference in opinion regarding the use of human hair. Half of the masses consider human hair useless and often dump it as municipal waste. Whereas, the other half of the world is creative and tries to make something useful out of the unrequired human hair. When you visit a rural area where the population is somewhat lower than the other places, you will find that they throw away human hair.

These volumes of hair slowly decompose over several years to produce molecules of carbon, Sulphur, nitrogen, and many more. However, in urban places, you will notice human hair on the sewage system, therefore, blocking its passage. Don’t you think that such a lack of hygiene is dangerous? Well if you want an answer then yes, the blockage caused by human hair produces more nitrogen giving rise to the problems of eutrophication.

These harmful causes of human hair convinced the concerned people to have a thought about it. Therefore, as a result, various industries discovered a recovery method to utilize the waste hair for something good. Also, they ended up using volumes of waste human hair to contribute to the economy. As a matter of fact, human hair is renewable and biodegradable, and this fact gave rise to one of the largest industries in the world. The human hair industry was just a rescue to the harmful causes but now it turned out to be a lot more important to contribute to the economy.

The Human Hair Industry in India

Value of Human Hair and Related Products Exported from India from FY2017 to FY2022
Value of Human Hair and Related Products Exported from India from FY2017 to FY2022

India had established a huge export hub for a vast type of goods. Be it jewellery, chemicals, coffee, engineering products, or even fruits, India is very popular in exportation. But India has the largest base in the human hair industry across the world. Do you know? India is the second largest exporter of raw human hair in the world because the human hair found in this country is of high strength, has a rich texture, and possesses the finest quality.

Exportation of Indian human hair to different corners of the world sounds weird, but the business is booming. Well, the western countries America, Canada and several European countries involve the most in the exportation market of human hair but India exports more than two thousand tonnes. Along with these countries, India also exports human hair to Rangoon, where they create weaves and wigs out of it.

India is also famous for a temple ritual that includes the use of human hair. The method of “tonsuring” might be pretty well known to you. Millions of devotees leave their casual life and promise to serve god for the rest of their lives. As a result, they shave their heads and donate their hair to God. This practice is particularly prevalent in temples like the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, where thousands of devotees offer their hair every day. This practice has contributed significantly to the availability of human hair in India, making it one of the largest exporters of human hair in the world.

The human hair industry in India encompasses various activities, including collection, processing, and distribution of human hair. The process of collecting human hair involves sourcing hair from temples, salons, and individuals. The hair is then sorted, cleaned, and processed before being sold to buyers.

The human hair industry in India provides employment opportunities for millions of people, particularly in rural areas. The industry is also an essential source of income for temple trusts and contributes significantly to the country's GDP.

In 2021, India exported raw human hair worth $383 million U.S. dollars and the value of human hair and related products exported from India amounted to approximately 770 million U.S. dollars in year of 2022.

Reasons Why India saw growth surge in Exports and How does it affects Economy?
India saw a growth surge in the exports even during the pandemic, lets find out the reasons behind it.

Different Categories of Human Hair

Human hair has a distinctive chemical composition that makes it degrade slowly, with properties such as elastic recovery, high tensile strength, scaly surface, and thermal insulation. The characteristics of hair vary depending on factors such as color, curliness or straightness, length, contamination, and hair damage. While some of these traits are determined at birth, many people change their hair's properties through makeovers. Based on these unique characteristics, hair is classified into different categories based on their unique properties and characteristics:

  1. Virgin Hair: This refers to hair that has never been chemically treated or processed in any way. It is the highest quality of hair available and is often the most expensive.
  2. Remy Hair: This type of hair is collected from a single donor, with all the hair cuticles aligned in the same direction.
  3. Non-Remy Hair: Non-Remy hair is collected from multiple donors and may have its cuticles in different directions.
  4. Synthetic Hair: This type of hair is made from synthetic materials and is designed to look and feel like natural hair.
  5. Colored Hair: Hair can be colored to achieve different shades and tones, ranging from natural-looking hues to bold and vibrant colors.
  6. Textured Hair: This refers to hair that has a specific texture, such as curly, wavy, or straight.
  7. Processed Hair: This type of hair has been chemically treated to achieve a particular style or color. It may include hair that has been permed, relaxed, or dyed.

Uses of Human Hair in India

Human hair is a versatile material that finds various uses in India, from the beauty industry to agriculture. Here are some of the primary uses of human hair in India:

Making Wigs, Eyelashes, and More

Human hair can be cleaned and used in making artificial wigs, eyelashes, hair extensions, beards, and moustaches. Industries manufacturing such beauty hair accessories are one of the largest global human hair industries. Wigs, beards, and moustaches are in high demand in the eastern countries for ages. Fake eyelashes are frequently used in the field of acting, modelling, and also on several occasions to enhance the beauty of one's face.

Making Makeup Brushes

Human hair is also frequently used for making cosmetic brushes as they blend makeup products smoothly. Are you thinking how can humans put up makeup so smoothly? Well, there are numerous scales on the human hair, therefore these scales can easily hold make-up powder and apply it to your skin. But a makeup brush can not be made from curly hair due to its irregular structure. Straight and smooth hair is always preferred in these hair manufacturing industries as it can give a good and smooth blend to your skin without causing any irritation on your skin.

Haircare Products Testing

The rising growth of human hair industries also welcomed the production of hair care products. And as you know, every product is tested multiple times before it gets to the public. Just like that, unrequired human hair is often used in laboratories as test materials for various hair care products. The modern world is filled with new companies and every company manufacturers products with unique formulations. These formulations can backfire their discovery if it causes real harm to the common people. Therefore, cut-out human hair is used to detect their probability of usefulness in the outside world.

Stuffing Toys

Human hair is very silky, stretchy, cushiony, and has good thermal insulation. These qualities make it perfect for use in stuffing toys and household things like hairpin cushions. It is not the end, human hair is also used in the manufacturing of jackets, and mattresses in India and also in other countries.

Making Fabrics

Human hair has a high tensile straight which makes it a perfect material for making fabrics. In Arunachal Pradesh, India, the traditional people mix yak hair along with human hair, cotton, and nettle fibre for making fabrics. In these concepts, human hair is often used as the weft whereas cotton yarn is turned into a warp. Do you know? Animal fibres are blended with cut-out human hair to make blankets in Panipat, India. Therefore, the human hair industry has a huge contribution to the Indian economy as well as worldwide.

Medical Industry

The pharmaceutical and medical industries also take full advantage of the uniqueness of human hair. A normal human hair contains about 20 amino acids which are extracted by hydrolysis of that particular volume of hair. And some of these amino acids are a boon to the medical world. L-valine, L-leucine, L-cysteine, and L-isoleucine are the good yield of human hair. L-cysteine constitutes several chemical derivatives which can come useful in the production of pharmaceutical formulations and also some cosmetics. Asian hair contains more amount of L-cysteine than any other type of hair, as most of their hair is black.

Food Industry

The L-cysteine extracted from human hair is also used in food industries. It is an amino acid that is used as an additive to increase the shelf life of bread and is also used to add to pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, etc. However, the use of this compound from human hair in food industries has caused a lot of disappointment among the masses. Few cared about the ingredients and the rest were focused on the reality.


Human hair is a rich source of nitrogen, which makes it an excellent fertilizer for plants. In some parts of India, human hair is used as a natural fertilizer to improve soil quality and promote plant growth.


Human hair is also used to create handicrafts like dolls, jewelry, and decorations. In some parts of India, artists use human hair to create intricate designs and patterns.

Musical Instruments

Human hair is used to create strings for musical instruments like the violin and the guitar. The hair fibers are twisted together to create a strong and durable string that produces a unique sound.

The Smuggling Case of Raw Indian Human Hair

The Recent Raw Human Hair Smuggling Case
The Recent Raw Human Hair Smuggling Case

The superior quality of Indian human hair and the human hair industry of India has a huge name throughout the world. This is a great thing, however, the industry has also seen its fair share of controversies and illegal activities, such as the smuggling of raw Indian human hair.

In recent years, there have been reports of large-scale smuggling of raw human hair from India to other countries, especially China. The central agency claimed that this network was spread across Hyderabad to Aizawal. During an investigation, it was known that raw human hair from India was smuggled to Myanmar illegally, generating a huge amount of cash. However, during further investigations, it came out that the raw human hair was actually finding its way to China via Myanmar.

“All this domestically sold hair was ultimately finding its way to China via Myanmar and sale proceeds were surprisingly being received from shell Bank Accounts in Mizoram. ED conducted fund trail investigation and zeroed in on the …shell entities based in Mizoram which were taking in hundreds of crores of cash deposits and then remitting the deposited amount to several hair merchants spread across India,” the official ED statement said.

The smuggling of raw Indian human hair involves the illegal harvesting of hair from temples, salons, and other sources, which is then sold to middlemen or smugglers. The hair is then smuggled out of the country through various means, including hiding it in shipments of other goods or using false documentation to avoid detection.

To combat the smuggling of raw Indian human hair, the Indian government has taken several measures, including stricter enforcement of laws against illegal harvesting and trade in human hair. The government has also encouraged the development of legal and sustainable hair trade practices, such as hair donation drives and partnerships with small-scale suppliers and temples.

Money Laundering: How Does it Work, Common Methods, Biggest Cases in History
Money laundering is the process of cleaning illegal money. Here’s a detailed case study on how money laundering works with the biggest cases in history.

The Future of the Human Hair Industry in India

Leading Human Hair Exporting Countries Worldwide in 2020
Leading Human Hair Exporting Countries Worldwide in 2020

The future of the human hair industry in India is one of the leading ones in the business world. Dark Indian hair satisfies the traditional beauty standards and also has a huge variety and this is what makes it so popular. Moreover, hair extension clubs from all geographical corners mostly prefer Indian human hair with high quality, dark, and slightly wavy textures. Moreover, hair industries only deal with “virgin hair”. Nowadays a lot of people dye, strengthen, and give a completely new look to their hair. These artificial hair varieties are not even touched in the hair extensions world and this is why hair collectors mostly visit the rural parts of India.

In a recent conference, Eluru MP, Kotagiri Sridhar came up with another prediction. He said that the sudden rise of the human hair industry in India will end up providing about 8 lakh jobs in the upcoming years. All India Human Hair and Hair products Manufacturers and Exporter’s Association together organized a meeting in Eluru. The head of the meeting threw some light on the unique features of human hair and how well known it is across the world. He also stated that efforts to curb the smuggling of hair (raw material for hair products) are yielding results, bringing home nearly Rs.30,000 crores to Rs.40,000 crores for foreign exchange.

This is the amount smugglers earn for smuggling tones of human hair from India to different corners of the world. Therefore, the greater the yield, the more is smuggling. Kotagiri Sridhar also talked about the precautions, rules, and restriction charges which must be applied while exporting human hair-related stuff to the other world. This can at least mark a boundary or limit the chain of smuggling.

Additionally, the industry can also explore new opportunities in areas such as hair transplant surgery, research and development, and the use of human hair in non-beauty applications such as textiles and biodegradable materials.

Looking at the various parameters, the human hair industry in India has grown a lot and has a huge potential to grow further. Therefore, the Indian economy owes a lot to the hair industry. Furthermore, research says that the human hair industry in India has a probability of marking an income of more than $2 billion.


That was all you need to know about the booming business of the human hair industry in India. The industry has evolved from a traditional practice to a modern and innovative sector that contributes significantly to the Indian economy. The concept of the exportation of such a thing is bizarre but it’s weirder to know that Indian human hair is in great demand. There is plenty of importance of human hair and only a few of them are known to the common people. This article includes the most unique uses of hair. Furthermore, if you have read the complete article you would have understood by now that human hair-related industries have a huge growth potential in the near future.


Is there a market for human hair?

Yes, there is a market for human hair. The global human hair extension market recorded a worth of $3.71 billion in the year 2021. This market is estimated to reach $7.63 billion by the year 2029.

The most popular types of human hair products produced in India include hair extensions, wigs, and weaves.

How is human hair collected in India?

Human hair is collected from temples, barbershops, and salons across India. It is then sorted, washed, and processed before being sold to manufacturers.

How does the human hair industry contribute to the Indian economy?

The human hair industry is a significant contributor to the Indian economy, providing employment opportunities and promoting sustainable livelihoods in rural areas. It is also a major source of foreign exchange earnings through exports.

Who exports the most hair?

Hong Kong is currently the biggest exporter of human hair in the world, followed by India. According to Statista, Hong Kong's exports of human hair were worth $44.4 million in 2020, while India's exports were worth $14.3 million in the same year.

What is the price of 1kg hairs in India?

On average, the price of 1kg of human hair in India can range from a few thousand rupees to tens of thousands of rupees. However, it is important to note that the human hair industry operates largely on a retail level, and prices can vary significantly depending on the specific product and seller.

Why is human hair so expensive?

Human hair is so expensive because it is not something that can be manufactured like artificial synthetic hair. Growing hair is a very long and natural process. Also, it takes more than a head's hair to make any wig or hair extension.

Yes, it is legal to sell hair in India. In fact, India is one of the largest exporters of human hair in the world.

Must have tools for startups - Recommended by StartupTalky

Read more