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Indian, Brazilian, Malaysian, Mongolian, Russian, Filipino…with the hair trade rapidly growing and ever-changing, it seems like a new texture of virgin hair emerges with every sizzle of your wand curler.

But what exactly is virgin hair? Where does it come from? What differentiates the expensive tresses your favorite celeb is wearing from from the pack hair you can pick up at the local beauty supply?

More importantly, how does one choose from so many textures?

While some of the lingo may seem foreign, it’s understood — weave is where it’s at. And here’s what you need to know before you make your next purchase.

We linked up with Javonte Anyabwelé, founder of Madali Hair, who specializes in Filipino tresses and providing women with luxurious Filipino hair to answer our questions. Find out his answers below:

HelloBeautiful: Explain the concept of “virgin” hair…

Javonte Anyabwelé: Virgin Hair is 100% human hair that has never been chemically altered through coloring or pattern-changing treatments, which keeps the original cuticle layers (protective covering of the hair) in tact. The hair is collected from a single individual, which means that the cuticles all lay in the same direction allowing the hair to move and flow as it does on your own head.

HB: What distinguishes “virgin” hair from beauty supply store hair?

Javonte Anyabwelé: Beauty supply store hair or “pack” hair is often labeled 100% human, however it is usually blended with synthetic fibers or animal hair. It has most likely been colored or chemically treated in some way which may damage or completely strip the cuticle. It also may have come from various donors, which means the condition of the hair in its raw state is unknown. Additionally, if the cuticles are intact, they may not be facing the same direction, and this is why many hair extensions tangle in an unnatural and irreversible manner.

HB: Where does Madali source their Filipino hair from?

Javonte Anyabwelé: We source our virgin hair from women who are between the ages of 13 and 40.  These women are very much aware that they are selling their hair. It is a source of income and a way for them to financially support their households. Because they are aware, they do a great job of keeping their hair in great condition during their growing process.

HB: What is the difference between other textures and the Filipino texture?

Javonte Anyabwelé: There are two major benefits of Filipino hair over other types of hair. First, our Filipino hair is actually from Filipino women in the Philippines, but almost all other hair on the market, despite it being called Brazilian, Peruvian or Malaysian is actually from China. [China probably produces 60-70% of the hair extensions on the market.  Check where the hair is made next time you go to the beauty supply store for a $35 bundle of Brazilian!] Filipino hair is a better blend for ancestrally African women. An amalgamation of centuries of race mixing has yielded many textures, which are complimentary to the hair of women of African descent, and in many ways similar to the hair of our Puerto Rican, Brazilian and Dominican sisters. Secondly, the thicker shaft and tighter cuticle of Filipino hair means that the hair is durable enough to withstand repeated heat treatments and coloring, unlike other sources of hair.

HB: We’ve read, that all virgin hair only comes from Indian temples, so where does Filipino hair come from?

Javonte Anyabwelé: While Indian hair extensions origins often times can be traced back to sacrifices women make at sacred temples, and the women donating the hair for sacrifice are unaware of where/how their hair is used after the sacrifice (which is a very exploitative practice), MADALI is sourced through fair trade practices.  We work with, and have insight into every step of our product development; we know that the women who provide their hair are completely aware of what they are doing and are fairly compensated for doing so. When starting MADALI, we wanted to ensure that all women were respected and valued in our process.  It is a core belief our company.  Not only does this allow us the opportunity to share our values everyone can celebrate and be proud of, but it also gives us first-hand knowledge of availability and hair care practices that allow our customers to get the most out of their tresses. It truly is the best model for all involved.

HB: When did you start Madali Hair?

Javonte Anyabwelé: MADALI officially launched in August 2014, but the idea of sourcing the highest quality, best blend of hair extensions was an idea of our CEO four years ago when he first began to work extensively in Asia. Realizing there was an unanswered need in the market for exceptional quality AND unbelievable customer service, we began the journey of first locating the right source of hair, and then building the right brand and message behind the hair.  Prior to our official launch, we began selling hair on an exclusive basis to key customers under our parent company name (Lady eLouise) in January of 2014.  We did this soft launch to ensure that our customer service, delivery, technology platforms and interactions had all kinks worked out so our potential customers would get the best we had to offer on day one of the official launch.

For more information on Madali hair, visit their site, here.

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