Weaves are vastly popular and worn by millions of people around the world, however many people do not know exactly what they are made of.
So what exactly is this adornment that creates such elaborate and fun hairstyles?
What is a Weave?
A hair weave is made of human or synthetic hair extensions that are sewn onto a weft either by hand or by a machine.
These wefts of hair are then either sewn in, clipped in, or taped into the natural hair in order to enhance or change its look.
Weaves serve the purpose of adding volume, changing length or color, or changing texture. If the hair is made of human hair, it is made from real hair from people of many different nationalities to achieve more texture and color variety.
What Hair Weave is Made of
Many hair weaves are made from synthetic hair. Synthetic hair is composed of artificial hair strands of plastic – usually acrylic or nylon – that are made into ultra-thin fibers and chemically processed to mimic real hair. 
Synthetic hair comes in many different assortments of colors and textures. However, the color or texture cannot be changed like human hair can with products like dye and relaxer.
Difference in Quality
There are also different qualities of synthetic hair. One of the best quality synthetic hair on the market right now is made of Kanekalon fiber.
Usually, because synthetic hair is made of plastic, it is not heat resistant like human hair is. Kanekalon is heat resistant, and able to be straightened, unlike nylon fiber which would melt if straightened.
The lower the quality, the shiner the hair is. For example, Kanekalon fiber has less shine than polyester. You can tell synthetic hair from human hair by the difference in luster, because human hair is not as shiny.
Maintenance and Price
Synthetic hair is relatively low maintenance, because it is meant to be worn in one style, but also has the tendency to matte severely over time – depending on the quality of the hair.
The hair unusually lasts up to 4 months with daily use, depending on the quality. It can also not be dyed like human hair can.
Synthetic hair is also less costly than human hair, costing as low as $10, which makes it popular among those that need an affordable option.
Difference in Quality
Hair hair weaves are made with hair actually harvested from human heads. Just like synthetic hair, there are different qualities of human hair. 
Human hair is measured in grades that range from 6a to 11a virgin hair. The lower quality hair is called non-Remy hair (6a-7a) and is usually made with hair that is gathered from floors or other places where hair may have fallen out.
Non-remy hair is usually not very healthy, and may be chemically altered or dyed to look smoother and healthier. Also, remy hair is not sewn onto a weft in the same direction, so it is harder to style it and lay it flat. It can also be damaged faster when heat or chemicals are applied.
This hair is the least expensive out of all the other grades.
Remy hair (8a) is medium quality hair that is healthier than non-remy hair but not as full as virgin hair. All the hairs are sewn in the same direction and can be treated with heat and chemicals.
Virgin hair (9a-11a) is the highest quality hair that comes straight from hair donors. It is the healthiest and fullest hair one can buy. Because virgin hair is grown out, it usually is not sold in a very long length, but it does come thick.
It can be treated with heat and chemicals, but different hair might have different reactions to these things. It also requires a lot of maintenance and is the most expensive.
Also read: Remy vs Virgin Hair
Different Types of Human Hair
Brazilian hair is very popular among people of color because of it’s thick density and texture. This hair is often wavy or curly, and darker shades.
Peruvian hair is thicker than Brazilian hair and is often curly. It requires less bundles to achieve a fuller look, making it more cost effective than a straighter and silkier hair type.
Indian hair is thick and usually comes longer than other hair. It has a natural waviness, which adds to its volume when straightened.
Malaysian hair is usually sought after by those who want a straight hair texture. It is silky, smooth, and lighter than other hair types.
Where does human hair come from?
Many human hair sources come out of China and Asia. Religious ceremonies are one of the major events where people have their heads shaved, which provide the hair for people to sell and ship to other countries.
Other sources of hair collection come from hair donors that purposefully grow their hair out and sell it online or in person.
Other less satisfactory sources come from people who simply collect their hair overtime where they find it around their house – floors, combs, bathtubs, etc. – and then sell it.
One of the darker sides of this multi-billion dollar industry is that some women have been targets of gangs and thieves -especially in China and India- that have their hair cut and sold in the black market.
There are many ways that human hair is acquired, but even though it is easier to know where the hair comes from, it is harder to track how it was collected.
Are weaves made of Horse hair?
It may seem like a myth to think that people are weaning horsehair on their heads, but it is true that some weaves are made with animal hair fibers.
It is a practice that dates all the way back to ancient Egypt and is still being done today. Not all animal fibers are made with horsehair, but sheep and goat hair are other popular options.
Animal hair is rarely used on its own now, but is usually mixed with human hair.
It is not shiny like synthetic hair, making it look closer to the real thing, and can be chemically altered to change the color and texture.
It also tends to be more expensive than synthetic hair, but is still a cheaper option to buying a full human hair weave.
What is the Weft of a Weave Made Of?
A weft is the part of an extension that holds the hair in place.
This weft is made of thread that literally is used to sew the hair into a track, which is what one extension is called. Some wefts are made differently, depending on the type of weave it is.
If the extensions are tape-in, for example, the track will be made with tape on the end in addition to the threading. The same goes for a clip in, they have clips on the ends that attach to the natural hair.
How are Weaves made?
Weaves are made by sewing the hair onto the weft that holds the hair together. This can be done by a machine or hand.
These wefts are usually made into one long continuous track and then folded and sewn down once more to make a double wefted track.
While one person is sewing the hair into a track, other people will work to keep it free from tangling and cutting the excess hair away. 
The Final Word
As popular as the weave is, there are many things people may not know about it.
Whether it is human hair or synthetic hair, there are still many variations to choose from and methods for making it.
Though the weave is not a recent invention, it is constantly changing, and more innovations are still being made to make this hair staple look even more like the real deal.