We totally get the attraction of extensions.
Not everyone can have long, full, glossy hair. A lot of us can only manage a ponytail the length and width of a generous prawn, which can be a bit depressing.
Hence the attraction of clip-in stennies. They give the illusion of Serena van der Woodsen hair, without having to spend hours in the salon for those of us who aren’t folically blessed.
What’s not to love?
Quite a lot, actually.
How many of us have ever stopped to wonder where those hair extensions came from? Even those of us who have seen Les Mis and are fully aware that people who sell their hair are rarely in a great place in their lives?
It’s so easy to be caught up in beauty that you forget to think about what the cost is. Which is why Fair Hair Care are campaigning to regulate hair extensions. They told us:
‘Through our research, we found that there is no current regulation in the hair extension industry.
‘As the industry is not regulated factory practices are unethical and are not regulated so when demand outstrips supply factories end up cutting corners and mixing human hair with synthetic hair or animal hair.
‘Some beauty supply stores bring Chinese hair and call it Indian hair because it is an easier way to sell it. Whenever they exhaust one name they tag on another name. So, at the moment they have Brazilian hair, they have Peruvian hair, Indonesian hair, they have Malaysian hair, Italian and French too.
‘Customers think it’s a new product and so they are going to buy it and try it at least once. Due to the lack of regulations, manufacturers and supply stores are able to falsely label and advertise extensions as 100% human hair just to make a sale.’
What you are buying, according to Fair Hair Care, and an investigation from the BBC, is most often goat hair.
Even if you’re not weirded out by the idea of wearing goat hair in your hair, Fair Hair Care say that you’re unlikely to get a decent result from it, saying:
‘If the hair is synthetic or made up of animal hair aftercare would be difficult. Consumers spend large amounts of time and money to find the right type of products to look after the human hair extensions but these products simply just don’t work as they are not treating human hair.’
Accidentally paying a lot of money to wear a goat is, however, only the tip of the iceberg.
‘Girls as young as a two will have their heads shaved as a ritual sacrifice. It is framed as a religious ceremony, but the child in question has little comprehension of what is happening to her. Often these sacrifices are part of a to a higher power, for instance to to save their homes from being repossessed.
‘Afterwards their hair is casually tossed into a bin, but it won’t be thrown away. The children don’t realise, but their hair will be sold to hair dealers and then shipped on to the salons of Western Europe.
‘In other instances some extensions could be taken from corpses or could be from girls as young as who have cut off their hair to sell for just a few pounds. This is despite the fact that in the UK, a full head of extensions of the best quality European hair would set you back £2,000.’
If the idea of wearing a child’s stolen hair, or the hair stolen from a corpse makes you feel uncomfortable (it should) then what can you do?
Fair Hair Care are running a petition. They’re hoping to get 500,000 signatures, enough to compel the hair extension industry to sign up to a system of regulation. You can click here to learn more and sign the petition.