Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The ugly truth behind multi-million pound hair extensions industry

HAIR HARVESTING IN PERU

The rising demand for real human hair means more and more suppliers from countries including India, Russia, Brazil and China are vying for their share of the profitable market. As twilight falls on a poverty-stricken town, a girl no more than 10 years old stands with her head bowed and her hands clamped over her eyes.

She winces at the snipping sound of scissors as a towering man she has never met before chops off her thick, jet-black ponytail.
The stranger is a dealer in human hair. He has measured the child’s waist-length hair to work out how much money it will fetch, using a tape measure he drapes around his neck.
All day long, the man scours this part of Peru for girls and women so poor and desperate that they will sell their hair.
And, somewhere on the other side of the world, a wealthy woman dressed head to toe in designer gear is at a swanky party, human-hair extensions weaved into her hair for the volume she loves.
The rising demand for real human hair means more and more suppliers from countries including India, Russia, Brazil and China are vying for their share of the profitable market. But, without proper regulation, it’s impossible to know whether hair has been donated, sold or stolen.
What is in no doubt is that this is a highly lucrative trade.
Dawn Reilly, of Balmain Hair, says: “The reality is that, pound for pound, hair is more expensive than gold, and there’s no doubt exploitation goes on.”
The little girl in Peru has no idea that the hair she is told is worth £10 will be sold for at least 10 times that amount in UK salons.
Human hair extensions were once the preserve of wealthy celebrities like Victoria Beckham and Naomi Campbell.
But they’ve now become a ­fashion accessory for many ordinary women, according to statistics which reveal that the sale of human hair has risen by 70 per cent in five years.
The most highly prized hair is from Peru, because women there rarely colour their hair.
The average income in this part of the world is just £70 a month, meaning desperate women are willing to sell their own hair for a pittance.
Dealers travel house-to-house, drumming up trade. Hair is tied back then hacked off in one go with large scissors. 
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