Do you know where your weave came from? Do you trust that the hair on your wig was obtained ethically? Many of us enjoy the texture and versatility of hair extensions, but very few people know the truth behind the human hair industry. I recently listened to an incredibly eye-opening podcast by Natural Haircare News called The Lucrative Hair Weave Market that exposed some unsettling truths about how virgin hair is sourced. If you've ever had human hair extensions or plan to get them installed in the future, please listen to that episode first.
I don't want to give away too many details, but I was pretty blown away by the podcast. It made me realize just how ignorant we as consumers can be, and how much of a role we can play in perpetuating unethical practices through everyday purchasing decisions. It's bad enough that impoverished women are sacrificing their locks to pay for food, but according to the podcast in some cases the demand for Indian virgin hair is so extreme that suppliers will physically attack women in the streets, immobilize them, and forcibly cut off their hair. It goes without saying that these women aren't compensated for enduring such abuse. Then the same @$$holes who brutalize them turn around and charge the end consumer (ie: you and me) thousands of dollars for the hair.
I'm sorry if I've made you feel bad about your extensions. The purpose of this post isn't to shame anyone for wearing human hair, but to raise awareness. Whether it's a wig, a shampoo, or even a pair of boots it's absolutely imperative that we understand where our products are coming from. So what can you do?
- DO YOUR RESEARCH - Before you buy a pack of hair, read up on the brand and its mission statement. If the manufacturer doesn't have a website, search for in-depth product reviews or ask the beauty supply store what they know about how the brand operates.
- TELL YOUR FRIENDS - Demand keeps companies afloat, so a diminishing customer base will eventually cause a business to fail. Take to social media, write a blog post, do whatever you can to get the word out if you find proof that a business is engaging in deplorable actions.
- PLAY IT SAFE - When in doubt, opt for products that are generally known to be less harmful. Natural Haircare News points out that technological advances in the production of synthetic hair have caused it to become a true alternative to human hair. When you think about it, do you really need human hair extensions? Do you really need a human hair wig? Unless you are powered by human hair and will literally drop dead without it, the answer is a resounding no so don't be shy to switch to synthetic hair. (No one will even notice.)
I'm also a huge fan of the shop local movement, which empowers citizens of the Earth to reduce their carbon footprint and support local businesses by buying goods at farmers' markets and mom-and-pop shops instead of superstores. The more conscious we are about our purchasing decisions, the sooner we can put an end to barbarous business practices.
What do you do to shop ethically or reduce your carbon footprint? Share in a comment below!