Is it time to campaign for 'fairtrade' human hair extensions?

Thursday, 14 April 2011

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Do you know where your human hair extensions come from?

The issue of where human hair extensions come from and what prices are given to those who sell it, has been raised many times before. But is it something that consumers forget about when they go into their favourite salon? Another, out of sight, out of mind habit?

In the news today, the multi million pound business of human hair extensions comes to light yet again. In the past, the media have focused primarily on young Indian and Chinese women who live in poverty and sell their highly desired virgin hair to the West in order to feed themselves. This time, the issue comes closer to home with young Russian women at the center.

In the short article, the example of one woman called Katya is given. She sells her hair for £40. Her hair goes into a pile with two other women's hair and is bought by a UK dealer for £300. The UK dealer will then sell the hair in a London salon for £800. Big, big profits but do we see this as exploitation or simply a case of supply and demand?

Coming back to the fairtrade query, the main questions to ask consumers are these. Do consumers care enough about where their human hair extensions come from and do they care about what prices the women who sell them are paid? If so, would they only/prefer to purchase ones that are in some way certified 'fairtrade' by an independent reputable organisation? Would they be prepared to pay a premium for doing so and would they then boycott non-fairtrade extensions? If your favourite salon did not stock ethically sourced extensions, would you go without?

Short article here.
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