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I am happy to share a new topic on hair extensions with you! As I mentioned in my previous All About Hair Extensions post, in the past 5 years, the hair extension industry has skyrocketed! Our love affair for hair extensions continues to grow more intense every day, but their ever growing popularity brings along a few concerns.

Side note: The photos in this blog post are of myself and my salon clients. We are all wearing Great Lengths hair extensions (the one and only, in my opinion).

There are many things you need to look out for when buying hair extensions.

I think the first thing (perhaps the only thing) that comes to most people’s minds is the quality of the hair they are buying. When I first became interested in hair extensions, the quality was my only concern as well. Quite a few years later I realized that where my hair comes from was also of great importance!

Let’t talk about WHERE your hair comes from & WHOSE hair your are wearing for a moment.

(Then I’ll wrap this post up by touching on hair quality.)

I feel as though our society is becoming accustomed to hearing the word “ethical” when it comes to food, clothing, or beauty products, but have you heard it in reference to your hair?!

Yes, there is a such thing as ethical hair!

First of all, there are no regulations in the hair extension industry. Companies can make whatever claims they wish, which means that many consumers are not getting what they pay for (especially if you are buying online).

What’s worse than that?

Some hair is taken against the donor’s will!

Yes, you heard correctly! I was shocked when I first heard of this tragic news.

“There are reports that some hair has been sourced from Russian prisons,” Brett Butcher of Great Lengths, said.

Butcher, spokesperson for one of largest hair extension companies, says, “This is the reason why we started setting fair standards which is a guarantee that hair is ethically sourced and traceable.”

^^^This is a huge reason why I support Great Lengths. Their hair is 100% traceable and the hair is obtained with the full consent of the person that it comes from!

“Every year over 18 million devotees visit the Venkateshwara Temple, at Tirumala in the south Indian State of Andhra Pradesh. For those devotees who make the journey to pay their respects to an incarnation of Vishnu, nothing could be more sacred or give them more joy. Every day, 12,000 of these pilgrims offer their hair as a sacred act to Vishnu, an act of thanks to be blessed by the deity who above all protects and sustains all that is good in society. At temples all over India, this hair is lovingly gathered and becomes the greatest, most beautiful hair in extensions, weaves and hair pieces to give confidence to women the world over. The return? The proceeds paid to the temples are reinvested into the community… Helping to fund schools, offer nutritional services and even to open medical clinics. This hair is sourced ethically. A gift of love… And of thanks.”

This is beautiful, ethical hair.

Like I mentioned earlier, you’ll encounter ethical issues if you’re purchasing hair online because you can’t inspect what you’re buying, and most companies you simply just cannot trust. The only way to be more confident about the hair you are wearing is to only wear hair available in salons, and go a step further by asking that your stylist provide you with hair that is only supplied by an ethical company.

Let’s touch on hair quality now.

Most people look for “virgin hair” or “remy hair.” Virgin hair means that the hair is has never been chemically treated, and remy hair means that the hair is virgin and collected from one donor to preserve the hair cuticle. Sounds great, right?

As you know now, there are only a very small few of hair extension companies that you can trust. Most companies guarantee that their hair is of highest quality, but no regulations or standards are in place the importation, labeling, or sale of human hair.

The quality of true virgin and remy hair extensions should last for a solid year (or for the normal wearing period of the extension). If you find yourself with extensions that last only 6-12 weeks before they are matted, tangled, and unable to be brushed or combed, you have yourself a set of chemically treated hair that may even contain plastics or animal hair.

A great example of this is even here in my own city of Las Vegas. Here we have a very popular hair extension shop that sells “virgin” fusion hair extensions, and it absolutely is NOT virgin. It is very upsetting to me as a professional. It is quite clear that the hair (especially the blonde) has been chemically treated and coated with silicones.

If your hair extensions are too shiny to be true, it’s probably coated with silicones. You can actually feel the chemicals coating the hair. It’s very hard not to notice.

When I first began my career in the beauty industry, no one ever asked me where their hair or products came from. I am pleased to find that more and more people are becoming conscious beauty consumers and caring about who and what their money supports.

Until there are standards and regulations in place, I think the best thing is to raise awareness to this ethical issue, and bring transparency to the hair extension industry.

Please share this article with your friends that are interested in hair extensions!

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