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The Story Behind Human Hair



I read this article some months ago and it gave me food for thought.
As a certified ‘weave-aholic’ who uses only human hair, I was taken aback when I read this.
Apparently, there is a ‘story’ behind the hair that we buy and then attach to our scalps.

Why I’ll never wear hair extensions again, by pop star Jamelia

Interview By Natasha Courtenay-Smith

Standing inside a Hindu temple in Chennai, India, I watch horrified as a two-year-old girl with long, dark tresses has her head shaved.

She screams as the clippers buzz around her ears and her hair tumbles to the floor.

She is clearly terrified and no doubt has little comprehension of what is happening to her.

Beside her, her mother is having her head shaved, too.

Whose Hair is it anyway

Religious sacrifice: Jamelia saw women having their heads shaved as thanks for a child’s recovery from illness or to save the family house from repossession

This is a religious sacrifice: the shaving represents a last-ditch plea to a higher power to save their home from being repossessed.

But to me, it appears to be the ultimate in exploitation.

Their hair is casually tossed into a bin, but it will never actually be thrown away.

Though they do not know it, soon their pigtails and plaits will be sold to hair dealers and then shipped on to the salons of Western Europe.

As I watch the lady and her daughter shuffle out, hopeful that this huge sacrifice will make some tangible difference to their lives, I make a promise to myself that I will never wear hair extensions again.

Whose Hair Is it anyway

Splitting hairs: In the Indian city of Chennai there are so many women prepared to chop off their tresses that factories have sprung up to process it

My hair has always been important to me.

As a schoolgirl, I used to get up at 5am to ensure I had enough time to do my hair before school.

Although for a black woman I would be described as having ‘good’ hair – because it is long and straight – naturally, it is not luxurious, thick or sleek enough to meet the demands of the endless photo shoots and concerts I am involved in for my career.

That’s why, in many of the photographs you see of me, I am wearing hair extensions.

For me, putting in my hair extensions feels like a confidence booster, like a man putting on a smart suit.

I wear them to bring out the best in me and to transform myself from busy mum of two into my alter ego, Jamelia the pop star.

And I’m not alone.

All over Britain, girls are clipping, glueing and sewing hair into their heads.

Recent figures show that British women spend a staggering £65 million a year on hair extensions.

As a nation, we now spend five times more on lengthening our hair than we did four years ago.


Shorn: The pop star with Tatiana, a 13-year-old Russian who sold her waist-length hair for just £100 – roughly a month’s wages

Yet most of us give very little consideration to the origin of our hair extensions.

Indeed, until I worked on this BBC investigation, I’m ashamed to admit I’d never once stopped to consider where the human hair I had pinned or sewn into my head had come from.

I was so ignorant about the products I was using that I can’t even say how much they were costing me every month or every year.

Then I heard from a friend, earlier this year, that the hair used in the extensions could be taken from corpses. I was horrified.

How did I know I wasn’t wearing a dead person’s hair?

And if I was, had they agreed to that before they passed away, or had they simply had it shaved off in a mortuary without their family’s knowledge?


Farewell, long tresses: Jamelia has given up her flowing extensions

And if the hair wasn’t taken from the dead, who were this army of women and girls from whom it was taken?

I realised for the first time that there might be a very real human cost to the beauty fad which allowed me to feel more confident on stage.

I wanted to know who on earth was chopping off other people’s hair in the name of our Western vanity, and whose hair I have actually been wearing?

My journey to find out took me via some of London’s most upmarket hair salons and into the heart of rural Russia and India.

What I discovered was truly shocking and distressing.

Did you know, for instance, that in Russia, girls as young as 13 are cutting 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.

There is a staggering profit to be made from this trade, and you can bet that none if it is passed back to the girls at the beginning of the chain.

I start my journey by visiting Russia with Tatiana Karelina, a Russian hair-extension expert living in London.

She does 1,000 sets of hair every year for private clients, and is known for providing top-quality soft and fine hair.

She frequently travels to her homeland to source top-quality hair straight from dealers.

We head to a remote rural area three hours from Moscow, where we meet Alexander, a hair dealer.

He tells us his hair is provided to him from collectors, who go around small villages and towns persuading women and girls to sell their hair.

I have a lot of questions for Alexander. I ask him if he knows whether the girls whose hair he sells are being treated fairly.

I ask him if he ever gets hair from dead people. He is cagey and evasive.

He says that he knows the hair doesn’t come from the dead, but he won’t elaborate further.

But when I press him, he finally confesses that he doesn’t know exactly where the hair he is buying comes from.

And by way of illustrating that, the girls who sell hair are treated fairly, he simply states that they know the worth of their hair and wouldn’t sell it unless they were getting paid well.

I leave the meeting feeling deeply uncomfortable.

This man is not sure that the hair he sells is not from dead people, and I’m starting to be convinced that someone is being exploited along the way.

Let’s face it – the rich girls tottering around Red Square in designer heels and carrying Louis Vuitton bags do not need to sell their hair.

Next, Tatiana takes me to her home town of Kashin, another rural area, where we meet a 13-year-old girl, also called Tatiana, who has long hair which reaches her backside.

She tells us she wishes to sell her hair because she has been told she will be paid for it.

To my mind, it’s a travesty – this girl’s hair is gorgeous and she seems too young to really know for sure whether she’s making the right decision.

Usually, this full head of luxurious hair would have cost just £20. Today, perhaps because I am watching, Tatiana pays the girl £100.

It’s the equivalent of most people’s monthly wages here, and the girl is over the moon.

But I feel incredibly uncomfortable about the entire process  –  there’s something so deeply personal about your hair: it should be every woman’s pride and joy.

What British teenager would ever dream of doing the same?

For the next stage of my investigation, I travel to Chennai, one of the biggest cities in India.

As part of the documentary, I have had some of the hair I wear in my extensions scientifically analysed. The results suggest it comes from this region of India.

In Indian culture, a woman’s hair is her beauty, and the longer your hair, the better your marriage prospects are.

Why then, with such value placed on hair, would anyone even consider selling it?

Yet, incredibly, there are so many women prepared to chop off their hair here that factories have sprung up to process it.

On my visit, I go to see one where the workers sort through, shampoo, brush and blow dry the shorn hair of more than 200,000 women a year. To me, it’s a macabre thought.

So why exactly do these women do it?

Well, as I have mentioned already, there are the many Indian women who shave their hair voluntarily at Hindu temples as a kind of religious sacrifice.

And although some of these women know the hair will be sold, most don’t.

One woman I come across is having her head shaved to give thanks for the fact her child has recovered from a life-threatening illness; another to save her property from repossession.

They clearly believe this is the best way to show their faith and gratitude, and I’m told that millions of pounds raised from selling their hair is spent on the homeless and maintaining the temples.

And yet only a quarter of Indian hair sold on the international market comes from Hindu temples, which means that most of it is coming from women who are simply trying to make a little money.

I also travel to an impoverished village to see how poor-quality hair  –  the sort that sells on our market stalls in extensions for £5 – is collected.

There, I witness men and women working the rubbish dumps, actually searching for and collecting hair that has been pulled out of hair brushes.

Quite simply, this is their family business. It is, they tell me, a job their fathers and grandfathers have done before them.

It might seem disgusting, but it’s the only income they have.

It is a pitiful existence, and it is fuelled by the demand from Britain and other countries.

What I saw in Russia and India certainly set me thinking, and since I returned I haven’t used hair extensions once, not even when performing at the recent Nelson Mandela tribute concert in Hyde Park.

That was the sort of event at which previously I would never have stepped on stage without them.

But what I have unearthed has profoundly changed my attitude about extensions.

Now, to me, a packet of hair extensions has a face – whether that is a Russian teenager, a woman in India who is shaving her head as a sacrifice or a two-year-old girl in tears because she doesn’t understand what’s happening to her.

I believe that I – and all the other women who use them – should be more responsible about the extensions we buy.

As consumers, we need to make sure that the hair we use is ethical, and has been given with consent.

We need to know that the people it has come from have been treated fairly.

Just as we have fair trade stamps for food, why shouldn’t we have the same thing for hair extensions?

And as the women who drive the market in hair extensions, we also have a moral responsibility to the women who have cut off their hair or shaved their heads for our benefit.

Their hair may be helping to make us more attractive, but thanks to their sacrifice many of them must now be anything but.


  1. Emi

    December 10, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    I should show this post to Chinedu at work who says her extensions which she calls ‘Brazilian Human Hair’ cost the earth and a leg.

  2. Kola Grey

    December 11, 2008 at 12:45 am

    Thinking: “It is amazing what some women do to make other women pretty, and here I thought women where their own worse enemy…”


    This struck a chord I promise you.

  3. yety

    December 11, 2008 at 1:05 am

    chaiiiii….bella y did u post this now, i just spent 200 pounds on human hair so i can shine this xmas now im feeling guilty ………….i will still sha use it o jare…life is hard my sista lol

  4. baby g

    December 11, 2008 at 1:21 am

    bella, i just spent 320 pounds on indian hair oooooooooo!!
    but it doesnt change my mind she. as long as these women r not forced into it

  5. bee

    December 11, 2008 at 4:51 am

    I watched the program when it was aired on TV some months ago.. Jamelia has a point, and I respect how far she’s gone in standing up to what she believes in. HOWEVER, i beg to disagree with her cos,

    1) some people actually need hair extensions b’cos they are cancer survivours. so to them such products actually help them. There are actually places in London specialising in buying hair from consenting adults. Such adults are blessed with such long hair and decide to sell it to the clinics. Now whether it is ethical to seel your won hair, i can’t decide, but i know they help cancer survivours have some hair, in the form of wigs or extensions. We should not rule them out completely.

    2) i dont believe EVERY person ‘selling their hair was forced into it. this may just be a snap shot of what she has shown, in India and Russia.

    3) My hair dresser, who’s in a professional hair dressing school told me that there’s actually nothing like 100% human hair. she says that she’s been taught that when the human hair extensions are made, added with fur. Yep. Most people don’t know this. Fur is actually the closet thing to human hair b’cos its from a living organism. I know this sounds slightly worse than what Jamelia has said., but I just thought I’d share it as food for thought.

    I use human hair extensions by the way. I’m working on growing my hair and i think putting a weave on my head helps.But also think the synthetic ones are a bit too dangerous for me bcos, they are a fire hazard. Especially in the winter months when I’m around the heater alot…
    ( sorry my comment is wee too long..)

    • Schneider

      July 30, 2013 at 11:13 am

      madam… from your point 1 and 2, its obvious you didn’t read the article. if you did, then you didnt understand it.
      She never ruled out the use of hair extension. and she never said all hair extensions are forcefully gotten.
      please be a bit wiser ans sensitive. sharp up!

  6. onome

    December 11, 2008 at 5:16 am

    i’m never buying human hair extension again…used them only twice anyways….will stick to synthetic if i need to get braids done.

    thanks for this very insightful post bella!

  7. marian

    December 11, 2008 at 6:19 am

    This is too eye opening. For someone who is sworn off perms and weaves, I am grateful to read this. I just wish Oprah will air a show on this topic. What a ruckus that will cause. I wanted a change from natural hair so I had a weave done about 2 months ago. Let me tell you, it felt so uncomfortable, and painfully tight, that I took it out after 2 weeks. Never again. I will stick to corn rows with synthetic hair if I feel the need for a change. Thanks for this once again!

    • Nubian

      September 12, 2016 at 7:01 am

      The synthetic are obsessed by demonic spirits too…none of it good at all…we need to be edcucated all together…wear our natural beautiful hair God gave us

  8. Nkechi

    December 11, 2008 at 6:50 am

    chris rock just did a documentary called ‘good hair’, coming out next year. i think wearing weaves is a personal choice, i don’t judge, but as for me, natural hair is the way forward.

  9. paris

    December 11, 2008 at 9:05 am

    chick has a point but with everything that has an advantage, comes a disadvantage!
    At a point while reading this, i felt bad; but then after a while, i was like OMG! IT IS JUST FREAKING HAIR! IT GROWS BACK! and taking d cultures these girls are from, i’m talkin growth in a matter of weeks.

    Now after growing up in 9ja where ur actually mandated by some schools 2 cut your hair! it’s like abeg! o jare! ah! these girls r making thier living off their hair so its not necessarily like a bad thing! i mean they know it’ll grow back.
    d main thing that really pissed me off is the profit these hair dealers are making from it! Say what?? that right there is GRAND THEFT!
    just like China tho, all these kids in sweat shops r paid peanuts 2 work thier butts off 2 make all these clothes and shoes and we pay lots of money 4 them.
    i mea will Jamelia stop wearing clothes 2?? the root of the problem is poverty and until we start addressing that, this hair business thing ain’t going no-where!

    Personally tho, ive chosen 2 lay off the weaves a little sha… its just that dealing with black hair is a daily struggle and i do not have time nor sleep 2 spare.

    p.s- d chick that mentioned buying indian hair and then saying “life is hard o!”, is just 2 funny! was rolling with lafta

    • dw

      April 23, 2014 at 2:02 am

      Very good reply! I’m glad you touched on the poverty issue, its not a hair issue. It’s a need to feed your family issue

  10. Dame

    December 11, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Much ado about nothing. Hellooo, its just hair we are talking about here, not organs been harvested!! It will grow back and the process of hair cutting is very very painless abeg. Next topic please

  11. 35yrs & goin strong!

    December 11, 2008 at 10:49 am

    whatever Jemelia. if u dnt like it get urself synthetic hair !

  12. ski lala

    December 11, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Interesting piece…. But common ladies, surely you all must have know the process to get Human Hair, its general knowledge man.

    To be honest, this is not going to change anything for me as i will continue to use human hair. This is not worse than the children in the factor in China who loose linbs while making the clothes we wear (louis Vuitton included) or the farmer who gets exploited by Starbucks. It is all the same sin. So for those who will stop wearing weave (its a good thing for the cause) but perhaps you want to stop drinking starbucks and buying clothes too?

  13. ski lala

    December 11, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Oh, as for Jamelia, its very cool that she has another side to her other than her boring music…can she perhaps not wear those leather boots… its against animal rights

  14. maki

    December 11, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    seriously,much ado about and nails are actually just dead cells.

  15. winnie

    December 11, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    lol…. thanx bee….. u just too the words outa my mouth, about people needing extensions due to chronic diseases that could lead to hair loss…and it aint 100% Human hair as they say it is…….. abeg… she might as well, drop the fur,the leather clothes,furniture wat eva it is that they use these days… Jamelia stop usin human hair.. ko…. she’s the same person that said no 2 teenager pregancy n guess who got knocked up… @ age 19…J… so pls, if u want to use human hair… fine.. if u dont.. good 4 u…

  16. tila

    December 11, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Exactly! It’s just hair… dead cells. No permanent harm done, it’ll grow back in a jiff.

  17. tila

    December 11, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Thank you, its nice to see her show a deeper side… but really, which is worse, killing animals to wear their skin or buying hair (that will grow back in a matter of days). If she was campaigning against organ sales (a HUGE problem in countries like India) I would be totally behind that. That said, it’s of course wrong that people who do it for religious reasons or whatever are getting exploited, and it’s nice that Jamelia has a cause, but really… there are many more important problems in the world…

  18. jayne

    December 11, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    bella,dis piece is all so revealing.i mean who would have known that all dem weaves that we use to demo cud well might hav com from…..anyway dont want to tink about it

  19. jayne

    December 11, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    very reavealing.i mean who would have tought that all dem weaves that we use come from………dont want to talk about it.

  20. silver

    December 11, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    she should stop wearing leather and fur coats as well, i think dat is more inhuman than selling of hair that will grow back in mnths! these pple r blessd with beautiful hair and if they r selling it in order to survive wats rong? its nt like prostitution or anytin like dat…if i could sell my hair 4 100 pounds each time it grew to my waist i’ll gladly do so…

  21. delta girl

    December 11, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    its just hair

  22. kelendra

    December 11, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    They are talking about picking hair from rubbish dumps. Wow, thank goodness, i take care of my own hair and dont wear weaves or use synthetic hair.
    A lot of black women are of the opinion that we cant grow hair, which is extremely false. Like many other things, dedication and care improves it.

    Bella Naija, you should do a feature on this sister here, she is not African, but black American with very nice locks( hair).

  23. Sola

    December 11, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Also the part of Africa you come from also impedes how much your hair can grow, I’ve noticed my igbo sisters usually have nicer hair than my yoruba sisters. That’s just within the same country, not to talk about the continent itself. My point is, there are alot of factors that contribute to a nice long hair, not just taking care/or not taking car of it.

  24. faridizzle

    December 11, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    its all good…………thanks jemila for giving us an insight………..but……..they were not forced to sell their hair, they did it willingly……..

  25. weavaholoic

    December 11, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    true say will grow back..

  26. cali

    December 11, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    I have thick, healthy long hair and I CHOOSE to wear weaves.
    We make choices and we must live with them.

  27. Neli

    December 12, 2008 at 12:03 am

    …Well Janelia, I know that in India people sacrifice their hair to their “gods” and they in turn sell the hairto boost their economy…if you choose not to wear hair extensions, then thats perpect for you but I believe it is wrong for you to make people that still wear them feel like the are doing something wrong or questionable!!

  28. Sugabelly

    December 12, 2008 at 1:41 am

    I don’t think it is that much of a sacrifice, and I do not think that it is something to be made a big deal of.

    Granted, there are individuals who might have a hard time regrowing their hair, but in general, the hair of Indian and other Asian peoples as well as of most Caucasian people grows very fast and very easily.

    So, if a poor woman/girl sells her easily re-grown hair for money, then there’s nothing wrong with it. Admittedly, her poverty is regrettable, but it would not be AS regrettable as say, a poor black woman with waist length hair who was forced to cut it and sell it for money to live. THAT, we all know would be the tragedy.

    The whole world is no stranger to the battle most (I know there are exceptions) black women go through to grow their NATURAL hair to lengths that women of other races (particularly INDIANS) take for granted. Therefore, Jamelia shouldn’t even be shocked or horrified. Indians have been shaving their heads for centuries as part of festivals or religious rites. Has she ever wondered why they do it, even those of them that are well off? Why does a dog wag his tail? Because he can. The average Indian’s hair probably regrows at five times the speed of the average black person’s hair. And it attains lengths to the same proportion too.

    On that note, Jamelia’s horror is not enough to stop me buying weaves, wigs, etc. I have natural hair and usually don’t wear them, but if I decided I fancy it one day, the plight of Indians with shorn heads won’t be enough to stop me.

  29. ada

    December 12, 2008 at 2:26 am

    when i lived in africa, i wore weaves. because the humidity does not allow regular relaxed hair styles to hold, of course, we all want that polished sophisticated corporate big girl look. since i’ve lived abroad, the weather is better for my hair and i no longer need to use weaves. after reading your article, i have decided not to wear human hair weaves. and will consider going natural or twists or dreadlocks, but pls tell me how is the synthetic hair made. we still like the occassional braids or cornrows. please we need more enlightenment, this is a very interesting topic. thanks.

  30. Jane

    December 12, 2008 at 3:16 am

    I only have a problem with the fact that they persuade these women/ girls to sell their hair and then get paid for less. Apart from that, I really do not care. These women agreed to do it and will grow their hair faster.

    Anyway, I usually leave my hair out in the summer because my hair breaks in this harsh Canadian weather. Thanks for this putting this up Bella. I will still use my weaves tire.

  31. Fordhamchick

    December 12, 2008 at 4:00 am

    I’m currently wearing a special weave of VERY, VERY high grade synethic hair. It is a “Flexi-Strand” weave which was created in Chicago about 5 years ago. It is excellent hair! The best, imho. This weave is special because it is braided in, not sewn in and it blends in perfectly with your own hair. I love my natural hair. It’s thick, healthly and pretty, but it’s tough working with it and I’m not a big hair person, but I make sure that’s it’s well oiled and take natural supplements like Biotin to make sure that it grow properly. My stylist is Yourmar Herr and she’s based in DMV area. Here’s her website with photos.

  32. juwee

    December 12, 2008 at 4:39 am

    Children are being deprived of their rights and abused even as i type, Women are being beaten and killed by their husbands and boyfriends. In Africa, children are dying from hunger and no water and this young woman is talking about hair ???

    If you really want to make a difference why dont you pick an area that will help you change lives, I really dont care if you wont put on a weave ever again (yeah right i know i will, cos there are certain things as synthetic weaves ) but pls dont try and turn ur dumb blond moment into a world movement to abolish weaves….,why dont u decide not to drink water until every child in Africa has clean water ? Then il respect you and listen its a shame i cant get the time i used to read this back .
    Gimmie a break!!!

  33. miani

    December 12, 2008 at 5:33 am

    Juwee you obviously are too daft to grab the essence of the story!seriously

  34. eni

    December 12, 2008 at 9:30 am

    i don’t think this info is groundbreaking. big deal. really….

    anyway, that’s why we should wear our hair natural. lol. a nappy sister is a happy sister. paix!

  35. AM

    December 12, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Where in Africa? the continent, country or village called Africa? You know you can’t genenarilize huh? Not everywhere is humid relaxed hair hold up North and South of the continent! I guess you mean Nigeria?

  36. LaurynX

    December 12, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    “The whole world is no stranger to the battle most (I know there are exceptions) black women go through to grow their NATURAL hair to lengths that women of other races (particularly INDIANS) take for granted. Therefore, Jamelia shouldn’t even be shocked or horrified. Indians have been shaving their heads for centuries as part of festivals or religious rites. Has she ever wondered why they do it, even those of them that are well off? Why does a dog wag his tail? Because he can. The average Indian’s hair probably regrows at five times the speed of the average black person’s hair. And it attains lengths to the same proportion too.”

    Would you like to back up those assertions with some scientific docs? Really…

    I think this was a good article and anybody who’s all defensive is protesting just a little too much. The article, while not news at all, helped refresh for me the current state of various beauty industries. People just writing this off as “oh well whatever” don’t amaze me b/c most people don’t give a sh*t about anything beyond their own backyard.

    I have (proudly) natural hair and occasionally use synthetic wigs/extensions. I’ve never even had human hair b/c I didn’t want to pay that much. What would be interesting is to see the conditions of the workers to manufacture synthetic hair. I’m sure those conditions are no better. I think it’s good to be at least AWARE, even if you don’t CARE.

  37. osomelly

    December 12, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    some people donate their hair free for cancer patients while others sell theirs. big deal. yeah they probably are cheated in terms of overall gain but, if selling their hair will provide them food and shelter or whatever, then y shouldnt i buy it? if i was able to determine the hair was from a dead person i definitely wouldnt want it but otherwise bring it on. i personally think what madam jamelia should be fighting about is more pay for the original owners of the hair…. finish!

  38. Sugabelly

    December 12, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Arguments do not always have to be backed up with documentation. I’m not presenting a dissertation I’m leaving a bloody comment for goodness’ sake. Besides things classified as common knowledge do not need documentation floating behind them every time they are asserted. Did you not see me say in GENERAL?? Yes, there are exceptions. There are ALWAYS exceptions. BUT IN GENERAL, and noone can deny:

    1. INDIANS and other ASIATIC PEOPLES have longer hair than most Black people…..IN GENERAL

    2. The hair of INDIANS and other ASIATIC PEOPLES grows/regrows faster than that of most Black people…..IN GENERAL

    3. INDIANS and other ASIATIC PEOPLES do not have the hair hangups that most Black people do ….. IN GENERAL.

    Alright, I’ve spelt it out for you. And since you quoted me, I’ll requote:

    “The average Indian’s hair PROBABLY regrows at five times the speed of the average black person’s hair. And it attains lengths to the same proportion too.”

  39. Qed

    December 12, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    honestly jemelia’s holiday to india/russia isnt going to do much a thing to the business, she got good hair tell this to Rita Dominic and millions of other women that dont just have hair…. this documentary would possibly have been well founded if she was fighting for cheaper extensions for people with cancer or some rear illness.
    honestly ladies its true we, black people in general dont have so much hair and its more difficult to handle but you could do your hair alot of good by: letting it out a couple of months a year all natural.

    avoiding over relaxing else your hair is thick (2-3mnths)
    avoid over braiding or weaving (fixing)
    treat and trim as often as possible
    and pls dont relax your 3yr olds hair or fix it you damage their scalp before they have a choice.
    and vitamins are really good for keeping your hair healthy

    for ladies that spend £200,£320 or even £2000 pounds!!! on hair help us raise money by donating the cost of one weave a year to any cancer org of your choice

  40. Na so!

    December 13, 2008 at 12:07 am

    When you say ‘black women don’t have much hair’ what exactly do you mean? We have an abundance of thick, curly or wavy or kinky hair in its natural state. As for it being ‘difficult’ to handle, I think it is just a misconception that we need to remove from our minds.

    Remember that most of these industries are owned on the top of the chain by white people, in the labs making dangerous relaxers so we could have straight hair, giving us conditioners that will prevent the already chemically damaged hair from falling out, making cheap, pore-clogging, unhealthy pomades from petrolatum and mineral oil to restore the sheen stripped off by the harsh products…Not to talk of countless other vitamins etc.

    Let us be proud of our natural hair. I have had mine now for almost three years and I do not regret the decision nor the journey. Do you know how versatile black hair is? You can do ANYTHING you want to it. if you are so keep to wear it straight you can use a hot comb or straightners (with protecting serum), you can wear it in plaits, dreads, an afro, corn-rows, curls, rolls, waves…all of which are reversible once you wash your hair. And healthier for the hair too!

    So please, let us forgo this warped view that our hair is difficult, unmanageable or whatever. There has got to be a reason why out of all the races in the world, we are the only ones with our type of hair. Celebrate it, embrace it, use it!

  41. Temi

    December 13, 2008 at 4:48 am

    HA HA. I knew there’d be a fight on this article.

  42. Qed

    December 13, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    black women dont have hair compared to our western/ eastern counterparts…i must admit am an expection my hair goes all the way to my back, so i dont really need a weave but i understand that for some reason some people cant live without it

    and if you read my comment properly, i was trying to encourage people to let out their hair i.e be proud of it but as you may know it difficult for some people to do. and I also said something about not over relaxing it or using too much chemicals as you said. I dont not know the chemical materials in these products as much as you do but i know too of it wont do your scalp any good…and product are bad for everyone black(relaxer/straighteners) or white (dye/straighteners)

    i agree with most of what you’ve said but you know the dreads, corn-row etc its easier in my opinion when your in naija to play around with your hair than in UK for example where you plait cost just about same as a corn-row which people to be more cost effective.

  43. bnf

    December 14, 2008 at 4:56 am

    thank you o jare i bin wan ask am sef. sha even in naija, the north is not very humid

  44. A

    December 15, 2008 at 7:57 am

    the women and girls that are selling their hair have something to bargain with to give them food, money, clothing for their families, since most are poor no matter what country they are from, cutting and selling their hair is better than starving or being homeless, after all hair is just waste material coming out of the head.

  45. Smartsistah

    December 15, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Cat Fighting. Damn this is some stupid shit to fight over. The woman I think has done a service to let people know what is going on. And for those that think it’s a stupid issue, you lack compassion too. Hell there are a million damn issues facing women that we all should be aware of and work together to fight but we don’t. Not in enough numbers. I say whatever your issue, stick with it and make a difference. The bottom line is most Black women are so damn brainwashed by a white standard of beauty (white women get extentions too) that we just can’t love our natural curly, kinky hair and if i hear of one more woman talking about it’s difficult to deal with when all you have to do is wash and oil it I’m going to scream. I’d rather do that than sit for hours to get it sewn, glued or whatever onto my scalp and I’ve heard some of the hear get’s parasites in it too.

    What about the hair and the spiritual meaning. Those poor women that are giving from a spiritual level and being used. Then some dumbass is walking around throwing the hair around as if it’s theirs with now clue. This sickens me and I will pass the word as well. It’s just seems it’s too hard to just love yourself as you are.

  46. silver

    December 15, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    maybe ur hair is easy to deal with, doesn’t mean u hv the right to say watever u like about african women dat use extensions, so live wit it…

  47. Solar bey

    December 16, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    If folks have to sell their hair to eat or be it least its better then a 12 year old girl selling her body for sex…people guess what hair grows back a natural resouce in helping on live…Peace

  48. D-1

    December 18, 2008 at 3:42 am

    Better selling hair than body/innocence. At least hair grows back.

    what about cancer patients who get wigs made for them made from human hair? are they “horrible” too?

  49. Lulu

    December 22, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Your comment about having “good hair” b/c it is long and staright. when will you people learn there is no such thing as good or bed hair. embrace what you have been given and stop looking like fools w/ all this “human”, synthetic hair sewn and glued to your scalps. A question I have is when you woemn wear these weaves, are we to believe this is your real hair? it looks ridiculous. hair does not equate to beauty!

    • sunmi

      July 6, 2011 at 10:57 am

      @lulu-wellu guys re kindda funny!wat re goin to do to pls u!u wil advice ur wives n gurlfrnds nt to wear weaves bt u wil go out to meet al dose young gurls half ur age n evn sometyms pay for d hair!dis is wat u pple do!stop tellin us to be natural!womaen ders no need to fight over dis -jamelia as made er choice,we ave nt!she should be fightin on how to make dose gurls get more for deir hair!lyk sm1 said-wil she stop wearin leather n furs?no way!jamelia pllsssss fite for oda tins def not dis!!!

  50. X-Quisite

    December 22, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Its a personal choice. Regardless of if you have $2000 for a lace wig or 350 naira for X-Pression, that’s nobody’s business. Yes, its sad but please don’t try to insult others for wearing weave or praising those who don’t. I don’t see the big deal. Let’s face it Jamelia is not the only one who has touched this topic, I am sure many others who have more influence have done the same. I will say it was a good and informative article but nonetheless she CHOOSES not to wear it. Doesn’t make anyone her and the others who don’t “good” and the rest of us “insensitive”. Even if those reading start to “boycott” extensions, the industry will continue to be VERY successful. Get real ladies. As for me, I will continue to wear my Milky Way, Sentionnel, use my Revion relaxer, wear my lace wigs from China as well as slick my REAL hair into a ponytail 🙂 There is really no need to be “fighting” over this. That is my 2 cents on this issue.

  51. Yvonn C.

    December 23, 2008 at 1:17 am

    I have to agree with you, even though it’s a personal choice, I hate that the low self-esteem issues of ones looks have spread to many African women. We are beautiful with just what GOD gave us, trying to alter our looks to appear as what we think is beautiful really is un-natural. Your choice, your hair just think about the implications of it. Don’t lose the culture of our hairdressing passed down from our ancestors for those of western beauty standards. There is nothing wrong in being an AFRICAN woman. Our hair is beautiful and so are we!

  52. TMinx

    December 23, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Lol @ Asiatic.

    I think I read somewhere that hair grows a maximum of 6 inches a year. Black people tend to retain less of their length because the ends break off due to over manipulation.

  53. SunCity

    December 24, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    I felt the same way when I read this! Very informative..I’m glad she did it and on a personal journey to self redemption and I hope that soon enough she’ll stop driving cars as the NIGER_DELTA is at war over the oil she transports herself with…KMT again! When she gets a bike, I promise to stop using WEAVES..easy as that! All that said, I love my natural hair, it is beautiful but then again, Xpressions have been equally helpful!!!!!

  54. Osi

    December 24, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    To each his own.Imposing your beliefs on other people is not the way to go about it.

  55. silver

    December 24, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    not over manipulation dear, rather climatic conditions and the nature of our hair…

  56. joy

    December 29, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    this is serious,l guess,l’ll have to try to keep my natural hair to see how it goes but l believe we are African queen and our natural hair do will bring out our real African queen love.

  57. Martha

    January 5, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    I knew that human hair came from real people, i wear sythetic extensions, Really we need to have an ethical hair trading industry like they do with coffee. Your blog is really cool and do you go to Birmingham uni or Aston?

  58. simplyme

    January 9, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Please, give me a break. you never really know the real story. for all i care, both mother and daughter are being paid, tho it may not be commensuarate to what the consumers pay for it but then again, what is. i love the human hair, and thanks to our asian sisters for helping us, the under privileged, to look better.
    I feel there are other worse ways of exploitation going on in those areas and around the world that need more attantion than this.

  59. sarah

    January 9, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    i have seen a documentary about how this human hair extention came about. they are picked from shrines after the sacrifices are done and sold out to producers of weavon. they are not from dead people, nevertheless for those who love them you can use it, it will do you no harm cos it has being properly processed.

  60. friX

    January 13, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    wat? r you nuts?
    U havent seen tragedy i guess…
    selling the hair is no big deal,
    and the hair looks really good,u cant say whatever ya want

  61. friX

    January 13, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    this is the biggest crap i ever read.
    Do u know that there are people who are selling their kidneys just to buy food?they give up from their babies,cuz they dont have money to feed them?no u shut up,the hair is not a big deal,dont be a pussy lol,pardon my french

    • Real talk

      October 6, 2013 at 1:46 pm

      Finally somebody with sense…..l

  62. Nma

    January 19, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    ummm wotever…dont see what the big deal is here..if my hair could grow as long as the indians…i would cut it off in a heart-beat if i could get cash for it…some pple change hairstyles everytime, shave their hair etc so wots the biggie?? There are more vital issues that this like pple selling their organs to survive etc..but hair?! r u freakn kidding me??…lol..its not that serious….weave for life baby!

  63. Nma

    January 19, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    lol…abi o…complete waste of resources (4 this documentary!)

  64. aziza

    January 30, 2009 at 11:58 am

    wass up gal you luk so beautyful n i like yo hair style keep it up fool

  65. amy

    January 30, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    u no wot gal u such a beach do u think yo hair iz de best in de world u lieying beach but i can tell you da think lil gal n next time try some diffrent hair style do u get me da iz de joke i like yo hair n i’m joulous 4 it lov it so mush i cnt wait 2 do da same 2 me take care lol

  66. bibi

    January 30, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    hey are u joulous of her any way mind yo bussiness ok beach

  67. chinadoll58

    February 8, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    I’m glad Jamelia has some sense of moral judgment and also realized that the she is beautiful without the fake hair. Like this song I heard, you gotta work what you got! But if fake hair is what you got well, work that I guess. Hey if I pull your hair, will somebody else scream?

  68. sese

    April 17, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    i think this hair issue is being overrated. Like someone rightly said, people sell their vital organs for different purposes, for me whatever sails ur boat. Besides hair and nails are dead cells which keep growing even after you are dead so what’s the biggie?? I love good quality weaves and won’t stop using them for any reason, afterall have the rich and mighty stopped wearing ice even though they know how they were got?


    August 21, 2009 at 11:30 am


  70. Fatimah

    September 5, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    It is sha nicer than my hair. If we had that type of hair there wont be a market for it. Naija weathe does not even support hair growth.

  71. Pamella

    February 6, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    ,this is one of the most sensible articles i have ever read i thank you Jamelia from today i will respect you,it does not bring joy to be beautiful from someone else’s sorrows stand firm don’t let some of the comments take you down you are just on the right path,God bless you and to those who read the bible it says the woman’s hair is her glory so why take someone’s glory??????do not respond if you do not have anything nice to say

  72. Miss E

    April 17, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    @ Fatimah: My God!….for you to say Indian hair is nicer than yours is just so so so sad……….such a deep deep self hatred there or plain lack of exposure……a word of advise….pls take out time to carry out a very deep and truthful self reflection.

    To all those criticising Jamelia, give her a break! she has been raised in the UK…..and hasn’t seen the amount of suffering that those of us Africans have witnessed directly or indirectly……..

  73. frances

    April 18, 2010 at 9:04 am

    pls spare me……….. there are many more concerns bothering women around the globe than losing their hair. is it not better that hair is sold than sex trade or illegal drugs. the women who shave their hair at the temple will still do it wether its sold or not. as a religious practice they leave the temple satisfied and hopeful that their sacrifice will benefit them. for those selling for cash they need the money, and besides hair grows back, would you rather deprive somebody of a means of livelihood? you would be surprised most of these people are not as addicted to long hair as we are. they laugh and pity us for actually desiring to wear their hair. if its a dead persons hair, so what? the hair is probably going to waste with the corpse, if it can be utilised by some other living person who needs it, why shouldnt it?

  74. Tomisn

    April 18, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    These people are not Christians. This is how they communicate with their own god; by shaving off their hair. Instead of letting such beautiful hair go to waste, it is turned into beautiful hairpieces for others to use. Now if these women’s hair were been cut off forcefully, that would be another issue.

  75. Tomisn

    April 18, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Abegi, it is hair, it grows back and they need the money. sounds fair to me. As long as nobody is forcing them to do it. If everyone stops buying from them, where would they find another source of income, it’s not like financial aid would be given to them, or jobs are readily available.

    But everyone has something they believe in, this is Jamelia’s own, I can’t argue with her.

  76. Tomisn

    April 18, 2010 at 4:07 pm


  77. Tomisn

    April 18, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    ahn ahn, how does her comment reflect self hatred? some people sef. there is no denying that Indian hair is more manageable and has a better texture than ours. I know people always envy the length sha. It’s good that you love your hair, doesn’t mean everyone hu doesn’t has a problem.
    @Fatimah, i agree Naija weather is against hair growth. See my kenyan friends and their beautiful African Hair, why can’t our own at least be like that?

  78. Debb

    May 27, 2010 at 7:43 am

    thank goodness I use synthetic ones!

  79. Martha N

    September 21, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    There is a good and bad side to this story. The good side is that buying these human hair extensions is enabling these poor people to feed their families. The bad thing is that if we stop buying these human hair weaves how are these people going to survive at least they are earning a living by shaving their hair which will grow back. So if we stop buying these weaves Jamelia tell me are you going to feed these families?

  80. Jam

    August 26, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    I think that the problem is, black women are the group that is stigmatized for wearing extensions. WE ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES. Europeans have been wearing wigs for centuries. Why do we always have to make extensions and weaves a “black” issue?


    January 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm


  82. Edwin

    October 6, 2013 at 5:11 am

    There is no such thing as devil attachment!

    • CceyeCandylove

      March 19, 2016 at 8:37 pm


  83. kojo bruni

    October 6, 2013 at 9:09 am

    all religions are a farce. thats why the vatican is so rich

  84. jimmy

    October 6, 2013 at 9:18 am

    It’s not just used for extensions but also for the bread you find in supermarkets. That’s one of the reasons why eating bread from the big chains is very unhealthy.

  85. Saddened

    October 6, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Beautiful. Thank you Jamila, for being honest with yourself and trusting in your own beauty. Look at all these delusional, internally ugly, ghetto minded women trying to find a way to justify this exploitation. If it were their sister, or mother, or community, they would be the first ones speaking out against it.

  86. Saddened

    October 6, 2013 at 9:33 am

    I read some of the comments. I’m astounded at the black women here and their reasoning. They aren’t presenting reasonable arguments at all.
    Justifying it by saying that these women are getting paid? That’s not what this is about. Imagine a woman with such circumstances that she can’t take care of herself or her family, that she is marginalized as a woman. She is a woman with no choice but to turn to prostitution and exploit her body against her own wishes, just so she can take care of her children or provide shelter for herself. Does this justify prostitution? Does this make it a good thing for the woman? Does it mean she wants to do it? If that exploitation were removed, would her life be worse rather than better?
    And if these black women here did not wear weaves and extensions and wigs, would they bother trying to justify this?
    How can you consider yourself to be a real woman, or a strong woman, when you so flippantly exploit other women and go to any length to justify it?

    • Naya'Hri

      October 6, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      THANK YOU! I agree with your comment 100%. Although this post is years old this subject is still very current. Some people can know the negative effects of something and still do it anyway…Like women who get relaxers knowing full well the damaging effects or being roped in by stylists that say that there are relaxers now with “natural” ingredients that are better for the hair. That doesn’t even look like it makes sense when I type it, so I know it’s BS when I hear it, and it’s the same with the “justification” of weaves. Some women will actually try to form a formidable argument for wearing weaves….Others just don’t care and will wear them despite knowing all of the information. These women are getting paid next to nothing for something that is worth three times the money. Many of these women don’t even know their hair is being sold at all, and for the ones that do, it still may not be something that they want to do but have very few options in trying to provide for their families. So what if their hair grows back? If it’s just hair, then why are so many people willing to continue to get weaves without caring about the origin? If it’s just hair, then cut your own damn hair off and let’s see how much it means to you.

  87. Real talk

    October 6, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    What is the big deal? That’s the real question ….I mean if u choose to sell your that’s up to you. How much you sell it at is again up to you. Nobody is forcing them an even if I am not confident with myself and I choose to wear weave what’s it to you. We make a big issue about things that are not important . So many hungry children to feed, so many children placed in child labour,so many children and women abused daily and the best y’all could talk about is women selling them hair . Would you rather them sell their bodies in prostitution or a kidney? If I had to sell my hair to feed my kids or save my home I would do it with a heart beat. I rather sell my hair than anything else. Further if you chose not to wear weave good for you. The funds you save from not buying weave start a proper movement that would save lives and not hair. Hair grows back!

  88. mamzellet

    October 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    That’s why I use synthetic ONLY! cant bear the thought of wearing dead peoples hair! LOL! but yeah, hair grows back, and if its given to temples and they throw it away, what a waste! and people actually make a living by growing their hair and supplying it!! if my hair grew fast n thick and luxurious, I sure would! 😉 There are worse things being sold by women than hair!! those are the tragedy that need URGENT addressing that are being swept under the carpet! especially human trafficking of little girls and women for sexual slavery! But again, no thanks to human hair, only synthetic!!

  89. AC

    October 8, 2013 at 6:48 am

    The big deal is that a lot of these women are being conned!!! They are being made to believe that this is for religious purposes and then when they do sell it themselves they receive the bare minimum of the profit. Women are now having ponytails clipped off because of this hair addiction, when will it stop? If it’s not such a big deal why don’t you shave your own damn hair off and sell it. Ugh the women on this site are so damn selfish it is ridiculous.. all this to keep someone else’s hair on your head, it is SAD, and PATHETIC. GROW YOUR OWN HAIR! Just because people are at a disadvantage doesn’t mean take advantage. The money ya’ll are using to shave these women bald could be used to help them not have to go through this. Jsyk, cancer patients don’t need human hair wigs, they are just fine with synthetic and donation wigs not wigs used to con people.. and let’s not get it confused, this hair is being sold to people that are willing to shell out cash for hair, not people who are dying and care more about their health, as someone with family members that have passed from cancer I am truly offended. Then on top of that, somebody had the nerve to say our hair doesn’t grow as fast as other races, this has been proven to be FALSE.. all hair grows on average 6 inches per month, and it doesn’t break off because you’re black it breaks off because you aren’t taking care of it, point blank period, get on youtube and watch some videos.. we can grow our own hair a lot of us are just too damn lazy. All this hypothetical nonsense ya’ll spew is BS.. you are not in the position so you aren’t worried and that’s apparent, shame on you all. I could never proudly rock an oppressed woman’s hair just because.

    • M

      December 27, 2013 at 7:17 am

      AC are you for real??? Educate yourself before you go on a
      rant……n0 humans beings hair grows at 6″ per month! Maybe you
      meant 1/2-1″ per month???

  90. john doe

    December 5, 2013 at 12:35 am

    aint u meant to be in the studio ?u sure got time on ur hands travelling to all this places when you should try band bring out a real song…ok sing bout hair …lmao

  91. Emma

    April 29, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    I think the point of this article is ‘be aware’ of your products. We should seek to be fair in our trades with other countries- treat others how you would want to be treated. I live in the US and have heard of people here ‘selling thier hair’ or giving thier hair. I agree that anywhere it should be concentual. The temple shaving sounds a bit shady. : Cant help but to wonder who made up that ‘sacrifice’ and if it started when hair extensions were growing in popularity.

    Jesus is your sacrifice (once, for all) and his gift of LIFE is FREE girls! Because GOD.LOVES. the Human race (and all his creation)….even though we turn our backs on GOD. 🙂 No need to cut your hair to show your commitment! Wooooooooo!

  92. Osato

    June 16, 2014 at 12:32 am

    Lmao!Maen! It’s just hair,where dey re from,it grows right back in weeks.Unlike us in Naija,it cud take about 15yrs to get ur hair to grow up to even ur neck,dat will only happen with alot of treatments n ur parents never cutting d hair.It rily ain’t a bad idea dat dey sell their hairs,if I had dat kinda hair,I’ll sell every -ing quater of d year or even less.I’ve studied a documentary on Indian women n their hair sacrifices as part of my school course.They do it willingly,dey care less where d hair goes,just as there a pple recycling waste products for reproduction or production of other stuff,so are these hairs used.D lil girl dat was mentioned crying,wud understand wen she’s all grown up.D girls may have to sell their hairs a lil higher,dats mo money.Besides,those hairs cm out way more expensive,cos dey have bin treated to get rid of infectous stuff,n also dey re nt fed naturally from our scalp,dey re gonna need sm chemicals to hold dem now,aren’t dey? They re woven togeda too.E reach to cost abeg,na money dem dey use do all d factory works.Even if d hairs re from d dead,does it matter? A permit from d family is just fine.

  93. Abenwi

    July 15, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    I am not a Woman but i feel every woman should be compassionate of her kind.Besides if God made us in His image, then we should be void of anything UNNATURAL.Lets look up to Him and not down to the things of this World.

  94. meenz

    July 24, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    To all the ladies saying “its just hair, itll grow back, etc…”: thats exactly the point of the article!!! If “its just hair”, then why do you need a wig/weave to cover your own hair?? why dont you have the same view on your hair as the women whos hair you are using on your head??

    Also, there are many sources which will tell you that most of the human hair used in weaves is taken by illegal methods e.g. force, but only some is donated. seriuosly, do you really think that the hair wig/weave industry could survive only on donated and sold hair? if you really believe that than you must not be considering all the facts.

  95. Nubian

    September 12, 2016 at 7:02 am

    The synthetic hair ……no difference it is possess to by demonic forces

  96. Becky

    October 3, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    lol. wetin we no go hear? You make it look as if it takes years for the Indian ladies’ hair to grow one inch long! Nobody forced them. It’s not our fault that they are being cheated. In fact, it’s obviously helpful to them.
    And for those of you that are busy saying African hair is not so difficult to maintain, you obviously don’t have and also haven’t seen someone with my kind of hair. It’s very strong (even after relaxing it), the thickness forces me to avoid heat (if not, no b small scratching o). If for sey you get that kind hair, na dat time u 4 hear ween!

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