Nigerian women fall of expensive foreign human hair extensions which most regard as status symbol. Manufacturers of the products exploit the fad to blump fake hair extensions in the country
| By Chinwe Okafor | Oct. 28, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
A WOMAN’S hair is her beauty. To most women, this is not an understatement. The hair plays a crucial role in enhancing their looks and for this reason they do not take the care of their hair for granted. It gets a great deal of attention. Giving their hair good attention also means that they spend a lot of money to look good. Among today’s women, there is an ongoing rave to outdo the other through the hairstyle they wear. Many of them spend huge sums of money trying to win this undeclared and unending competition.
For most women, the popular human hair extensions in vogue which include Brazilian, Indian, Peruvian, Malaysian, Bohemian Arabian, Russian, Ukrainian, Mongolian, Chinese, European, Virgin, Argentine, and Cambodian hairs among others are the way to go. They are crazy about it despite its costly nature and they have become the status symbol for them. For some, this is an absolute waste of money while for some others, it is a worthy investment. Vivian Adindu, a banker, said the human hairs are worth the cost. According to her, synthetic hair extensions can be disposed of after one or two usage whereas human hair extensions in vogue can be used for as long as she wants.
She said human hair extensions are no longer for the high class because they are available in a lot of shops especially in urban areas across the African continent. Cynthia Ani, a part-time student of Lagos State University, prefers wearing human hair extensions because of their durability. “I can use them all year round, and they are more economical than buying synthetic hair extensions that are not durable. These human hairs are of the best quality in Africa and as expensive as they might seem, they are actually cheaper than the normal synthetic weave-ons that one can buy, use only once and can’t use them again. “I’m actually wearing an Indian hair and this is my second time of using it. I see buying the hairs as an avenue to save money.
But not everyone agrees with this logic of cost reduction because Oluwafunke Adekunle, an undergraduate of Osun State University, said the hairs are too expensive for her. She said that even if someone gave her money to buy the hair, she wouldn’t do that and instead, she would buy about ten weave-ons that cost N500 each, keep them at home and continue using them. Even the male folks seem to have different opinion on the issue. Jide Babayemi, a corps member, said that the craze for these hairs was a re-enactment of modern slavery by the Europeans.
“It seems we have forgotten our heritage. The hair might be fine, but we need to exhibit our culture. However, I can buy Brazilian hair for my girlfriend even though it doesn’t celebrate our culture. As an African man, I’ll have to do my best to make my woman happy.” Obinna Chimdi, a 200 level student of history and education said he can’t buy Brazilian hair for his girlfriend because he doesn’t believe in fashion. But on a second thought, if she asks for it, I might get it for her because I think girls like it because it makes them look beautiful.”
With such growing patronage for human hair, a number of Nigerians have positioned themselves to get a fair share of the market, especially at the downstream segment. Kossy Ezeoka, who works with a private firm and augments her salary with selling of human hairs, said she wears human hairs because they give her a unique and elegant look and also enhance her personality and style whenever she wears them. She added that the hairs were not meant for any particular people in the society because anyone who can afford buying them can wear. “But unlike the synthetic hair extensions which are cheaper, human hair is very expensive. Yet, it is high on the budget of many women who consider looking good a very serious business. The prices range from N10, 000 to N300, 000, depending on the type, quality, colour and length. The darker hairs are abundant in the market unlike the blonde and other lighter shades, which are more expensive due to their relative scarcity.
Nevertheless, the hair business has created a lot of employment opportunities for people in many countries, including Nigeria. “You know we Africans don’t have such long hair, and so when we see the Europeans looking good in their long hair, we try to emulate them, and that is why selling such extensions is lucrative.” According to Ezeoka, original human hair is tangle-free and could be used as many times as the owner desires. Besides, she said they are easy to maintain and lend themselves to great styles. She noted that most ladies prefer the human hair extension to synthetic hair because it lasts longer and looks more like one’s natural hair, though longer, but comfortable to wear.
Realnews findings revealed that some women in their desperate quest to own the hairs have engaged themselves in negative acts and manufacturers of the hairs have also taken advantage of the craze for them to introduce cheaper and not so original types of hair into the market. This mad rush for human hair has attracted crooks, who are now cashing in on unsuspecting clients. There have been so many allegations that many of the products pushed into the market as 100 per cent human hair are actually a mixture of human and finely processed synthetic hair and many customers have bought these fake products, which are sold as original.
Lucy Uwakwe, an Onitsha based hair stylist, recounted her ordeal with fake human hair. “I bought a particular brand of human hair in Lagos for use in my salon. My customers who fixed this particular brand returned with loads of complaints. The hair had tangled in just two weeks after the fixing unlike original human hair which can be used over and over again,” she said. She said that apart from mixing human and synthetic hair, some of the hair extensions labelled as 100 per cent human hair are actually 100 per cent synthetic.
According to her, some manufacturers indicate false lengths on the packs to deceive buyers adding that some human hair products of Asian origin are also being sold in Nigerian cities as pure human hair which is seen as the latest fad among ladies. She said that with no government agency saddled with the responsibility of certifying the quality of human hair sold in the Nigerian market, users of human hair may have to contend with the problem of adulteration for a long time except when they are very familiar with the hair.
There are also ethical concerns associated with the origin of the hair. Investigations revealed that a large percentage of the human hairs are sourced from Indian temples where they have been donated sacrificially and a significant percentage is sourced from poor people in rural communities in Asia, Russia, Ukraine and South America, who are made to part with their priced asset for a fee. But despite all these concerns, the appeal for human hair is waxing stronger as its high cost may not deter Nigerian ladies from wearing hairstyles made with human hair even as those in the business chain continue to rake in profits, an indication that the multi-million naira industry has come to stay.
But, many religious leaders have never hidden their dislike of the human hair business. Divine Okafor, an evangelist, has condemned the practice. She said that the use of human hair extensions introduces demons into the lives of the users, thus causing problems in their lives.