Human hair trade soars on celebrity hairdo envy

Wed Aug 3, 2011 11:06am EDT
 
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By Lorraine Turner

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A growing desire for the glossy, long locks of celebrities is fuelling a multi-million pound (dollar) global trade in human hair, with demand for hair extensions surging in the past year, according to e-commerce website Alibaba.com.

Searches for human hair extensions in Britain jumped 160 percent in the 12 months to the end of June, with salons noting an increase in women seeking to emulate the hair of stars such as former "X Factor" judge Cheryl Cole and Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger.

"There's been a huge upswing in hair. The celebrity culture has made hair extensions more popular, and everyone wants hair from India," said Linda Kozlowski, Head of International Business Development and Marketing, at Alibaba.com

"With an estimated 65 million pounds ($105.9 million) being spent on various types of hair extensions each year, it's no surprise that UK SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in the beauty sector are looking to capitalize on this growing market," she said.

Britain was the third largest buyer of human hair worldwide behind the United States and China in the period, said Alibaba.com,, the only listed unit of China's Alibaba Group.

Over half of the searches were for Brazilian hair, and 29 percent for Indian hair, which has been used for decades in the production of wigs, according to one Indian human hair export website.

"It's really driven by things like Facebook and Twitter, tabloids and magazines. Women are wanting to be more and more glamorous, as a result of this big celebrity culture," said Lucinda Ellery, who has provided hair extensions to a host of celebrities for the past 25 years.

The recession dented some demand, she noted, but this has been offset by a rise in older women seeking more youthful looking hair through the use of hair extensions, she added.   Continued...

 
<p>Cheryl Cole poses at the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in London, February 15, 2011. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>