Synthetic Hair Extensions – The Dark Truth

Following on from my blog post ‘Human Hair Extension Industry ~ Human Exploitation’, I have now researched and found some concerning facts about the Synthetic Hair Extension Industry.

Synthetic hair for extensions (and wigs), are typically manufactured in China, Japan and Korea.  This makes it impossible to determine how the fake hair is manufactured, thus a product unregulated and without proper informative and efficient health and safety legislation, for the manufacture, use and disposal.  Despite fake hair being low priced and therefore, accessible, the Synthetic Hair Industry, doesn’t take into account the true cost of chemical pollution, waste and health impacts, through manufacturing, use or disposal.

Synthetic, means combining chemicals to make a product that mimics a natural thing.  Although it is impossible to determine how the fake hair is manufactured, investigation has revealed that the fake hair is made from 10-15 chemicals.  The chemicals are used to synthesis plastic strands of hair, which consist predominantly of acrylics, polyester, silicone, PVC, Polyethylene Terephthalate and Polyacrylonitrile, resulting in disposal of large amounts of waste material and environment problems.

Synthetic materials make up a lot of waste in landfill, and research is underway to promote reuse/longevity and recycling of wigs.  At present, the same not being sort, for the disposal of fake dreads.

There is no way of guaranteeing the quality of Synthetic hair and so same, in not being able to determine how long the fake hair will look and feel good in dreads.  However, according to the resources of my research, fake hair deteriorates quickly, 6-12 months, and needs to be replaced to continue the required effect; in the case of dreads, that’s a fuller volume and length.  It’s also interesting to learn, that Synthetic hair matts and tangles easily with natural hair, in the context of dreads, this means that fake hair will have to be cut off.  Therefore, the continuing disposal of fake dreads, undermines the productive research and action in contribution, to the immediate need to protect and preserve our environment.

Other alarming information from the resources of my research, is the risk to health.  The majority of Synthetic hair is dyed with Synthetic dye.  The Synthetic dye contains components that are carcinogenic, which can penetrate skin easily.  For those with sensitive skin, this can become uncomfortable and at worst, painful.  Studies have also linked acrylic and nylon to cancer; the study by France Labreche MD of the Institut de Recherche Robert Sauve Montreal, have exposed facts, that young women exposed to the Synthetic fibres, acrylic and nylon are at a greater risk of breast cancer.  Further research has exposed that Synthetic fibres treated with several flame retardant chemicals and delustering agents, also have carcinogenic properties.

Consciousness needs less, Ego wants more. 

Therefore, what is the intention and attention in the action 

– Anna-Marie Semturis JātaDreads 

Dreads are now an industry and whether I like it or not, I’m a part of that industry; the thing that sets JātaDreads apart from everyone else, is that I will not get involved with dread extensions, human hair or synthetic.  Nor do I get involved with the retail of accessories or hair products.  I lock hair purely for spiritual reasons, I’m devoted and committed to Sādhana, hair extensions contradict the Dharma that supports my devotions and commitments.  However, there exists a responsibility to be open to the needs of others’ and in doings so, I find myself researching both industries of Hair Extensions.  

The dilemma I found myself in when giving consultation, to someone who chooses to dramatically change themselves, was the 3 choices in which they are going to represent themselves:

  1. Unethical dreads
  2. Unecological dreads
  3. Embracing their natural hair in dreads

Continuing my research for a solution, there is good news, for those who are going to add extensions.  Raw Society Hair is the world’s first ethical, 100% compostable and recyclable hair extension manufacturer, the fake hair is made from banana fibre, yep that’s right, plant-based hair extensions.  There’s more, the 2 inspiring sisters who set up Raw Society Hair, who have devoted their lives to doing right by the ecology of our environment, have also created business for small-scale plant farmers, what is not to love and support this?  Obviously, I will continue to lock only one’s natural hair and I am biased in the choice ‘C’. However, when I have to accept that one is hell bent on having extensions, at least I can now point them in the direction of a kind alternative, for them then, to find someone to lock in their plant-based extensions and I remain within the Dharma of Sādhana.

Reference Links:

Capturing the life cycle of false hair products to identify opportunities for remanufacture

The Ugly Truth About Our Wig & Hair Extensions Habit

Occupational exposure to synthetic fibers – a possible link with breast cancer

Exposure to Certain Chemicals at Young Age Linked to Increase in Risk – BreastCancer.Org

Raw Society Hair

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