NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)– Whether it’s for vanity or necessity, more and more women are choosing to wear hair pieces and extensions. But some in the industry are now coming under fire for “hair deception.”
CBS2’s Kristine Johnson investigated the controversy.
The popular beauty trend of longer, thicker, and more luxurious hair in mere minutes is now coming under scrutiny for having a very ugly side.
“People have no clue what they’re really buying,” Spencer Kobren, President of the American Hair Loss Association, said.
He explained that despite being a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States, there are absolutely no regulations when it comes to the sale, importation or labeling of hair used in extensions and wigs.
“Anybody can make any claim,” Kobren said.
CBS2 bought three sets of hair extensions from three different manufacturers and sent them to an independent lab for testing. All three labeled 100 percent human hair actually contained a mix of synthetic hair.
“It can melt and singe, there’s PVC and plastics in synthetic hair,” Lisa Abbey, of beauty brand Flygirl, said.
One set of extensions even contained hair from a yak.
“It’s going to be a lot less expensive for them to mix human hair with animal hair,” Kobren said.
While it won’t harm you, experts say you’re not getting what you pay for and this hair will tangle and fray after just one or two wears.
“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 there have even been reports that some imported hair is being taken against the donor’s will.
“This is the reason why we started setting fair standards which is a guarantee that hair is ethically sourced and traceable,” Butcher said.
Courtney Adeleye, with the hair care company Mane Choice, said the industry needs to be regulated.
“It’s a little bit of the wild, wild west right now,” she said. “I can’t use the word organic and not have organic ingredients in my product. I think it should be the same standard for people who sell hair.”
“When you lay it down, it should lay flat,” Abbey said.
Abbey suggests reading the reviews of a company before you buy, especially off the internet. She also highly recommends consulting with a trained cosmetologist before getting extensions.
“It’s really important to know what you’re buying, where you’re buying it from,” she added.