Friday, April 17, 2009

Sell your Hair!!

– Real hair is used to produce wigs but the development of hair-extension services has made the need for hair increase. According to a hair trader, tens of thousands of Vietnamese women sell their hair a year. A small part of this is supplied to the local market and the remaining is “exported”.

Hair affairs

Many girls who get hair extensions may wonder about the story behind their new hair. For hair collectors, each set of hair is a life. Sometimes two sets of hair are bought at the same place, but one may go to HCM City and the another fly to the US to beautify someone.

Hair trading

Huan, 39, a hair trader in HCM City, showed me a backpack and said: “This backpack contains over 10kg of hair, 50cm-70cm long, priced at VND40-50 million ($2,200-2,800)."

He opened the backpack and took out tens of curls. Each of them is related to the fate of a poor woman. Huan collects hair from agents in northern provinces to sell to hair salons in HCM City.

Huan said hair salons in HCM City favour the long hair of northern women because their hair is soft and smooth. A kilo of long hair is priced at VND3.5-5 million.

A girl with short hair has to pay millions of VND for hair extensions. The volume of hair required for extensions depends on the request of customers, but it is normally 100g.
Huan said hair is often soaked, washed, dried and smoothed before it is used for extensions. He said hair collectors never buy hair from dead people and hair from hospitals because it is immoral.
Huan cooperates with tens of hair collectors from the north to the south and trades thousands of sets of hairs a month.
Hair for export

Long Vietnamese hair has become an item exported to China, Thailand and the US. In HCM City, a woman named H in Tan Binh district specialises in selling hair to the US. She has her own company and representatives in the US. She often sends hundreds of kilos of hair to the US by air.

According to hair traders, the US market is very picky and it is open to only extremely good hair. However, that market pays a lot for hair, at least VND1 million per kilo more than the local price.

“Vietnamese hair goes to Thailand more than to the US but the export volume to both Thailand and the US is very modest compared to exports to China,” said Hai, a hair trader of tens of years of experience.

Hai said the Chinese market buys all kinds of hair, from bad to good quality. “We have to send hair to the north on the 8th, 18th and 28th of every month to export to China. Sometimes, Chinese traders don't come and the volume of hair in stock is 20-30 tonnes,” Hai revealed.

He said each hair collector sells tens or up to over 100kg of hair to China each month and the number of hair collectors is several hundred. Tonnes of hair goes to China every month and thus, thousands of Vietnamese women lose their hair a month.

Prof. Dr. Tran Ngoc Them, Chief of the Cultural Studies Faculty of the HCM City University for Social Sciences and Humanities, said that it is alarming that dozens of thousands of Vietnamese women sell their hair a year.

“The life is changing and the concept about long hair also changes. Some women like short hair because it makes them look stronger and dynamic, but I prefer women with long hair. So it is pity to know that many Vietnamese women sell their hair,” Them said.

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