The global trade in human hair is soaring and becoming a major industry, according to e-commerce website alibaba.com. Celebrities are increasing the popularity of using real hair to supplement their own. In recent months singer Beyonce, footballer Wayne Rooney and actor Sarah Jessica Parker have all been seen sporting new and more voluminous locks. Alibaba spokeswoman Linda Kozlowski said: “There's been a huge upswing in hair. The celebrity culture has made hair extensions more popular, and everyone wants hair from India.” Hair stylist Lucinda Ellery explains why: “There is a big religious reason in India for people to get rid of their hair. They get it cut off and give it to monks. Now it's…an economic resource for the country," she said.
The alibaba.com website reports a 160 per cent increase in searches for “human hair” in the past year. The USA, China and Britain are the three largest international buyers. Ms Ellery said the rise of social media websites is one reason behind the success of the industry, saying: "It's really driven by things like Facebook and Twitter, tabloids and magazines. Women want to be more and more glamorous, as a result of this big celebrity culture." She added that the cost of human hair is also rising with its demand: "In the last 10 years, it's tripled, doubled and tripled again." Alibaba says blonde is the most popular color because it can be easily dyed to match the customer’s own natural color. It says wavy is the biggest-selling texture, recently overtaking straight hair.