I wish I had your hair

Celebrity ‘big hair’ boosts global trade for human hair extensions

· Demand from UK businesses for human hair extensions up significantly – 160 per cent increase in searches between July 2010 and June 2011

· UK now the third largest buyer of human hair worldwide

· Brazilian hair tops table as the most sought after type of human hair extensions by the UK market – accounting for more than 50 per cent of business searches

Style conscious women across the UK are increasingly turning to hair extensions to emulate the voluminous styles of glamorous celebrities such as Cheryl Cole and Nicole Scherzinger. According to data from Alibaba.com, the world’s largest online marketplace for small businesses, searches for human hair extensions on the site have increased 160 per cent in the past twelve months.

The UK is now the third largest buyer of human hair worldwide, behind the United States and mainland China. Brazilian hair has emerged as the human extension product of choice for UK buyers, with 51 per cent of the total searches on Alibaba.com. Indian hair is the second most sought after (29 per cent) followed by European (6 per cent).

A trend has also emerged in the colour and shape that women are now demanding from their real hair extension. Blonde hair, which can be easily dyed to match a person’s natural colour, accounted for over half of overall searches, with black and brown hair being less popular at 38 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.

Big, wavy locks are the most sought-after hair type this season with 61 per cent of total searches inspired by the exotic and tousled look of Brazilian beauties such as Giselle Bundchen. The previously popular poker straight style of the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Jenifer Anniston now seems to be out of favour with British women – only 22 per cent of searches were for straight hair extensions.

Linda Kozlowski, Head of International Business Development and Marketing (IBDM), Alibaba.com, commented:

“With an estimated £65 million being spent on various types of hair extensions each year, it is no surprise that UK SMEs in the beauty sector are looking to capitalise on this growing market. Brazilian and Indian hair is naturally very thick and strong so as hair extensions they are extremely versatile and adaptable. Brazilian hair takes dye particularly well and can be easily styled to match a person’s natural hair so it is a great choice for those looking to add length and volume to their natural locks.

“Consumers are also becoming increasingly interested in the origin of their beauty products, such as hair extensions, and small businesses are responding to this. Over the past few years our site has seen a significant rise in the number of suppliers promoting ethically sourced products.”