Meet Riqua Hailes.
Hailes is an entrepreneur and the founder of Just Extensions, a hair extensions salon based in Los Angeles.
After receiving a shipment of poor quality extensions from a supplier in China, she decided to embark on a journey around the world to learn the whole truth about this 684 million dollar industry.
Hailes subsequently traveled to China, Cambodia, Malaysia, India, Peru and Brazil — all to find out how how hair extensions are really sourced, processed and why women were actually selling their hair. All with the goal of uncovering the truth about the extensions market from a global perspective, a press release sent to A Plus explains.
The hair extension industry is worth 684 million dollar and is absolutely unregulated.
In China, Hailes watched "fallen hair" — hair from the scraps of hair salons — being soaked in germ-killing acid, Refinery29 reports. They were later mixed with synthetic fibers by factory workers and labeled as Brazilian or Indian hair.
In India, she visited a temple where people of all ages were shaving hair as a religious sacrifice. The hair was later collected and auctioned off to middlemen who resell it directly to factories in China.
"To have so much faith that I'm going to cut my hair, cut my children's hair, because I believe they're going to be blessed by God — they have no idea where their hair is going," Hailes said.
In some countries selling your hair is a means of survival.
"Because no food for eat," a man explains in the documentary's trailer below. "She feel very bad [about cutting her hair.]"
And yet still does. In Cambodia, you can receive $7.50 for waist-length hair.
"They sell their hair so they don’t have to sell their bodies," Hailes told Refinery29.
The documentary aims to "provoke conversations" with vendors and educate potential consumers, the press release explains.
You can watch the trailer below.