African women are spending up to $7 billion on hair imports mostly from India, China and South America.


African women are spending up to US$7 billion every year, and over two billion dollars on shampoos, relaxers and hair lotions. Studies show that black women are willing to spend at least double the amount on hair and beauty products than white women. On average, Africans spend US$250 on foreign hair.

According to a report by South China Morning Post, Africa is the second-largest destination for Chinese wigs, making up 37 per cent of the overall market, just behind the United States’ market share of 39 per cent.

India is one of the biggest players in the human hair industry. The county exports over US$500 million worth of human hair every hair. India, with a population of over 1.3 billion, an estimated 600 million are women, is at advantage of supplying human hair. Most of the human hair coming from India to Africa are from rural temples and villages where female Hindu pilgrims often shave their hair as a sacrifice to the gods, or as part of a yearly ritual. But before this, their hair shaved were burned or used as stuffing for mattresses.

Indian woman shaving his head to import the hair to Africa

According to my findings, there are two types of hair coming from India to Africa; Remy and non-Remy hair. Remy hair is the highest grade human hair and it’s from the temples. Whilst non-Remy hair is processed with hydrochloric acid to remove the cuticles, which reduces the quality of hair, before export.

A report by World Trade Organisation in 2012, China exported nearly 75 per cent of the world’s ‘bird skin, feathers, artificial flowers and human hair products. Every year, China exports human hair to Africa worth millions of dollars. Poor Chinese women in rural China sell their hair to the manufacturers only for it to be work by our beauty Queens. Africa is China’s second-biggest buyer with most of the human hair being exported to Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Congo, Cameroon, Angola, Kenya, and Uganda.

The growing demand for synthetic hair in Africa is alarming and scary. This growth has seen African women lose their natural beauty which has been admired by the very same people (Asians, Americans, Europeans) manufacturing synthetic hair and artificial hair relaxer, hair lotions, shampoo, cream to lighten their skin, fake eyelashes, etc. In another report by Market research firm Euromonitor International estimates $1.1 billion worth of shampoos, relaxers and hair lotions were sold in South Africa, Nigeria and Cameroon alone in 2014.

Nigeria, South Africa and Cameroon are the largest growing market for human synthetic hair in Africa. This, in recent years, is caused by celebrities flaunting their wigs and waves on Instagram. Recently, a hair called “bone straight” was at the centre of discussion on Instagram by celebrities in Africa, thus applying pressure on the least earning African on the platform. The show-offs by these celebrities create pathways for foreign synthetic hair to flood in the African market and leads to an increase in demand; which in turn we would see our beautiful African women gone foreign in just a put of makeup supported by synthetic hair and powered by creams to lighten up their skin, which would give us an artificial white woman made by artificial cosmetic cream and synthetic hair. In Nigeria, one could spend on average $60-70 to get her hair done. This is happening in a country where most of its population live on less than $5 a day.

The African woman hair is by far the most authentic and beautiful. It has large amounts of eumelanin and is denser than other hair. According to Princess Jones, author of ‘8 THINGS YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT BLACK WOMEN’S HAIR’, she said ”While other races can have straight, wavy, or curly strands, most black people have varying degrees of tightly curled strands. It may come in spirals, coils, loops, zig-zags, or other curves. This is why it tends to grow up rather than down and can make gravity-defying shapes like afros and puffs.”

Our women are searching for beauty when they have it in them. It’s sad, right? This article is not in any way trying to ridicule our beautiful African women. We would love to let them know that, with their natural hair, they’re amazing, beautiful, wonderful, powerful, and authentic. We would want to see them as who they are. Nothing is as beautiful as a black woman ✊🏿🖤✊🏿. Don’t let Western standards make you lose your identity. Be African, Be Proud🖤.

Are they not beautiful with their natural hair?

If at all you’re having troubles with you hair, here are natural remedies that you can use to get your hair done:

  • Water
  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Coconut oil
  • Shea butter
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Caster oil
  • Aloe Vera

Author: Abu Bakarr Jalloh

Abu Bakarr Jalloh is a Sierra Leonean content writer, author, Neo Pan-African and founder of The African Dream, an online platform for inspiring, positive and compelling African stories. Contact: WhatsApp: +23276211583