Posts Tagged ‘beauty issues’

The harsh truth behind the feather hair extension trend

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Photo by Upstate Options Magazine via Flickr

Photo by Upstate Options Magazine via Flickr

You’ve seen them on Steven Tyler. You’ve seen them on Ke$ha and Miley Cyrus. You’ve probably also seen them around town. Feather hair extensions are a red hot trend everywhere.

But do you know where this flashy and colorful fashion is coming from? And the controversy behind it?

Feather extensions – which clip into your locks and can last for a couple of months – come from roosters, or more specifically, from the backs of roosters that are specially bred to produce unnaturally long and striking saddle feathers. Before the trend explosion over the last year or two, they were used almost exclusively by fly fishermen as part of their tackle. But the rabid new demand for feathered tresses has made them expensive and difficult to come by.

And it has led to the slaughter of thousands of roosters a week.

But, you may say, that can’t be true – birds don’t have to be killed in order to get their feathers. That’s absolutely correct, but a lot of times, these roosters are. Thomas Whiting – head of Whiting Farms in Colorado, which is one of the largest producers of feather extensions – told the Orange County Register that the roosters “aren’t good for anything else,” so after they are de-feathered, they are euthanized and turned into compost.

And just to give you an idea of the scale: Whiting Farm alone ships out feathered bird hides to the tune of around 65,000 per week.Thinkstock_78293908


The good news is that if you want to sport the look without supporting this brutal process, there are options. Do a quick search for “cruelty-free feather extensions,” and you’ll find that there are quite a few vendors out there who are taking a greener approach to the trend. Mostly, these vendors are getting their feathers from people who raise birds in safe, comfortable, no-kill environments and procure feathers naturally when the birds molt them. It is being embraced as a great alternative for those who keep an eye both on fashion and animal rights.

So before you clip in that bright-colored plumage on yourself or your clients, take some time to research your vendor. Don’t just succumb to the feather hair extension clamor – first, make sure you’re comfortable with where they’re coming from.