One’s hair is a form of self-expression and over the years individuals—females and to an extent males—have invested billions into the hair extension industry. Females of different races and ethnicities wear hair extensions, more popularly called weave, for different reasons including to achieve length, protection and boost confidence.


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According to the 16th annual “Buying Power of Black America” Report published by Target Market News, a leading group focused on African-American marketing, advertising and media, African-Americans spent $507 billion of their estimated buying power of $836 billion on hair care and personal grooming items in 2009. That’s a $72 billion dollar difference from that spent in 2008.

While weaves can range in prices from $20 to $10,000 USD, it is no surprise that it is a multi-billion dollar lucrative business. Weaves also are sold in varying lengths, colours and textures to suit the specifications of the buyer.

But what are some reasons that the hair industry is so successful? Why do females spend so much on hair?


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  1. Length

Black women especially state that their hair takes longer to grow than the average half an inch per month, and while this varies among females, they still seem to like their hair longer and so they buy extensions. They spend $76 to $400 on buying the desired hair length to their specifications and can spend around $456 and $2400 per year on touchups and maintenance alone.

Brittany Pittman, a member service representative at a local Credit Union, has only spent $400 in the past six months on her weave.  The main reason she wears it is for added length.

“My hair’s really thin and I like the fuller look,” Pittman said.
She saves money by reusing the same tracks for the entire six months.
“I wash it once a week and get my real hair relaxed once every two months,” Pittman said. She added “Women in general are gonna spend what they want to look good… It’s always been like that and it’s going to be like that forever.”

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  1. Low Maintenance

Persons who wear weaves say that it is less stressful than maintaining their natural hair. Picking, washing, moisturizing, sealing and combing to name a few processes of the natural or relaxed-haired women. In the long run, maintenance of their real hair decreases, keeping hair manipulation to a minimum once to twice a month which saves on time and money.

Sandra Twumasi, a biology junior at Virginia Commonwealth University, just started wearing weaves on her entire head this year. She said the convenience makes the style worth the money.
“It’s easier to handle than my own hair,” Twumasi said. “It may be a little expensive, but it looks good if you get it done right.”

She said the price isn’t much different from that she was paying when she got her natural hair done biweekly at salons.

“I used to get my hair done professionally and paid at least 120 bucks,” Twumasi said. Now, she pays between $128 to $158 to get weaves put in, depending on their length.
When it comes to weave type, she prefers tracks, strips of hair sewn into or glued onto one’s braided hair. Like many African-American women, Twumasi prefers fast, harmless results.
“Tracks are easier, quicker and less painful,” Twumasi said.

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  1. Protective Hairstyle

Protective hairstyles have been a trend in the natural hair community as it decreases the level of manipulation of the natural hair, and the hair gets a chance to strengthen and repair from prior damage. Weave is also worn by females who want to protect their hair from weather conditions as hair becomes more sensitive and brittle in the colder climates and need a lot of moisture.

Somalia Suber, a criminal justice senior at VCU, wears weaves four or five times a year, spending about $1,200 to $1,400 a year on hair. She said she wears sewn-in weaves usually during colder seasons.

“I prefer sew-ins because glued ones rip your hair out,” Suber said. “I [wear them] mostly in the winter time.” She added, “It’s easier to protect,” Suber said. “It doesn’t mess up your hair and helps it grow if you leave it in long enough.”

Ashley Evans, an African-American studies senior at VCU, also wears weaves to protect her real hair.

“My main motivation for getting a weave was that I was trying to avoid committing any more crimes of damage against my hair.” Evans admitted.

“In my opinion one of the pros of having a weave is that your own hair has the opportunity to breathe and rebuild its strength, and that you can get any style you want during this period,” Evans said.

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By Alexandra Daley