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September 8, 2011

One Stylist Explains: Why I’ll Never Do Feather Hair Extensions.

 via Ready Made by Caitlin Thornton.

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I found this recently in the magazine Ready Made, and although the trend in my town of Boulder Colorado has spread like wild fire, something in my heart told me not to do it.  Please share as I’m sure those that are wearing them, have no idea of where they come from.  ~ Tamara

It started with Ke$sha. Or Steven Tyler. Or an indigenous people. Who knows. But feather hair extensions have been everywhere from the streets of SoHo to this year’s South by Southwest. The trend—clipping feathers that can be curled or washed in your hair—has a dark side that’s causing some stylists who specialize in funky extensions to refuse including them in their services. Why? Tomahawk Salon’s Kristin Jackson, who we previously chatted with about her hair crafts and the wigs she makes for Katy Perry, explains…

ReadyMade: Feather hair extensions are totally rampant! But you tell customers you don’t want to do them. Why? 
Kristin Jackson: I’ve made the conscious decision to not do feather hair extensions because of the practices used to obtain the feathers.  As a strict vegetarian (for about 19 years) I’ve always been passionate about animal rights and welfare. I don’t think that any animal should have to suffer in order for a person to feel cool or follow a trend. The birds that are farmed to make these accessories are usually kept in small cages and treated horribly. Even worse: most of these birds are simply raised for their feathers, and once they are ready to be plucked, they’re killed, their feathers are removed, and then they are simply thrown away. It’s horrible to think about.

So were you aware of the practices used to obtain the feathers before this trend started? 
I wasn’t fully aware how these particular feathers were obtained until the trend started emerging and I started doing more research. As a longtime vegetarian and ex-vegan, I already had very strong opinions about chicken farms. Right when I saw this trend, I knew that the feather farms couldn’t be much different.

While doing my research, I visited a lot of websites that sold feather extensions, and many of them even had information about where and how they obtain their feathers. Some claim that all their feathers are from molting birds, but I really see that as a near impossible way to keep up with the huge demand. Plus, a lot of birds molt when they’re in high-stress situations like the farms I mentioned earlier. I found one website for a feather farm that even shows their farm in action. They briefly scan over the chickens cages and you can see just how tighly packed they are. They also show what they call “feather pelts” which are exactly what they sound like. This farm even said that their birds are different than those raised for “supermarket use.” Maybe they were hoping that people wouldn’t catch onto the fact that this means that these birds just go to waste—nothing but the feathers are used.  As many as 65,000 pelts are shipped out weekly from this farm, and they even say that this amount doesn’t even keep up with the demand.
What should we do?

Well first and foremost, don’t jump on this trend and don’t support the companies that make them. But the biggest, most important thing is to spread the word and educate. So many people just don’t even think about how the feathers made it to their hair, and who had to suffer in the process.
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