The United States is the world’s largest consumer of human hair extensions. Invented by the Egyptians and popularized by celebrities like Nicki Minaj and the Kardashians, the market was valued at 1.35 billion USD in 2017. That's a whole lotta hair!
The allure of hair extensions is easy to understand. With minimal time and cost, you can have thicker and longer hair. And, with steady growth (no pun intended) and global demand, the hair industry is waiting to be disrupted by a wave (there we go again) of multi-use hair products.
Length and volume are now only 2 of the many ways to find value in hair extensions. Creative stylists are now replicating ombres and providing highlights, all without a single tube of color. Technically extensions need to be blended but most product lines do not even require cutting to look natural.
With color and cutting being staple services of the hair industry, hair extensions are positioned to shift that way we see and do our hair. Longer lasting than the updo and less permanent than other options, investors are scrambling to find hair extension companies to throw money at. Angel.co lists 526 people labeled as Hair Extensions Angel Investors. That is a rather large number for such a newly popular world market.
The Web and e-commerce have made access to hair care products so easy that the behemoths of the hair extensions world have even ventured to sell straight to the public, circumventing local salon distributors. All this is good news for an industry that slow-moving and where the use of technology is still novel. By good, we mean for the end consumer. Stylists are still warming to the idea that their clients can buy their raw products elsewhere decreasing the markup that can be made in addition to their installation services.
Trends in fashion, and an openness to discuss hair related issues paired with manufacturing innovations that are fueling growth in the hair industry. Even men are getting in on the action which could make the global market value explode. Shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy have brought male grooming discussions to a mainstream audience and celebrities are pumping out hair extension lines at a record rate that mirror the rise of celebrity perfumes and fashion lines.
In the long run, sticking someone else's hair on your head can net more than a new outfit or fragrance. The process is also very personalized and can be much quicker than finding that perfect pair of new shoes (and then breaking them in!).
What does all this mean for consumers? Lower cost and higher quality. These are the hallmarks of rising demand and competition. For investors and entrepreneurs, this means it's time to look for worthy hair extension investments. Either way, expect to start seeing women around you with a sudden growth of longer or thicker hair every 4-6 weeks. Similar to the Brazilian Blowout, hair extensions are going to become just one more attainable service on your stylists regular menu.