Wigging out: exploring Ukraine’s vibrant false hair industry
In the wig shops of Ukraine you can be anyone you want to be and all for the price of 10 hryvnias (around 30 pence)
Platinum blonde diva, sultry brunette pornstar or baby-pink-haired doll. In the wig shops of Ukraine you can be anyone you want to be and all for the price of 10 hryvnias (around 30 pence) – the sum you pay in a local wig shop to put on any style you fancy, a compromise that stops the wigs getting too damaged, but allows women to try before they buy.
For most of those who have ever looked into buying fake hair – extensions, hairpieces, wigs – it would seem that Ukraine is an export hub. The 2018 export figures for fake or processed hair in Ukraine are as low as only about £253,000 against import worth £1,226,000. Official statistics for import/export of natural human hair (sometimes labelled as “Russian Hair” because they’re so alike) is zero. Overall, it looks like real hair is often exported through the black market, with production processes for wigs starting somewhere else. This real hair is imported globally, particularly by buyers in the West who are looking for natural blonde hair, or to number one buyer, Israel, where Orthodox Jewish women make up a prominent wig market but do not want to buy from China or India, where the hair may have come from temples of other religions. However, as popular as Slavyanka hair is, and as expensive as it is to buy, Ukraine and Russia are surprisingly not in the top 15 countries that export the highest volume of human hair).