Hard-up Spanish women forced to sell hair
The ongoing recession in Spain is forcing cash-strapped Spaniards to sell off their locks so they can pay the bills.
Madrid -- Cash-strapped Spaniards are pulling their hair out over the economic crisis -- literally.
Faced with the country's deep recession and soaring unemployment, many women are selling off their locks to pay the bills.
And Justino Delgado, who exports natural hair for wigs and extensions, couldn't be happier.
He began his business 50 years ago, going from village to village to collect hair from women, before he started importing much of it from Asia, mainly from India and China.
But for the past several months women have been showing up at his warehouse near Madrid in growing numbers.
"A lot of women come to sell their hair, just this morning a young woman with a ponytail came in and we bought it from her," he said.
"It's worth between EUR 50 and 150. There are some women who have a lot of hair, and as the price depends on the length and the weight, they can get well paid for it," he said.
But he has some conditions: the hair must be more than 40 centimetres (16 inches) long and have never been coloured.
Sometimes "pony tails have been kept for months in a drawer after being cut off at the hairdressers, but are still good quality," said Yolanda, one of his daughters who works at this family business employing about 30 people.
Hair is displayed for sale in Justino Delgado's natural hair store in Madrid on 17 November 2009
The trend has been particularly good for Delgado as "European hair is finer and very sought after, and sells for more than Asian hair for example," which is thicker.
He has about 90 tonnes of blond, brown and red braided locks spread out on a vast floor at the warehouse.
He now exports about 80 percent of the production, mainly to the rest of Europe and to the United States.
His business has also benefited from the growing fashion among young women for hair extensions, in which strands of hair are attached to a person's natural hair.
Before being sold, the hair must first be washed several times. Then some of it is coloured by "secret machines which have been specially adapted for us by an engineer," said Delgado, who bars visitors from even seeing the machines.
It is then dried, carefully combed and then braided.
The company has tried to adapt to the needs of its clients.
"Countries in northern Europe for example are looking for particular colours," said Yolanda.
Justino Delgado poses in his natural hair store in Madrid
Germans prefer the light chestnut colour, which is less common in Spain, she said.
7 December 2009
AFP / Expatica