The Million Dollar Business of Human Hair Extensions

Hair extensions are popular and expensive. But it's often poor women who cut off and sell their hair - for little money. For some it offers more independence, for others, suffering and stigmatization.

It’s only hair, the dealers with the scissors say. But everyone knows that’s not true.

Take Prak Sohka, for example. The 42-year-old lives in the countryside of Cambodia, some 170 kilometers away from the capital city of Phnom Penh. She says her hair has won many beauty contests and that she cares for it with a mixture of coconut oil and a special blossom.

Prak has a photo in the apartment that shows her at the age of 18 with long black hair. Shortly afterward, she says, a woman approached her and offered the equivalent of 40 euros for Prak’s hair. It seemed like a fortune to her at the time. Then it took another five minutes until the hair was gone and only a few strands were left on Prak’s head.

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