Feather Hair Extensions: Not Animal-Friendly

Feather hair extensions are one of the trendiest fashion accessories right now (I say this knowing that Cincy's always a little behind the times on all things stylish). Celebrities from Ke$ha to Steven Tyler to Roseanne Barr have been rockin' the look, which may sound like a deterrent, but now these birdy little weaves are everywhere. Even on dogs.—-

                                                I'm not smiling. I'm begging for help.

Local salons have offered the service for a few months now, with individual feathers running around $10-$30 a pop. Some people love 'em, some hate 'em, but one thing's for sure - you can't walk into a Northside bar without seeing at least one feathery chick (see what I did there).

I've been on the fence about these. When I first saw locals with the extensions, I loved the Pocahontas-meets-The Lost Boys look. It seemed like a cute, inexpensive, won't-ruin-your-hair way to add a funky shot of color without looking like you're wearing a cheap clip-in extension from Claire's. They're cute, but once I really started seeing them everywhere, my interest fizzled.

Now, reports of how these feathers are obtained are shedding light on the consequences of this seemingly harmless trend.

Like feathers you see on clothing, jewelry and in craft stores, many of these extensions are brightly colored with funky markings, which leads most people (myself included) to believe they never came from an actual animal. More often than not, this isn't the case. If you're able to blow dry, curl and flat iron your feathers, they came from an animal. Synthetic feathers would burn or melt from that heat.

Feathers used for these extensions and most crafty/fashion-related purposes usually did not just fall out of a bird naturally. What people really have snapped in their hair are from roosters' bottoms, called saddle feathers. These roosters are usually plucked while still alive and often die afterwards (if not, they are euthanized).

It's a sad fact, and the history behind this process is even more odd. Certain roosters have been bred to have long saddle feathers, a favorable trait that came about from fishermen. These long feathers are actually the same ones favored by fly fishers for their lures (some salons even get their feathers from outdoors/fishing stores). Now that there's a huge demand for these feathers, prices are skyrocketing while more and more roosters are being killed.

Whether you're a vegetarian, a feather-extension lover, an animal rights advocate or just a conscientious shopper, it's important to be aware of the impact of your actions. If you want to get featherized, ask your stylist where they get their supplies and encourage them to go synthetic. Go here to read more about how you can help and here to to order vegan "feather" extensions you can apply yourself.