For Russia’s Poor, Blond Hair Is Snippet of Gold

Andrew Kramer, New York Times, November 21, 2010

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Long sought for wigs and toupees, human hair is now in particularly high demand for hair extension procedures in more affluent countries. Dark hair from India and China is more plentiful, but blond and other light shades are valued for their relative scarcity and because they are easier to dye to match almost any woman’s natural color.

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Natalya N. Vinokurova, 26, grew up nearby in Yukhnov, a town where half the homes lack indoor plumbing and the average monthly wage is about $300. {snip}

But Ms. Vinokurova cultivated something with market value: strawberry blond hair that hung to her waist before she sold it.

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{snip} The best hair, he [Aleksei N. Kuznetsov, owner of Belli Capelli, a hair processing company] said, is honey-hued, changes color in the light and is soft to the touch.

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{snip} In Belarus, President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, a staunch nationalist, has placed such tight controls on small entrepreneurs that the trade is all but impossible, to the regret of those in the business, because the country is poor and has an abundance of blond women.

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