How to Make Your Own Feather Hair Extensions
You've seen them, right? I'm talking about those colorful feather locks hair extensions. Some theorize Steven Tyler started the trend as he sat sporting his cool extensions week after week on last season's American Idol. Or perhaps it was Kesha or Miley Cyrus who were responsible for tweens and teens flocking to salons for colorful, wild hair adornment. Regardless, they're everywhere, it seems... on both women and young girls. Heck, I've even seen a few guys sporting the look. Get this- they're even making them for dogs. Hmmm...
Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the behind-the-scenes methods of collecting these rooster feathers. Many people think the feathers are fake/synthetic. But, they are in fact the real deal folks, they're called saddle feathers and they're plucked from the backs of innocent roosters. Now, I don't know about you, but abusing our birdy friends in the name of fashion just isn't cool.
The good news is the fact that there are alternative, cruelty-free options if you just can't resist the look. So, I'm going to show you how to make feather hair extensions that look just as "feathery" and you can feel good wearing.
The Plight of the Roosters
These poor roosters are genetically bred, groomed and raised for these long, luxurious saddle feathers. The part most people are unaware of is that many of the birds die in the plucking process. Fly fishermen have been using these same feathers for years as fishing lures. With the advent of this new hair accessorizing trend, there's an alarming feather shortage available for the fishermen. Fly fishing shops can't keep them stocked as salons across America have eradicated their supplies. Even the largest rooster farms, like Whiting Farms in Colorado, can't keep up with the never-ending demand. The dwindling supply is also causing the feather prices to soar.
Since it takes a while for the rooster's saddle feathers to fully grow, they are kept for many months so that their tail feathers can grow as long as possible. Whiting Farms keeps them for a year, after which they are slaughtered, the feathers plucked and the bodies are composted. In 2000, just in this farm alone, over 125,000 birds were killed. These numbers have increased dramatically with Whiting Farms now killing 1,500 roosters per week! PER WEEK! All in the name of vanity...
It's time to stop the madness. You can still have your headdresses, really you can, but let's just leave the roosters out of it!
How to Make Feather Hair Extensions
Okay, I'm off my soapbox now and onto the purpose of this article. But, of course, we're going to be making feather hair extensions with synthetic feathers. Trust me, it's simple! I've done it on both of my girls and it took me less than 10 minutes per feather. And, I'm going to make this relatively painless for you by letting you know where you can get said feathers. Let me first say, Etsy is just a gold mine of unusual and awesome products and supplies. As such, finding beautiful synthetic feathers is a snap. Many of the other supplies you'll need can be purchased from local beauty supply stores like Sallie's. Here is what you'll need:
- Your first mission is to locate the synthetic feathers. On Etsy, check out this seller: Megs Faux Feathers. Amazon is also an excellent resource. Check out the supplies to the right...
- Pulling wire, if you can't find it or don't want to bother, you can use dental floss. It's not as easy, granted, but it gets the job done. Alternatively, you can purchase what's called a pulling micro-needle/crochet hook. I didn't bother with the hook, I just used wire.
- Micro ring beads, preferably silicone-lined or aluminum for better grasp. These are available in different colors to blend with your natural hair color.
- Pliers to clamp the beads shut. Sally's has them, or I'm sure you can find some around your house that will work just fine. Leatherman tools are great for this, if you happen to have one.
How to Insert the Feathers in Your Hair
- Take your wire, it should be about three inches long and bend it into a U-shape.
- Grab a small strand of hair, wherever you want the feather placed. Make sure it's free of tangles or the process will be more difficult.
- Place the strand of hair on top of the wire and then bend the wire so the two ends are pierced together.
- Slide the bead across the top of the wire ends, where they meet. The bead will be threaded through both tips of the wire, in other words. Push the bead through the ends of the wire and remove the wire. This will thread the bead onto the hair.
- You don't want the bead too close or too far from the scalp. Too close and it could cause uncomfortable tugging, too far and it will look silly, especially when your hair grows. No more than 1/2 inch from the scalp is perfect.
- Grab your cruelty-free feather (I know you got one) and slide the tip of the feather into the bead. Allow the feather tip to stick out of the bead about 1/4 of an inch.
- Take your pliers and clamp that bead shut! Voila... easy peasy, huh?
Use ribbon! You can find striped ribbon or even paint stripes on a plain one with nail polish and you have yourself the ultimate cruelty-free "feather" look.
You can purchase clamp on synthetic feather extensions, too. They're super easy to insert and take out, plus you can swap them out when you're ready for a new look.
You can also just use a bobby pin to attach a feather for a day, if you're not into commitment, that is!
But whatever route you take, please make sure you're using synthetic feathers! Look and read carefully when you're shopping... bird death in the name of vanity just doesn't fly!
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