It was a trending story back in early 2014. A hair stylist shared epic, stomach-churning photographs on Instagram of a mold infestation taking place in a customer’s sewn-in hair weave. The unfortunate circumstance led to the hair professional being forced to cut off the remaining hair as well. The event was later revisited and explained further by HypeHair.com. What precisely could cause mold to grow in a hair weave and was it really necessary to remove the real hair of the victim?
To understand this situation, one would first have to understand the basics of mold. Mold isn’t a plant or an animal, it’s an opportunistic fungus. That isn’t to say that it’s a type of parasitic microorganism. On the contrary, mold prefers to live and feed off of decomposing matter, not directly on a living host. For mold, opportunistic is simply a reference to growth-inducing habitation, meaning: location, location, location!
Mold reproduces by spores and its transfer, reproduction, and growth is determined by where it lands or what carries it. Much like plants are pollinated by insects, birds, and animals, mold spores depend on air currents and other living organisms to be carried from one potential habitat to the next. If a spore lands on a growth-incapable item or area, it will simply lie dormant until factors improve or eventually, it could even die off.
A potential habitat for optimal mold growth involves four attributes: warm, damp, dark, and decomposing. Mold needs a warm temperature, a wet environment, a dark setting, and a decomposing organic material in order to survive and thrive. A common habitat could be a refrigerator drawer, a humid laundry room, a frequented bathroom, a shaded wooden bench by a pool, or a vehicle in which a beverage has been spilled. If a spore encounters those four environmental elements (and sometimes only three are necessary), it will grow at an alarming rate.
When considering the case of the mold-infested hair weave, there are many unanswered questions. For instance, was the weave synthetic or authentic human hair? Was it donated from a live person or a deceased person? Or, was it animal hair? What were the original conditions of the weave at the time prior to being sewn into the customer’s natural hair? What were the conditions of the factory or work-site in which the weave was fashioned? What were the conditions of the vehicle in which the weave was transported from factory to shop? What were the conditions of the original hair stylist’s place of employment? Were the tools to sew-in the weave sterile? What were the conditions of all the living, working, social, and amusement spaces of the customer? What were/are the customer’s regular hygiene practices? This inquisition could go on for hours, page after page, one unanswered question after another.
The greatest problem with this particular case is that there are a lot of possible scenarios. While it is easy to pass all blame to the customer, it is very unlikely that she carries any guilt other than the fact that she has proven to be quite unobservant. Mold spores are literally floating all around us by the thousands, and in some environments, by the millions. It is impossible to avoid contact – it’s bound to occur at least once in a day for every mobile organism, especially while outdoors or in entryways. In addition to countless spore risks, modern society is a get, get, go, go, faster, faster community where the average woman has very little time to complete a grooming task before she is whisked away to turn the daily wheel. The truth is, with odds and a highly pressurized society like that, could the customer be entirely to blame?
The only additional evidence up for scrutiny is the briefly mentioned “6 months” of wear stated in both the original Instagram post and the following Hair Hype post in February of 2014. Both posts alluded to the 6-month time period as being a catalyst to mold growth, as well as poor hair weave maintenance and a lack of responsible hygiene, such as shampooing the hair but not drying it thoroughly and properly. Excluding their suggestions of a dampness factor, the mold expertise of these two posters leaves much to be desired. A mold infestation of that specific magnitude does not require a maturation period of 6 months. The possibility of it occurring overnight is, of course, unfeasible. However, despite the massive expansion and growth, this type of mold – in just the right conditions – could quite plausibly have occurred within the span of 2-6 weeks, which strongly opposes the stylist’s opinion that 2 months is a safer time-frame for weave wear.
If this were a court case, the customer would no-doubt be released of all charges on account of insubstantial evidence and strictly-biased testimonies. Despite the unending questions in this situation, a handful of facts are certain:
1. It is impossible to avoid mold spores.
2. The weave itself -whether synthetic or authentic – somehow supplied the mold with nutrients (even synthetic materials have been known to be metabolized by mold in the same regard that decomposing organic materials are).
3. The customer may have been responsible for grooming and maintenance (the dampness factor), but this scenario could happen to anyone who chooses to wear a weave.
4. It does not take 6 months for this type of mold to grow to that size.
5. The confining time-frame of 2 months is not a good indicator of mold safety and precaution.
All the conditions for extreme and rapid mold growth were present in the surrounding atmosphere (spores), in the weave itself (nutrients), in the temperature and pH balance of the customer, and in the shadows of the hair and possible living and working spaces of the customer as well. Therefore, 2-6 weeks at the end of the overall 6 months of weave wear, showering and possibly not drying the hair thoroughly, or even sweating in warmer conditions like any normal, healthy human-being could indeed have induced a landing spore to begin the maturation processes.
Regardless of the hair stylist’s motives in placing all blame on the customer and on such a public platform, there is some saving grace and proof of genuine concern for the health and happiness of the customer in the fact that the stylist cut and removed the customer’s remaining natural hair as well. Mold growth is among the most rapid maturation processes of any living organism. It can occur within hours of a profitable spore-landing and it is almost always hazardous to human and animal health. Therefore, mold is a very serious issue that needs to be dealt with quickly and thoroughly.
With mold growth of these specific proportions, it is highly probable that it had begun to infest the natural hair of the customer as well, even down to the root and scalp. Contact with the skin of the scalp, neck, forehead, and shoulders, contact with the mucous membranes of the eyes, being within easy reach of hands or grooming tools (that could spread the infestation to other places or people), and growing so close to the nose and mouth of the customer (raising alarms about inhalation and absorption), could very-well cause the customer (and many others), permanent health damage, if not eventual death. Case closed.
Only one question remains: Did you know that getting a hair weave could be the death of you?
Beankeeper is a mother of two, a business owner, and a freelance writer. You may find her other works at The Wife’s Life, a blog devoted to those who still believe in wholesome living, dedicated parenting, and faith-filled marriages. She is also a content-writer for the folks at Lots of Motts, a webstore making coin collectors’ dreams come true since 2011.