For quite some time now Aliexpress.com, an offshoot of Alibaba.com (which, per Wikipedia, is “the world’s largest online business-to-business trading platform for small businesses”) has become an alternative source for purchasing hair weave online. Its appeal lies in the fact that buyers can purchase products (in this case hair) at wholesale prices. So, in theory you’d be getting quality hair at a reduced price, making it a significant step up from cheap beauty supply store hair that mattes within a week or so. But–and this is a big but–Aliexpress can sometimes feel like the Wild West, where vendors aren’t always honest and care more about making a quick buck than selling a quality product that lasts. If you don’t take the time to find the best vendors on Aliexpress, you may end up with hair that crawls up your neck and mattes up, tangles and sheds. Luckily, the ladies in the Black Hair Media (BHM) forum, know a thing or two about purchasing quality hair on Aliexpress, so we’ve pulled together their top tips. Overall, the key thing to remember is do your research before purchasing hair.
If it’s your first time using Aliexpress, run a search on the site for the type of hair you’re looking for–for example, kinky curly virgin hair (in the beauty & health category). This usually turns up thousands of results. Filter the results so that it only shows vendors with 4 stars and up. This should cut down the results significantly.
Then, right beside the price range filter there’s a little bar graph looking icon. To narrow things further, you can click on the highest peak of the bar graph icon. Doing so will give you the most popular price range and an even smaller pool of results. (You may not want to do this if you’re trying to stay within a specific price range, in which case you can specify that range).
Then sort by “Orders;” by doing this you’ll see the vendors with the most orders first. A vendor having a lot of orders is usually a good sign, as orders are harder to fake than good reviews.
With your results narrowed, you can start to examine a handful of vendors. You likely still have a pool of a few hundred results and so you may want to decide on a threshold. For example, you can decide to look at vendors who have 30 or more orders, or just look at the vendors on the first page of the results.
Look at Pictures
Once you start looking at each vendor’s page, the first thing you want to look at are the pictures on the page. Be wary of vendors who have too many celebrity photos. Watch out for vendors who appear to be using other vendor’s photos. If a photo looks similar to that of another vendor, chances are it’s a copy. The BHM forum recommends looking for vendors who have watermarked photos that aren’t easily replicated.
Read the Product and Store Description
Read the product description and make sure it meets your specifications, i.e. color, texture, length. Look for the basics in the product specifications i.e. unprocessed human hair, double weft, but take it with a grain of salt. You’ll verify all this a bit later via the reviews and contacting the vendor.
Look at how long the store has been open, the longer the better. Look at the store rating (and not just the product rating), as well as the percentage of positive feedback. Decide on your thresholds here based on what you’re comfortable with. If a store has been open for less than a year, has a rating under four diamonds and less than 80% positive feedback and is on the pricey side, you may want to avoid it, but if its product is relatively cheap you may be comfortable taking the risk.
Read Reviews & Google The Vendor
Read the product reviews on the product page. Read as many as you can handle. In some cases there will be a lot. Sometimes it’s helpful to start with the negative ones first so you have a sense of what might go wrong with the vendor and product. Be sure to use your best judgement when reading reviews. A lot of e-commerce platforms struggle with keeping honest reviews on their sites. So approach the reviews with the adage ‘if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.’ Luckily, however, there’s Google. Google the vendor name and see what comes up. Scan the results for any complaints or negative reviews outside of Aliexpress. You can get specific and Google the vendor and the word ‘fraud’ or ‘complain’. You can also Google: ‘vendor name’ AND site:blackhairmedia.com. If anyone on the BHM forum has used that vendor before and shared their experience the results will show up there. The BHM forum really is a great source of weave info.
Questions to Ask Aliexpress Vendors When Buying Hair
If after doing all of the above you’re still skeptical, you may want to move onto another vendor or contact the vendor you’re interested in and ask them questions. This is especially true if you’re trying out someone that doesn’t have a lot of orders or reviews. It’s normal to ask a vendor questions about their product. You should expect a prompt and polite response. Be wary of anyone that seems defensive, unclear or too eager to get your money. What’s key in asking questions is appearing knowledgeable about what you want. Again, the ladies at BHM put together this list of questions to ask. We’ve combined and edited the list here for clarity. (Note: a lot of this applies to purchasing human hair).
- What is the true origin or the hair?
- Does the bundle come from one donor?
- How is the hair collected?
- Is the hair exactly 100 grams or does that include packaging?
- Can you guarantee the hair is virgin?
- Are the cuticles aligned? (More on this here)
- Are the cuticles stripped to make this texture?
- Is the hair dipped in acid?
- Is the hair double drawn or single drawn? (A good explanation of what this is here)
- Are fillers added to make this texture?
- How are the curls processed?
- Can the hair be washed, conditioned, dyed, bleached and straightened?
- Does the hair hold a curl?
- Will the hair return to its natural wave pattern after washing and straightening?
- Is the legnth measured stretched or unstretched?
- How long after payment does the order ship out?
- Is there a reduction in shipping cost for more expensive orders?
- How long does shipping take?
- What is your return policy if I am not satisfied with the product for manufacturing reasons?
- If I need to return the order due to a manufacturing issue, is there a restocking fee?
- Is return shipping prepaid if there is a manufacturing issue?
- Will you be able to send me pictures of my order before money is payed?
Of course, there’s nothing keeping a vendor from lying in his or her response to you, but look for honest sounding answers and especially look for a willingness to answer a ton of questions.
Purchase a Small Sample of Hair
Many established vendors will allow you to purchase a small sample of hair. This is the perfect way to minimize any kind of risk involved in making a purchase. If you don’t see a sample listed on their product page, contact them and ask if you can purchase a sample.
Protect Your Payment
Back in the day Aliexpress use to accept payment through Paypal, however they no longer do so due to high Paypal fees. They do however offer their own buyer protection policy, which mirrors Paypal’s. It’s important to make sure you understand Aliexpress’s payment policy. Also, keep in mind that most credit and debit cards offer some level of buyer protection. So if you do run into issues, you may have two levels of protection. But again, take the time (before you make a purchase) to understand how these policies work.
Okay, so all of this probably seems like a lot of work to just to buy some relatively cheap hair. You may decide it’s not worth it and opt for a well-known brand. But if you want to give Aliexpress a whirl, you should now be equipped to find the best vendor. Research matters, but also listen to your gut and think about how comfortable you might be in the worst case scenario. Hope this helps!