Sunday, March 5, 2017

Hair is Gold - Guest Post & Giveaway

Hair is Gold 
by Nancy J. Cohen

While doing research for Facials Can Be Fatal, I came across the global human hair trade. The international marketplace calls it black gold, and it’s a trade worth nine hundred million dollars. Forty percent of the hair sold is made into extensions. Blonde is the most popular color because it can be dyed more easily. Wavy hair has the bestselling texture. The United States, Britain, and China are the three major world buyers.

How appropriate that my hairstylist sleuth, Marla Vail, discovers this information after one of her day spa clients dies during a facial. Here Marla is telling her colleague, Nicole, what she’s learned.

Nicole stuck a comb into the Barbicide jar. “If forty percent of the hair is used for extensions, what’s done with the rest?”

Standing by her station, Marla looked up the notes she’d written on her smartphone. “Shorter hair from men is used by chemical companies. The amino acids in hair have multiple industrial uses, including food additives. It’s cheaper than synthetic sources.”

“Eww. How would I know I’m eating it?”

“Look for an ingredient labeled L-cysteine. It can be used to leaven bread, for example.” Marla read from her notes. “Human hair is first dissolved in acid. The L-cysteine, isolated by a chemical process, is packaged and shipped to commercial bread makers. Other sources of this amino acid include chicken or duck feathers and petroleum by-products.”

“That’s disgusting.”

“Listen to this. Most of the hair used to make the L-cysteine comes from the floors of barbershops and hair salons in China. There’s also a temple in India where people donate their hair to their god as an act of humility. They shave your head, then women sweep it up and throw it into a giant steel vat. It gets sold at auction to the international market.”

Nicole stared at the strands of hair littering their floor, the remnants of haircuts that the assistant had yet to sweep up. “So you’re saying we’re standing on a gold mine.”

“So to speak. I’ve even read reports of Russian prisoners having their heads shaved against their will, and the harvesting of hair from corpses.”

“Gross. I don’t think I’ll buy baked goods anymore.”

“It’s also a flavor enhancer and may have other uses in the food industry.”

“So how can you tell where the L-cysteine ingredient comes from, whether it’s animal in origin or synthetic?”

“There isn’t any way to tell if it’s not on the label. If you’re concerned, I’d suggest trying kosher goods or vegan items. They’d be a safer bet.”

“I think I’ve learned more than I wanted to know, thanks.”

As a writer, you never know when a tidbit of information you come across might be useful. I keep a clipping file, and any articles from newspapers or magazines that I find intriguing get put into this file. My interest in the human hair trade came from an article out of National Geographic dated years ago. This inspired my current research that ended up in Facials Can Be Fatal.


Facials Can Be Fatal by Nancy J. Cohen

During the frenzy of the December holidays, the last thing salon owner Marla Vail needs is a dead body slathered in a green facial mask at her new day spa. The victim, Valerie Weston, was a major donor for Friends of Old Florida, a historic building preservation society. Marla’s stylists are scheduled to work backstage at their upcoming gala fashion show, but Val’s demise might put a crimp in their plans. Hoping to salvage her reputation, Marla determines to track down the suspects. As she learns more about Val, she realizes the benefactress might have stumbled onto secrets others would kill to keep. She’d better prepare for a body count that has nothing to do with hot stone massages and everything to do with murder.

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Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have made the IMBA bestseller list, been selected by Suspense Magazine as best cozy mystery, and won third place in the Arizona Literary Awards. Nancy has also written the instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery. A featured speaker at libraries, conferences, and community events, she is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who's Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, Nancy enjoys fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping.


LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW for your chance to win an ebook copy of Permed to Death (Bad Hair Day #1) revised Author’s Edition. Be sure to leave your e-mail address so that I can contact you should you win and leave your comment no later than 11:59pm EST Monday, March 6, 2017.

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  1. Thanks for the chance to win. This is a new to me series!

    1. Hope you check out the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, Karen!

  2. Nancy's books are delightful and unique. Thanks for this great feature.

  3. This is new series and author to me. I'm looking forward to reading it. Thanks for a chance to win!

  4. I like the idea of a cozy set around a beauty salon.

    1. A hair salon and day spa is the perfect setting for a mystery series. Gives me a good excuse to get my hair done while doing some research!

  5. "Facials Can Be Fatal" sounds like a really fun read and I'm looking forward to reading to reading the book.

  6. "Facials Can Be Fatal" sounds like a really fun read and I'm looking forward to reading to reading the book.

  7. my cousin and her husband are both hairdressers, have to read this

    1. The Bad Hair Day series would make great gifts for your cousin, BKD!

  8. Sounds interesting and I do enjoy cozies. Thanks for this opportunity.

  9. Congratulations Jana Leah B! picked your comment to win!