Top 10 markets for buying hair in South Africa

Hair extensions continue to grow in popularity across South Africa for their versatility and ability to transform styles temporarily. From natural-looking human hair blends to vibrant synthetic options, high-quality extensions allow you to experiment with length, volume, color, texture and more.

When browsing for new hair, South Africa boasts plentiful marketplace options stocking trusted brands and unique pieces. However, not all markets live up to their promise of affordable pricing or authentic products. It pays to understand the landscape.

Here’s an overview of 10 top-rated markets across the country to visit when planning your hair extension shopping spree.

Importance of Identifying Reliable Hair Markets in South Africa

1. Finding Quality Hair in South Africa’s Complex Market

Whether you’re looking to rock some fierce braids, slay with lustrous locks, or serve face-framing edges, scoring solid hair extensions in South Africa can feel like a quest in itself. With so many suppliers and middlemen, quality and ethics vary wildly across our hair landscape. And frankly, who has time for damaged strands or supporting shady characters?

That’s why finding a reliable spot for your hair needs is clutch. Not all markets prioritize genuine, responsibly-sourced products or have the range to match different styles and budgets. And girl, we all deserve better than questionable chemicals or inflated costs when looking fly! By scoping out places committed to quality, choice, value and sustainability from root to tip, you’re set up for luscious, long-lasting looks without the headaches.

2. Go Natural, Stay Safe

First things first – knowing your hair will arrive chemical and hassle-free keeps those tresses healthy and pays off down the line. Plenty of suppliers skip steps removing harsh solvents or opt for dodgy relaxers during processing, leaving hair dried out and fragile over time. And cheap synthetic blends claiming “virgin hair” can seem like a come up until they start melting with heat application!

Reliable sellers offer 100% human hair with intact cuticles, allowing for versatile styling and longevity no matter which look you choose. Their transparency and in-house processing checks several boxes: guaranteeing genuine origins, eliminating chemical damage risks, and giving hair the integrity to last through countless installs. If buyers pledge ethical Indian temple donations or all-natural Peruvian waves, you know you’re getting just that.

3. Variety—The Spice of Hair

Rocking versatile looks starts with having options -reliable markets understand no two heads of hair are the same! Beyond sourcing quality human hair, dedicated sellers know diversity is key. With customizable textures from kinky curls to loose waves, real-hair options remove limiting factors like hair type or complexion.

Range also means stocking different lengths and colors to complement uniqueness or fashion an entirely new style. One day you may be serving inches with Ribbon hair then buzzing sides feeling edgy with short crops. Reliable vendors have their finger on the pulse of shifting trends, full lace wigs and hairpieces, making elevated looks accessible regardless of one’s natural hair. All bases are covered whether you fancy routine touch-ups or more dramatic daily swaps.

4. Invest Wisely in Extensions

Let’s keep it 100—flawless hair comes at a cost. But overpaying for mediocre products helps no one! Identifying sellers committed to fair pricing eliminates chances of getting swindled. Quality human hair is by no means cheap, but reliable vendors understand undercutting competitors rarely translates to better service or products in reality.

Seeking out markets that deal directly with manufacturers or stylists also increases savings – more middlemen means higher markups trying to profit. Responsible players focused on customer loyalty know transparency builds trust in the long run. Upfront costs may exceed synthetic blends and substitutions initially, but natural hair lasts longer by avoiding matting, drying out, and texture changes plaguing lower tier options. Pay once, cry once has never felt so good!

5. Your Hair, Your Ethics

We’d love to solely focus on achieving next-level looks daily. But South Africa’s complex hair ecosystem warrants thoughtfulness around ethics too. Between labor practices, environmental sustainability and cultural sensitivity, it’s admittedly a lot to unpack. Rather than avoiding the conversation altogether, we can make conscientious strides towards more responsible participation.

Quality markets aiming for longevity understand their roles providing ethically sourced products, not just pushing inventory. Seeing how hair is obtained, processed and distributed gives insight on alignment with our values. Responsible vendors reduce exploitive practices by allowing donors freedom to convert sacred hair gifts into income. Others focus on eco-friendly operations minimizing water waste and chemical pollution throughout production.

While imperfect, the market’s increasing consciousness empowers us to vote with our wallets. We all win when held to higher standards, from South African stylists securing good livelihoods to global operations addressing sustainability. Progress feels best when shared collectively.

Top 10 markets for buying hair in South Africa

1. Hillbrow Flea Market in Johannesburg

Situated right in the pulsing heart of the inner city, Hillbrow Flea Market promises a thrilling and overwhelming shopping experience. With endless rows of vendors and goods spilling out onto sidewalks, you’ll be squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder with throngs of enthusiastic shoppers. But for the best hair extension selection and unbeatable prices in Johannesburg, the chaos is well worth it.

Hundreds of independent sellers compete to offer the cheapest deals on synthetic and human hair pieces in every style imaginable. Be prepared to haggle as vendors expect customers to negotiate. If the crowds wear you out, take a breather at one of the market’s homemade food stalls. Just watch your belongings in the hustle and bustle.

2. Rosebank Rooftop Market

For a more relaxed Saturday afternoon market experience with extra peace of mind, head to the upscale Rosebank neighborhood. The Rosebank Rooftop Market overlooking popular shopping center The Firs allows you to browse hair, clothing and accessory stands from around 70 specialty vendors without safety concerns or pickpockets.

Rosebank Rooftop 1
Rosebank Rooftop 1

Although pricier than inner city flea markets, the offerings here are more refined. Expect to discover mid-range to expensive human hair blend extensions from salon suppliers and independent stylists looking to supplement their income. Strike up a conversation with sellers to learn about hair origin and maintenance tips. Payment happens securely via card or SnapScan for added convenience.

3. Carlton Centre in Johannesburg CBD

Looking for outrageous colors, massive Afros, intricate braids, trendy faux locs or fabulous falls? Then the sprawling Carlton Centre Flea Market is the spot for you. Situated inside the tallest skyscraper in Africa, traders occupy shops on nearly every floor as well as along exterior sidewalks. Shoppers can browse goods across all categories among over 500 vendors.

When it comes to hair extensions, the volume and diversity of synthetic and human hair extension styles and brands here is impossible to rival anywhere else in Johannesburg. Extensions primarily concentrate on the third floor. Be sure to thoroughly inspect ends and quality before purchase as pricing accommodates a range of budgets. Expect delicious street food, music and buzzing energy throughout your shopping adventure.

4. Mabopane Station Market

If you find yourself seeking hair extensions near Pretoria, the bustling Mabopane Station Market should top your list. Like other transit-centered marketplaces, thousands of commuters pass through everyday– catching the train, buses or driving themselves. This high shopper traffic means plentiful demand to supply extensions ranging from short bobs to lengthy braid additions primarily made of synthetic fibers with some human hair blends available.

Vendors cram together inside tents, tables and shipping containers, all grouping hair traders together for ease of browsing. Be prepared to sort through disorderly piles of extensions to uncover preferred shades and textures – but all at rock-bottom prices not found at most salon retailers in Pretoria proper. Vendors gladly negotiate and offer loyalty discounts to repeat shoppers, too. If hunger strikes in the process, the food options will satisfy any craving.

5. Sunnyside Market

Sometimes it pays to veer off the beaten path when shopping. That’s exactly the welcome experience awaiting in Arcadia’s Sunnyside neighborhood situated east of Pretoria’s city center. The Sunnyside Market offers a vibrant mix of new and secondhand goods each Saturday morning in a small public park with street food and adjacent parking available.

Although compact compared to the country’s largest markets, thrifty shoppers shouldn’t overlook Sunnyside’s unique hair extension offerings. Talented traders source unusual vintage-inspired synthetic styles along with bargain bundles of human hair wefts and pre-made clip-ins. Come with an open mind, check extension quality thoroughly and be prepared to bargain as if shopping a garage sale to snag unbeatable deals.

6. Victoria Street Market in Durban

Making any trip to the beachside city of Durban incomplete without a stroll through the notoriously hectic Victoria Street Market found downtown. Also known as the Indian Market, this sprawling historic complex occupies multiple interconnected buildings brimming with everything from spices and souvenirs to clothing and textiles since the late 1800s. Hair also claims a strong presence across sellers.

With so many vendors and tourists cramming narrow halls, hair extensions become tricky to locate sometimes. However, navigate towards the Kitty and Albert street corners to uncover human hair and synthetic displays galore. Vibrant colors and textures tempt those seeking playful temporary transformations. Double-check extension quality before purchasing as consistency varies from stall to stall, but prices tend to beat your average hair goods store. Expect to put those expert bargaining skills to work for extra satisfying deals.

7. Essenwood Market

Those staying nearer Durban’s upmarket suburban neighborhoods can uncover a more niche hair extension shopping experience at the weekly Essenwood Market. Nestled on Helen Joseph Road in the scenic Berea district, this Sunday market features over 150 vendors of locally made artisan goods from 9AM until 2PM. The laidback, family-friendly atmosphere allows for relaxed browsing.

While the total stall count seems small compared to massive markets like Victoria Street, the hair segment feels carefully curated in selection. Natural blonde and brunette human hair extension blends make up most stock for inconspicuously blending lengths and fullness. You’ll also discover afro kinky curly textures alongside faux locs, soft yarn braids and dyed options from independent stylist sellers. Expect free hair care advice and mid-range pricing on high quality extensions to bring your natural look to new lengths.

8. The Workshop Market in Cape Town

No trip to Cape Town feels complete without some vintage goods hunting at Woodstock’s hip The Workshop boutique market. Only open each Saturday from 9AM to 3PM, this re-purposed warehouse lures shoppers with industrial design elements, colorful stall displays, street snacks, and around 100 vendors. The curated selection focuses primarily on South African-made fashion, jewelry, homewares and artisanal creations.

When it comes to hair, several independent stylists set up shop to showcase their signature extension lines. Seek out strands from ethically-harvested human hair orSupport local artisans specializing in intricate yarn braids, fluffy faux locs made from recycled textiles and fulani-style braided headbands. Let these experts advise you on styling and care for your new statement pieces before heading home with Instagram-worthy looks.

9. Iziko Bo-Kaap Flea Market

Every Saturday, Cape Town celebrates rich heritage and tradition at the lively Iziko Bo-Kaap market spanning both Wale and Bree Street. The rainbow residences of the Bo-Kaap Muslim neighborhood provide a festive backdrop to peruse crafts, cuisine and clothing from over 100 vendors. Neighboring museums and mosques invite further exploration before or after shopping.

Hair stands delight the senses with vibrant extensions in vibrant red, gold, orange and emerald hues rarely spotted elsewhere. Vendors source unique pieces directly from distributors, allowing competitive pricing even on human hair blends. Alongside colors, find standard black and blonde shades with natural and wavy textures. Let friendly stall owners guide you in determining finest quality additions to match your look and personality for a quintessential Cape Town cultural experience.

10. Salt River Market

Finally, those seeking one-of-a-kind recycled and vintage-inspired hair extensions should schedule their shopping trips around Cape Town’s vibrant Salt River Market. Taking place along popular Albert Road, this flea market operates monthly on the first Saturday from 9AM until 2PM. The curated selection of roughly 140 stalls makes browsing manageable. However, the staggering variety of goods spanning home accents, clothing, art and jewelry still impresses.

In terms of hair, skilled creators display specialized extension lines crafted from re-used textiles and upcycled synthetic strands. Flowy faux locs come woven with leftover fabric scraps in earthy textures. Vintage hair clips and combs also get repurposed into fabulous hair adornments sure to earn compliments. Let ethical and sustainable values inspire your next hair revamp while supporting local makers.


Whatever your hair extension needs, desires or budget – South Africa delivers fabulously on options ranging from bustling downtown markets to trendy suburban boutiques. Seek suggestions from trusted locals or fellow buyers on quality sellers and never hesitate to thoroughly inspect and negotiate to land the best extensions for your personal look.

With the right preparation and patience, you’re guaranteed to uncover beautiful synthetic and human hair pieces to transform your current hairstyle. Try clip-ins for temporary volume or length. Opt for sew-ins blended with your natural hair for more permanence. Or embrace vivid ombré colors and textures like faux locs to make a seriously bold statement.

Just select quality extensions that suit your lifestyle and maintenance capabilities. Wash, condition and gently detangle new strands as recommended to increase longevity and shine. Avoid overstyling with harsh heating tools. And don’t forget the importance of giving your natural tresses and scalp a break in between installs.

With insider knowledge of reputable vendors and markets across Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and more, you now hold endless options for sourcing fabulous South African hair extensions. Happy Shopping!