Skip to Content

Is Hair Biodegradable?

When you hear the word “waste,” what is the first thing that comes to mind? Isn’t it the case with the goods we consume? For example, food, packaging, and products. Humans create waste from their bodies, just like hair, the natural hair, and not the synthetic hair extensions.

Hair is a man’s and woman’s crowning glory.

Except for a few spots in the body, such as the soles of the feet, the lips, and other areas, human hair grows all over the human body and continues to grow even until death in human remains.

While cutting or trimming hair is the simplest way to care for or style long or damaged hair, have you ever wondered what happens to all that hair?

As a result, environmentally conscious individuals will inquire and ask queries such as is hair biodegradable? Is human hair biodegradable?

Is it possible to compost hair?

Many people visit a salon or barbershop every day to have their hair cut, and you’ll see the hair on salon floors. Picture how much hair is collected in a day or even a year. Without a doubt, it is a mountain of hair waste.

Suppose you’re one of the people who want to live sustainably and wish to manage waste efficiently or minimize waste, particularly hair waste, to minimize environmental impact.

In that case, this article will explore further into this subject.

What is Hair Waste?

A Man Getting a Haircut

It is cut waste of hairs and hair waste starts from home, salons, and barbershops that are thrown away. Our planet is facing a lot of waste and different kinds of waste.

Human hair waste is part of a rising environmental problem connected with wastes in most areas around the world, and it is particularly prevalent in Asia. Hair waste starts also starts in not proper disposable or usage of hairs that is either from a human body or an animal hair.

Unfortunately, it is generated in large quantities. As an example, consider that every time you go or other people go to a hairdresser or barbershop for a haircut, your hair contributes to the growing stockpile of waste human hair.

Hair does not decompose fast, and as a result, it will continue to be an environmental hazard and problem for many years to come unless new use for it is discovered.

Aside from the natural human hair, there was also synthetic hair waste. For years synthetic hair wigs is used in fashion, by patients, in shows, and more. The lifespan of the system wig that a human hair is far different human hair is stronger and can be used for a longer period.

With the rate at which the world’s population is growing, this is a problem that will only continue to rise tremendously in the future. Is there a solution to this problem? Continue to read to learn more insights.

See Related: Best Conservation Books to Read

Is Hair Biodegradable?

Yes, hair is biodegradable because hair grows in a natural way; most people are divided and confused on whether or not hair biodegrades when it is discarded. Only natural human hair and pet hair are biodegradable.

If it is subjected to the appropriate conditions, it is likely to degrade significantly more quickly. When you expose it to sunlight or fresh air and do not properly manage it, it could take years for the decomposition to occur organically.

Every variety of human hair is also biodegradable, ranging from varied shapes and textures to different lengths and thicknesses. The majority of these will biodegrade when exposed to the proper conditions.

Despite the fact that it is biodegradable, it may cause blockage in the ocean and waterways since the decomposing rate of hair is prolonged.

As a result, efficient waste management is required before the garbage becomes something beneficial to the environment.

See Related: Best Eco-Friendly Backpacks

Is Human Hair Good for Composting?

Yes, Human hair is a biodegradable material; therefore, it is good for composting. One of its numerous use is as a fertilizer for gardeners, which is only one of the many things it can do. Human hair is a rich source of nitrogen, making it a perfect addition to your backyard compost piles. Hair breaks down slowly and takes time in order to be completed decompose.

Hair is compostable since it is biodegradable; thus, you can compost it. Compost is nothing more than organic materials that have been broken down at the composting facility. Hair can be composted together is other compostable items.

Composting hair waste aids in the retention of water in sandy soils, the health of your home or business, and the preservation of the environment.

Other placement options include placing it at the base of your potted plants. It will decompose over time, slowly releasing nutrients into the soil. Alternatively, while composting natural hair, you can include a balanced amount of wood ashes, greens, and other organic matter.

See Related: Energy-efficient TV’s

Is Animal Hair Good for Composting?

Happy Brown Dog

YIf your wonderful where a dog hair is a good addition to your composting been the answer is yes! Animals’ hair can be composted too. If you have a dog and are interested in living more sustainably, this is excellent news for you.

Natural hair from humans, dogs, and cats is all excellent for composition. Dog and cat hair is a great addition to your compost pile. Fur from pets, like human hair, is high in nitrogen, which is one of the two primary components necessary in a compost pile.

If you groom your pet or take your pet to a dog groomer, you may remove or take the animal hair or fur and place it in the compost pile.

It is a win-win situation for both you and the environment because you will be able to get rid of your pet’s dander and hair while also improving the soil and plants in your garden.

If your dog has been treated with a flea or worm medication, often administered to the back of their neck and left on for a few hours, you may not compost it immediately.

Some composters prefer not to compost the fur immediately or right after getting the trim fur even from vacuumed fur for it might have to get synthetic fibers from home. Synthetic fibers are not good for composting it might not hinder giving your plant nutrients and cause harm.

For the most part, the reasoning behind this is self-explanatory; the treatment contains compounds and chemicals that have the potential to soak into the soil and contaminate the soil, plants, and any subsequent water bodies.

See Related: Most Energy Efficient Baseboard Heaters

Is Hair Bad for the Environment?

Short Hair

Yes, even biodegradable hair poses environmental risks when it is disposed of irresponsibly. Natural human hair decomposes into a number of elements, among which is nitrogen.

In addition, when hair decays, it releases traces of nitrogen into the environment, causing water contamination. As mentioned, hair decomposes slowly, which means that if it is not properly disposed of, it might clog waterways.

Aside from natural human hair, other types of hair are not biodegradable, such as synthetic hair, which is commonly used for hair extensions and wigs by the general public. Because this hair does not biodegrade, it poses a threat to the environment.

See Related: Best Books on Sustainable Living

How Long Does Hair Decomposing Take?

Hair decomposes at a slower rate than most other biodegradable substances. It may take two to three years for a human hair to entirely decompose, although this will vary depending on the elements the hair has been exposed to overtime.

Soil, wind, and moisture are among the factors that make up this composition.

It’s the fact that human hair can last for several years before decomposing along with other softer tissues, such as the skin. Because of the presence of keratin, hair does not fall out as quickly as it should when it grows.

Instead, it is intended to be long-lasting. In the same way that fingernails are made of keratin, so is hair. It is a structural protein that helps your hair to last longer and be stronger by preventing it from decomposing right away as it grows. Hair will eventually decompose; however, it may take some time.

See Related: Best Books on Pollution

Other Usage of Human Hair Waste

Long Black Hair

Human hair is considered a waste material in most parts of the world, and its accumulation in waste streams causes several environmental risks. Is there any justifiable use for human hair?

When you get your hair trimmed, you might assume that it will end up as waste disposed of in the garbage. If you own or know someone who owns a set of hair salons or barbershops, you may wonder where you should dispose of or use the hairs that your customers have cut.

In addition to being considered as one’s crowning glory, natural hair is also well-known for its environmentally beneficial uses.

See Related: Environmental Consequences of Fracking

Wig or Hair Extensions

It’s quite self-explanatory. Wig or hair extensions have assisted hundreds of people in coping with hair loss of their long, gorgeous locks, as well as people who want to look good.

Wigs are often used by cancer patients, aside from cancer patients, people who genetically can’t grow hair, or individual who have problems with hair loss as well as by the fashion industry.

Human hair wigs are mainly derived from Asia, India, Eastern Europe, as well as in South America. Some of this came from hair donations or sold into wig companies in any hair length.

The wig is lush, long-lasting, and has a natural appearance. There are many fabulous wigs that are made of human hair.

See Related: How to Make Home More Energy Efficient

Human Hair Wigs

The most significant distinction between human and synthetic hair wigs is that human hair wigs have the most natural appearance and feel. The hair is silky and has a sheen and movement that are difficult to achieve with synthetic hair it offers a natural replacement hair.

Many human hair wigs may be styled, permed, and colored much like your own hair, making them a great alternative to natural hair. On the other hand, synthetic hair wigs have a convenient style retention feature, which means that you can get even the wig, and it will revert to its original style.

Unlike synthetic hair wigs, you have the option of selecting a texture that is similar to your own style with human hair wigs. This is not the case with synthetic hair wigs.

Because they are created from actual hair, human hair wigs are often more expensive than synthetic ones.

See Related: Why Should We Care About Climate Change?

Synthetic Hair Wigs

This type of wig is ideal for synthetic wigs since this type of wigs or synthetic hair extensions gives significant environmental risks and synthetic wigs have a shorter life span than a human hair wig, and the wig appears more natural.

In the case of synthetic hair, the color selections are virtually limitless; they can range from natural to abstract, exotic to magnificent. You may get blue, black, or even blonde hair.

They are significantly less expensive than human hair wigs. Synthetic wigs may not last as long as human hair wigs, therefore you may find yourself replacing your wig more often if you use synthetic wigs instead of natural human hair extension.

See Related: Best Compostable Mailers


Human hair is also beneficial to achieve greener plants in your garden! When you have a haircut, you can ask for your hair to be trimmed and brought with you to your compost bin, or you may also use dog hair so that it can be used to generate fertilizer for your plants.

Hair contributes to the improvement of poor-quality soil and it is one of the natural and traditional fertilizers that release nitrogen into your plant’s soil or soil in your garden.

See Related: Best Eco-Friendly Glitter Alternatives

Pest control and plant protection 

Another application for human hair waste is that it can be used to manage pests. It is turned into hair mats that can be used to keep pests away from fields.

As proved by Benton Farms, human hair can also benefit farmers by reducing the number of pests such as rabbits and deer that enter their fields.

Farmers in Florida that utilized human hair mats to repel pests were able to save a significant amount of money on pesticide purchases.

Some companies use human hair to manufacture gardening items such as biodegradable mats that also prevent weeds.

See Related: Pros and Cons of Biofuels to Know


You might find this application of natural hair a little bizarre given that hair is often worn on the head, yet in some nations, they weave hair into the fabric to create clothing.

A graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Alix Bizet, has created a range of clothing made entirely of human hair.

See Related: Energy Conservation Techniques to Know


Because of its Keratin content, human hair is super strong, making it a feasible alternative for sutures in the majority of surgical procedures.

Human hair has been utilized in surgery and medical science since the Middle Ages in Europe, so this is not a new practice to use hairs in such procedures.

In addition, because hair filaments have a relatively small diameter, they have the potential to be a suture thread used for facial wounds.

This is done by removing a strand of hair from the scalp; however, the hair must be long enough to be used to sew sutures and stitches in any surgeries. After that, it is clean to make sure it won’t cause infection. Once sterilized, it can be used in the same manner as a conventional suture.

See Related: Best Solar Refrigerators and Freezers

Pollution Prevention and Control

Human hair debris is a fantastic choice for pollution management because it is biodegradable and a wonderful absorbent. Hair has an organic material and high binding affinity for oil, which means that it may easily absorb and hold on to the oil it encounters.

As a result, natural hair booms and hair mats can be utilized to recover up to 98 percent of the oil that has been spilled in the aftermath of an oil spill. 

The people of Mauritius, located in East Africa, have taken mass haircuts and hair donations to clean up an oil spill in 2020 that occurred after a Japanese ship collided with a coral reef off the island’s shore.

Aside from contributing to oil pollution management, human hair can also aid in absorbing pollutants such as formaldehyde and toxic substances such as mercury from the waterways or sewage sludge.


Is hair biodegradable or not?

Hair is biodegradable, meaning it can be broken down naturally by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. However, the rate of biodegradation can vary depending on several factors, such as the length and thickness of the hair, the environment it is in, and the presence of other substances that can affect the process. In general, hair can take several years to fully biodegrade, but it can also decompose more quickly under certain conditions, such as in composting systems.

Does hair decompose after being cut?

Hair is biodegradable and will decompose after it is cut. The rate of decomposition depends on several factors, such as the length of the hair, the environment in which it is placed, and the presence of microorganisms that break down organic matter. In general, hair can take several years to decompose completely, but it will eventually break down into its constituent elements.

Does hair biodegrade in water?

Hair is biodegradable, but the rate at which it decomposes depends on various factors, including the environmental conditions in which it is present. Hair is composed of keratin, a protein that can be broken down by microorganisms. In water, hair can take up to several years to biodegrade, as the microorganisms that break down keratin require oxygen, which is less abundant in water than in soil.

Does human hair decompose?

Yes, human hair is biodegradable. When disposed of properly, it can decompose naturally and serve as a source of nutrients for plants and other organisms. In fact, hair has been used in composting to help break down organic matter and enrich soil. However, the rate of decomposition can vary depending on factors such as temperature, moisture, and the presence of other organic materials.

Related Resouces