Used Condom Hair Bands: China Takes Recycling Too Far

Condom hair bands?

American ladies are always on the prowl for fashion deals that will amp their appearance without breaking the bank. The same goes for women living in China, though unfortunately this Asian country has recently taken budget beauty a little too far.

The newest trend for hair décor? Used condoms recycled into hair bands. Yup, you read it right, used condoms recycled into hair bands.

The operation is based in Southern China, and while it surely is a frugal road to braids and buns, the risk might be aimed at the body attached to the trendy hair.

Source: ahsoon.netSource: ahsoon.netEven though the condoms are fully recycled, it has been shown there is still a marked amount of risk for bacteria to be transmitted as girls are known for holding rubber bands in their mouth as they use both hands to gather their hair into their ponytail. Even if they set the band on a bathroom counter while putting hair into place, nail biting or any other oral contact to the skin touching the bands can cause infection ranging from genital warts to the HIV virus.

A Typical Package of Condom Hair Bands: Source: ahsoon.netA Typical Package of Condom Hair Bands: Source:

The recycled bands come cheap at 3 cents for about ten, however the economical advantage has a high risk of leading to dangerous health disadvantages. With China recently dragged into the spotlight regarding lead-tainted products imported seemingly everywhere overseas, the STD-infested hair fasteners is only the most recent of offenses. Health officials are scrambling to thwart this corner cutting beauty innovation, warning people of the risks through different means of media.

Source: ahsoon.netSource:

Article Source: (no longer online)  and Yahoo! News

Tamara Warta
Asian Innovations
Inventor Spot

Nov 27, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)


why in the world would some country be that ignorant on using used condoms, the risks for std's are they trying to spread the std's in a different way and infect their whole country. Not only will girls be using them but guys will also too! Plus the lil kids that will get their hands on them and chew on them. OMG this is a epidemic waiting to happen.


Nov 27, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Oh man! Wow. I'll have to

Oh man! Wow. I'll have to echo the previous comment: Where are they getting used condoms??

Nov 27, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Oh my goodness! It really

Oh my goodness! It really makes me think twice about where I put my hairbands. No more holding them in my mouth while I tie back my pony-tail, the counter will be my new holder. Thank you for informing us of this issue.

Nov 27, 2007
by Connie (not verified)



Nov 27, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Ummm.. Ok.....

I've seen the news story spreading over the blogosphere. It really doesn't seem practical to get used ones, does it? I mean you would have to set up collection centers, process each individual condom presumably by washing it out, slicing it into little round rubber bands, which are then wrapped with the yarn. Does someone fish the "raw material" from the garbage cans, or do people bring them in for recycling?

Doesn't it make a little more sense to use new ones, perhaps outdated, rejected lots, unsold, defective, etc. This eliminates the whole post-use processing part of the operation, while possibly still getting the condoms for almost nothing. Of course it could just be an urband legend or marketing trick.

Nov 27, 2007
by Tweedle Dum (not verified)

OMG!!!!! Wow! Ok, so I will

OMG!!!!! Wow! Ok, so I will never think of condoms in the same way. Do you think that they sterilized them before recycling them into hair ties? Probably not. I don't think I will be buying them just to save money on these 3 cent formally used rain coats.

Nov 27, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)


Ok, thats really nasty. How well was this researched? It doesn't sound true to me. Regardless, even if it is true, you can't get STD's that way, the virus would die much much sooner than that, but there would still be bacteria in the condom, so it could cause other types of infections. I can't believe anyone would do that. I agree with another coment on here, why don't they use unused condoms that expired instead?

Nov 28, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Yeah, right. Surely the

Yeah, right. Surely the process of recycling them kils off bacteria. Considering HIV can't stay alive on a toilet seat, I'd be staggered if it could survive being heated up... Doesn't stop the concept being grim.

Nov 28, 2007
by Anonymouse (not verified)

Wow. This sounds SO FAKE. 1.

Wow. This sounds SO FAKE.

1. As people have said -- where are they getting the condoms? It would cost a lot more $$$ to collect them than to use other materials (or outdated condoms, as someone said.

2. It would cost a lot more $$$ to PROCESS the rubber. I could maybe see this happening IF they just melted the rubber down. But cutting, rolling, and wrapping thin flat plastic into a band?!

3. The fact that this article outright says that customers could get HIV from these things flat-out proves that the article is BS. You can't get viruses from something like that -- the virus would already be dead. Bacteria, maybe. But HIV? NO.

Nov 28, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Used Condoms Foundation:

People! Let's donate whoever can whatever can!..........

For the sake of poor Chinese people!

Nov 29, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Corporate sabotage.... trying to recover from recession

This is likely part of the the same spin that is trying to keep the bucks on the continent like the lead paint, melamine dog food etc.

We have all heard it used to be exclusive to sabotaging each other in NA but now it is global...

When I grew up one gum company would try to increase market share by sending out urban Bazooka Bubble Gum uses spider eggs to get the bigger bubbles...of Yuk I will never buy that again ....give me 'Riggleys or what ever that only uses the healthy get the idea...

Truth is stranger than fiction but not stranger than a good spin doctor....probably the same ones who protect Bush, OJ and all the other miscreants with money.

Nov 29, 2007
by Jennifer (not verified)

Seriously, ew.

Just like the others here, I wonder where do they get the used condoms from? What kind of strange people are donating thier used condoms? Are the manufacturers testing them before use? I'm sure that would increase the cost of those nasty-bands. oh man, so wrong.

Dec 1, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

That is disgusting

Are hair bands really so expensive in the first place that people need to cut costs by using used condoms? I would not want to have the job of making those.

Dec 1, 2007
by Rage Robbins (not verified)


I've lived in China for 4 years and I speak Chinese well enough to have heard and understood this report on Chinese television. This story is true, has been verified by several agencies, and is "under investigation" here in China.

A couple of other points need to be addressed. First, the obvious idea that it would cost more to gather the condoms and recycle them than one would earn by selling the finished product. Likely, this is not exactly true: when Westerners think of "recycling" they think of a long involved process by which disease is eliminated and the final product does not resemble whatever you began with. In China, cutting corners is a national pastime, and it is quite possible that every shortcut has been taken in the production of these things in order to save a few cents. Case in point: I used to smoke the cheapest menthol cigarettes in town. Then a couple of times, I came across my brand, but completely fake (you could tell by examining the printing on the package, and the taste was horrid). Now, these cigarettes are so cheap that it would seem ridiculous to fake them, because the profit would be literally mere cents. However, when one doesn't care AT ALL about quality, there is a decent amount of money to be made.

Second, I must reiterate that the Chinese national pastime is making money and cutting corners. No matter what the consequences. I would like to direct your attention to the recent rash of lead-painted toys and so on, but those are not my primary examples because those are exports. Nay, they also do this kind of thing to their own people. I have consumed fake beer containing formaldehyde, I was here when dozens of babies died in the south because someone was producing and selling fake dried milk formula that consisted of potato flour, and in my city recently, there was a bug hullabaloo over a couple of dumpling restaurants which were incorporating shredded CARDBOARD into the filling for their dumplings in order to save on meat.

I find it hard NOT to believe most of the horrible things I read about China.

Dec 2, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Are these elastics sold in

Are these elastics sold in Canada? This is sooooooo gross!

Dec 18, 2007
by sarah (not verified)


i call BS. it's too bad some people waste their time writing crap articles just to scare people or gross them out.

oh, and a nice shout to rage robbins - don't generalize the Chinese like that. you get what you pay for - it's too bad that common sense isn't so common.

Feb 25, 2008
by Anonymous (not verified)


wow,china makes fakes for everything? fake cigarettes and beer ?! that's hurt.. are they that cheap?

Apr 8, 2008
by Anonymous


actually HIV virus dies in contact with AIR so this risk isnt given! :/

Jun 11, 2008
by Anonymous


those chinese people are crazy!!!

Jun 11, 2008
by Anonymous


this is why I am bald.

Jun 11, 2008
by Anonymous


and I don't even want to hear about USED TAMPONS! What next China????

Strawberry tea anyone? GROSS

Jun 16, 2008
by Anonymous


I totally agree with you. It would be totally cheaper to just get the rejects or expired batches from the manufacturers.

If I was the manufacturer of the hairband, I'd get them from the condom manufacturer. They must have so many rejected or expired lots that they'd be happy so thankful that someone would want to buy them.

Some people just think the worst of everything...

Jun 23, 2008
by Anonymous


splooge, HIV, slimy man deposits, USED, diseased.

there we go, all key words people just read and post some 'ewwwww... GROSSSSS' comment.

Where do you get used condoms everyone asks? They don't, not practical, there isn't a recycle bin for condoms in china, right next to glass and plastics, or any where else in the world.

It's unused condoms they use, as some have speculated, likely from a manufacturer who are about to dump out their rubber than didn't make the pass.

Sep 5, 2008
by Anonymous

I was wondering where that

I was wondering where that damned herpes came from.

Sep 6, 2008
by Anonymous

I dugg it

I just added this article to

Sep 13, 2008
by Anonymous


OK, China cut corners regarding manufacturing and isn't the most environmentally friendly country. I wouldn't buy herbs from China and I check for lead and other nasty ingredients in Chinese products before purchasing. However, if we don't panic and use some deductive reasoning we can come to some reasonable conclusions that actually make sense. Here is the most likely scenario. China's huge population automatically calls for the manufacturing of a "gazilion" condoms. Add to that the fact that Chinese couples are only allowed to have one child, therefore, increasing condom use among men for birth control practices. People who work in manufacturing are very well aware of their quality control departments. Since the Chinese governement is very strict with the one child per couple law, we can probably bet that any condon that doesn't pass the 100% perfection test is tossed aside. Instead of throwing these millions of condoms in the garbage, they are recycled into hair bands. Most westerners think of recycling as something being made from a used product. If this was true with used condoms, YUK! Recycling also includes rejects, seconds and any product that doesn't make the grade. The thought of recycling trucks going to homes in China to pick up used condoms is just not practical and very costly. The thought of having Chinese people dropping off their used condoms at recycling plants is also stretching (no pun intended here). The practical scenario is to pull the defected condoms off the factory line and use the material for something else. There are several Chinese practices that I don't agree with but I also believe we need to seek truth in order to be able to competently trade with China or any other country.
I would want absolute proof of this story and then the USA can take action. I haven't seen any proof or any USA government action.

Sep 18, 2008
by Anonymous

used condoms recylced for hair ties.

Check it out on It is very true!!!

Sep 29, 2008
by Anonymous

Exactly, I don't thing these

Exactly, I don't thing these news are true. Maybe it's just a way to bad mouth the Chinese industries. I mean, just look, if they'd buy new condoms or rejected ones, it would be much easier since they'd go directly to the supplier. It would actually entail them much cost to go around town collecting USED ones. What? They'd go knocking around for used condoms? or look for them in the trash? Come on... do they have a separate recylce bin for condoms?? That's absurd, and very costly on the producer's part.

Sep 30, 2008
by Anonymous

how do you make theese ?

what is the big fasanation with these things ?
how do you make them ?
what use do you get out of them ?

Oct 2, 2008
by Anonymous


I keep reading about these and have searched far and wide and have yet to find any proof of the "used" part of this story. Everything that I find states that these are below spec condoms that fail the QC checks. If that is the case, then what is he big deal.