Style icon Cheryl Cole has become a role model for young women by rejecting “unethical and potential hazardous second hand hair extensions”, says one of the country’s leading hair expert.

Hairdresser Simon Forbes, one of the industry’s legendary figures, said by opting instead for “safe” Monofibre acrylic extensions she was “setting a commendable example” for others to follow.

Forbes invented the Monofibre alternative some 30 years ago and in 2000 he was awarded the Fellowship of British Hairdressing Millennium award for his “outstanding contribution to the hairdressing industry”

He said: “Medical research both in Europe and America has clearly demonstrated that there are serious potential risks associated with human hair extensions – quite apart from the important ethical issue that it may have come from Third World where women are so desperate they are often forced to sell their hair.

Research results jointly published earlier this year by the University of Miami in Florida and Bologna University, Italy showed that women who use human hair extensions were at risk of developing permanent bald patches which, in the most severe cases, can be irreversible.