But they could spread the sexually transmittable diseases the condoms were originally meant to prevent, state media said today.
Rubber hair bands had been found in local markets and beauty salons in Dongguan and Guangzhou cities in southern Guangdong province, China Daily newspaper said.
"These cheap and colourful rubber bands and hair ties sell well ... threatening the health of local people," it said.
Despite being recycled, the hair bands could still contain bacteria and viruses, it said.
"People could be infected with AIDS, warts or other diseases if they hold the rubber bands or strings in their mouths while weaving their hair into plaits or buns," the paper quoted a local dermatologist as saying.
A bag of ten of the recycled bands sold much cheaper than others on the market, accounting for their popularity, the paper said.
China's manufacturing industry has been repeatedly tarnished this year by a string of scandals involving shoddy or dangerous goods made for both domestic and foreign markets.