Donating hair: how and where to donate

Hi everyone! After two years of growing out my hair, I just chopped and donated my locks for the third time. In this post, I’m going to explain why you should consider donating your hair, which organization to give to and how to donate.

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WHY DONATE

There are a number of reasons why people lose their hair, from old age to disease treatments like chemotherapy. Regardless of age, hair loss, especially for children and women, can be especially traumatic, significantly impacting a person’s self-esteem. While a wig might seem like a viable solution to hair loss, the more realistic looking real-hair wigs can be extremely pricey, retailing for more than $3,000. Fortunately there are several organizations dedicated to making free or affordable wigs from hair donations for those in need.

WHERE TO DONATE

There are several organizations that accept hair donations to make wigs for people suffering from debilitating illnesses such as cancer and lupus. I’ve donated to two such organizations: Locks of Love and Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Where you donate is ultimately up to you, but I would encourage you not to donate to the Locks of Love organization. This Forbes article does a pretty good job arguing my case, but long story short: approximately $6 mil. worth of hair donations to Locks of Love are unaccounted for each year, and there’s a good chance your donation will not help a sick child. In fact, a lot of donations end up being sold for a profit.

If that article wasn’t enough to convince you, Locks of Love hairpieces are not free for sick children – the price of the hairpiece is determined on a sliding scale based on financial need. On the other hand, Panetene’s Beautiful Lengths program is partnered with the American Cancer Society to make and distribute free wigs for women with cancer. Another bonus to donating to Pantene over Locks of Love: Pantene’s length requirement is only 8 inches (Locks of Lock is 10).

HOW TO DONATE

  1. Make sure your hair fits the organization’s donation requirements.
  2. Shampoo/condition your hair, but do not use any additional products such as oils or hairspray.
  3. Gather your hair at the nape of your neck, brushing out any knots or tangles. Fasten the hair with an elastic just below the place where you will make the cut. Measure the length of your ponytail with a ruler to make sure it’s long enough to donate.
  4. You’ll want to cut off the ponytail above the elastic so that the ponytail is still secured together with the elastic after you make the cut. Make sure you aren’t cutting off more than you intended. Note that before cleaning up your cut, the hair in the front of your head will be longer than the hair in the back of your head when you use this method.
  5. Once completely dry, place the ponytail, still secured with the elastic, in a ziplock bag and seal. Send, in a plastic or padded envelope, to your organization of choice.

This time around I donated almost 12 inches, and I’m obsessed with my new haircut. Donating is a win-win: you get a fresh look while helping a worthy cause. It takes 6-15 ponytails to make a single wig, so donations are always needed! If you’re thinking about going for the big chop, consider asking your hairdresser to save your ponytail for you. It takes two seconds, but can make a real difference in the someone’s life.

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