Everything you need to know before donating your hair.
“One of the first questions out of my mouth,” Lauren says, describing her reaction to her diagnosis and prescribed treatment plan, “was ‘Am I going to go bald? What’s going to happen?’” **
Perhaps you are here because you have been thinking about making a big change in your look, and donating those inches feels like the right thing to do. Maybe it's because you know someone who has faced this difficult struggle, and you want to be a part of a positive impact for women & children facing such an uncertain time. Or maybe you've considered hair donation for a while but making that big of a change in your look causes some pause. A big transformation can be daunting, not knowing what to do with the hair after it's been chopped or even where to donate it can be frustrating. We're here to help. We're gonna answer all your questions, give you a lot of options, and hopefully make your decision a bit easier. Because we love being part of something as special as hair donation and want you to have confidence in your wonderful decision.
What are good organizations to donate to?
There are several hair donation organizations, but the biggest ones at play are 'Locks of Love', 'Pantene Beautiful Lengths', and 'Wigs for Kids'. These organizations vary from how long the minimum donation is, to who they donate the hair to. Let's break down the nitty gritty.
Lock Of Love:
Locks of Love donates wigs to children facing medical hair loss, at no cost to the child. There has been some misconception with this organization about whether or not they actually do sell the wigs for profit. Let's clear that up. According to Locks of Love's official website : "Shorter hair will be separated from the ponytails and sold to offset the manufacturing costs. Although the shorter hair cannot be used in the hairpieces, it still greatly helps to reduce costs." The point is, the children are still getting the wigs at no cost so you can rest easy. Unlike most organizations, they do accept hair that has been colored, as long as bleach has not been used.
Minimum Donation Length: 10 inches. Hair can be layered, as long as the shortest layer is 10 inches.
Pantene Beautiful Lengths:
This organization donates the hair to adult women facing cancer, partnered with the American Cancer Society. They do not accept colored, or chemically processed hair at all, and won't accept hair that is more than 5% grey. All donated hair is used solely for the process of making wigs, and none is sold to outside parties.
Minimum Donation Length: 8 inches.
Wigs For Kids:
Wigs for kids donates wigs to children facing medical hair loss. They too will not accept hair that has been colored or chemically processed. With this organization, you can donate in memory of someone! There is an option on the donation form to donate in someones memory or honor.
Minimum Donation Length: 12 inches.
For ladies with curly hair, the curl can be stretched straight and measured!
Is there a way I can get involved without donating my hair?
Absolutely. 'Wigs For Kids' has an amazing child sponsorship program. Your sponsorship covers their hair replacement system at no cost to them. For a monthly donation of $150, you are also providing them with products, services, and support.
Why don't they accept hair that's been colored?
Here's what happens when you donate. The hair is sent to the organization and the organization processes it and sends it to a wig maker, who then sends the finished product back to them for distribution. According to the 'Beautiful Lengths' website, it takes between 8 and 15 ponytails to create a full wig, and each ponytail is donated from a different person. In order to provide a realistic looking wig with a consistent color, all hair must be processed and dyed the same color. Because hair absorbs color at different rates when it has already been chemically processed vs. when it is virgin hair, the organization has to be sure all donated hair will not only absorb the color, but absorb it at the same rate.
I planned on donating a while ago but I haven't sent it in yet. Do I have to throw it away?
No! If you have the hair tightly bound and secured, and it is completely dry and covered, you can still donate within 1 year of cutting the hair.
Okay, I've picked my organization & booked my appointment. Anything else I should know?
First of all, go you. You are going to make a huge difference in someone's outlook on life during such a difficult time. Now, there are a few things you need to be prepared for when you come in for your appointment. First of all, be prepared for a big change and face it head on. Start looking at inspiration pictures of short to medium (depending on how long your hair is now) styles, and pick the ones you like best. Next, keep your hair in good shape. Make sure you are keeping the hair hydrated and moisturized. Avoid over brushing, causing breakage and split ends. If you can bring the heat styling down to a minimum in the few weeks (or even better-months) before you make the big chop, do it! You want that hair in great condition for the wonderful person its going to end up with. Extra tip: have the donation form already mostly filled out before you head to the salon. That way, you can pull the trigger on sending it in asap.
So, you are ready. You can take the change, you know where that hair is going, and you are feeling good about this decision. What now? Book that appointment! We can't wait to see you.
If you have any other questions about hair donation, you can always
call us here at LMSG, or head over to each organization's website:
**quote is from https://www.cancercenter.com/community/thrive/coping-with-hair-loss/