If you’ve followed our blog for a while, you know that each one of my girls has had long hair and chosen to cut it off to donate it. My oldest has actually done it twice now, and the younger two have done it once so far.
I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time, but being that Bee just cut her hair, I figured it’s timely to talk about this. We are often questioned about their decision to cut their long hair and even criticized for cutting it and donating it. And while I realize it’s technically no one’s business what we do with their hair, and why we do it, I still wanted to write this post. My hope is we can shed some light on things and what options are available if you are looking to donate your hair.
If you have long hair and are thinking of cutting it to donate – or in the future you want to grow your hair out to donate it, here are some answers to questions, some things to think about, and several places that take hair donations.
Because there are children and adults in the world who are in need of wigs due to the temporary or permanent loss of hair from chemotherapy, radiation therapy, Alopecia, Trichotillomania, burns and other medical issues. And of course, because it makes you feel good inside knowing you’ve helped someone in need. 🙂
Who can donate?
Boy or girl – it doesn’t matter. And for the most part it doesn’t matter what type your hair is – straight or curly, fine or thick, etc. Most of the organizations do not accept hair that has been dyed or bleached though, and several do not accept grey hair – so it is a bit limited to younger people. But check on each organizations guidelines.
How much hair has to be cut off to donate?
Again, it depends on the organization, but the minimum I found was 8 inches and the most had to be at least 12 inches to donate. There, of course, is no limit on how long the ponytail or braid is that is donated.
Who can cut your hair?
From everything I read and know, you can have anyone cut your hair. You can go to a salon and have it cut off or you can even cut your own hair off if you prefer. You just need to follow the guidelines set by the organization that takes the donations. Some prefer hair in one ponytail or braid, while others prefer your hair in several sections so the hair is cut off more evenly. Keep in mind the hair has to be completely dry before you send it in a zipper lock bag. Otherwise the hair will mold and is cannot be used.
Some things to keep in mind:
* It takes time
Growing out your hair takes patience. On average people’s hair grows 6″ in a year – so that’s only a half inch per month. And considering most places that take hair donations require about 8 inches as a minimum, it can take a while! But don’t be discouraged. If your hair grows slower than that or if you feel like it’s taking forever – hang in there! Set that goal & stick to it! As you can see in our picture below, it took “Goose” about 5 years before she cut it again. That’s not to say it really takes that long — that’s just how it played out. Granted, she could have cut it a lot shorter and didn’t have to get it quite as long the second time before she cut it off, but that’s what she wanted to do so she’d have a bit more length after cutting it.
* It’s personal
For some reason, people sometimes think they need to offer their opinion on how much you should or shouldn’t cut and if you should or shouldn’t donate it. But in the end it truly is YOUR hair and YOUR decision on what you do and where you donate it.
* 1 person can make a difference
You never know the impact you can have by donating your hair. I have had many e-mails over the years as my girls have donated their hair, from people who were motivated to grown their hair and cut it or who had been debating on cutting their hair but after seeing our girls do it they decided to take that step. So not only are you helping someone who may be chronically ill and need a wig, you may influence others to donate as well – making an even bigger difference. In my research, depending on the organization, it can take anywhere from 8-30 ponytails to make one hair piece. Wow! That’s a lot of ponytails! 🙂 So the more people who are encouraged by your example, the better!
* Do your homework
There are so many places out there to donate your hair (more on that in a minute). You can even sell your hair. What you do with your hair after it’s cut is up to you. Like I said, it’s personal. If you choose to donate your hair ask around, read up on places, etc. Send it to an organization YOU feel good about. Let’s be honest here, you probably will never know who gets your hair or see the wig it helps create, so in the end, you are trusting the organization to do what they say they will. I’m not saying to just send it to any place, but you should send it to where you feel it will be best put to use.
* It’s about giving
In today’s world, it always seems like people tend to ask “What’s in it for me?” But sometimes that’s not what it’s about. If you decide to cut and donate your hair it truly is a selfless act of service. There is nothing “in it for you” except to be of service to someone else. That’s the best part about donating your hair – knowing you’re doing something for someone else and the thing you get in return is the amazing satisfaction that you’ve done some good in this world. The important part here is not to judge others. If someone opts to cut their hair to sell it – that is their personal choice. Or if someone cuts their hair but doesn’t donate it – that’s ok too.
* Places you can donate *
Below is a run down of just a handful of organizations that collect hair to use for wigs that I am aware of. Keep in mind it is a personal choice on where you donate. Every organization has different requirements on the length they will accept as well as the type of hair, so be sure to consult their website first so you know the specific requirements before cutting your hair. Just click on the name of the organization to visit their website.
You should know that The American Cancer Society is not able to accept hair donations, but they do recommend the first 2 places on our list:
They make wigs for children and teens under the age of 18 who have lost their hair due to medical reasons. They require at least 12 inches of hair that is not dyed, bleached, or highlighted. See their site for more information.
Pantene Beautiful Lengths:
They make wigs for women who have lost their hair due to cancer. They require at least 8 inches of hair that is not bleached, permanently dyed, permed, or chemically straightened.
Children With Hair Loss:
They make hair available to children under 21 with medically-related hair loss. Their guidelines include at least 8 inches of hair in length, preferably not bleached or highlighted. The hair must be ponytailed or braided.
Locks of Love:
While I know there have been things in the media about this organization lately that haven’t been overly positive, I still am listing it. Again, where you donate is a personal choice, so you make the decision! They also make wigs for kids under the age of 21 who suffer from long-term medical hair loss. They require at least 10 inches of hair that is not bleached or highlighted.
Childhood Leukemia Foundation:
They provide custom-made 100 percent human hair wigs. They also require at least 10 inches of hair that is chemically untreated.
One of our readers in the UK shared with us recently that her daughter had donated to Little Princess Trust they provide wigs to children in the UK who suffer from hair loss due to cancer treatments.
There are definitely more places you can donate so do some research. There are some that are regional so when you donate you can help people right in your state or area if you prefer that over a national place to donate.
If you’re interested in seeing our haircut videos – here they are:
If you are aware of other places to donate that I haven’t listed, please let us know and I will update our list.
Have you or your child ever grown out their hair to donate? What has been your experience? We’d love to hear from you!