That’s right, folks. Donating your hair to charity isn’t the sexiest thing in the world, but you need to make sure you do it right. Otherwise, the hair you spent years growing out will have been for nothing. Here’s what I learned over the past few months as I prepared to donate several inches of my hair and return to the relaxing world of short hair-dos.
Did you know that there are more hair donation organizations than Locks of Love? Until I decided to donate my hair, I had no idea. There’s also Pantene Beautiful Lengths, Wigs 4 Kids, and a few others. Each have varying length and hair treatment requirements for donations. The cool thing that I didn’t realize about these organizations is that many will take your hair even if it doesn’t meet their length requirements. They can sell it for funding!
This NY Times article from 2007 takes a critical look at some of the issues with the Locks of Love organization. In my opinion, they’re a bit overly critical, but for someone who really wants their hair to help people in need, I think it’s a good reality check. For instance, it never occurred to me that a lot of donations received by Locks of Love are hair that they don’t take, as explicitly outlined on their donation page.
In the end, the best advice I have for folks interested in donating their hair to charity is to do your research, and make sure you do the following.
- Meet your preferred organization’s donation length requirements, or go in to your epic haircut knowing that your hair will be sold to support the charity. It was important for me to know that three years’ worth of conditioning and long hair-drying sessions was for more than my vanity. No child will be rocking my hair, but an organization that helps children’s self-image will get more funding.
- Know that grey hair and bleached hair are not accepted by a lot of organizations. During the processing of human hair in to wigs, grey or bleached hair can break down.
- They don’t take dreadlocks. That’s disgusting.
- Your hair must be DRY, otherwise it can get moldy during the shipping process. Moldy hair will, obviously, be thrown in the garbage.
- Your hair must be in a braid or ponytail to be donated. Organizations will take your hair, if it’s in a single braid/ponytail or if it’s in multiple. Sometimes, you can glean more length from your hair if it’s sectioned off in to multiple locks.
Here are the organizations I researched while deciding who to donate my hair to:
- Locks of Love
- Wigs 4 Kids (a Michigan organization!)
- Pantene Beautiful Lengths – This organization takes the shortest amount of hair, 8″, to make wigs for cancer patients, but I didn’t want to go with them because I felt like they only started this program to market their hair-growth product. :/
Has anybody out there donated hair to charity? If so, where? How much hair?