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How To Donate Hair and Hair Donation Organizations

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How to Donate Hair

Have you ever wondered how to donate hair? So did we and it all started around the New Year!

Just before midnight this past New Year’s Eve, one of my best friends and I made a resolution: we’d both grow our locks long, so we could chop ’em off and donate to an organization that makes wigs for women and children suffering from long-term hair loss. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and thanks to some champagne-induced enthusiasm, I dubbed 2013 the Year of the Bob.

By the time July rolled around, my hair had finally reached the required eight inches (from the nape of my neck) that I could to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Now, I have a spunky summer ’do, and it makes me happy to know I’ve gone a good deed in the process. If you’re considering donation, read on to learn everything you need to know about growing your hair, chopping it off, and donating it to the right organization.

Help Your Hair Grow

Hair typically grows about half-an-inch per month, though it can differ from person to person. Unfortunately, there’s no magic supplement that will make your locks grow faster; you simply need some good old-fashioned patience. But you can help the process with proper care: condition regularly, apply protective serum before heat styling, and get trims every eight weeks to keep split ends at bay. Good nutrition and a daily multivitamin also go a long way toward healthy locks. 

The Cut: What to Expect

When it comes to the cut itself, most organizations request the same procedure for donations (but be sure to check your organization’s specific requirements; more details below!). You gather the clean, dry hair in a pony or braid at the nape of your neck and measure from just above the elastic to the tip of the pony. If you have naturally curly hair, you can pull the curls straight to reach the required length. 

We recommend that you go to your normal salon for the big cut; lopping off that much hair in one sitting can be scary and it helps to be in the hands of a stylist you know and trust.

When I called my longtime stylist, Alyssa of Hair Artistry, I let her know that I was finally scheduling The Bob. Because I gave her a heads-up, she brought along a ruler, a few styling ideas, and celebrity photos in order to ease my transition from long to short. Some salons offer a discounted or free haircut if you’re donating, so be sure to ask first!

How much hair will you donate?

After the Cut: What to Do

Bring a resealable plastic bag with you to the salon so you can tuck away your shorn locks right away. After your pony is lopped off, your stylist will shampoo your remaining hair and trim up the ends. Ask your hairdresser for some pointers on how to style your new length before you leave—it’s part of the job! Then send your sealed bag of hair off to your organization.   

Recommended Hair Donation Organizations

Here are four of the main hair donation organizations that accept hair donations—which they then turn into wigs. Your stylist can help determine which is the best fit for your hair.

Pantene Beautiful Lengths

What they do: Pantene Beautiful Lengths partners with the American Cancer Society by donating free wigs to ACS’s wig banks. The wigs go to cancer patients in the United States.
Minimum hair length to donate: 8 inches.
Do they accept...
• Colored hair?: No, though semi-permanent dyes are okay.
• Bleached hair?: No.
• Layered hair?: Yes, but they can only use the layers that are 8 inches or longer. You can separate your shorter pieces from the ponytail before your hair is cut.
• Gray hair?: Yes, up to 5% gray. Ask your stylist to help you estimate, if you have gray hairs.

Read the full guidelines here.

Locks of Love

What they do: Locks of Love provides wigs to financially disadvantaged kids (younger than age 21) in the U.S. and Canada who suffer from long-term medical hair loss.
Minimum hair length to donate: 10 inches.
Do they accept ...
• Colored hair?: Yes.
• Bleached hair?: No—and this includes most highlighted hair. Ask your stylist if you’re unsure.
• Layered hair?: Yes, but the longest layer must be at least 10 inches.
• Gray hair?: Yes.

Read the full guidelines here.

Wigs 4 Kids

What they do: Wigs 4 Kids donates wigs at no cost to children and young adults in Michigan who are diagnosed with cancer or other diseases causing long-term hair loss.
Minimum hair length to donate: 10 inches.
Do they accept...
• Colored hair?: No.
• Bleached hair?: No.
• Layered hair?: Yes, but they can only use the layers that are 10 inches or longer. You can separate your shorter pieces from the ponytail before your hair is cut.
• Gray hair?: Yes, up to 10% gray. Ask your stylist to help you estimate, if you have gray hairs.

Read the full guidelines here.

Wigs for Kids

(different from Wigs 4 Kids, above)
What they do: Wigs for Kids donates wigs to financially disadvantaged children across the U.S. who suffer from long-term medical hair loss.
Minimum hair length to donate: 12 inches.
Do they accept...
• Colored hair?: No.
• Bleached hair?: No.
• Layered hair?: No.
• Gray hair?: Yes.

Read the full guidelines here.

Have you done a major chop for donation? Are there great hair donation organizations we missed? Tell us about it and share your story when you started thinking about how to donate your own hair!