You’ve been growing out your hair for months, perhaps years. You arrive at the salon and within mere minutes, those gorgeous long tresses are gathered into a ponytail, snipped off, and bagged. But, rather than go in the trash bin, they are destined as hair donations. But, where do hair donations go?
Donated locks of ten inches or longer are received by charities to create wigs of human hair, free of charge, for women or young girls who are waging the cancer war. Over 40,000 wigs have been donated to the American Cancer Society Wig Bank since the program’s inception in 2006.
To donate, hair can be natural or color treated but not bleached (this includes highlighted hair). Dreadlocks are also not accepted. If hair is curly, pull a lock of the shortest layer to see if it meets length requirements. Even if you have gray hair it can be used to. However, it is not used in making wigs. It is sold to help pay for the cost of manufacturing wigs.
First, hair must be prepared, and, you don’t necessarily have to go to the salon in order to donate. Shampoo your hair (conditioning is optional), then, once dry, forego any styling products such as gel or hairspray. Gather hair into a ponytail at the nape of your neck and measure to assure it is a minimum length of eight inches (measure for cut to be just above the elastic ponytail band). Hair swept off the floor cannot be donated so make sure hair remains secured by the pony tail band. If hair meets length requirements, cut just above the ponytail band and place hair (with ponytail band) in a sealed, plastic bag. Place plastic bag in padded envelope and mail to the charity of your choice.
Once received by wig-makers, donated hair is first sorted according to color and length and placed into bundles. Virgin hair (hair that has not been color treated) goes directly to crafters to be sewn into a wig cap. Color treated hair is stripped of pigment and then re-dyed. Basic colors are blended with highlights to create a natural appearance. The processed hair is then bundled according to length and ready to be sewn into a wig cap. Completed, high quality, beautiful wigs are then distributed to brave women and girls who are battling cancer.
To “make the cut” and get your own donation into the hands of the professionals who are leading a national movement to empower women in their fight with cancer, choose from one of these organizations:
- Pantene Beautiful Lengths, pantene.com (their program accepts 8” lengths)
- Locks of Love, locksoflove.org; Telephone (888) 896-1588; 234 Southern Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL 33405-2701
- Wigs For Kids, wigsforkids.org; Telephone (440) 333-4433; 24231 Center Ridge Road, Westlake, OH 44145; email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Children With Hair Loss, childrenwithhairloss.us; Telephone (734) 379-4400; 12776 Dixie Highway, South Rockwood, MI 48179
These are wonderful organizations on a mission to promote the well-being of women and children who are struggling with self-image as they endure cancer treatments that rob them of their hair. The emotional effects of cancer related hair loss can go very deep. Some children’s wig charities also provide free wigs for children who suffer from Alopecia. By donating, individuals can participate in this noble mission to nurture self-esteem and self-confidence among women and children who are enduring bravely through a health crisis.