Frizz for a Cause: Who, How and Why to Donate Your Hair

Published in: Beauty Tips, Hair

MBB guest post!Today the fantabulous Christina Olson of Too Pretty For This (a great blog!) shares the ins and outs of hair donation.

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I have been having a series of amazing hair days.

This is big news, because curly-haired me got a haircut last week – just in time for Virginia’s wet weather to begin.

If you’re a curly girl, too, you might be wondering why I’m thrilled with my “amazing” huge, frizzy hair. It’s not a look I normally attempt or embrace.

What makes it different is the reason: I cut off 10 inches last week for Pantene Beautiful Lengths, a non-profit organization that provides custom-made wigs to women fighting cancer. If you’re anything like me, hair can make or break your attitude toward the day and really affect your self-image. So while I might have a few rough run-ins with the mirror, I’m honored by the opportunity to help provide some good hair days to a brave woman I’ll never meet.

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According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with some form of cancer by the end of the year, and more than 500,000 people will die of it before New Year’s Day. I’m not smart enough to figure out a way to prevent, cure, or better treat cancer… though I wish I could. So while other people are working on that, I cut off some hair.

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Interested in donating your hair? Think you can’t because of some secret hair abuse? You don’t have to grow your hair to your butt, throw away your straightening iron, or swear off highlights forever. In fact, you might be surprised by how easy it can be if you choose the right organization. Here are the top two:

Locks of Love

Locks of Love is probably the best known of the wig-making charities. This organization would be a good fit for you if:

  • You have 10 inches of hair you don’t need anymore
  • You have dyed or permed you hair
  • You want your hair to provide wigs for children (who usually are diagnosed with either alopecia or cancer)
  • You’re okay with your hair being sold if there’s too much gray or some strands are too short

Pantene Beautiful Lengths

Beautiful Lengths is the organization I went with because I really wanted my hair to go to a woman who was undergoing cancer treatments. They might be a good fit for you if:

  • You have at least 8 inches of hair you can donate
  • You have NOT dyed, permed, or bleached your hair
  • Less than 5% of your hair is gray
  • You want your hair to go exclusively to female cancer patients

See? Not nearly as difficult as you thought!

It takes between six and ten donated ponytails to make a single wig (!!!), so although my hair is thick, I can’t make a wig by myself. If you decide to join me and chop your gorgeous tresses (and I hope you do), here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • When booking your appointment, tell your stylist that you plan to donate. Sometimes they can help you prepare and mail the hair, but they’ll definitely want to know so they block out enough time to cut the ponytail(s) and your new style.
  • Bring a measuring tape or stick. I forgot to do so, and there was a panicky minute when we weren’t sure how to measure. Luckily, my stylist Kristen is smart, and remembered the tiles on the floor are 16 inches — and her comb was exactly half that. Voila – we knew what 8 inches looked like!
  • Read up ahead of time about the requirements of the organization. The differences between Locks of Love and Beautiful Lengths are just enough to be confusing, and if your stylist doesn’t work often with the charity you’ve chosen, someone might make a mistake. For example, if you send hair that isn’t braided or in a ponytail to Locks of Love, it isn’t made into a wig for one of their kids — it’s sold. You don’t want to risk making a mistake if your heart is set on helping a small child or a woman battling cancer.

Donating my hair was one of the best things I’ve done in a really long time. In addition to helping one woman maybe regain a tiny part of her pre-cancer identity, when people ask about my shorter hair I get to gush about two great charities and raise awareness about a disease that affects millions of people every year.

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And every time I look at my frizzy-haired reflection, I’ll experience the joy of donating all over again.

This post was written by Christina Olson of Too Pretty For This, who’s loved makeup since the day two decades ago when she visited her Grandpa Jack with blue and pink eyeshadow up to her eyebrows and he exclaimed, “Where is my granddaughter? Why isn’t Christina here, and who is this beautiful grown-up lady?!”

20 Comments

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  1. Rose says:

    I donated my hair to the same organization over the summer. I’m so glad I did it! I was sick of my long, dark curly hair, and I was more than happy to donate it. It feels so good to have shoulder-length hair after growing it out for two years. And I feel even better that it’s going to a great cause. If you are on the fense about donating it, just go ahead and do it!

  2. Lerea says:

    That’s awesome! I plan on donating to the same organization soon as I can get these last 3 inches to grow. I have crazy thick and curly hair, and it will be so freeing to get rid of all that length. Less hair also means less hair products and less time needed to style your hair. That’s what I call a win-win!
    .-= Lerea’s last blog post… LeeIsLovely: I’m on a book-reading frenzy! 3 books down, 1 to go! =-.

  3. Yvette says:

    Last year I donated 10 inches to Locks of Love. My mom had cancer and died of it before I even got to know her…I do know that she loved to play with and color her hair, so I guess I donated my hair to honor that fun beauty habit of hers.

  4. CC says:

    Good for you! :D I plan to donate my hair again, as long as I can stand having reaally long hair for a while AND don’t have many split ends by then :/.

  5. Heidi says:

    I just donated my hair to Locks of Love but I didn’t do my research. If only I knew, those 10 inches of pure black beauty would have went to Beautiful Lengths instead. I’ll keep that in mind for next time.

  6. Shiny says:

    I have hair that naturally grows quickly and is thick. About two years ago it was long enough to sit on, so I had it chopped and donated. If felt really good, in general I enjoy participating in acts of charity… and it was really nice to change up my look.

    One thing to remember, I don’t think enough women realize that their hair should be damage free. If you are really serious about doing this, try to chop out the damaged/dyed part of your hair first and give your hair a healthy start. I think too many women have good intentions when they donate, and probably don’t realize how much of their is too damaged to even use.

  7. Citrine says:

    Christine, your action speaks so much more than buying a tube of pink lip gloss! Kudo for that!

    I always think that those companies come up those BCA awareness not because they really “care”, they just do it to justify their high price for those things that are not necessary…and it’s sad that there are over flooding of research fund (just for breast cancer but not colon/lung cancer which claims way more lives) because of the whole “awareness” thing even when they are aware that research outcome does not come along with funding. It’s just so much practical to do something that helps the current patients. Anyway, I will keep in mind when my hair is long enough…or I will keep an eye on my friend because her hair grows like weeds (the speed, not the texture…)
    .-= Citrine’s last blog post… Vickery and Clarke Anti Oxidant Face Oil =-.

  8. cupcake says:

    oh man i am soo mad! i was always told that dyed hair could not be donated so exactly a year ago i cut off 8 inches and it went in the trash :/

  9. Marce says:

    This is such a lovely and inspiring post…Christina, you rock!
    I don’t know if they do this in Argentina, but I’ll be sure to check it out :)
    .-= Marce’s last blog post… Look Primavera 09 – Midas Touch =-.

  10. Christina says:

    Wow, thanks for all the response, guys!

    Rose, Lerea, CC, Shiny and Yvette: it’s so good to hear about other people donating their hair, too. When I walked into the salon, a bunch of other women started asking me about what I was doing and sharing their own experiences. Amazing how we bond over these things!

    And Yvette, I’m sure you mom would be proud of you for making someone else’s fight a little easier.

    Heidi, don’t feel bad about donating to Locks of Love — they’re a great organization. :-) I only went with Beautiful Lengths because several women close to me have fought off cancer, and I wanted to honor them.

    Citrine, thank you! But I’m glad also for all the pink products, since not everyone can grow out their hair (just like I can’t volunteer to work in the hospital or a research lab). It’s good that there are opportunities for all of us to get involved!

    Cupcake, I’d always heard the same thing. If I’d known sooner that they accepted dyed hair, I could’ve donated my hair about a year and a half ago.

    Thank you all for sharing your stories and thoughts with me, too!
    .-= Christina’s last blog post… Friday Firsts =-.

  11. Angie says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I’ve been trying to get up the courage to chop off all my hair for a few months now. Donating is something I’ve always wanted to do!

  12. Kiki says:

    Christina, you are truly an inspiration. I don’t remember that about Grandpa Jack, though. lol
    .-= Kiki’s last blog post… Joy in the Little Things =-.

  13. Catalina says:

    I have frizzy hair. It’s long and healthy but frizzy. I donated 14″ two years ago and now have 20″ again to donate. Thinking of going bald for this time around. Why not? Hair grows back ;) for us lucky ones. Anywho
    I have one question
    If I straighten my hair with a flat iron to make it more smooth will that be ok? Or do they wash the hair when they get it?

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