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