Donating hair for charity?

curly hair statueChrisck emails:

My question is about donating hair for charity (for wigs for cancer patients). My hair has gotten quite long and I want to cut it, but would donate it if I knew where to go to donate it. Also, I'd like to talk to someone about exactly how long they need the hair to be because I might be willing to wait a while longer for the cut if my hair needs to be longer to be useful. Anybody know anything about donating hair?

As we understand it, there a few charities that collect hair for this purpose (and some criticism of at least one).

So, anyone have the scoop for chrisck? Suggestions about a local place to go to have the hair cut properly for this purpose? Please share.

photo: Flickr user quinn.anya (cc)


there is the old standby Locks of Love
but if for whatever reason you don't want to donate to them, Pantene sponsors Beautiful Lengths. this gives you details on how to cut/donate:

Locks of Love needs > 10", and Pantene needs > 8" of hair. To estimate if your hair is long enough, pull your hair into a pony tail under where you want your hair to be after making the cut. Then, measure.

Some salons will send the hair to Lock of Love or Pantene for you. Some salons ask you to mail your hair yourself. Either way, it is easily done.

So many people donate their hair, perhaps donate money or time directly to the charity of your choice.

I just donated 12 inches, along with a $25 check, to Locks of Love. But there is also Gilda's Club.

I donated about 10 inches to Pantene Beautiful Lengths recently at the suggestion of my stylist. Apparently Locks of Love charges for some of their human hair wigs on a sliding scale based on a family's income. Pantene is always free. Pantene donates their wigs to women with cancer, not exclusively to children. So if you want your donation to go to a kid, you're better off using Locks of Love.

It's very easy, as above comments show. You just go to a salon of your choosing, tell them you want to donate your hair, and they'll cut off the amount that you want.
I've always mailed my own hair - you can find the address on the sites. I've donated to both the Pantene one and Locks of Love.

Usual rules - you cannot donate bleached hair but colored and permed hair is OK.

Thanks, folks, this was helpful info. After reading the criticism of Locks of Love (which raised some questions about accountability and transparency about how LoL uses or sells the donated hair), I'm inclined to go with Pantene. Also because Pantene will accept 8". I probably have 10" now if I was willing to get scalped with a shorter cut that I really want. I may wait until January to get a couple more inches.

@Jamie -- I understand your point of view (though I'm not sure so many people donate hair). I do donate time, money, also blood and plasma, and when I'm dead my body is going to Albany Medical College for research and teaching. , But I just figured this long hair shouldn't go to waste if I'm cutting it anyway.

Wigs For Kids asks for >12" but the hairpieces are free to the kids, unlike Locks for Love. Both these organizations offer hair for multiple types of hair loss, most often alopecia patients, so if you want to be 100% sure your hair is going to a cancer patient, I'd go with the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program.

My teenage daughter donated 20" to Wigs for Kids a few years ago. Most people donate to Locks of Love because it's better known and because many salons will take care of the mailing for you, but very little of the hair they receive actually goes to people in medical need. Instead, they sell more than 80% of their hair to commercial wig companies. They also charge recipients for the wigs they do make. Wigs for Kids, on the other hand, uses more of the donated hair they receive and gives the wigs for free to those in medical need. And while we had to take care of the mailing ourselves, the Wigs for Kids site offered very specific instructions for how to wrap the hair and send it to them, so it was simple.

I want to donate my hair and wanted to know where I should donate it to. I really want to know the actual person I'm donating my hair to. Ant suggestions?

Hi, Nikki --

I'm the person who asked this question (and I'm still growing my hair to be cut in January to donate). From the several websites I looked out that accept donated hair, make the wigs, and distribute them to people (inc. children) with a medical need for wigs, none of them reveal the names of who receive the wigs. I suppose it's a matter of privacy for the recipient. I'm fine with that. I don't know who gets my blood or plasma when I donate them either. Also, I think any given wig might be made up of hair from more than one person. The hair is sorted by type (straight, wavy, fine, coarse) and a wig could be made up of various hair from a supply of the required type. Then it's usually dyed to suit the needs of the recipient. So there may be no one person sporting your locks.

It feels really good!

I donate once in Kindergarten and last night 7 years later!

Is there any place in or around albany, NY that I can donate my hair to that will go to a child in need? I really would just like to help out a local child in need. I donate every 2 years was sending to locks of love but will no longer send to them because of all the bad I've heard about them since last donation. Any info is greatly appreciated. Thank you

Kathy, do some research if you are concerned, there are certainly other options out there, but I wouldn't personally have any qualms about donating to locks of love:

Wigs for kids says they have a donation salon in Clifton Park. - Zava Hair Studio

I posted this question 3 years ago. I finally cut off 15 inches last April and donated it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which partners with HairUWear to make wigs for cancer patients. These wigs are provided free through "wig banks." One of the things I learned is that it takes about 8 individual donations to make one wig.

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