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How Long Does Your Hair Have to Be to Donate? Top 5 Things to Know

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My daughter was 6 years old before we cut her hair for the first time. She has always been a child to “wait and see.” (She is almost ten years old, completely obsessed with earrings, and is still reluctant to get her ears pierced.) As an earthy mom, I am a firm believer in body autonomy and letting my girls make their own decisions about what to do with their bodies and when. Thus, no haircuts until they are ready. What finally helped my daughter decide to make the cut was hearing that she could donate it to someone in need. My little empath jumps at the chance to help others. It also helped that my brother had grown his hair significantly long at the time and also wanted to donate hair. I got to work right away, gathering all the necessary information on how to cut and where to donate. I have included everything you need to know here, including how long your hair has to be to donate it and what kind of shape your hair needs to be in. 

Table of Contents 

  1. People Who Need Hair Donations 
  2. How Long Does Your Hair Have to Be to Donate? 
  3. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Condition of Your Hair 
  4. Where to Donate Your Hair 

People Who Need Hair Donations 

According to cancer research statistics, 65% of people who undergo chemotherapy will lose their hair. This hair loss is reversible once chemo is complete, but it can be an additional strain for people already undergoing an enormous amount of stress while dealing with cancer. Typically, hair falls out in large chunks and eventually falls out entirely. Most chemo patients will simply shave off their hair once they notice the loss taking place. To help provide some semblance of normalcy to their lives, these people who suffer hair loss often invest in wigs. That’s where you come in. Top-quality wigs are made with real human hair, the better the condition, the better the wig.  

How Long Does Your Hair Have to Be to Donate?  

The standard length for hair donation is 8 to 14 inches. Though this may seem easy to figure out on the surface, hair donation requirements can be much more complicated than you realize. For example, you must measure your hair from a ponytail at the back of your head to the end length, and all of the hair you cut must meet the minimum requirement. Thus, if you have layers, your shortest layer must have a minimum length of 8 inches. To get a good sense of whether you are ready to donate your hair, put your hair into a ponytail starting at the nape of your neck, and measure down to the bottom of your shortest layer. If you have 8 inches, you are ready for a hair donation!  

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Condition of Your Hair 

Remember, you are donating your hair to people in need of hair for wigs, so you want to be sure your hair is in good health. Here are the top five things to know, if you want to do a hair donation, about the condition of your hair:  

  1. Many organizations will not take hair that has been colored, and even fewer will take hair that has been bleached.  
  2. Some places will take grey hair, and others will not.   
  3. Make sure you tell your hairstylist you are donating your hair, so you can be sure you maximize your potential for getting a lot of hair. You may need to section your hair into more ponytails to get more hair. Also work with your stylist to decide on your new, shorter style! 
  4. Some organizations will discard hair they deem unhealthy or unusable, so be sure to read the hair donation form and print out the guidelines of your chosen company.  
  5. Wash and dry your hair before cutting it; then be sure to wrap it carefully into a resealable plastic bag.  

Where to Donate Your Hair 

Finally, you get to decide to whom you want to donate your hair. Many people choose Locks of Love as they have been around for years, and accept colored and permed hair. Wigs for Kids is another great organization for hair donation, and if you are looking to help children specifically, this is a good one. They do require a minimum of 10 inches, and they do not accept chemically treated hair. For those who want to go above and beyond simply sending hair in the mail, you can check out Hair We Share, which also requires a $25 donation along with the hair you donate. The cool thing about Hair We Share is you can see the wig that is made from your hair.  

In the end, if you are considering letting go of your precious locks, hair donation is a great way to get involved in charity. If you find your hair is too short to donate, but are interested in getting hair ready to give, take care of it! When your hair is in better condition, wig makers have better material with which to work. I’ve included a couple of links below for those interested in all-natural, plant-based hair care products to get them started.  

Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner 

Apple cider vinegar is my favorite go-to for pretty much everything cleansing and clarifying. Added to a shampoo and conditioner, and your hair will be clean and shiny! 

Coconut Milk Shampoo and Conditioner 

If I’m not shouting from the rooftops about apple cider vinegar, I am probably lecturing someone on the myriad benefits of coconut. Seriously, if you want moisture, look no further than this combo.  

Above are just a couple of products you might want to invest in for healthy hair. Click on the links and browse the website to see what works for you. 

Shanna Mendez

Shanna Mathews Mendez is a freelance writer and blogger on topics related to self-care, naturopathy, female empowerment, and motherhood. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children, where she enjoys traveling, being active outdoors, and studying herbalism and plant-based remedies in her free time. Drawing on her graduate degree in comparative literature and her own life experiences, she is currently writing her first book. She can be found online at her website thewordywitch.com

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2 Comments

  • by KATHLEEN CARTER on

    I have donated to both organizations and have ALWAYS felt that “Wigs for Kids” is the best. The reason I feel this way is because kids can be cruel at the elementary or middle school age. If you have no hair then you are made fun of. I know this because I lost a brother in 1985 to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He was diagnosed at the age of 7 and I got the chance to hold his hand when he took his last breath at 23. He opted not to get a wig while going through chemo. His philosophy was, " If they can’t accept me for who I am, then they don’t need to be a part of my life.". After all these years, he has taught me so much. He will FOREVER be my best friend. DONATE!!

  • by Maria Fonseca on

    My hair was thin and falling out and very dull since I dye it. Using the red onion shampoo and conditioner and the coconut shampoo and conditioner my hair looks much better. I still have a little to go before it can be shiny and beautiful like before. Wow products are awesome.

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