During my 26th year, I set out to do 26 new things. I’m a couple of days away from my birthday and I haven’t done all of them, but I did manage to make my own ice cream, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, run in a Color Run and more! Here is my experience donating my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.
This week, I did what I thought was the unthinkable: I cut off my hair with the purpose of donating it! This is something I’ve always wanted to do, but for whatever reason it never worked out until now. Here is an overview of my experience of cutting my hair to donate and a run down of how to donate your hair if you are so inclined.
How to Donate Your Hair to Charity
Prepare Your Hair
To prepare your hair to donate, you’re going to need to do a few things to keep it healthy:
- Don’t dye or use chemical treatments
- Get regular trims
- Condition, condition, condition!
The process that donated hair must go through to become part of a wig is pretty stringent, so it’s really important to have the healthiest hair you can so that it can survive and thrive throughout the donation process.
Grow Your Hair Out
Different charities require different lengths of hair to donate. Pantene Beautiful Lengths requires 8 inches of hair while Locks of Love requires 10 inches of hair to donate. When you’re growing out your hair to donate it, don’t forget that you’ll likely want to have some hair on your head leftover. The longer your grow your hair, the more you’ll be able to donate and the more you’ll have on your head when you are done!
If your hair is long and you want to donate it, but you don’t want super short hair after it’s cut, you don’t have to do it right away. Waiting a couple of months, in the grand scheme of growing out your hair, isn’t that much longer to wait.
Choose a Charity
Before you donate your hair, you should pick which charity you wish to donate your hair to. There are a number of different charities that except hair donations, but the ones that you are most likely familiar with are Pantene Beautiful Lengths and Locks of Love. Below is a run-down of key facts and how to donate your hair to each of them.
Pantene Beautiful Lengths
Pantene Beautiful Lengths is run by Pantene in partnership with the American Cancer Society. They help create free, real-hair wigs for women with cancer. Pantene has donated over 24,000 wigs as part of its partnership with the American Cancer Society.
Key things to know if you want to donate:
- Hair must be 8 inches in length
- Hair can be layered, but all layers need to be 8 inches; you can pull layers out of the pony if you need to before cutting
- Hair cannot be more than 5% gray
- Hair cannot be permanently dyed or chemically treated
To donate, you have your hair cut according to Pantene Beautiful Length’s specifications and mail your ponytail to Pantene. The latest donation requirements can be found on their site.
Locks of Love
Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the U.S. and Canada who suffer from long-term medical hair loss. Most children who receive hairpieces from Lock of Love suffer from alopecia areata. Children receive hair prostheses free of charge or on a sliding scale, depending on financial need.
Key things to know if you want to donate:
- Hair must be 10 inches in length
- Hair can be layered, as long as the longest layer is 10 inches; layers can be split into different ponytails
- Hair can be colored or permed
- Bleached hair (e.g. highlighted hair) cannot be donated
- Shorter hair and gray hair will be sold to offset manufacturing costs
To donate, have your hair cut according to Locks of Love’s specification and mail your ponytail to Locks of Love. The latest donation requirements can be found on their site.
Cut & Send
Once you’ve taken care of your hair, grown it out and chosen a charity, it’s time to cut! You can certainly do this at home with the help of a friend or family member, but you can always go to a salon and have them cut your hair for you.
I got my hair cut at my regular salon and simply asked them to cut my hair so that I can donate it. They are likely familiar with what they need to do, but it’s always helpful if you know yourself ahead of time and can direct them if you need to.
It also stands to be said that this is one of those instances where measuring twice and cutting once is really important. It would be a shame to get all this way and have the ponytail cut too short to donate it!
To send, you typically need to do the following:
- Keep ponytail or braid held together a hair tie
- Make sure hair is completely dry (you don’t want it to get moldy in the mail)
- Send in a plastic bag inside of a padded mailer
- Provide adequate postage
- Provide your contact information according to the charity’s directions so you can receive a confirmation / thank you note
There is often a fairly long lag time between sending and receiving a thank you note/confirmation. Pantene warns that it can take up to several months and Lock of Love advises that it may take up to 90 days.
My Hair Donation Experience
I must say that although this is something I have wanted to do for a long time, I was really on the fence about it up until the last minute.
Is my hair long enough?
Do I want to do this after all?
What if my hair doesn’t even get used?
Am I picking the right charity?
Of course, some of these questions may never be answered. However, after a lot of research, I’m comfortable and happy with my decision to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Pantene Beautiful Lengths is committed to providing wigs to women with cancer. As someone who has had family members die due to cancer, this is something that is important to me personally.
Pantene also provides their wigs for free. I am busy paying off my student loans, so I don’t have a ton of money left over to make monetary donations to charity. However, I like to be able to give back when I can. Knowing that Pantene is providing wigs for free to people who have a lot of things on their mind and high medical bills makes me feel that I’m donating in a way that is really benefiting the recipients, rather than adding another monetary burden on them.
Expect the hair cutting and sending process to take 1 to 2 hours. The amount of time you spend researching charities is up to you!
The cost of donating ranges depending on how much you spend to get your hair cut. If you opt to cut your hair yourself, expect to pay for shipping supplies and postage, which should be under $10.
Overall, I’m glad I did it and I’m happy with how my hair turned out. Next time my hair is super long, I’d definitely go through the process again. Now that it’s over, I get to wait to receive a thank you letter to confirm that my donation was received!
Have you ever donated your hair? Do you have any other tips for how to donate your hair?