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Hair today, gone tomorrow: How chopping off your hair can help a child

06/07/2008 at 08:01 AM ET

Stephaniehairdonationlocksofloveby CBB Reviewer Stephanie

This morning I mailed away 15 inches of my hair. And that long ponytail will only become one twelfth of a wig for a child. Since deciding a few weeks ago that I’d like to donate my hair, I’ve learned that it takes an average of 12 donations of unprocessed (or minimally processed) hair and about $1200 dollars to create one hand-sewn wig for a child.

Click Continue Reading to find out how and why Stephanie chopped her hair off.

HairdonationbeforeIt didn’t take me long to decide to take the plunge. With fistfulsof my hair being yanked around the clock by my five-month-old and lotsof it decorating the bathroom floor every day (you know that time afteryou have a baby when all your hair starts falling out?), I knew I wasready for a change. Normally, I’m the cautious type. I’d be the one whowould walk into the salon with long hair and walk out with long hair aninch shorter. But when I realized how my hair might help a child inneed of a wig, my haircut decision was simple.

Hair_donation_duringIt was a family affair. Not only did my son need a cut, but I alsothought he might get a kick out of watching me get mine. Well, as itturned out, he got to help. And chopping off my ponytail is somethinghe’s been talking about ever since. He seems to have forgotten allabout his first impression of my new ‘do when he told me, near tears,that he didn’t like it and wanted it long again. Poor little fellow.Instead, now he’s assuring me at least once a day that he really likesmy new haircut. (I suspect there’s a bit of guilt at work there!)

Hair_donation_afterMake sure you confirm details before you make the big chop — somedonation programs require certain lengths, some want no processing,some want no gray, some need hair in a braid, others in a ponytail,etc. Get your details straight and then head to your salon with yourfavorite picture of Katie Holmes or Victoria Beckham in hand. And bid farewell to your hair for the best reason in the world.

There are plenty of donation programs to which you may send your hair.  In the US, two big programs are Locks of Love (CBB’s Missy has donated hair to them twice!) and Wigs for Kids, while Canadian readers can send to them or select from a number of different local donation programs. If you’ve sent hair to a program not listed, please feel free to mention it in the comments.

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Showing 15 comments

Lisa B. on

I, too, cut a 9 inch ponytail when my son was 4 months old! The hair everywhere and the baby constantly getting fistfuls of it (and that tugging hurt, too :) ) led me to let all that hair go to good use. Beautiful Lengths is through Pantene and they make wigs for women who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment, and they are willing to accept a slightly shorter length of hair than Locks of Love. Here is their website:

http://www.beautifullengths.com/en_US/index_home.jsp

Laura @ Dashin Fashion Worldwide Guide to Children's Clothing on

What a wonderful idea! My sister did this last year and I was so proud of her. I’ll definately check out the website. BTW, you look great with short hair!

Thanks for sharing!

Laura
Dashinfashion.com – Online Guide to Children’s Fashion Worldwide.
http://www.dashinfashion.com
http://www.dashinfashion.blogspot.com
http://www.mykidsfashion.com

Jean on

I’ve done 3 donations of 18″ or more each to Locks of love – two of them were 3-4 months after each of my children were born. :-) Thanks for bringing attention to this and for donating too!

Ari on

While this is a wonderful example of caring and love, I do feel the need to point out that Locks of Love is known to sell their donations to wig making companies. They call this “excess hair” (more donations sometimes come in than they need for wigs in a given period of time). This has angered some people who have donated in the past (myself included). I encourage everyone to visit charityreports.bbb.org and obtain a free report in order to research all charities they might want to donate to. Locks of Love is available there.

finnaryn on

I am currently growing out my hair for my third Locks of Love donation. I go when them because I dye my hair. While I have thankfully never known a child who has had cancer, each of my donations have been done in honour of an adult I have known. My first was for my aunt who died from breast cancer. The second was for my co-worker who lost her battle last year. The next donation is for my neighbor who is currently fighting bladder cancer and a friend’s mother who is loosing her fight with brain cancer. My hair is really thick and driving me crazy with the current heat, but having someone in mind while growing it out helps me get through it. What is a sweaty neck when a loved one is fighting for their life.

Megan on

I too have donated my hair for kids but I had a different reason. My friend and co-worker Lori had been diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer that had spread to her liver the Friday before Christmas. Working in an office with six people, we were all devastated as the diagnosis was confirmed with a biopsy and a treatment plan was put in place. The day Lori began chemotherapy, I made a vow to cut my hair and send it in for kids going through cancer and chemotherapy. By mid March I had cut over 10 inches from my hair and now I happily sport a shoulder length style that I absolutely love! My shampoo and conditioner bills have gone down considerably (one positive benefit!) but the best benefit of all is knowing that some child, who’s going through a hard enough time with cancer, chemo, and radiation, won’t have to worry about going to school with no hair. It makes my heart happy! Sadly, my co-worker never got to know that I cut my hair for her. On May 15th, at 12:26am Lori passed away. I think I will always grow my hair, just to cut it for kids!

Bre on

This last December I celebrated my 30th b-day. For 3 years I planned how I would welcome this new stage in my life. I donated 16 inches of hair to locks of love. My friends thought I was crazy cutting off all my hair. I told them that as I sat in the chair watching the lady cut I just smiled. All I could think of was the child I was helping.

Hair grows back :o)

Alison on

Next month I’ll be cutting off 12 inches of hair and donating it – I’ve been meaning to get it cut for a while, and last fall someone told me about Locks of Love, so I’ve been waiting until it got a little longer so I can send it to them. Couldn’t think of a better reason, and I’m so glad I could help a child in need! :)

Amy on

I’m growing mine out right now. I love the idea of giving it to a child going through something so hard as chemo. If it can put a smile on their face, it was well worth it! My hair is extremely thick and it gives me terrible headaches. I could cut about 6 1/2 inches off right now-does anyone know of any that except less than 8? Thank you so much for posting about Beautiful Lengths-I am planning on doing that now instead of Locks of Love! I’ve had migrane headaches from the weight of my hair over a month now and I really want to donate it. My doctor actually told me to cut it and my headaches will go away! Has anyone else ever noticed how heavy their hair is?

Liza on

As a hairstylist who gets JOY out of every donation cut, this is such a beautiful gesture!

As apprehensive as some may be to the thought, all Great Clips salons offer free haircuts to anyone who donates to Locks for Love!!! They do the cut, the style, the paperwork, and mailing… ALL FOR FREE!!! I no longer work for them but I did for 5 years, and the women at my salon were always thrilled at the sight of a cut like that. Alot of people had no idea about the program, and wanted a drastic change. We ALWAYS suggested the program, and they ALWAYS said yes!!

Thanks CBB for spotlighting such sweet group of programs that make it possible for women and children to enjoy hair!!

Sarah on

Locks for Love is a wonderful program!! I’ve donated my hair three times and each time I know that it’s in a much better place!

Pat on

My 12 year old daughter has donated her hair three times (34″ total)… twice to Locks for Love and the last time to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. I am very proud of her… she’s a special needs kiddo herself, and she likes to help other “sick kids”.

For those wondering, here are the minimum length guidelines: Pantene Beautiful Lengths requires an 8″ ponytail, Locks for Love is 10″ and Wigs for Kids is 12″.

lisa on

what an awesome thing to do! i donated my hair days b4 my son was born to http://www.zichron.org/wigs_e.php. a non-profit organization aimed at easing the suffering of young cancer patients and their families established in Israel. they require 10″ of braided hair. it was a great feeling!

lala on

I always had long, thick hair (polynesian dancer), and when I had my son, I decided to chop it all off since his favorite thing to do while nursing was pull my hair. I didn’t donate it at the time, because I hadn’t heard of companies like these. I did keep the braid, however. About 2 years ago, I had by then heard of Locks of Love, so I decided to make donations–24 inches was cut off and sent in, as well as my braid from 7 years ago, that measured 28 inches. People were shocked I cut my hair, but when I told them it got donated, they changed their expressions. I have been telling people I’m getting ready for my next harvest soon! :)

Kat on

I’m also growing my hair for Locks of Love because I use permanent coloring.

I will cut it when the weater cools… it’s already over 12″ of ponytail… by the time the weather cools in October/November, I expect to have a good 15-16″ to donate… I’ll get an angular bob at Jaw length and let it grow out (yes, I think long hair is better in the summer… cause I can put it up and keep it off my face and neck and have it kept out of the way… and then when it’s wet in the pool or ocean, it cools me.

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