If you have personally gone through cancer treatment or have watched a loved one deal with the trauma of diagnosis and treatment, you may now find yourself on the other side, wanting to give back.
There are numerous ways you can help by donating money, engaging in fundraising, or making quilts for chemo patients. One form of support that is growing in popularity is the donation of hair to make wigs and hairpieces for chemo patients.
Donating hair is a practical, non-monetary way that you can directly give back and benefit people living with cancer and other medical issues. Having access to wigs made from natural human hair can be life-changing for some patients. Requirements for donating hair can vary between organizations, but even if you don’t meet these specificities, there are still options available for using your hair for a good cause.
Let’s look at how and why hair donation is an excellent way to show your support for cancer patients.
Hair Loss as a Side Effect of Cancer Treatment
Losing your hair, especially due to medical treatment, can play a huge role in patients’ self-image. Hair loss tends to be one of the most dreaded side effects of cancer treatment, but hair covers, hats, and wigs can help patients cope.
Hats and scarves are a fun and easy way to use accessories and might be more practical for everyday use, but there is power in wearing a wig that helps you stay connected to who you were before cancer.
Some patients wear wigs for vanity reasons, but overall, most just don’t want their hair loss to scream “cancer patient” to passersby. Wearing a well-made wig from human hair can help them avoid unwanted attention or questions when in a group setting, and maintain their feeling of normalcy.
General Requirements for Donating Hair
Every organization has its own rules and regulations for what they will and will not accept when it comes to hair donations. Be sure to check with an individual agency beforehand, but here are common requirements:
- They will only accept natural hair, no hair extensions or wigs.
- Hair needs to be clean, dry, and put into a braid or ponytail before cutting. Do not apply any hair products, including mousse, gel, or hairspray.
- Your braid or ponytail will need to be a certain length to be accepted. The usual requirement is between 8-14 inches. Those with curly hair can pull it straight to check the measurement.
- Check to see if the organization accepts gray, bleached, highlighted, or permed hair.
- Most agencies allow your regular stylist to cut your hair and then have it sent to their location. However, some organizations offer discounts at specific salons for a haircut and style if you donate your locks.
- To avoid mold, ensure that hair is completely dry before being packed for shipping.
Organizations and Agencies That Accept Donated Hair
Although general requirements for donating hair are discussed above, some organizations have more specific ones. Be sure to double-check the agency’s website before cutting your hair, to make sure it remains usable.
For privacy purposes, donors will not be put in touch with recipients. Also, it usually takes hair donations from several people to make one wig. If you have questions, feel free to contact the organization of your choice.
A few of the most asked questions:
- Who receives the wigs? Are they for adults, children, or both?
- What qualifies someone for a wig? Are they only for cancer patients, or does the agency also provide them for burn victims, autoimmune hair loss, and other conditions?
- Do patients receive the wigs for free, or are they required to pay part of the cost?
Locks of Love
According to their mission statement, their goal is to “return a sense of self, confidence, and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss by utilizing donated ponytails to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children free of charge.”
Locks of Love accepts hair donations in the form of a braid or ponytail at least 10 inches in length. They will accept hair that has been permed or colored but not bleached. They also take gray hair, which they sell to help defray their costs.
Wigs for Kids
Wigs for Kids provides wigs for children living with cancer or suffering from autoimmune hair loss. They require 12 inches of hair but recommend you have 14 inches to spare. They will not accept donations of permed, color-treated, or highlighted hair, but they will take your hair if it is gray.
Children with Hair Loss
“Covering Young Heads to Heal Young Hearts!”™ is the goal of this organization that caters to all children with medical hair loss, whether it be from cancer or another disease. While they only require 8 inches to donate, they receive many requests for longer hair, so that is preferred if you can wait until you have 12 inches or more to contribute. They will accept gray and chemically treated hair as long as it is clean and in good condition.
Hair We Share
On a mission to help maintain the confidence, self-esteem, and dignity of those affected by medical hair loss, including cancer, Hair We Share uses donated hair to make custom wigs that are available free of charge to kids and adults.
While they will accept 8 inches of hair when joining their ponytail tracking program, the minimum donation otherwise is 12 inches. They will also take hair that has been dyed, without bleach, in natural colors and hair that has been permed or straightened as long as the damaged ends have been trimmed off prior to cutting.
Other Uses for Donated Hair
If your hair doesn’t quite meet the length requirements to make a wig for cancer patients, you can still donate it to a different sort of organization that can use your hair for good. For example, Matter of Trust accepts ponytails 4 inches or longer and loose unbraided hair at least an inch in length for use in producing and manufacturing felted mats that soak up dangerous petrochemicals in wells, filtration systems, rivers, oceans, and storm drains.
At Aynjil, we created our product with one clear purpose — to help more people beat cancer. That’s why we packaged it in simple terms that make it easy to buy and easy to claim, all online.
With an effortless four-minute sign-up process and the use of plain English and simple definitions, our product and process are easy to understand. Contact our team today to see how we can help you and your family through your cancer diagnosis and treatment.
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