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Hair donation is the charitable act of donating hair that has been cut from your head to non-profit organizations that provide hair prosthetics to cancer patients or individuals who have medical hair loss. Organizations that accept hair donations use the hair to create hair prostheses and wigs for people who suffer hair loss from chemotherapy, alopecia areata, or even as a result of an accident. The largest and best known organization for hair donation is Locks of Love, which primarily helps children suffering from permanent or long-term hair loss.
Hair donation provides people who are not only suffering from the effects of a medical condition, but may also be suffering from damaged self esteem, to regain a sense of normalcy by having real human hair on their heads. In most cases, the hair prostheses received by these recipients can be cut and styled in any way they choose.
Hair donation is simple and can be done through any hair salon that supports such an organization or can be done on your own. Typically, organizations that accept hair donations have specific requirements regarding the length and condition of hair. Some organizations accept chemically treated hair while others do not. Most organizations require hair to be a minimum of 10 to 12 inches (25 – 31 cm) in length and nearly all organizations require hair to be tied into a ponytail or braid before it is cut.
The specific requirements for acceptable hair donations are due to the manufacturing process involved in creating the hairpiece. For example, Locks of Love has an intricate manufacturing process that involves injecting each strand of hair into a silicon cap that is custom made for each recipient and can be vacuum-sealed to the head for secure wearing. Due to the length requirements, hair donation is ideal for people with long hair who have decided to go short. However, there are people who grow their hair out over and over for the express purpose of making a hair donation each time they cut it.
To make a hair donation through a salon, choose a salon that sponsors your preferred organization and inform the stylist you want to donate your hair. Most will handle the details of packaging and shipping the hair for you and many offer free or discounted haircuts for patrons making a hair donation. If you don’t have a sponsoring salon near you, call or visit the organization’s website where you want to send your hair for instructions on how to cut, secure, and ship the hair.