If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes reading my blog in the past than you know I often write about my hair. Up until a few years ago, I’ve always had very short hair.
When I came out to Los Angeles, I worked briefly for La Jolla hair salon and I decided to grow it out. Here’s a recap of my various hair lengths over the past few years.
The time had come…
Finally came the time for me to cut and donate my hair. This is what I set out to do when I started growing it in the first place.
Only now I had become really attached!
I had the required 8-12 inches of hair length. As you can tell from my photos, I had that amount of hair a long time ago! However, I decided to grow it extra long for an additional 9 months so that I could still have some hair when it was over.
Instead of going through that “awkward phase” as it grew back out to pony tail length, I decided to go through a stage of having SUPER long hair.
My hair length rivaled most of my female friends!
Maintenance on that hair was a bitch!
Detangle. Rinse, wash, repeat. Condition. Blow dry. Brush. Leave in condition.
It was worth it though because I got mad compliments from strangers all the time on my hair. And you know I love attention!
- A drunk woman once said to Narda in a night club, “Your boyfriend looks like Mexican Fabio!”
- A stoned teenager once walked by me on the street in Glendale and said, “Nice hair bro!”
- A little girl once saw me and said to her father, “Daddy, I want beautiful hair like that when I grow up!”
Haha – okay, I made up the last one. But it could have happened!
Where should I donate my hair?
Answering this question took some research. I also reached out to my friends on Facebook to see if they had any experience donating their hair.
Below is a list of places I found through my research that accept hair donations.
Places to donate your hair:
- Pantene Beautiful Lengths
- Locks of Love
- Children With Hair Loss
- Wigs for Kids
- Wigs 4 Kids
- Angel Hair For Kids
- Chai Lifeline
- Angel Hair Foundation
- Leave a comment if you know any other reputable organizations to add to this list.
I also contacted my friend Chablis who works at Paul Mitchell to see if John Paul Dejoria (the owner) endorsed any charities that accepted hair donations, or had a charity of his own.
JPD is one of my heroes in business and is also a generous philanthropist. Google search “John Paul Dejoria” and you can spend a full day learning from his YouTube videos and articles written about the businessman.
Unfortunately, John Paul Dejoria does not have any hair donation charity setup.
Locks of Love is the most well known organization.
Locks of Love receives an estimated 104,000 hair donations per year. Locks indicates that up to 80% of this hair is unusable and that 6 to 10 hair donations are necessary to make one hairpiece. Based on these numbers sourced from Locks, the charity should produce a minimum of 2,080 hairpieces per year (104,000 hair donations * 20% usable hair donations / 10 hair donations per hairpiece). However, we’ve confirmed with the charity’s staff that the organization produced only 317 natural hairpieces in 2011. (Its IRS Form 990 figure of “430 wigs” includes synthetic wigs). – Kent Chao, Forbes.com
That amount of unaccounted hair is worth about $6.6 million dollars.
To be fair, every hair charity sells some of the hair to pay for administrative costs, and the actual production of the wigs. However, Locks of Love seems to be abusing that standard.
The other uneasy fact I learned about Locks of Love is that they don’t just give the hair away for free. They charge recipients on a sliding scale based on their income level, whereas Pantene Beautiful Lengths gives all wigs away for free.
I could make my own wig instead and give it to someone personally
That was one idea I had… turn my hair into a wig by myself without going through an organization and donate it to a child with cancer.
How much does it cost to make a wig?
I learned that it costs about $300-$3,000+ to create a wig. The cost varies by the type of hair (all human vs animal hair), and the quality of wig. This certainly helps explain why the cost to create a wig exceeds just the hair itself and charities have to sell some hair to recoup expenses.
It also explains why I chose not to create my own wig and personally donate to someone. That and I learned that it takes many people’s hair donations put together to make one wig, so this wasn’t an option anyway regardless of cost.
So who did you choose?
In the end I chose to donate my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.
Quite a few of the organizations on the list above fit my criteria for being credible, but spending anymore time choosing “the right one” just meant putting off cutting my hair.
Most hair donation organizations including Pantene have similar donation requirements:
- Minimum 8-10″ in length – killed that requirement!
- No dyes, bleaches, or chemicals – safe there
- No more than 5% gray – good thing I didn’t wait any longer to donate! haha
- No hair swept off floor.. it must be in ponytail
Hair cut day
I did a search on Google/Yelp for a local hair salon with a stylist that had experience in hair donations. There is a certain procedure to follow when cutting your hair to ensure that it’s accepted by the charity. I had come too far to let some inexperienced SmartCuts stylist mess it up now. (ie: The Bad Haircut).
Price wasn’t a concern because I had only gotten one haircut in 3 years so if this turned out to be a $100 haircut, then so be it.
I ended up choosing Jessica at the Fandango Salon in Los Feliz, CA.
I could have asked for stylist recommendations from friends in the LA area, but I had woken up that morning with the desire to make this happen and I had to ride that wave of momentum before I got cold feet. Plus, I didn’t want to blame someone for their shitty reco if anything went wrong.
I arrived at the salon at 1pm and we got started.
I was greeted with the typical, “Wow you’ve got a lot of hair!” from the salon owner and staff.
Jessica could tell I was nervous, but I was instantly relieved when it was obvious that she knew what she was doing.
I had imagined putting my hair into a ponytail and slicing it off in one big chunk. She explained that this method would be difficult to keep together, and also that I need to cut different parts of my hair at various lengths to account for the fact that the front was longer than the back.
15 minutes later I had this in my hand:
And I didn’t cry.
Here’s my before and after shot:
I look like I’m pooping in that After photo, but Jessica only took one pic and she caught me with my eyes close.
Here’s a selfie I took when I got home (yes, I know, king of the selfies).
I mailed my hair to Pantene along with this note:
A couple weeks later I received this in the mail:
And that’s the end of my tail. (Get it? “Tail” instead of “tale”?)
If you have any questions about donating your hair to charity, leave me a comment below. Thanks for reading.
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