If you’re thinking about cutting a hefty strand of hair soon, maybe you can donate your locks to those in need — instead of just having them wiped off the floor of your favorite salon.
And believe us, the need for medical wigs is greater than you might think.
According to the American Hair Loss Association — an organization dedicated to educating the public, health professionals, lawmakers, and the media about the emotional devastation associated with hair loss — 3% of all pediatric visits in the United States are about hair loss in children. Plus, NYC-based, double-board board-certified dermatologist dr. Brendan Camp explains that the psychosocial consequences of hair alopecia and hair loss can be devastating for those who experience it.
“Many studies have shown the negative impact of hair loss on quality of life and mental health,” he shares. “For example, patients with hair loss, especially children, may experience shyness, insecurity or even bullying.”
Then there are people undergoing chemotherapy.
The American Cancer Society reports that approximately 1.9 million new cancers will be diagnosed in 2022 alone.
“Almost every day we have patients who come in, often on the verge of tears, discussing the extreme impact their hair loss is having on them,” says Dr. Dhaval G. Bhanusali, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Hairstim Labs and Skin medicines† “To a certain extent, hair helps us express our personality and can even define us and so it is completely understandable that any situation that causes significant change can be traumatic.”
That said, there’s never a bad time to donate her. But if you don’t know which organizations to partner with, we’re here for you. Here we spoke with hairstylist Susan Oludelethe owner of Hair by Susy in Brooklyn, NY, to discover the best places to donate hair and find out if your locks are the right fit.
Is everyone eligible to donate her?
While you may want to donate your hair, make sure your locks are in tip-top shape. Every organization has its own checklist, so it’s important to read the requirements thoroughly so you don’t get it confused.
All organizations to do require your hair to be clean at the time of donation, so be sure to wash and condition your hair before cutting it. You should also not put any product in the hair to avoid build-up.
It’s also important to keep in mind that many organizations require at least 12 inches of hair to donate, but there are still some that will accept a minimum of 8 inches. And while there are always exceptions to the rule, most organizations prefer virgin hair, i.e. locks that have not been chemically treated.
Where can I go to donate her?
According to Oludele, there are several places where you can donate her.
“Wigs and Wishes, Hair Place NYC and Wigs for Kids are the best places I send clients to donate hair,” she shares.
Find out more about these organizations, and some others, below.
Wigs and wishes
Based in Sewell, NJ, and founded by hairstylist, educator, and salon owner Martino Cartier, Wigs and wishes is works to help hair loss patients by making wigs. In 2012, Cartier met a young girl named Kiki, who had been battling cancer since she was 8 and was rejected by all national organizations to have a wig made. Cartier made a wig for Kiki and fulfilled her dying wish to meet Justin Beiber through his company. A week after the concert, Kiki died; however, her spirit lives on and inspired Cartier to start Wigs and Wishes.
Since 2012, the organization has created a network of salon owners, hairstylists and beauty industry experts to provide more than 10,000 wigs for free to women in need, while also granting wishes to dying children.
Wigs for Kids
For over 40 years, Wigs for Kids has provided wigs and hair to children in need. They support children who experience hair loss as a result of medical treatment, including chemotherapy or radiation, as well as children who are recovering from burns, scars, alopecia or trichotillomania.
To donate your hair, your locks must be at least 12 inches and the hair must be clean. Chemical treatments are not preferred, which means that the hair should not be permed or colored.
And if you can’t make it to the salon for your big bite, the organization’s website offers a guide donors can follow to cut their hair with step-by-step instructions.
Hair Place NYC
Hair Place NYC is a salon based in the Midtown East neighborhood of New York City that specializes in hair systems for men and women, and has experience working with women undergoing cancer treatment.
While they are not a non-profit organization and do not provide pro-bono wigs, they do offer free pre-chemo haircuts, free initial wigs and styling, a free one-on-one wig care lesson, and a free wig care kit. However, keep in mind that making a wig can cost upwards of $1900.
BeYOUTiful Foundation provides online education and support to women battling cancer. Founded by Matt Coulter, Riawna Capri and Nikki Lee, the idea for the organization came about during a trip to Maui. This organization connects salons and stylists with local survivors, educates online about cutting, styling, wig care, chemo hair management and more, and accepts hair donations for wigs.
The minimum hair length they take is 10 inches. However, unlike other organizations, the BeYOUtiful Foundation will accept chemically treated hair as long as it is in good condition. They also take used hair extensions and wigs for reuse, so those numbers in your closet that you’ve only used once can put to good use!
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Hair we share
Hair we share is a Long Island, NY-based organization with a mission: “To help maintain the dignity, confidence, and self-esteem of those dealing with medical hair loss.”
Hair We Share supports people of all ages and applications are determined on a case-by-case basis and approved by their board of directors. The minimum hair length requirement is 12 inches and they will accept dyed hair that has not been bleached.