One of our patrons regularly donates her hair and was wondering if she could continue to do so if she dyed her hair, or as her hair started to go gray. Looking around online, we found several organizations that accept donated hair, and all of them have their own particular requirements. One thing that they all have in common is that hair must be clean, dry, in good condition, and gathered into a ponytail or a braid. They all have minimum lengths for donated hair, from eight to twelve inches depending on the organization, but most of their websites specify that curly hair can be stretched straight while measuring it. It can take up to twelve ponytails to make a hairpiece.
Locks of Love is one of the most well known. They provide hairpieces to children who are suffering from long-term hair loss because of a medical condition. Most of the children they serve have alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes the hair follicles to stop working. (It was founded, in fact, by someone with alopecia.) Ponytails or braids donated to Locks of Love must be at least ten inches long. They don’t accept bleached hair or dreadlocks, but they will accept permed or otherwise colored hair, along with grey hair. While they don’t use it in their wigs for children, they’ll sell it, along with hair that’s too short or otherwise doesn’t meet their criteria, to help defray costs.
CWHL (Children With Hair Loss) was founded in September 2000 with the goal of helping kids with cancer, but they’ve since expanded their reach to include children with alopecia, burns, and other medical issues. They pride themselves on providing their hairpieces at no cost. Donated hair must be eight inches or longer. They accept grey hair, and, while they prefer hair not to be chemically treated, they will accept that as well.
Wigs for Kids is another organization providing wigs free of cost to kids and their families. They were founded around thirty years ago by Jeffrey Paul, a hairdresser who wanted to help his fifteen-year-old niece after she was diagnosed with leukemia. Hair donated to Wigs for Kids must be at least twelve inches long and cannot be colored, permed, or otherwise chemically treated.
Wigs 4 Kids, a completely different organization, has the same mission as Wigs for Kids and CWHL but is focused solely on helping kids in Michigan. Anyone can donate hair, but it must be at least ten inches long, not colored or chemically treated, and not “more than 10% grey.”
While the above organizations focus on helping children, Pantene Beautiful Lengths provide free wigs to women who have lost their hair through cancer treatments. They accept hair that is at least eight inches long, and, as with Wigs for Kids and Wigs 4 Kids, it cannot be colored or chemically treated.