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How to Donate Hair: The Process, Length Requirements, and More

Read this before your cut your hair.



If you've decided to donate your hair (yay!), you should know that cutting off your ponytail is just the first step. Actually, you know what? That's not even the first step. Because a good amount of pre-planning goes into the hair-donation process (or, at least, it should), and it's not exactly something that you can re-do if you mess up the first time. So before you chop off all your hair, let's chat about common donation requirements, all the steps to cutting your hair and how to donate, as well as other ways to get involved. Because as I said: Your hair is just the start of it.


Length isn't the only qualification considered. To ensure high-quality results, most donation organizations prefer hair that hasn't been bleached and is a natural shade. Some places accept color-treated hair and gray hair, so find a place that accepts your hair length and current color.


What is the process of donating hair?

Once you decide on the donation organization that you'd like to work with, the easiest way to donate hair is to make an appointment at a salon that partners with them. If you can't find a partner nearby or that isn't offered, follow their specific guidelines online to DIY it. Here are the general steps for how to donate hair to give you a basic idea of the process.



How to donate your hair

1.Measure your hair.

Instead of measuring to the very tip of those few longest strands (which are usually split ends that'll need to be trimmed anyway), measure from the point where you want to start your cut to the point where your ends begin to thin out. For curly hair, you can pull it tight to measure. Take as accurate a measurement as possible to make sure it meets the minimum requirements for the place you selected (again, even better if it's longer).


2.Wash and dry your hair.

Make sure your hair is clean of all product and buildup and completely dry. Air-drying your hair is fine (it's usually preferred that wavy hair or curly hair types are left natural and not blown straight), but make sure the hair is totally dry before cutting. You'll later wrap the hair in plastic, and hair that's grown mold on it won't be accepted (understandably so).



3.Section and tie it in multiple ponytails.

When you think of chopping off hair, you typically picture one large ponytail, but it's actually preferred to divide it out into a few ponies instead. Some organizations even ask you to section the hair by layers if the length varies, so again, just double-check before you start cutting. Wrap an elastic (or a few) around each section until it's tightly secured. Some places prefer ponytails over braids, so again, make sure before you get started.



4.Cut.

Keep in mind that you'll need to cut above the rubber band to keep it bound together, so account for an additional inch or so when you tie your ponytail.


5.Package them up and send 'em out.

Gather your ponytails and wrap them all together while keeping each ponytail tied off separately. Place them neatly in a sealed plastic bag along with your name and whatever additional information they require, then package them in a padded mailing envelope. Complete any required online donation forms, and mail out your hair.


6.Donate.

We might be to the end of the steps, but the process is really just getting started. As helpful as hair donations are, monetary donations are crucial, too. “While the hair costs us nothing, we still have the same operating expenses as any for-profit business does,” Chimera explains. To ensure that your hair donation becomes a wig that someone can actually wear and doesn't sit in inventory, send a monetary donation as well or start a crowdfunding campaign to cover the manufacturing costs.


7.Track the process.

Some places will even keep you updated on your hair's journey as a thanks for your help. Hair We Share launched a ponytail tracking program for hair donors who've additionally donated $145 for the production of the wig, and through this program, donors can receive updates on the creation process and final product and really see the impact of their donations.



The takeaway:

Wigs aren't easy to make, full stop. Even if you currently have a hot pink pixie cut or can't grow your hair long enough to donate it, you can still contribute in a hugely impactful way. Without money, the wigs can't get made, so monetary donations are just as important as donating hair for providing wigs to those in need.