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Hair Donation Guide: Prepping for Purpose

February 25, 2024
6 min read
Shavee holds up bundle of hair wearing green cape

Every lock of hair tells a story. It’s not just a part of our physical appearance; it’s a thread in the history of our life experiences. Yet, for some, hair loss can be more than a style change—it’s a challenge to their sense of self. For individuals facing medical conditions, such as cancer, hair loss can magnify the emotional strain of an already difficult journey. This is where selfless acts of hair donation weave into the narrative as beacons of hope and support.

There are many St. Baldrick’s volunteers who choose to shave their head with St. Baldrick’s and raise money for childhood cancer research, while also donating their hair to another organization. And for those not ready to go all the way with a buzz cut, cutting and donating your hair is a great alternative that still allows you to set up a St. Baldrick’s fundraising page and help to Conquer Kids’ Cancer!

If you’re considering the profound act of hair donation, you’re on the brink of offering a literal piece of yourself as comfort and encouragement to someone in their time of need. This guide is crafted to help you take that final step, ensuring that your gesture is as impactful as it can be. Here’s how to prepare your hair, and by doing so, prepare your heart to change a life.

Preparing for a Hair Donation: The Technicalities

Shavee with hair in pigtails, smiling

2019 St. Baldrick’s Northwest Tucson Event

Minimum Hair Length Requirements

The first step is to check the minimum hair length required by the organization you wish to donate to. Typically, most require a minimum length of 8 to 12 inches, measured from the cut point, to create a viable wig. If your hair isn’t there yet, don’t worry. We’ll cover tips for growing it out shortly.

Ensuring Hair Health and Cleanliness

For your donation to be usable, your hair must be in good health without split ends or damage. A regular trim every three months can maintain a healthy appearance and trim away any damaged or split ends. Additionally, your hair should be clean and dry before it is cut. Avoid using heavy oils and styling products that can weigh hair down or make it greasy.

“The best tip I have for growing out hair is to get your hair trimmed. By trimming the hair, you are cutting off the split ends and preventing the hair from snapping off.”
Jenny Hartman, Arlington Heights, IL

Shavee smiles, holding up hair

2019 Emmaus Shave for the Brave Event

Dealing with Colored or Chemically Treated Hair

Donation organizations usually accept colored or chemically treated hair, as long as it’s in good health and meets the minimum length requirement. Some organizations may have specifications for the type of coloring or treatment allowed, so it’s best to check with them before making any changes to your hair.

Tips for Growing Your Hair to the Desired Length

Growing long, healthy hair takes time, patience, and good care. Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein can help support healthy hair growth. Protect your hair from damage by using heat styling tools sparingly and avoiding tight hairstyles that can cause breakage.

“The secret to growing out healthy hair is to first eat healthy. Fresh fruits and vegetables will feed your hair great nutrients.”
– Jenna Wilkinson, Las Vegas, NV

Finding a Reputable Hair Donation Organization

Selecting the right organization is crucial. Begin with thorough research to find one that aligns with your values and donation priorities. Look for organizations that are transparent about where your donation goes and how it helps those in need. If possible, choose an organization that creates wigs at no cost to the recipient.

Research and Selection

Search online for organizations, reach out to local hair salons, or check online for testimonials and experiences of other hair donors.

Understanding the Process

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, understand the donation process and any documentation or forms you’ll need to fill out. Some organizations may ask for a small lock of hair to be sent in advance for pre-approval. They might also have shipping guidelines for proper handling and packaging. Familiarize yourself with these procedures to ensure a smooth and successful donation.

Preparing Emotionally for a Hair Donation

Shavee cries

2019 St. Baldrick’s Day-Ulster/Greene County Event

Addressing Personal Attachment to Your Hair

Recognize that hair can carry emotional weight, especially if it’s been part of your identity for a long time. It’s okay to feel attached to it. Reflect on why you’re choosing to donate and the potential impact of your selfless act.

“Somebody asked me after my first shave if I had bought a whole load of pretty scarves and wigs. I replied, “I will display my bald head proudly for every brave warrior battling cancer.””
– Gaylene Meeson

Embracing the Impact

Understand and internalize the potential your hair donation has to positively affect someone undergoing a difficult health experience. A wig created from your hair may restore confidence and a sense of normalcy to its recipient, which can be a priceless gift.

Bald shavee smiles, holds shaved hair while getting head shaved

2019 Annual Fado St. Baldrick’s Denver Event

Taking the Final Step

With your hair healthy, clean, and at the right length, and your decision on the organization and purpose behind your donation clear, it’s time to take the final step. The emotional and physical preparation involved signals an incredible journey—one that marks you as both a steward of kindness and an instrumental part of the community acting against the emotional toll of medical conditions.

The Deepest Cut for the Greatest Cause

The choice to shave your head and donate your hair is a symbolic one, representing a connection that goes beyond the physical and into the emotional. It’s a gesture that captures the spirit of collective support and communal strength. As you prepare yourself for this profound act, remember that the impact extends far beyond the moment you send off that precious lock of hair.

Katie Perry rocking the bald (left), and her hair length 2 years later (right)

Katie Perry rocking the bald (left), and her hair length 2 years later (right)

“I did it for one reason and one reason only — to shine a light on childhood cancer and raise funds for children’s cancer research. I did it for the kids. I did it for my friend Honored Kid Lily.”
– Katie Perry

Are you ready for the next step?
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