Certain medical illnesses may cause hair loss in children and adults. Alopecia areata is a medical condition which causes permanent hair loss. This illness has no known cure. Children suffering from this disease often have self-esteem issues. Similarly, cancer patients who experience extensive hair loss following a chemotherapy session also struggle with their self image.
These people can greatly benefit from donated hair. Some organizations accept natural hair and make them into hair pieces for these patients. Many times, patients of alopecia areata or similar disorders are given priority over cancer patients, as chemotherapy patients have a very good chance of growing their hair back naturally.
Places for Donation
There are several organizations which accept donor hair and make them into hairpieces. Locks of Love is an organization which makes hairpieces for underprivileged children (under 21 years of age) suffering from alopecia areata and other illnesses which lead to long term hair loss. This organization operates in the United States and Canada. The organization receives over a thousand locks of hair every day. However, it is only possible to make a few hundred wigs from them. Several donor locks are used for making a single wig or hair extensions.
If you are particularly interested in donating to cancer patients, then Pantene Beautiful Lengths is a good place to start. This is an initiative taken by Pantene along with a wig manufacturer, HairUwear, for making wigs for women battling cancer. Their wigs are made available through select American Cancer Society wig banks.
The guidelines for accepting donor hair are more or less the same for all organizations. However, it is recommended that you carefully read the guidelines of the organization you are considering donating to. Some common guidelines are:
- Minimum length required is 10'' (8'' to 12'' in some cases). Curly hair should be pulled straight to measure length.
- Hair should be either braided or tied in a pony tail, and cut just above the braid rings.
- Colored hair is acceptable in some organizations, however bleached hair is unusable.
- Hair should be healthy without too many split ends.
- Up to 5% gray hair is permissible in some organizations.
- Dreadlocks are not acceptable.
- Layered hair is acceptable provided the longest layer is at least 10''.
- The donor must observe all the packaging norms.
Procedure for Donation
Some organizations may cut your hair for you, but your local hairstylist can do the job just as well. Wash your hair thoroughly with shampoo and conditioner, do not use any styling products, and wait for it to completely dry before getting it cut. Make sure that the hair does not touch the floor after it has been cut.
Tie the cut hair with rubber bands on both ends. Place it in a clean plastic zip-lock bag. Put the bag in a padded envelope along with the donation form and other documents if required. You can either mail this envelope to the respective organization or you can deliver it in person.