Why I will never donate my hair to Locks of Love (or anyone else)

As someone with very long hair, it’s a guarantee that at least a few times each year someone will say to me, “You have such pretty long hair! You should donate it to Locks of Love!”

The juxtaposition of these two statements never fails to make me boggle a bit. You think my hair is pretty, so you think I should cut it? Ok, ok…I know that’s not what they mean, but how is that any different than me walking up to a person and telling them, “That’s a really pretty dress! You should donate it to Goodwill!”

Either way, it’s kind of rude to suggest to someone the means by which they allocate their personal resources toward charitable donations. Just because you’ve got rooms full of furniture that you only use when your in-laws come to visit doesn’t mean that I’m going to come over to your house and tell you that you should donate it to Furniture Bank because they give furniture to people who need it more. However, if you have furniture you’re actually looking to get rid of, that may be an option for you, as might your local Freecycle if you’re not looking to go the charity route. I’m happy as long as long as you’re not putting perfectly good consumer goods in a landfill.

Anyway, I digress. When I get the inevitable Locks of Love comment, I have to beat back all of the snarky comments I’m tempted to make and politely reply, “I don’t plan on cutting my hair any time soon, but when I do, I won’t be donating to Locks of Love.”

This usually prompts responses of, “But they help kids with cancer. Don’t you want to help kids with cancer?” Or something along those lines. This gives me an opportunity to educate, and while I enjoy bursting people’s self-righteous bubbles as much as the next guy, I hate bursting the bubble of someone who has actually donated and honestly thought they were doing good and just wanted to spread the good around. But it has to be done.

Facts & Assumptions

First comes the gentle correction of fact. Locks of Love does not provide hair pieces to kids with cancer. They “[provide] hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis,” [1] which usually excludes hair loss from cancer treatment, since the hair loss is temporary. Locks of Love primarily works with kids with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes follicle death. [1]

So that’s the good news. If you donate to Locks of Love, you might still be helping a child, but it’s not necessarily the child that you thought.

Next comes the slightly less gentle correction of assumption. Locks of Love does not give most of its hair pieces away. It may give a few of them away, but most of them are provided to children with permanent hair loss at a reduced cost based on a sliding scale of financial need. [2]

So ok, we’ve established with information from the Locks of Love website that if you donate or have donated your hair, it might go to provide a hair piece for a kid with alopecia at a reduced cost. Still not so bad. But I keep using that word, “might.” And that’s where the bubble usually gets burst.

Why your hair (and mine) probably won’t make the cut

In order for hair to be made into a high-quality wig or prosthesis, it must be a minimum length (Locks of Love asks for 10 inches or longer) and have minimal damage. While the Locks of Love website states that it will accept hair that has been colored (but not bleached) or permed, most hair that has been processed in any way is too damaged to make prosthetic hair pieces such as the ones that Locks of Love provides. This, combined with misunderstandings about what can and cannot be donated, results in as much as 80 percent of all donated hair being rejected for prosthesis manufacturing. Of that 80 percent, some of it thrown away–mostly donations that are moldy because they are sent wet, donations that are too short and donations that are too damaged for any sort of hair piece manufacture. [3]

The rest is still technically acceptable for manufacturing hair pieces, but Locks of Love receives far more donations than it does requests for hair pieces, allowing it to choose only the very best donated hair for its prostheses. Odds are, your hair (and mine) won’t make the cut. Gray hair, for obvious reasons, cannot be used for children’s hair pieces, but is still acceptable for wig making. So is much of the hair that Locks of Love doesn’t send to its manufacturer, Taylormade Hair Replacement. But that hair never makes it into a prosthesis for a child with permanent hair loss. [3]

Finances, economics and where the hair goes

In 2002, Locks of Love received enough donated hair to make 10,000 hair pieces. (At 10 ponytails per hair piece, that adds up to at least 100,000 donations that, in theory, were acceptable for wig making.)  In that same year, the charity provided only 174 hair pieces. The majority of the remaining 98,000+ ponytails that are not used each year are sold, on average, to a tune of just over $3 per ponytail. [3] [4] This is somewhat less than the estimated fair market price of $5-10 per ounce (minimum) for wig-quality hair. Some ponytails can fetch $500 or more on the open market. [5]

To be fair, other hair donation charities such as Wigs 4 Kids and Great Lengths also sell excess hair (though I don’t have figures for these charities). The proceeds from the sales typically go toward operating costs, and in the case of Locks of Love, the excess is donated to alopecia research. [3] To me, however, my hair is worth much more than the $3 that it will likely be sold for. The market probably values it more, as well. If I were to sell my hair and donate the proceeds, it would likely do more good than donating the hair itself. To that end, I then could use the value of my hair to further any cause under the sun, from disease research to animal welfare to humanitarian aid.

The sale of hair by Locks of Love (and perhaps also other hair charities) has another unintended effect–it tends to depress the overall market price for human hair. When a market is flooded with a good at a price below the current market price, this tends to force the overall price downward. This effect is particularly harmful to women in the poorest areas of developing countries who rely on the sale of their hair to bring money into their communities or provide for their families. The majority of commercially-used human hair comes from South Asia, where the economies of some small, rural villages are buoyed by the income from the sale of human hair. This effect is also seen in some poor areas of Eastern Europe.

In short, the donation of your hair may do more harm than good.

Why pick on Locks of Love?

Locks of Love is by far the largest and most visible of hair donation charities. They have also been the least forthcoming about their practices. They’ve improved in recent years, but compared to the number of donations and amount of publicity they receive, their impact is small and their mission is probably the most misunderstood and the most misappropriated of all hair donation charities. Also, because of the large number of donations they receive, the likelihood that your donation will go to the cause you think it is, is very small.

If you really believe in the missions of the various hair charities, more good would likely be done if you just sent them a check. They would then be able to use more of the hair that they do receive (and trust me, they will continue to receive plenty of hair regardless of what anyone says about them), they’d have to sell less of it (thereby helping to preserve the price of human hair on the open market), and your donation will likely have more of a direct effect on the manufacture of a prosthetic hairpiece.

Alternatives

As I mentioned before, it is possible to sell your hair. Some wig makers will buy your hair from you directly. Ebay also allows the sale of human hair, and there are many websites dedicated to the auction and sale of human hair. As a warning, some of these sites are more reputable than others. Some cater to a clientèle with more a prurient interest in your hair, and you might want to avoid them if that makes you uncomfortable in any way. I’ve never actually sold my hair, so I can’t provide any advice other than “there are websites out there.” Do your research and trust your own judgment.

If you’re attached to the idea of doing good with your hair, you can donate the proceeds from the sale. This definitely gives you more flexibility as to the kind of good you can do. If you’re attached to the idea of donating your hair specifically, you may want to look into Matter of Trust, an organization that accepts hair of all lengths and conditions that they weave into mats to help clean up oil spills. This means that they can even use the few inches from your trim or the hair you just chopped off due to that unfortunate incident where you tried to bleach your hair for the summer and accidentally fried it instead. They even accept animal hair, so if you have a long-haired cat or dog in need of a summer grooming, they can get in on the action, too. Given the current oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, this organization is in particular need of donations right now.

Of course, you also have the option of just keeping your hair and donating your time. Given a choice, I’d pick this one over donating my hair or my money (not that I have much of the latter) every time.

Sources

[1] Locks of Love. “Mission and Vision.” http://www.locksoflove.org/mission.html

[2] Locks of Love. “Our Prostheses.” http://www.locksoflove.org/prostheses.html

[3] Hayt, Elizabeth. (September 6, 2007) “Lather, Rinse, Donate.” The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/06/fashion/06locks.html?pagewanted=print

[4] Flipflopjou. “Locks of Love.” http://www.squidoo.com/locksoflove

[5] MSNBC. (April 12, 2004) “Sell Yourself for Cash.” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3949869/

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50 Comments

  • Victoria says:

    Bravo! What a well-written, informative blog. Thanks so much for the information. I don’t have plans to sell my hair or donate it, but well-intentioned people who want to donate to Locks of Love need to see this. Nicely done.

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  • Kelly says:

    Thank You! This is the best info I found anywhere. My daughter and I were going to donate 13 inches each to them. Now I am contacting matter of fact. Again. Kelly

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  • Matt says:

    I just tweeted this article. I’m glad you actually put out there that Locks of Love isn’t that great. I am a guy with long hair and I always have people complimenting me on it and saying the same thing, that I should donate it to locks of love. I love my hair and take a lot of pride in it, so I wouldn’t want to donate it to an organization that uses the word “might” as much as they do.

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  • Julie says:

    I want to thank you so much for your informative article. I just cut 10″ off both of my young daughters hair to donate them to Locks Of Love. They were excited about helping another child in need as their grandmother just died recently of cancer. I think I will do a LOT more research before I decide what to do with their hair. I am possibly thinking of just sending a check in my daughters names and keeping their hair as “test” strands when they get to the age of wanting to color it LOL… In this day and age girls are coloring sooner than my generation did :-)
    Now I can use this hair to see processing time and how a color will turn out before actually dying their hair and hoping for the best LOL. Thanks again for your time in writing this information up. Wonderful! God Bless and much Peace! Julie

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  • Trisha says:

    @Julie:
    Hey Julie, I think that’s a great idea to keep some of the hair to test dyes on. A lot better than just taking a chance an not liking what turns out.
    And thanks Hilary for the article. I’m actuall y goin this week to cut my hair and plan on donating it. I knew I didn’t want to go to LOL because I have heard this type of stuff about them, but you sealed the deal on it and it’s a good thing. I’ll certantly cont my research on who to donate my hair to. Thanks again!

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  • Krista says:

    While I do not just believe everything someone says, I still thank you for the information even if now I have more to research, like the fair market value of hair. I had every intention of researching completely before talking my 8 yr old to donate her hair (she hates washing it) before summer because everyone should know their impact on the world around them as opposed to moving through life worried only about yourself, trying to raise a productive citizen of society and all. Please think people, I am quite sure that there are more reasons the villages in Asia and Europe have issues than the chicks not being able to sell their hair fast enough. Think maybe the men lost their jobs first? Why?
    Maybe if more people (with money to make a real difference) cared about some of those issues, companies like LOL wouldn’t be able to make a buck off of well intentioned people. There are so many out there who take advantage of consumers everyday, author and I agree, we need to up our standards and not just give our biz to LOL. But, when author compares a dress to her hair, its funny, she seems more concerned about what will be taken from her, what she loses. Maybe if more folks came from a place of ‘YES I can help’ the first thought in your head when asked would not be of what would be taken from you if you donate your dress to Goodwill or your hair to make a wig. Why don’t we all just donate time in our neighborhoods to pick up trash and when that is done we can pick the next chore???
    Don’t get me wrong, I would never walk up to a lady on the street and say thats pretty, give it away! I did not miss the authors point, hope readers doesn’t miss mine. While we should never have anyone telling us what we should do (you should donate your hair, its so pretty), we should always be thinking about what we can do for someone today, tomorrow. Think of the kids with alopecia. :)

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  • Maria says:

    When I am asked if I am planning to grow my hair long to donate it to Locks of Love, this is what I say: ” I give to other worthwhile charities, but I am growing my hair for myself alone.”

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  • Hanna says:

    I was unaware of any of this. Thank you so much for taking the time to post it.
    I’ve been saving my hair for at least a year or so now, as I’d originally planned to donate it to a similar orginization, but after reading this, I think I’ll send it to Matter of trust instead.
    My face really does not look good with long hair, so this will be a relief.

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  • Cean says:

    Matter of Trust is no longer accepting hair. In response to this post, I feel that I’m giving something away that I’m no longer using to an organization that might use it. If it’s between throwing it in my own trash, or donating it and having them decided if it’s worthy then throwing it away, I don’t see the difference. I think this post applies to the person who maybe is close to someone who has been affected by cancer, decides to shave their head so that a wig can be made and then finds out it was thrown away or sold. If it’s the average person who decides it’s time for a cut then thinks they might as well donate it, who cares what happens to it. I donate just about anything that is no longer of use to me. I let the people receiving it decide if they want to keep it or not. Just sayin…..

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  • kara says:

    Well, i am going to donate my hair to them anyway. Its just hair. It wil grow back. I was going to cut it anyway, so I don’t really care what happens to it. Donating is better than throwing away. I agree with Cean. I do understand your point of view, though. :)

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  • Katie says:

    Quick..somebody tell the new Jodi Arias jury that Ms. Arias claimed to have donated her self-proclaimed gorgeous hair to Locks of Love and will continue this practice if she is given life over death as a sentence. When she said this in open court, I almost slapped her off the TV screen. I knew Locks of Love wouldn’t accept chemically-treated hair and just look at how many times (and photos prove) she has had bleached blond hair, red hair, brown hair, black hair then back to bleached blond. I couldn’t believe she told that lie in court and this article proves what I already knew…Locks of Love does not accept chemically-treated hair. Who would want her skanky hair anyway?? It always looks greasy.

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  • Naomi says:

    Ah, yes, but the key word IS might. You MIGHT help a child in need. You MIGHT make their day and restore their self confidence. You MIGHT change their life forever. Who cares if they have cancer or not? I’m donating my hair tomorrow :)

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  • Lori says:

    When I went on the website for Locks of Love it gave me all the information that you gave, with one exception. It said they do not throw away unusable hair. They use it to off set their costs. I do understand what you are saying, but everyone’s hair is different. They probably don’t know if they can use it until they examine it. I have always had long hair and didn’t plan on donating it, but now I have to go through chemo and I would rather donate it than wait until it falls out and throw it in the garbage. It’s not like it’s a kidney or something. It will grow back.

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  • Vince Jr. says:

    @Lori:

    I donated my hair almost 8 years ago to Locks Of Love. I did not receive a certificate or anything for my hair (about 15 inches) that I was told months after the fact that I should have gotten. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously didn’t donate for a piece of paper, but it makes me wonder; did they scrap my hair and that’s why I didn’t get the certificate that supposedly everyone gets when they donate to LOL?

    IRONICALLY ENOUGH MY DAD, THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN MY LIFE, GOT CANCER RECENTLY. For almost 8 years I have grown my hair out again. I just got it cut about a week and a half ago. It was almost 30 inches! Now, before anyone wonders, I have never chemically treated my hair in any way. This time and the last time I donated everyone that saw my hair said it was the most healthy hair they had ever seen. This is because I have gone to great lengths for the past 12 years to make sure my hair was as healthy as could be, I never even blow dried it! I was told that in time it dries out your hair, which makes perfect sense.

    I still have not donated and have my locks. But after reading this article it makes me wonder, is hair as healthy as mine going to make a difference? I DO believe that some chance of it helping someone in need is better than no chance. I just wonder is there a better place to donate my hair? This is important to me because that was the last time I’ll grow out my hair. As beautiful as people say it was, I have gone through HELL and back to maintain my hair both times, and for over decade. The stress of having it past my butt this time was way too much and my Dad and my Sister ultimately convinced me to let it go and donate it. It was harder for me to cut this time because, among other things, knowing that I wouldn’t grow it like this again I had (literally) become attached to it :) I don’t want my hair to sit for too long or it may be useless. I’ve tried to find ways to preserve hair temporarily but have come with nothing. ANY THOUGHTS OF ANY OF THIS?

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  • Shellie says:

    I am wondering how you know that LoL gives away “a few of” their hair pieces, but that “most of them are provided…at a reduced cost based on a sliding scale of financial need. ” The footnote links to the LoL website which says that “Locks of Love provides them for free or on a sliding scale, based on financial need.” It does not make the few/most distinction. I’m interested to know more about this claim that “most” are sold to recipients, since it’s one I’ve heard repeatedly, but cannot find evidence to back up.

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  • Joe says:

    Here is the problem with ALL of your suggested alternatives – none of them take care of the need for natural human hair needed for wigs for those in need. Selling your hair at a premium price (and donating the proceeds) – does not add human hair into the pool of hair available for wigs for those in need (low or no cost). Its like saying don’t be an organ donor because 90% of your organs will be unusable anyhow and will be discarded – just make a donation instead. There is no alternative to (most) organ needs. Yes 8 in 10 of you have bad hair and it will probably be sold as a commodity for a few dollars to make paint brushes and help cover the operating expenses. Now if – with this article’s help – everyone with great hair stopped donating to these organizations – now they’ll have an even smaller amount of usable quality hair. I don’t care what the person’s need is – short of them losing their hair from a meth addiction – if someone (particularly kids) has a serious enough condition to need a wig… I’d be happy to donate my hair – even if it was a 10% chance it actually gets used.

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  • Trix says:

    While I realize it’s an older article, I’m glad you put this out there. I have a very strong religious conviction against cutting my hair, and as it’s now below my knees, I’ve had quite a few people over the years tell me I’m selfish for not donating my hair. I think my “favorite” was the woman who, when I told her that cutting hair (for women) is against my religion, replied that it’s against hers, too, but she did it anyway.

    In reply to the “It’s not a kidney or something” comment, for some of us who feel bullied because we refuse to donate, it’s not as simple as saying “it will grow back.” It’s still a part of my body, and the uncut aspect of it (no, I don’t trim it, either) is very important to me and it shows my submission to God. That is a far higher priority than cutting it so that an organization “might” make it into a wig for a child or might sell it or lose it or simply throw it away.

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  • Mim says:

    I just visited Matter of Trust and looked into their hair donation program. They accept hair donations 3″ and longer, but look what they publish on their website:

    Also please send LONG braids to:
    10+ inch (25cm) Braids go to:
    http://www.locksoflove.org/donate.html
    Wigs 4 Kids
    12+ inch (30cm) braids to go:
    http://www.wigsforkids.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=34&Itemid=159

    I guess if there’s a chance my hair could help someone, why not?

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  • Hillary says:

    @Mim: Even though this article is more than 3 years old at this point, it is still one of my most popular. Many things that were true at the time that I wrote this are no longer accurate, and thus, some of my recommendations have changed. I should probably write and post an update, as this does seem to be a very popular topic.

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  • Adrienne says:

    I am looking at all the hair charities right now because my almost 7 year old daughter is currently growing her hair to donate 10 inches. I am not leaning away from Locks of Love and more toward either ‘Children with Hair Loss’, who claim to donate hair pieces free of charge to children with any form of hair loss; or, possibly to ‘Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths’ who make wigs for women with cancer.
    An update to your article would be greatly appreciated!

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  • [...] I chose to look elsewhere because of articles like this and this that explain how Locks of Love essentially profits from hair [...]

  • Jessica says:

    As I was online looking up how many inches are required to donate hair, I came across this article. As I was reading I became annoyed quickly because of many different points but mostly being of that fact that the writer compares donating hair for a great cause to donating a piece of furniture. The beauty of hair is that it grows back. Yes, you may have a point that you shouldn’t just donate a piece of furniture because it doesn’t get used very often but furniture is something you may never be able to get back, unlike hair. If there is at all a chance that the hair you donate could help another human being then why not? Maybe the next time someone tells you how beautiful your hair is and says you should donate it you could reply by saying ” maybe I will because it might help someone and I can grow ANOTHER set of long beautiful hair”. I thought this article was invalid and needed to be thought through a little better.

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  • shakingMyHead says:

    ….couple things you should consider (hoping the writer -who I’m purposely not learning in case she ever does something respectable publicly, i wouldn’t want to associate her with this drivel- still reads feedback. ..doubt it, the article shows a disgusting if not too common lack of complex thinking abilities.)

    People don’t say that to you because you have belle hair that is being wasted just sitting on your head like so much furniture sitting in spare rooms, people say that to you because you have so much hair that its noticeable and they are compulsed to comment. Wanting to be nice they don’t say, “hey, get that hedge maze trimmed up!” instead they say “you should donate your lovely hair.” That’s all.

    Seriously, there’s a picture of you right there which confirms it. …While you’re at it get your ‘brows dealt with.

    I’ll give you credit for being the type that can take constructive criticism instead of just crying how some ones words hurt. What bothered me enough to comment is the self-centered and inflated ego which is so prevalent in society, particularly among the under-30 crowd, sadly the future of humanity. You’re not as smart as you think you are, books can’t teach like experience, get a pet and learn to view the world through their eyes. Basically i’m saying get your head out of your ass, its appalling.

    Oh, and don’t say you don’t have much time to donate to charity, tell the truth, you have higher priorities like gossip, superficial/junk-food tv, trying to prove you have big girl intellectual pants to people who don’t matter, and what not.

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  • critical thinker says:

    Another point…people here are assuming that the “sold” hair from locks of love is profit, providing some kind of comfy retirement mansion for scrooge McHairyDuck. While i don’t claim to know the books of this particular organization, it is clear that the article does not make mention of this. It is almost as if the author decided she wanted to do some research to justify her self absorbed decision. Let’s see….yes, some data from over a decade and a half prior should do nicely. After all, nothing ever changes in organizations year over year, right? This article was a waste of time, and a transparent effort of self congratulatory smugness.

    Very disappointing, indeed.

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  • Lisa Gautier says:

    Hi I was just contacted by one of your readers. Thanks for this research! This was really informative. Our mission is to keep useful materials out of landfills so part of me is still glad that they further that cause. However, I must admit that I myself was under the same impression as all of you. And if I didn’t take the time to do your research before putting their contact info on our website, 99% of the public wouldn’t either.

    I’m very grateful! In 2010, BP asked us for and then later declined tons of hair, fur and waste fleece donations and at one point a lot of good sorted natural fibers were landfilled before they could clean up the oil spill and that broke my heart. We wrote about it all over our website and in the press because we were furious. Once a recycling system is established, the last thing you want is for it to be jeopardized.

    If these groups are just overwhelmed by good will and too many donations, I do understand that that can happen. We got over 3/4 million pounds in 4 days during the BP oil spill. (and hair is light!) And over following 6 weeks donations from every zip code in North America and 30 countries. People, especially hair stylists and pet groomers, are very generous and especially in times of crisis. In kind gifts can be overwhelming for small groups.

    Now we ask every donor to sign up to our database program (free and spam free) http://www.excessaccess.org and we only send an alert if there is a large or a local oils spill, or if a school is needing fiber for oil spill clean up science experiment. That way we can manage the volume and locations.

    We will remove their links for the time being and reach out to them for comment. Thanks again for your due diligence, and for mentioning us! And to your reader who alerted us!

    Best wishes,

    Lisa Craig Gautier
    President, MatterOfTrust.org

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  • [...] researching which nonprofit to donate my ponytail to, I came across this article. Although I don’t agree with her attitude and rather vain tone, she does make a few good [...]

  • Kelly Ferraro says:

    Can I just say that the overall tone of this post was incredibly condescending. I understand that the author wants to get her point across but treating good-hearted people who are trying to do the right thing as uneducated is actually pretty pretentious. Also, I’ve read the author’s credentials and she has to know that “Locks of Love” by Flipflopjou from http://www.squidoo.com/locksoflove is not a reputable, credible or scientific source.

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  • emi says:

    I am donating my hair for the 3rd time and was looking up the different organization again just to get a refresher on required lengths and such. This article popped up and it made me extremely frustrated. It paints Locks of Love to be a terrible organization, which it isn’t, just severely misunderstood. (Also donating hair is not equal to donating furniture), Even people who do research into the organization, like this young lady did, tend to overlook what LoL really does. They make top of the line custom hair protheses for children with medical permanent and long term hair loss. They take a mold of the child’s head so the piece fits perfectly. Also it’s not just a wig that you plop on in the morning and readjust throughout the day. It creates a vacuum with the child’s head so the only way it will come off is if the seal is broken by the wearer. This allows the kids to do things like swim with the hair pieces. And each strand of hair is also put in BY HAND to create a more natural look. This whole process takes a long time, making it hard to accommodate children with temporary hair loss who need an immediate solution. And how is a kid with alopecia less deserving of your hair than a cancer patient? Just because you donated your hair to LoL thinking it would go to a kid with cancer only later to find out they don’t really make hair pieces for kids with cancer is not the organizations fault. Do your research before you donate.

    Not only is it lengthy, but it’s costly. So yes they sell the hair that doesn’t meet the necessary requirements to help offset the costs. Once finished though, the children have a one of a kind, personalized protheses (notice how I’m not calling them wigs? You can swim with one people!!!!) Yes is 2002 only made 174 pieces, because that’s how many requests they received. The whole point of the organization is that the hair pieces are highly customized, how can they make a piece knowing who it will go to. Yes they could be doing a better job explaining what happens with the unused hair, but no one’s perfect.

    So if you’re dead set on having your hair be part of a wig for a kid who has cancer, maybe Locks of Love isn’t the organization for you, but there are plenty others out there to donate: Wigs4Kids, Children With Hair Loss, Pantene Beautiful Lengths, Wigs For Kids. Selling your hair on ebay and donating the proceeds isn’t really the solution in my opinion, you have the hair, why not just send it to one organization? You could be selling it to some creep online.

    The best thing you can do if you want to donate your hair is be properly informed of the donation guidelines. A lot of hair that gets thrown away is because it doesn’t meet the criteria that is clearly laid out on every organizations website. If you can try and donate over 10 inches of hair. If you think about it, at least an inch of each end will need to be removed (split ends from the “raw” side and the part that needs to be stuck into the head cap on the “cut” side in addition to evening everything out). Also gather your hair into multiple pony tails before cutting it, you’ll get more hair that way.

    Please don’t let this article discourage you from donating your hair. Locks of Love is a great organization, but there are so many others too that know how to deal with and process the hair. You could definitely make a difference in someone’s life, even if it’s not the type of person you originally thought it would be.

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  • Bethany says:

    @emi: This is a wonderful set of points. I have donated multiple times to Locks of Love and Pantene over the years. and my hair is not chemically treated, so my hair stylist was almost completely sure that it would get used. I do however completely appreciate the blogger’s post that points out so many facts (out-dated or not) for anyone looking to donate hair. Many people don’t realize the prosthetic nature of the donations from LoL versus the wigs from the other organizations. Many people also don’t realize the difference between various types of cancer, long-term diseases, and so on, for the needs of wigs or prosthetics. I thought the comments and this article were all very informative, applause to you all. If you are wanting to donate in honor of a child who has lost the battle to cancer, or one who is fighting it now, you may have donated to LoL and then be upset to find out it wasn’t going where you thought it would be going. So I do hope those people still donate their to another wonderful organization. You can also donate monetarily with the hair with your donation submission to help offset the costs and allow the non-profit to use their funds (even in small amounts) for other needs. Bottom line, there are non-profits out there for just about everything and with some research and interesting view points on all sides, you can find the perfect one to support for yourself!
    Cheers!

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  • Danielle says:

    I have long hair and I’m tired of it. I plan to donate it. If it isn’t chosen, that’s okay. My heart was in the right place. I’m over it, and if someone else has a use for it, then that’s good enough for me. If you’re not ready to cut your hair yet, then don’t. If you are ready, at least consider donating it.

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  • Grecia says:

    Donate your hair!!!! If you plan to have 8 inches cut Pantene is teamed up w the American Cancer Association. They DO provide real hair wigs for FREE!! I donated 12″ to Locks of Love during my college yrs before I knew they charge and DON’T consider children fighting cancer as candidates because hair grows back after treatment. That is sad because what if a child doesn’t make it….??? Anyway I do not regret it because at least my donation may have helped in some.way. This article has a point but I don’t like the tone…have u not heard…”it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”? People should be able to donate what they can, someone will appreciate it .Only God is righteous.

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  • carol says:

    You are a self righteous bitch. Donating your hair is different than furniture or a pretty dress. You grew your hair for free and once you cut it off to donate, you can easily grow it back again foe free. It’s not like yiu worjed hard to pay for it and then someone suggests donating it. You are selfish. If it takes 1 billion people to cut their hair in order to only make one wig when all is said and done, it is worth it to make that person who is bald not by choice smile and feel good about themelves. Who cares if half the hair is unusable or gets sold to pay for operations etc… as long as there is a cancer patient or hair challenged person out there benefitting then it is worth it. I haven’t been this mad in a long time. I would soit on you if I heard you say this in public.

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  • Jen says:

    If you’re cutting your hair off anyway, who gives a shit whether the chances of them actually using it are low? It would otherwise just go in the trash. This whole entire response is only appropriate if you were seriously considering cutting your hair (which you aren’t), so why are you even bothering to respond to these people? People are obnoxious and will always make unwarranted comments based on things they see that are out of the ordinary, in example, your extremely long hair. You went through all this trouble to research the fact that hair that would’ve alternately have been garbage, might get sold for $3 instead instead of being donated. OH Groundbreaking! Thanks! The end result of this was you just sounding pretty selfish, because you had such a hissy fit that someone would even SUGGEST you sell your Rapunzel hair to a person in need. Get over it. I’m getting a pixie cut next week and I have no qualms with giving my hair away, it’s not like I’m going to frame the thing over my fireplace.

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  • hilary….thx sooooo much 4 the info. had no idea ppl who work w/charities could b sooooo cold-highly disappointed. have 2 braids from my husband n my li’l 1′s friend shaved his head 2 donate, so i was gonna c if his hair was “eligible”, t. y. for saving him from shaving it. highly upset set about this, but again, do apprec immensely!

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  • hilary….thx sooooo much 4 the info. have 2 braids from my husband n my li’l 1′s friend shaved his head which made my him upset that he didn’t do it, so i was going 2, but now i deeply apprec the “heads up” on how cold ppl who work w/charities can b-very disappointing! i’m really glad i scrolled down some more on “google” to find this, again t. y. extremely!

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  • Vanessa says:

    While reading this article all I could think about is how incredibly selfish it sounds. Hairloss is hairloss regardless why it’s caused especially if it’s permenant just because my donated hair won’t go to a cancer pt doesn’t make it any less of a gift. One of the main points was if your hair doesn’t make the cut it gets sold who cares! If my hair, which I obviously don’t have need which is why I am getting it cut, has even a slightest chance of helping someone else who needs it why not donate it? I have met children and adults with alopecia areata it’s a terrible condition. Imagine if your beautiful hair which you get so many compliments on along with that dreaded “You have such pretty long hair. You should donate it to Locks of Love” comment were gone due to alopecia areata or another medical condition. I’m sure this article would be very different. Maybe it would read why everyone should donate there unwanted hair to locks of love (or anyone else). Why do I donate my hair? I donate because I can. I donate because my hair grows so fast I don’t even know what to do with it. I donate because it just might even if it’s a slightest chance might make a difference in someone’s life. If that makes me self righteous then I think there should be more self righteous people in the world.. LOL. Maybe just maybe one of us will make a difference :)

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  • Beth D says:

    I stumbled upon the blog article as my seven year old (on her own accord mind you) wants to donate her 10 inches of hair. I’m sickened by this written artical. We do good things not for a pat on the back or any other reason? We all can learn a good lesson to pay it forward. I happen to be diagnosed with breast cancer the same day my now six year old was born. I was able to purchase a wig that was real hair thanks to donors!! Real hair allowed me to curl wash and looked more real than synthetic wigs. So applause to all of you people that have donated your hair! People like myself thank you! So coming from someone that was truly bald for all to see?!! Take your compliments for your long beautiful hair.. because having people look at you in the grocery store with pity with two small children in tow.. Rather be in your shoes.

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  • TWorley says:

    Here is a website that offers a alternative to Locks of Love, http://www.wigsforkids.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=34&Itemid=159
    You can find a link to salons in your area on the page. I too have been growing out my hair and wanting to donate it, as I just witnessed my best friends 16 year old daughter shave her head. She is doing chemo, and after being in remission twice, she is fighting a brain tumor for the 3rd time. It is for her inspiration that made me want to donate my hair. I have about 3 inches to go before I can cut it.. but when ready I will be sending it to Wigs for Kids.

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  • mjrohden says:

    Interesting article and comments. I agree with those who said that dresses and furniture are not hair, but the fact remains, the hair IS YOURS. It’s on YOUR body therefore, “donation pushers” should have more input over your furniture than your hair. I have a kidneys… lots of people need kidneys. Should I go have mine cut out just because someone suggests it? No. Its a personal decision. Someone’s hair is not public domain. It sounds as if plenty of people are donating.. there isn’t a shortage. How about I just send a check to a cancer research or St. Judes. I’m more concerned about a child recovering from cancer than I am about whether they have hair. Yes, it’s nice for them to have hair but….. but is my hair going to save a child / someone from cancer more than donating funds to research? It sounds like they could get enough donations through cadavers to supply the need. I imagine there is plenty of hair that fit the criteria from tragic car accidents / suicides / murder, if it were offered in “the talk” about organ transplant.

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  • youngerbutsmarter says:

    @shakingMyHead:

    Thank you SO much for saying what I had the inclining to say. But just to add a little more fire to her burn:

    Hillary, as I was researching the requirements for donating hair, your article appeared, and the more I read, the more irritated I became due to your ignorant, selfish nature. Stop flattering yourself. Your hair is not that amazing, and in agreement with “shakingMyHead”, I suggest that your eyebrows receive serious help. When it is written that your hair is worth more than $3, I am forced to restrain from vomiting in humiliation for humanity. Your hair belongs to whomever you deem to be your creator, and in my case, my Creator is the Christian God which therefore means that your hair and no portion of your existence, possessions or physical/psychological gifts, were intended for YOU. Rather, your gifts and earthly possessions should be used to better human kind as a whole and help do works for the greater good for the Almighty God. Selfishly writing a blog to persuade others to think as you think and wanting to keep your “beautiful” hair for your own enjoyment does not fall under doing works for the greater good. Due to your own doing, I have a theory that you keep your hair JUST to tell others, when they ask if you are going to donate it, your opinion against the donation of hair for a cause. I am not a “donation pusher”, but a truly selfless human would desire with every ounce of their existence to provide for others with less than themselves. We are the difference we hope to see in the world. Sitting on our asses and hoping someone else will change the world will push humanity no where.

    I will donate my hair after an abundance of research is completed because even if there is a slim chance that my rare, undamaged, or colored, strawberry-blonde locks make it to a child who needs them more than myself, I can say that I wanted to help making a difference in the world, unlike a stubborn woman probably at least twice my age. If you so deeply desire for the women in Asia and Eastern Europe to have the opportunity to support themselves through selling their own hair, why don’t you create a non-profit in attempt to do so? Just a thought for your feeble mind to contemplate. And please, before you go writing a blog on how to NOT help kids in need, maybe you, Hillary, should look for ways to change the problems you see within the hair donating community. Stop complaining about what is wrong, and CHANGE what is wrong.

    It disappoints me to think that every child at my high school contains more intelligence and humility and are less cruel and stubborn as yourself.

    P.S. Try proof reading your writing before pressing “send”. Maybe then more people will take you seriously and not mistake you for a rude child.

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  • Dana says:

    Donate to Pantene – they make wigs for women with cancer. My friends and I all donate to them now ——- https://www.facebook.com/Beautifullengths8?fref=nf

    And quite frankly – the author of this article should do something with her hair. It looks kind of blah and lifeless. Maybe a little style would help, whether you donate or not!!!

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  • Annette says:

    Hi there! I totally know where you are coming from. As someone who once donated, I did research (most thanks from your post here) then tries to sell.
    That also did not go well.
    you can read about my adventure on
    http://bit.ly/1uXfNz3
    I included a link back to here :)
    Thanks for the read!

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  • makenzie says:

    Have heard some of this before but was hopeing it wasn’t true. I just donated 22 inches of hair last week. I have studied Alopecia Areata before though and the familes struggle a lot of emotional problems.

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  • Mimi says:

    I also stumbled across this blog as I was researching where to donate. I specifically grew out my hair, while I am able, to donate it. In researching the different places, I decided I am NOT donating to Locks of Love because they only accept children’s hair and sell the rest. While I don’t have a problem with them selling it, I wanted to know I was making more of a difference. As LoL and Pantene probably get tons of donated hair, I decided to go with Matter Of Trust as I also care about the environment, our oceans and the poor creatures who have to live there with no control over what we humans are doing to pollute it. I didn’t care for the tone in this article, but it did lead me to Matter of Trust.

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  • Penny Mc says:

    It seems to me that the people who made the original comment were attempting to make a COMPLIMENT. Say “thank you” and move on. The fact that you spent so much time building a case against an organization is mind boggling. THEY did not solicit your hair.

    For those who want to know, the Pantene program donates wigs to the American Cancer Society’s Wig Bank Program. The reason natural hair is used is that they are able to be highlighted, colored, and styled to match their true look, plus natural hair breathes better and can be worn while cooking. (Synthetic hair singes)

    Why does this matter? Check out The Victory Center in Toledo, OH, which provides all sorts of free support services to cancer patients. http://thevictorycenter.org/ We are the only ACS Wig Bank in a 90 mile radius, and these wigs are provided free of charge. I love to see the joyous reactions that women have when their dignity is restored by receiving a beautiful wig they would otherwise not be able to afford. Bless all you who donate to Pantene! Our ladies say thanks!

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  • flora says:

    Thank you! I’m at the salon right now and you gave me a fantastic alternative! This rocks.

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  • Bradley says:

    Regardless of what Hillary writes, generosity and kindness must prevail. If everyone were to stop hair donations to all of these organizations, nothing good would come of it. I think we should all stop worrying about what “we” are going to get out of something and concern ourselves with what others will get from our acts. @youngbutsmarter, you mention that your Christian God. Now, since I’m an atheist, I could be way off base, but if you reread your post and then think about your God, is that really something that you think (s)he would condone? This isn’t the forum to insult anyone over, no matter how you feel.

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  • Johnd284 says:

    Once I initially commented I clicked the Notify me when new feedback are added checkbox and now each time a remark is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you possibly can remove me from that service? Thanks! aakcaaaddkdb

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  • Elisabeth says:

    So you would rather complain about Locks of Love online than actually help people? I’m not saying Locks of Love is perfect, but at least they’re doing something. All you’re doing is sitting around whining to strangers. If you know/care so much about how “evil” Locks of Love is, then why aren’t you on the phone, telling them? The way you get what you think is best (not necessarily what you want) is not to complain. It’s to take action. And Bradley is right, you need to take into account that other people (not might) WILL be helped, instead of thinking of yourself.

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  • Jimena says:

    I wish you’d saved us all the time by shortening your article. You could have said what you meant more directly by just writing ‘Unless a child in staring death in the face I can’t possibly be bothered to donate my ‘beautiful’ hair because all my self esteem hinders on it’s length.’ End article.

    The Locks of Love website clearly states where the hair pieces go. If you are so attached to your hair, I’d assume you’d look up the site yourself, rather than lopping it off and sending it to an organization you THINK donates pieces to children with cancer. It’s really sad that you would purposefully discourage people who wholeheartedly want to do something good to be selfish like you instead.

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