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December 3, 2013 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Is selling or donating my hair worthwhile, or should I just get a damn haircut like normal people?

I need a haircut. It's been about a year. My hair is longer right now than it's ever been in my life, to the point that it's starting to get annoying to deal with. When I cut it, I will be going significantly shorter.

My hair is very straight, healthy, un-treated with chemicals, and about 20 inches long from scalp to ends.

Is it worth selling or donating? How convenient is this to do? What's the going rate? If you've sold or donated your hair, would you do it again?

Can I consider my hair a valuable material resource, or is the era of Fantine and Jo March firmly behind us?

I googled this and found a couple of websites that trade in human hair (for example Hairwork) and some content-farm articles that didn't instill a lot of confidence.

Inspiration for posting: I pulled a friggen Rapunzel Barbie wig out of the shower drain this weekend.
posted by Sara C. to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Here is an in-depth article about hair donation organizations that might be helpful.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:54 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Here's a site for Pantene-Locks of Love. If you can get an 8" pony-tail, just have your stylist cut it off and mail it in.

Pretty simple and it's a great cause.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:59 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

I had a 10" haircut a couple weeks ago, and the salon where I did it offered to handle the donation to Pantene-Locks of Love for me. No money, but zero hassle for me.

Call ahead and ask if your stylist will do it -- it seems pretty common around here. (Mid-tier salon in the San Francisco bay area.)
posted by tinymegalo at 1:02 PM on December 3, 2013

I've donated ... 4? 5? 8? times in the past. Each time, the stylist has just put it in a braid or ponytail, cut it, and mailed it off. One time I weighed it - it was only 4 ounces!

If you're going to chop off that much anyway, I say donate. It's way easier than trying to sell (which i also thought of doing).
posted by Ms Vegetable at 1:05 PM on December 3, 2013

My local cosmetology college offers a free wash and cut if you're donating your hair, and they measured mine before they got started to make sure it met the minimum donation length. I'd donate again, but I'd see if any (*ahem*) salons with more experience and amenities might offer a free or discounted cut with donation--sometimes the time invested at a cosmetology college isn't worth the "free" price.
posted by epj at 1:06 PM on December 3, 2013

I did the St. Baldrick's fundraiser last year. My hair was too short to donate, so I bleached the crap out of it and dyed it hot pink because it was going to be going away anyway. But tons of the people who participate donate their hair, and the hair donation is handled by the St. Baldrick's folks.

Shaving your head isn't for everyone, but for me it was a great experience. I got to raise money for a great organization, I got to have some fun, and I think it was good for me from a self-esteem perspective realizing that I'm still super fucking hot even bald. (I also felt like I set a good example for my Girl Scouts, showing them that girls don't always have to "look like girls" if they don't want to.) Benefits all around.

IF you're looking to do something drastic--you say significantly shorter--you have the opportunity to bring in a PILE of money in addition to your donated hair. Also you won't have the "dang, I need a haircut ALREADY!" annoyance for several months.
posted by phunniemee at 1:08 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

We have done Pantene and it is very simple. They do not require as long of a pony tail if you don't want to go too short. Also some places charge people for wigs, and they supposedly do not. Donation to help someone in the most challenging days of their lives is a great thing to do!
posted by maxg94 at 1:09 PM on December 3, 2013

You can literally cut your hair off (in the prescribed manner on the websites) and mail it in, with the correct forms, to several of the charities that accept hair donations. It's that easy -- or you can go to a salon.
posted by sm1tten at 1:09 PM on December 3, 2013

My wife donates every few years and believes it's worth it.

If your hair doesn't get used, the charity will sell it and make a small amount of money.
posted by zarq at 1:09 PM on December 3, 2013

obligatory link to the Locks of Love controversy
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

My daughter has donated her hair to Locks of Love. She got the full treatment for free at a very nice local salon. It was a big deal for her for the salon and donating experiences and was a very simple process. There are several salons around here that offer some amount of the service free if you donate and they take care of the donation piece at some of them for you. I'd call around if that's your plan.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 1:44 PM on December 3, 2013

Locks of Love sells most of their hair and produces a startlingly small number of actual wigs--and I was typing this before I saw roger ackroyd's link, because I'd thought about it a couple years ago and just stared at their financials for awhile and decided they were at the very least being really inefficient and didn't bother. (It wasn't long enough for what else I could find.) So, yeah. Avoid them.
posted by Sequence at 1:48 PM on December 3, 2013

Donating is very easy, if you don't mind chopping off at least 8" - I was able to print off a free mailing label from the pantene website (Canadian - not sure if it works for the US too) and the hairdresser pretty much knew what to do.

I don't know if I'd do it again but that's because I really dislike having my hair as short as it is now (shoulder length) and also really disliked having it as long as it was when I donated (a few inches below bra strap). I had to cut off more than 12" because my hair's always cut in layers and they want the shortest layer to be min. 8". I'm also pretty sure my hairdresser cut off more than that to be extra safe. Other than that it was fine. So if that's not a big deal for you, I'd totally recommend it.
posted by randomnity at 1:54 PM on December 3, 2013

For clarity, people use the phrase "Locks of Love" to describe every hair-donation nonprofit.

There's a nonprofit called Locks of Love that accepts hair donations to make wigs for children who suffer medical hair loss (primarily alopecia).

Pantene runs its own, separate hair donation program called Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which is a partnership with the American Cancer Society.

The American Cancer Society suggests sending hair donations to Pantene Beautiful Lengths or Wigs for Kids, yet another nonprofit that provides wigs for young cancer patients.

Seems to me that while these organizations aren't perfect, it's better to send your hair to one of them than to throw it away with the salon trash, especially if it really is in good shape. Personally, as corporate-gross as it feels, I have a feeling that the Pantene program is probably a pretty tight ship, what with the weight of Procter & Gamble behind them.
posted by purpleclover at 2:21 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

I donated my hair to Locks of Love last year. I had attended some "cut a thons" (when I worked for a blood bank we partnered with them since there is a lot of overlap in patients and donors) and met some kids wearing LOL wigs.

Donating was super easy. I went to my regular stylist, she put my hair in a few ponytails (my hair is really thick so it was better to do multiple), then measured them just to be sure. After she cut off the ponytails I put them in a ziploc, and she gave me a regular haircut. I put the ziploc in an envelope and mailed it off to LOL.

On a personal note, cutting off all that hair was really liberating! It also got super annoying to have a bob because I have an oily scalp and have to wash my hair every day, and short hair meant no ponytails and I had to blowdry. However it looked really cute so I kept it short for about a year.
posted by radioamy at 3:07 PM on December 3, 2013

For the curious:

I do not particularly care whether nonprofits donate wigs to cancer patients, or make wigs affordable via sliding scale to alopecia patients, or whether the wig recipients are children.

I do care whether the nonprofits are legit, as well as whether my hair donation would actually be useful/welcome.

I have no particular sentimental attachment to my hair, though I have now shaved my head twice and unfortunately don't have plans to do that again. I wish I had done St. Baldrick's in high school, though!
posted by Sara C. at 3:19 PM on December 3, 2013

I'm just here for the post title.

However: I say donate. That's a long switch of hair.
posted by mynameisluka at 3:49 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Update: I cut off 11 inches of hair yesterday, which is now sitting in an envelope waiting to be sent to Pantene Beautiful Lengths on Monday.

Even after losing that much hair, I'm left with a chin-length bob. It feels very strange to have so little hair after almost two years of growth.
posted by Sara C. at 10:41 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]

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