Baby's first haircut; now what?
January 23, 2010 8:37 PM   Subscribe

What should I do to preserve a lock of hair from my baby's first haircut?

I have a small lock of hair sitting on a dish after giving my daughter her first haircut. First of all, how do I get it to stay as a cohesive lock rather than a scattered series of individual hairs?

And then one that's accomplished, what are some interesting things to do with it? I guess I could just put it in an envelope and be done with it but is there something better? Are there cool lockets to be recommended? Could I have it sealed in resin? It's a small little snippet of hair so I don't think I can really make anything out of it (those Victorian hair brooches come to mind and are probably a little too creepy anyway). So what else have people done to display/contain/showcase/keep safe their loved ones hair?

I've seen this question but that guy had a lot more hair to use and the ideas don't really work for what I have and I'd like to steer somewhat clear of creepy stuff, as this is my child's hair!
posted by otherwordlyglow to Grab Bag (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
First of all, how do I get it to stay as a cohesive lock rather than a scattered series of individual hairs?

For my kids' first haircut locks, I just wrapped a piece of scotch tape around the cut end.

I don't have any creative recommendations for display, but until you decide you can rest assured that hair is pretty indestructible. I've kept my kids' locks in regular paper envelopes and they looked "fresh" they last time I ran across them in the filing cabinet (my kids are now 21 and 17).
posted by amyms at 8:50 PM on January 23, 2010

My mother taped mine into my baby book ...
posted by kthxbi at 8:56 PM on January 23, 2010

Response by poster: I guess the amateur archivist in me thinks that tape may not be the most stable medium. I understand that I may over-thinking this....
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:02 PM on January 23, 2010

I've got hair from my first haircut that my mother put into my baby book* along with her wonderful handwritten notes on my progress. The lock of hair was originally just Scotch-taped to one of the pages, but the tape eventually dried out so I put the hair into a ziplock bag. This hair is more than 50 years old and still looks bright and shiny. I sure do wish my hair was still that color!
*Do parents still do those?
posted by Joleta at 9:03 PM on January 23, 2010

Hair is going to last longer than you will. There are 2000-year-old bog bodies with hair in pretty good condition. You don't need to do anything to preserve hair except maybe put it in an envelope so you can remember what it is.
posted by musofire at 9:04 PM on January 23, 2010

I guess the amateur archivist in me thinks that tape may not be the most stable medium.

You could just tie it with thread or embroidery floss.
posted by runningwithscissors at 9:06 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tie with ribbon or thread, put under glass. The cheapest way I'd safely display something like this would be ribbon, under glass, with unbleached cotton batting behind it, kept out of direct light. You can sew the ribbon or thread into a paper/cotton backing to hold it in place. If you're crafty, you could do other embroidery/quilting around it, but I'd keep the hair itself on a white or unbleached background. Frame everything and there you go.

If you want to incorporate it into a scrapbook, you could either sew it into place like above. If you just want to keep it, a small polyester/polyethylene (ahem, ziplock) envelope in a dark place can't really be beat for.

I wouldn't use resin because it's not considered a long-term preservation material. You are permanently embedding. The goal of preservation is not to do anything that can't be undone. Many resins also yellow over time; some quicker, some slower.

Long version: When I worked in the historical society, I found a whole display of hair locks. Probably 30-40 individual pieces, and ranging about 90-120 years old; all of them were in decent shape, even though the paper was pretty acidic. Each was tied with ribbon and carefully not-glued down to paper. Names were written underneath. The pressure from the glass and the back of the frame kept the, uh, artifacts in place.
posted by cobaltnine at 9:10 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Some people use these "tress presses." I've also seen the suggestion that you can go to a craft store and get some acid-free tape to tape one end of the lock together. Then just store it in an acid-free envelope.

Hair lasts pretty well, as long as you keep it out of the light (We've got Victorian era hair jewelry that was passed down in my family that is still in pretty good condition.)
posted by gudrun at 9:10 PM on January 23, 2010

my mom kept mine in a little ziplock baggie in her jewelry box (and it still looked and felt and smelled perfect after 30-some-odd years). i have my daughter's in a little ziplock baggie in the zip pocket of my wallet. i didn't tie it, but i would probably use one of those tiny hair elastics that you can get by the 100s at CVS, or some jewelry wire, then curl it into a big locket. i would put mine in my jewelry box for my daughter to find later...i think i will!

the baby book is a great idea too

@otherworldly glow: i actually google-searched "archive quality elastic bands"...definitely a consideration
posted by lakersfan1222 at 9:11 PM on January 23, 2010

Response by poster: I do understand that the preservation of the hair itself isn't really a problem.. It's more of its state as a cohesive lock that I'd like to keep. I do like the ribbon/glass/cotton batting idea. I wonder if I could do that to make it into a small pendant. It would get sunlight exposure but that might be a sacrifice I'd be willing to make. If nothing else, I'll get the acid-free tape.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:16 PM on January 23, 2010

As an anecdotal blurb - the tape my mother used to tape my hair in the book (it was pink, cloth, and made to tape your bangs to your face overnight to keep them straight) is still perfectly functional and hair-holding after 23 years. But tbh I'm in love with the idea of sewing the hair into the baby book.
posted by kthxbi at 9:16 PM on January 23, 2010

You could just find a duplicate of your DD's cutest/favorite (if you can determine her favorite yet) hair clip thingy and glue it shut around the hair. It could be simple, cheap, easy to integrate into a pendant or something else, and it could give it a personal, lifelike touch.
posted by The Potate at 9:26 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you considered putting a miniature snippet of hair behind glass in a locket with a tiny pic of baby on the other side? Make a few and you'll have a nice gift for the grandparents and godparents next Christmas...
posted by aquafortis at 9:30 PM on January 23, 2010

I've ordered a few things from this Etsy seller and was very happy. I've been thinking about putting my kids' locks in resin and had a few conversations with her about it and she was very helpful. Personally I think that resin is the best way to get the necklace that you're looking for, and Etsy has a ton of sellers that deal with resin. Just look around until you find someone style that you like and send them a convo and see if they'd be willing to do it.
posted by TooFewShoes at 10:24 PM on January 23, 2010

P.S. I haven't actually ordered the locks done in resin because I haven't decided how I want them to look. I ordered a specific flower done and it turned out really nicely.
posted by TooFewShoes at 10:26 PM on January 23, 2010

My Mom saved mine about 55 years ago and just put it in an envelope. I still have it and it looks as though it was cut yesterday ( although not from this head). It's still very shiny and very blonde. It must have gotten pressed over the years as it's a nice, fine, flat curl. I did the same for my children about 26 and 25 years ago. having them inside envelopes also keeps them nice and clean, and shiny of course.

I think just having it and looking at it once in a while ( not too often) in its natural state is best, for me at least anyways.
posted by Taurid at 11:14 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

My mother saved my first hair cut in my baby book, too, in an envelope, not taped.. I'm 23 now and it hasn't fallen apart or anything.
posted by Cygnet at 8:28 AM on January 24, 2010

Anecdotally: My mom has a little porcelain jar on her dresser and in that jar is the my first hair cut lock of hair, it wasn't tied or taped or anything and it still looks like a lock of hair all together. I'm 27 years old. My 20 year old brother's first lock is still in there too and it also still looks like a lock. It you aren't going to mess with it a lot, it will probably hold its shape.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:45 AM on January 24, 2010

You're probably not up for elaborate Victorian Hairwork as a hobby, but there are artists who continue the tradition. I work in antiques, and simple locks of hair, or worked hair, is just fine in basic lockets - better though, in the lockets that are lined with a linen/acid-free paper backing.

Hair is pretty tough stuff, and in the right conditions can last as others have said, a gazillion years (give or take a bajillion). Even under lousy circumstances, it takes a while to decay. Under the right conditions means avoiding moisture, microbes, light and temperature extremes, so think: a tomb.

My favourite book on storing stuff for laypersons, called (duh) Saving Stuff, recommends that for storing hair (um, and fingernails and teeth) in a "time capsule", to "Place individual items in tiny polyethylene laboratory vials with snap caps and then place in a larger PET or archival box." (PET = Polyethylene Terephthalate plastic jar.) It also cautions to "Make sure the plastic is not polyethylene or polyvinyl choloride. Polyethylene allows moisture in as it ages, and polyvinyl jars release contaminants into the contents. These jars hold everything that is not peanut butter, cheese puffs, bread sticks, pretzels, or nuts, so be careful." There's the archival bit.

Based on personal experience and knowledge, envelopes and folds of paper work just fine when stored properly. And glass is pretty inert - as long as it's stored in a dark place and moisture-proof it should be an okay way to store a lock of hair. So, a little vial or tube would work well enough if you have one lying around (I have little optic glass vials from a science kit, for example, and little glass jars from glitter that I wouldn't be afraid of using). When I handled estates I found decades-old hair in little porcelain Limoges boxes (sometimes as a surprise, and a nicer one than when I'd find bridges and gold fillings in jewellery boxes). One of the nicest things you could do is to label and date it, otherwise it means nothing in terms of posterity.

As a former jeweller, I have lots of watchmaker's cases around and my own daughter's hair (and soon-to-be-lost first tooth) is (and will be) stored in one of those, wrapped in some acid-free tissue. Before I put it in, I washed it, shaped it, tied it with a thread of embroidery floss, and dried it thoroughly. We pull it out when we go through the (lovely vintage) suitcase in which we keep our daughter's sentimental souvenirs. We do a yearly review of the items in it, usually around her birthday, winnowing it down and keeping it manageable. Sometimes she asks to take it down and poke around in it and hear stories about the items. Those are the valuable parts - the stories. For her first haircut, the story is that she went to the barbershop near where I work, was proud that she could sit still, and was most excited that the stylist put glitter in her hair. I don't want her to go through life burdened by stuff she's afraid to let go of, but the story of her haircut she loves most, and one suitcase seems manageable as long as each item in it has meaning. I personally don't care to keep stuff like locks of hair - though the loss of her first tooth is making me surprisingly emotional - but for now, she likes it so it stays. It's a small and appropriate and reasonable item to want to keep.

All that said, from my own experiences with kept hair in the larger world over many years, I'd also let you know that unless it's a gorgeous example of hair work in a lovely setting, it will likely eventually be not much more than a novelty to your (possible and maybe never happening) grandchild/ren - and if luck has it great-grandchildren - but not much beyond - so don't worry too much about preserving it for all the ages. If you're the one that wants to wear it or keep it, do what you like and enjoy it. Don't keep it because you think it will ever mean more to anyone but you and maybe your child, unless you have great hopes or plans for DNA and cloning technologies. Items like that, once disassociated from their person (unless their person achieves a measure of Elvis-level celebrity), have no value beyond sentiment or beauty if part of a larger work or quality item. Do what will give you pleasure, and don't worry about manufacturing an heirloom when other ones will make themselves apparent too. I love the first picture my daughter drew of how she sees me more than her lock of hair or anything she's ever bought me (with her "own"money) or any of those generic production-line "crafts" they send home for Mother's Day from kindergarten. But, and I think this is the first time I'm using this, ymmv.
posted by peagood at 11:53 AM on January 24, 2010

35, lock of hair from first hair cut is in a paper envelope, no tape, still looks like a lock of hair.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:49 AM on January 27, 2010

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