A man and his hair are soon parted
December 30, 2010 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Dear Ask Me, I have been growing my hair for 3 years, with a goal of donating to wigs for kids (gets wigs to young people with permanent hair loss, as in alopecia, and burn victims), this year I topped their requirement for a foot in length; I want your tips of ensuring the best possible preservation of the hair. I have kept it maintained, but I am hoping there is a "final stretch" treatment that will make it in top shape for donating (not necessarily 'shine', or looks, but strength, and fortitude).

What are some things I can eat, put on it, comb into it, etc., to get the healthiest, or longest lasting hair once it is cut? Hair preservation tactics. Any tips or suggestions or experiences with hair cutting, for preservation, or any things to tell hair dresser when cutting for Wigs for Kids (keep in mind I haven't been near a hair dresser for 3 years, do I need to go to a special person)? Help me fortify my massive mane to maximize helping out people. Also, is it better to grow longer than 12 inches to leave a "starter patch for future donations", or are donations longer than 12" better.

I also have a box of loose hair save from over time combing through the years, did I hear right last year about donating it to make oil mops (only for my loose random hairs) or is there a more useful purpose for this?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Our oldest girl did Locks of Love awhile back, and I don't think there were any special instructions. There's a rundown on their particular requirements/suggestions here and here. Really, I don't think there's much they're looking for except proper packaging.
posted by jquinby at 2:38 PM on December 30, 2010

I've been told by a hairdresser that the only thing really known to be effective for growing hair is brushing to stimulate the scalp and get out dead hairs. Anything you eat now won't go into the hair in the wig unless you're waiting until your new growth is long enough down to be in the ponytail (so like, at least a year from now).

I used to refer people out to Wigs for Kids (and Pantene's wig program for women) and Wigs for Kids is happy with anything over 12" that meets the guidelines. They use hair from multiple people for wigs, and treat it and dye it all to match before making wigs from it. So, a given wig is going to be a mix of your hair and others'. I wouldn't worry so much about doing anything special to preserve your hair as long is it's undyed and is the proper length.

I've also donated my hair, and you just need to read the instructions provided by the org and follow them as far as binding the hair in a ponytail, cutting right above the holder, and binding it with more rubber bands, then putting it in a baggie, or whatever the particular hair donation org recommends.
posted by elpea at 2:41 PM on December 30, 2010

When it's cut from your head mark the end that was cut, if it isn't part of the instructions, because when hair grows it forms scales which on the wig making end of things makes for a better wig. When the hairs are hooked into the webbing if they all flow in same direction it'll be easier to maintain for the wearer eg: lays more smoothly, less frizz etc.

I wouldn't bother trying to strengthen you hair. For lack of a better description hair is bundled together and whipped through a bed of steel teeth called a hackle (the process itself is called hackling) to get rid of any of the weaker hairs before they're woven into place.
posted by squeak at 3:07 PM on December 30, 2010

I would get some kind of new-fangled ceramide-containing one-time deep-conditioning treatment from a reputable salon brand like matrix, paul mitchell, redkin, etc. for strength and fortitude ... can be done in-salon or at home.

you do not need a special hairdresser, but make sure they understand what you are doing before the appointment ... they will put your hair in a tight bundle and cut above the elastic. send it in asap will help with the 'drying out' part.

i see from the title you are perhaps of the dude persuasion? so i do not need to prepare you psychologically for the short, layered haircut that will result after your donation?

for the hairmop thing i got nothing. best of luck through your transition!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 3:27 PM on December 30, 2010

there's not much you can do at this point that isn't just cosmetic. the hair is dead cells--nothing you eat will affect the part that will be cut, and anything you put on it will be washed out by the wigmaker. nothing will permanently strengthen or improve the strands.

as long as you don't dye or perm it or fry it on a curling iron, you'll be fine.

i did this once--it's such a satisfying experience!
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:34 PM on December 30, 2010

For the oil mat/mop donation, look to A Matter of Trust. It looks like they aren't taking any more donations right now b'c their warehouse is full. They might have links to other organizations that do similar work, though. I didn't surf very far through their website.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 3:47 PM on December 30, 2010

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