The Founder of a Major Hair Donation Company Explains Exactly How to Give

Updated 04/13/18
Woman with curly hair
Stocksy

Imagine waking up one morning and losing your hair. More often than not, we take physical attributes like our hair for granted, like it's a given. When in fact, for some individuals, it's not. But there are amazing organizations out there that work to help those individuals, like Wigs for Kids, which provides wigs to children who are going through radiation therapy or who have alopecia, trichotillomania, burns, and other medical issues, at no cost to the children or their families.

If you're yearning for a hair breakthrough and considering cutting your strands, you could change a child's life with your big chop. Whether you're cutting your hair yourself or at the salon, this is exactly how to donate hair to Wigs for Kids, no matter what your natural hair texture is: 

1. Make sure hair is a minimum of 12 inches for proper hair donation length. Pull curly hair straight for a more accurate measurement.
2. Hair must be clean and dry. Wet hair will mold during shipping and will be thrown away.

3. Hair cannot be permed, color-treated, or highlighted. Temporary coloring or highlights that wash out are acceptable but must be completely washed out before cutting. Gray hair is accepted.

4. Tie hair into at least four sections (six are even better) around the head for a more generous donation. Hair pulled into one ponytail or a braid results in a loss of up to four inches of hair. To separate your hair correctly, make a center part. Starting from the center part, part your hair again over the top of each ear. This will create four sections of hair. To create four ponytails, tie the hair in front of each ear into ponytails, and then tie the hair behind each ear into ponytails.

5. Make sure each ponytail or braid is tightly secured. Loosely wrapped hair tends to come out of its band when shipped, making it unusable. Please be sure hair is tight and secured with several rubber bands, two to three inches apart.

6. Cut hair above the rubber band.

7. Wrap all ponytails in one piece of tissue paper and seal in a plastic bag. Send your hair donation to Wigs for Kids—Hair Donations, 24231 Center Ridge Road, Westlake, OH 44145.

Why It's Important to Donate Hair

To understand the mission behind Wigs for Kids, we talked founder Jeffrey Paul, who is also a hair and scalp specialist. "We activated the donation program over 30 years ago when I was consulting a woman in my private practice who was going to go through chemotherapy for cancer, and her daughter was with her, whose 40 inches of beautiful blonde hair was her crown and pride, and asked me at the end of the consultation with tears in her eyes—and undenounced to the mother—if she could cut her hair to give to her mother for her wig," Paul retells. "At that time, there was no donation program or processing in manufacturing to accommodate such a request, but when I saw the giving heart of this daughter to give what she considered golden for the mother she loved, I was moved beyond the tears all of us were shedding at that moment.

"Well, I cut a small amount of the daughter's hair and had a ventilator add the small lock into the back of the wig once it was made to make it like a mother's ring with a piece of her daughter's hair as a love offering. But that was the 'seed' of the idea to launch the Wigs for Kids Ponytail Donation Program. I never realized the challenges and efforts ahead to help provide loving people to give of themselves for others and to collect and manufacture the ponytails properly to be acceptable in order to build a quality wig for a child. It took almost five years of working with prototypes of wig designs, communicating the program to both the public and the salon professionals to get it off the ground. Now, we are able to take 15 to 20 donated ponytails and process the virgin hair without color or chemical processing and hand-tie into fabrics and materials. This gives each child the ability to live out our mission, which is for them to look themselves and live their lives with the hair they have lost, with beauty inside and out, along with giving compassionate people the opportunity to give their hair to help others."

Other Ways You Can Help Out a Child in Need

"There are two other very important parts of what it takes to continue to provide free hairpieces, products, and styling tools to the hundreds and hundreds of children all over the country in need of hair from all the causes of hair loss like alopecia, cancer, trichotillomania, burns, and other medical causes," Paul explains. "The two other needs are the financial needs to subsidize the costs of manufacturing and managing the programs for the children and their families. Most people think the hair donation completely fulfills the cost of the wigs and hairpieces that Wigs for Kids provides, but it only makes up about 30% of the costs of the quality manufacturing that has continued to rise."

Paul continues: "The second need is the proper harvesting of the hair to capture the longest hair possible and preparing it to be sent to Wigs for Kids headquarters and not be ruined and made unusable when not done properly done. That is the reason we launched a Salon Certification Program with online tutorials and a social media campaign to challenge all donors to go the extra inches that it takes to provide the young children with the length they're looking for." 

In addition to Wigs for Kids, other incredible organizations that accept hair donations are Pantene Beautiful Lengths, Locks of Love, Children With Hair Loss, and Angel Hair for Kids. Let your next haircut change someone's life. 

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