Our 11 year old daughter recently asked me a question that sent me exploring the internet in search of answers. She asked, “Mom, can I dye my hair again?” See, she has been growing her hair out for quite some time. She said that she wants to be able to donate it again. She donated it once before, about 6 years ago, and wants to do it again. Instead of a hard and fast no, I said we needed to do some research first, to make sure it wouldn't make her ineligible to donate. I also said that if dying it would make her ineligible to donate, we could get some hair color spray if she wanted to keep growing it for donation. It turns out there's a lot you need to know about hair donation before you pick up the scissors.
I can remember as a kid asking my Mom to perm my almost non-existent hair. My brother sort of chortled, and my Mom stopped him and said, “it's her hair, she can do with it what she wants. It's just hair.” I literally had about a teaspoon of hair covering my entire head, and Mom used Barbie hair rollers, but the perm was gone with the flick of a towel.
What lasted was the memory of Mom saying “it's her hair, she can do with it what she wants. It's just hair.” I've tried to employ the same value with my girls, within reason. Which is why I've let her dye her hair twice.
The first time was a peek a boo blue coloring of her undercut. She wasn't sure how much she'd like it, and I wasn't sure how Daddy would react, so we thought it was a great way to test the hair color waters.
The second time she colored her hair, she went for aqua tendrils on her crown and to frame her face. It was absolutely precious.
She hasn't asked to dye her hair for a long time, so her recent question sort of surprised me. So, I did what I said I would do, and researched it. I thought I'd share with you what I've learned about donating hair.
What You Need to Know about Hair Donation
Where to Donate Hair
There are several organizations that accept human hair donations. A few of them include…
Pantene used to accept hair donations for their Beautiful Lengths project, but they stopped accepting donations in 2018.
Be sure to check with the specific organization you wish to donate your hair to, so that you can follow their guidelines.
How to Donate Hair
The following are general guidelines for how to donate hair. Again, I can't stress enough how important it is to check with your preferred charity to see if there are any additional or different requirements.
- In general, donated hair must be put into a ponytail or braid before being cut.
- Donated hair must meet length requirements, which vary from 8 to 13 inches, dependent on the charity you've selected.
- Hair should be measured IN THE PONYTAIL.
- If hair is layered, the shortest layer should meet the minimum length requirement.
- Hair must be clean and dry to donate.
- In most cases, hair cannot be chemically altered.
- Some charities have gray hair limits (for real), so be sure to check this if you're hair is graying. Pink Heart Funds is the only charity I found that will accept a gray ponytail.
- If your hair is curly, it can be straightened prior to measuring in order to meet the length requirement. This is good to know, because a 6 inch section of curly hair could be 8-11 inches straightened, depending on curl pattern.
- Natural hair cannot be mixed with synthetic hair. Synthetic hair is not typically accepted.
- Only hair that hasn't hit the floor should be submitted. Hair that fell to the floor is unusable.
- The ponytail or braid should be placed in a zippered plastic bag before being placed into a padded envelope for mailing.
- Be sure to include the hair donation form for your preferred charity.
- It's not required, but if you can, include a small donation. It costs money to create human hair wigs, and it will help defray the cost for the recipient.
- Make sure you follow your preferred charities instructions carefully. Failing to do so could result in your donation being unusable. It would just stink to have your tresses go to waste when you wanted to help.
Why can't you donate Gray or Colored Hair?
Honestly, it's not because the charity is being nitpicky. It takes multiple hair donations to create one wig. All the hair in one wig has to be processed and died together, so that they blend more naturally. Gray hair and previously colored hair absorb dyes differently, which affects the overall appearance of the hair piece.
For the moment, our daughter has decided to hold off on dying her hair until she cuts it for the donation. She's also strongly considering Wigs for Kids, as she's hoping to held a child with her donation.
It's her hair. She can do what she wants with it. Within reason, of course. 😉
Be sure to check out my Tips for Photographing Wiggly Kids article while you're here. For older kids, just bribe them. Candy or money usually works. LOL