Hair Donation: From A to Z

Donating your hair anytime of the year is honorable, but the summer is one of the greatest times to do it. Short hair can keep you cool and looking fresh when the weather is blazingly hot, and it has time to grow before school begins in the fall. I donated my hair about three years ago and have the intention of doing it again in a few months. However, I was new to the process and had to do hours of research. Here are some of the main questions associated with hair donation:

Why should I donate?

There are millions of people who suffer from cancer and have lost their hair due to aggressive chemotherapy. The hair loss due to chemotherapy arises because this treatment targets all rapidly diving cells. Cancer cells are cells that divide very quickly and will not stop. Hair follicles are the structures in your skin that are essentially filled with blood vessels that create hair and are some of the fastest growing cells in your body. Chemotherapy is unable to specifically target cancer cells, so it also destroys hair cells. You hair follicles generally divide every 23 to 72 hours but this number diminishes with the amount of chemotherapy received. There are also children and adults that suffer from alopecia areata which is an autoimmune disease. The immune systems job is to protect the body from viruses and bacteria but instead attacks the hair follicles and leads to hair loss not only on the scalp but everywhere else.

Living with hair loss can be particularly difficult because it is an indication of good health, beauty, and youth. Diseases that cause or result in hair loss can leave people self-conscious and lacking a positive self-image. Many people suffer from depression, anxiety, and other emotional issues as a result. Donating your hair so other people can benefit from it will have lifelong effects. The hair you donate can create a natural looking wig for a person in need. It can help a child with pediatric cancer feel like a normal kid again, or keep the alopecia patient from having everyone know that he/she has a disease. Hair donation is a cheap, easy, and effective way of changing a life.

How do I help my hair grow?

On average, a person’s hair grows a quarter of an inch per month but there are steps you can take to speed up this process. First, stick to a healthy diet. Foods that have calcium and cysteine promote hair growth. Cysteine is the largest component amino acid in keratin and can substantially increase hair growth. Dietary sources of this amino acid include: chicken, sausage meat, pork, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, granola, oats, garlic, onions, milk, and Brussel sprouts. Exercise is also helpful with blood circulation. The nutrients won’t reach hair if the blood flow to the scalp is insufficient. Scalp massages are also helpful by increasing blood circulation to the scalp which leads to strong roots and therefore stronger hair.

It is important to make sure your hair isn’t dead, dirty, or chemically damaged. Prepare your hair to make sure you aren’t wasting your time and effort!

How does the cut work?

First, you will let your stylist know what type of hairstyle you wish. He/she will let you know if it’s long and healthy enough for donation. After you’re both on the same page, your stylist will measure your hair and make a ponytail at the location where he/she will cut your hair. Then your stylist will go ahead and cut your hair. It might look uneven but don’t worry, the cutting and shaping will then begin and you will get the look you want.

What do I do once I get my haircut?

Once your hair is cut, it will be tied off with a rubber band and you can place it in an air-tight plastic bag. Make sure your hair doesn’t touch the floor. Mail it or give it in person.

Where should I donate?

There are several places that you can donate your hair, and you should do research to find the place that speaks to you. Each organization has their own set of guidelines for your hair. Some accept 8 inches, while others will only take 12 inches. Here are some of the most popular organizations that will accept donated hair:

[Wigs For Kids

Wigs for Kids is especially dear to me and is where I’m planning to donate because my school, Penn State, holds a dance marathon every year to support and hopefully conquer pediatric cancer by providing emotional and financial support to the children and families of the Four Diamonds Fund. This is a year-long fundraiser to fight pediatric cancer and thousands of college students fundraise and help to support this cause. This fantastic event is held at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center each year in the month of February and it is a 46 hour no-sitting or sleeping dance marathon (also known as THON). The Four Diamonds Fund essentially offsets the cost of treatment that insurance doesn’t cover as well as the expenses that affect the welfare of the child with pediatric cancer. Last year, we raised 13.3 million dollars for this cause! For the past 6 years, THON has partnered with Wigs for Kids to provide children and families with wigs at no cost to them. This organization allows children to feel good about themselves, and look as close to the way they did before as possible. For more information, [click here.

[Wigs 4 Kids

[Pantene Beautiful Lengths

[Children with Hair Loss

Hair Donation: From A to Z

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