If you are about to have your long hair cut into a shorter style, don’t let the hairdresser sweep your lovely locks into the bin! These charities will take donated hair to make free wigs for children with alopecia, or medical-related hair loss.
Do not ‘donate hair’ (or pet fur) to garden birds, to make nests. Most hair and fur contains remnants of shampoo, medicines etc, and can cause harm, as can lint from washing machines (mouldy and a choking hazard). Hair can also cut off blood circulation (like when you’ve ever got a strand caught around your finger). Birds have been making nests for thousands of years, without our help.
Little Princess Trust and Little Lady Locks both accept cut hair in ponytails, with information on each site on how to send it, and what they do and don’t accept. You can also use both sites to request a free wig for your child. In summary:
- Hair should be at least 7 inches (17cm) long and in good condition. Hair should be washed and dried before donation. Wet hair goes mouldy in the post!
- Hair can be from any gender, colour (not henna) or texture, but not dry or frizzy (they accept Afro hair, not dreadlocks).
- Grey hair can be accepted if colour is permanent (but not if semi-permanent as the colour will wash out).
- You can also donate used hair extensions (at least 16 inches or 46cm, washed twice and completely dried) and wigs (must be human hair).
- When donating, ask your stylist to secure the hair with a band, and cut just above. Braid and secure the other end, to stop it tangling.
Many people about to undergo chemotherapy like to donate their hair, as they know in advance it is going to fall out. It’s a lovely way to help you feel better about temporarily losing your hair, knowing it did good for someone else. Ask around, as many hair salons will cut your hair for free, if donating to a charity above. A good incentive to chop off split ends!
Do You Need a Wig for Adults?
If you choose to wear a wig, ensure it’s ethically sourced, as there are stories of some women having their hair forcibly cut (sometimes at gunpoint) to make profits for companies that sell human hair. In South Africa, ‘cut and run’ gangs often chop off dreadlocks, to fuel the growing market abroad. Instead, choose companies that take hair sold at fair prices by willing donors (one company in Italy makes hair from ponytails donated to Hindu temples as acts of love). A new idea is hair made from banana tree fibre! Biodegradable, and uses up fruit waste.
Although the NHS offers free wigs for some, synthetic hair tends to be hot and itchy, and the wigs don’t last very long. If on a budget, you can use the NHS Low Income Scheme to help you buy a better quality wig.