Many people, adults and children alike, lose their hair to cancer treatments or alopecia. Typically starting during childhood, alopecia is a hair loss condition that scientists believe is caused by an abnormality in the immune system. The hair loss associated with cancer treatments and alopecia can make you feel unrecognizable, uncomfortable and self-conscious. There are a few charities that work solely to make wigs from donated hair for those in need.
Locks of Love
Locks of Love is a not-for-profit charity that was started in 1997. They create hairpieces from donated hair for girls under the age of 21 who suffer from long-term, medical hair loss, like alopecia. Note that Locks of Love hairpieces will not go to children who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment or non-medical, non-long-term conditions. Follow their strict rules to donate your hair. First, your hair must be clean and pulled back in a ponytail or braid before it's cut. It must be a minimum of 10 inches long, from tip to tip. Colored or permed hair is fine, but dreadlocks and hair that has been bleached or highlighted cannot be used, so should not be donated. Although Locks of Love will not make hairpieces from gray hair, gray hair will still be accepted and sold to help defray manufacturing costs. If you're looking to make a little girl smile after suffering from long-term, medical hair loss, donate your hair to:
Locks of Love 234 Southern Blvd. West Palm Beach, FL 33405-2701
Pantene Beautiful Lengths
Pantene, along with the American Cancer Society, has created the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program. This charity makes wigs from donated hair and distributes them, for free, to women who have lost their hair due to cancer and cancer treatments. Keep your hair healthy and protected while growing it out. To prevent breakage, Pantene's celebrity stylist Danilo suggests moisturizing your hair daily with conditioner, using a deep-conditioning treatment once a week, and not over-styling, over-drying, over-brushing or over-teasing your hair. Once your hair is a minimum of 8 inches long, wash and completely dry your hair, do not use any styling products, serum or hair spray, put it in a ponytail and cut off the ponytail. Hair that has been bleached, permanently colored, chemically treated or is more than 5 percent gray will not be used and, therefore, should not be donated. If you're ready to give yourself -- and a grateful woman -- a new hairdo, place your ponytailed hair in a zip-close bag and send it to:
Pantene Beautiful Lengths Attn: 192-123 20770 Westwood Dr. Strongsville, OH 44149
Wigs For Kids
Started by a loving uncle to help his 15-year-old niece when she was fighting leukemia, hairdresser Jeffrey Paul created Wig For Kids. For many years, this organization has helped many other little kids who suffer from hair loss due to chemotherapy, radiation treatment, alopecia, burns or other medical reasons. Your hair must be clean, dry and pulled back into a tight ponytail or braid. They ask that you use a hair tie at both ends and at the middle of the ponytail or braid to help keep hair secure. What you cut off must be at least 12 inches. Although Wigs For Kids cannot accept hair that has been colored, highlighted, permed, chemically processed or dreadlocked, they do accept gray hair. If looking to make a small child's life a lot happier, send your cut hair to:
Wigs for Kids -- Hair Donation 24231 Center Ridge Rd. Westlake, Ohio 44145
Sell and Donate
There are other ways to donate your hair to help out a child or adult in need. Sell your hair and donate the money to a charity like the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Cancer Research Institute or your personal favorite charity. There are several sites online that buy human hair, and there may be a hair salon in your community that will buy it from you. Better quality hair is more valuable, so you will get more money for your hair if it is healthy and in good condition.
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Andrea Griffith has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published by the "Western Herald," Detroit WDIV, USAToday and other print, broadcast and online publications. Although she writes about a wide range of topics, her areas of expertise include fashion, beauty, technology and education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and English from Western Michigan University.