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How to donate your hair: a step-by-step guide

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Sitting on the comfy chair at the hairdresser’s, I felt a bit like Jo in Little Women while she was having her long hair cut without the slightest hesitation. I decided to donate my braid to a Dutch association that creates wigs for kids, teenagers and young women with limited income who have lost their hair due to an illness or a therapy. Since this kind of donation is still uncommon in many countries, I wrote this mini guide to encourage you to add it to your resolutions for the future.

Step 1: Growing and taking care of your hair

When a Dutch friend of mine told me about her experience as a donor for the not-for-profit organization Haarstichting, I was very impressed by the initiative because I had never heard of it before. I followed her example by growing my hair for about two years, until it reached the required length (32 cm/12,6 inches). Except for trimming it every six months, I did nothing to my hair: no dyeing, no highlights, no perm, no hair straighteners… Nothing really!

Step 2: Research the association

It is essential to read the association’s website thoroughly to understand the requirements in terms of length, shipping, and colour (dyed and/or white hair are not always accepted).

An important distinction should be made between real hair and synthetic wigs: the majority of associations use donations to create real hair wigs, while others collaborate with specialised firms that, in return for real hair, provide synthetic wigs to the association to give people in need.

When I decided to cut my hair, I didn’t know any Italian associations for hair collection and, as mentioned before, the Dutch association "Haarstichting" was highly recommended to me. My experience was very positive: in the envelope with the braid I added a little note where I explained how I got to know the association and my e-mail address. A few weeks later, I had the pleasure to receive an email in which they thanked me, specifying that dark brown hair is particularly appreciated because it's rare in the Netherlands. A tip: if you happen to be in the Netherlands, many hairdressers are in partnership with the association, so no extra money spent on shipping and you might have your hair cut free of charge!

If you want to donate in Europe, I suggest you take a look at: “The Little Princess Trust” (United Kingdom); “Rapunzel Foundation” (Ireland); “Solidhair” (France); “Un Angelo per Capello” and “La Banca dei Capelli" (Italy); "Verein Die Haarspender" (Austria). In the United States there are two big charities “Locks of Love” and “Wigs for Kids”, but keep in mind the shipping costs might be a bit expensive from Europe.

All in all, I recommend being careful to frauds: real hair has a high market value, so send your donation only to trustworthy associations.

Step 3: At the hairdresser and at home

Great, now it’s time to give it a cut! I just want to specify that every association may have different preferences on how to proceed, so I encourage you to read their guidelines carefully. I followed these steps:

1) Wash and dry your hair thoroughly.

2) Make a low ponytail(s).

3) Braid your hair (or make a ponytail with multiple hair bands).

4) Secure both ends with a hair band.

5) Cut the braid above the top band.

6) Send your donation. I opted for a bubble mailer and I sent the envelope at my local post office.

Side note: it’s a good idea to ask your hairdresser to fix your hairstyle after cutting your braid. No panic, I know it can be shocking to see yourself with short hair after years of Rapunzel style, but trust your hairdresser: they make miracles.

Step 4: Share your story with friends and family

Although these initiatives are becoming more and more popular, you can raise awareness in your network by sharing your experience. Even a chat with a friend or a photo on social media can make a huge difference. After seeing my photo on my Facebook profile, at least three girls contacted me for further information and later donated their hair. Likewise, they would inspire others to do the same, continuing this chain of solidarity.

As always, I hope my post has been useful and I am available to clarify any doubt via Instagram or email.

Oh, you can also follow me on Pinterest!

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