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Haircut for a Cause: Are Hair Donations Really Worth It?

By Amalah


So, my hair is currently a bit longer than shoulder length and it looks terrible. I HATE my hair long and keep it predominately in a ponytail any time is is past chin length, BUT I am growing it out to donate it to Locks of Love (and as a compromise to the hubby as this is IT, after this donation, short hair from now on — it just looks better on me). Right now flat is how I would describe my hair. I have an oval face, so flat on the top looks not so good. So, please tell me what I can do with it until it reaches its needed length of “bra strap” to make it look decent. A pony tail in the office every single day is getting old and I need to look more polished then all that. How about getting some lift to it? I actually have great ends, so it isn’t the splitzies dragging it down.


So, given the dozens of questions I get on a regular basis from people planning a hair donation, I just feel the need to throw this out here: Locks of Love cannot use hair that has been overly processed or damaged — or really, most of the hair it receives at all (and quite honestly, their donation guidelines don’t seem to quite add up with media reports, which repeatedly mention the un-useability of most colored hair). The majority of donations are thrown out, or sold to cover the organization’s administrative costs. The wigs that are made go to alopecia sufferers, not cancer patients. Nothing wrong with that — alopecia SUCKS, for real — but a lot of people do really think their hair will definitely end up on the head of a young chemotherapy patient. The disparity between ponytails received vs. wigs produced is disheartening. Even the president of Locks for Love admits that it’d be better for people to just write a check.

The idea of a hair donation is beautiful, I admit. Poetic, even. Everybody’s heart is in the right place. But. It’s hard to not be a little bit jaded by the reality of just how useful those donations end up being.

I could easily come up with a list of volumizing products here — products that will cost a decent chunk of change. Pureology root lift and shampoo, Bumble and Bumble Thickening Spray, BedHead Small Talk. Love them all. A good blowdryer and a round brush and a styling technique to match. (Dry in two-inch pieces, three rolls of the brush and blasts with the dryer for each piece, starting with the lower layers and saving your crown for last.)

I know I’m going to sound like a total asshole here…but…think about getting a moderately-priced, face and hair-type flattering haircut, and write a check to a cancer-related or childhood-illness related charity instead. I know it lacks the physical oomph and satisfaction of chopping off your own hair. I know! But unless you are SURE your hair meets the donation guidelines — no color, no heat-damage, really extremely strong and thick — and unless you’ve read about all the (lesser-known) hair donation charities and are SURE your hair will be used like you hope it will be, there’s something a little not worth it about these long-hair dilemmas. The hair is good, but the dollar is mighty.

My mom didn’t lose her hair to cancer, but she did lose her breast. I wanted SO BADLY to do something real and tangible for her…I ended up asking to pay for her bras, for God’s sake. Her insurance paid for those, so she asked me to write checks to breast cancer research charities instead. So I did.

And then I bought her some really soft pajamas too. Because…well, pajamas.

Published November 4, 2007. Last updated August 30, 2017.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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