Locks of Love is not what most people think it is. No, it is not a scam, as many people are claiming on the internet. But it also is not what most people expect it to be.
First of all, Locks of Love is not an organization for child cancer patients. The organization exists for children sustain permanent hair loss. Some have lost hair through severe burns, trauma, accidents involving scalp loss. Most have an autoimmune disorder called alopecia areata, which causes total permanent hair loss. The wigs created through Locks of Love are of extremely high quality and are fitted to each individual child’s scalp. These are so carefully crafted that a child with one of these wigs is able to do almost anything wearing it (swimming, for instance) that most wigs are not capable of. What this also means is that their audience is selective for a reason. They are only capable of making several hundred wigs a year. The rest of the hair they collect (that is, of the hair they collect that is chemically untarnished, of proper length, and suitable for wigs) is sold to other wig-making companies. Less than eighty per cent of the hair donated to Locks of Love is actually used by the organization. The profits they receive, however, help pay for overhead costs (wigs cost money, even when the hair is free), price reductions for needy families (Locks of Love sells their wigs, but they do so at a fraction of the market value), and creating grants for research on alopecia areata, their primary area of interest.
So, what if you want your hair to be used in wigs? Pantene Beautiful Lengths is one an excellent option. They produce wigs — this is normal wigs, mind you, the kind you can’t swim in — for children and adults who have gone through chemotherapy. Because they are less specialized, they are able to make several thousand wigs a year and thus use a great deal more of the hair they receive. Also, because these are not highly customized wigs, they do not charge chemo patients anything for the wigs they distribute. Moreover, if your hair is too short for Locks of Love’s ten-inch minimum length, you may be able to donate to Pantene. Their minimum length requirement is only eight inches. As with Locks of Love, there are conditions on the quality of the hair. This is the information provided on their website, for those that are interested.
- Donated hair must be a minimum of 8 inches long (measure hair from just above the elastic band of the ponytail to the ends).
- Wavy/curly hair texture is fine—you may straighten hair to measure.
- Hair should be freshly washed and completely dry, without any styling products.
- Hair may be colored with vegetable dyes, rinses and semi-permanent dyes. It cannot be bleached, permanently colored or chemically treated.
- Hair may not be more than 5% grey
They also explain why these restrictions are so important, in the wig-making process:
- It takes at least six ponytails to make a Pantene Beautiful Lengths wig; in general, each ponytail comes from a different person and is a different color. Even though some hair colors may look similar, including gray hair, each is completely unique.
- For a realistic-looking wig that has consistent color throughout, donated ponytails must be processed and then dyed to the same shade. It is critical for each ponytail to absorb dyes at the same rate in order to create wigs of consistent, natural-looking color.
- Gray hair, as well as some chemically-treated or permanently-colored hair, does not absorb dye at the same rate as other types of hair. It is much harder to color and, once colored, fades more quickly.
- Most permanently-colored hair, once it is processed and re-colored, is too fragile and breakable under the rigorous processing required during the production of a Pantene Beautiful Lengths wig.
But for those of you longhairs who have taken immaculate care of your hair, there may be a third option. Check out the Hair Trader
and related websites to sell your tresses to wig-makers, directly. This last option is especially appealing, in today’s troubled economy. I have only done some very preliminary research, but I believe I may
be able to get more than $800 for the hair I cut off. That would allow me to give to whatever charity I wanted
and still have plenty left over for ‘stimulating the economy’ (to be fair, it would probably go to my wedding fund, but only because I haven’t bothered to get a driver’s license, yet).
I’ll make sure to let you know how it goes! In the meantime, I think it is fair to warn you that my hair is cut and it looks amazing. Sky made me promise not to put it online until he saw it in person, but I should be posting ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots, complete with trophy shots of the (ca. 18 inches of) glorious tresses I’ll be selling! This is so exciting. I was entirely ready, and I’m coming out of this stronger than ever.