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Donating Hair to Locks of Love: How, Why, & How Fast it Grows Back (Updated 2021)

Donating hair to Locks of Love was kind of a routine for me years ago. I donated twice in four years back in my teenage years and then a third time as a young professional. But it’s been many moons since then, so it’s high time I do it again.

If you’re like me and have a mane of hair that grows quickly and easily, I encourage you to donate yours, too.

Donating hair is a simple process and such an easy way to do something good with truly minimal effort.

I wasn’t going to post about this because it’s kind of a random thing among my other posts!

But I figured I had to post a photo of the new ‘do at some point, so I might as well try spreading the word while I’m at it.

Also, for the record, your hair literally never looks the same as it does when a professional styles it. Never ever. It’s magic. So please don’t expect to see me like this again!

It’s more like this most days…

Donating Hair to Locks of Love

I donate my hair to Locks of Love in the US, but this is not the only organization that accepts hair donations.

In the UK, The Little Princess Trust accepts hair donations as well. Other organizations in the US can be used – a simple search will show you several options. The key to donating your hair is doing your research. Whichever organization you choose for your hair donation, be sure to carefully review their requirements.

I’ll explain the Locks of Love requirements below, but these differ from other hair donation organizations. Note the organization’s specifics if your hair is dyed, grey, curly, bleached, or layered.

The reason I continue to donate to Locks of Love instead of the other organizations is that I chose it so many years ago when I was a young girl.

Locks of Love makes hairpieces for children who have suffered hair loss for any number of reasons. I connected with that as a teenager and opted to send my long locks their way.

Amanda Walkins donating hair to Locks of Love (before)
Amanda Walkins donating hair to Locks of Love (after)

I’ve more than doubled my age since then (that’s fun!), but their mission still resonates with me today.

Wherever you live and whatever organization appeals to you, just be sure to review their specific hair donation requirements first.

How to Donate Your Hair to Locks of Love

I’m a fan of logistics, so I figured I’d break this down with tips and steps to take. If you also want to donate your hair, whether to Locks of Love or elsewhere, you need to follow some simple rules. While these are the requirements for Locks of Love, they’ll be fairly similar to other organizations.

Again, be sure to review the specifics for your organization of choice before those scissors come out!

Hair Donation Length

Your donation must meet the minimum length requirements of that organization. You don’t want to risk wasting a donation because it isn’t long enough for them to use!

Carefully read the hair donation requirements for Locks of Love or for your respective organization to make sure your hair is long enough before it gets cut.

Locks of Love requires a minimum of 10 inches of hair to make their hairpieces.

If you can hold off cutting for a while longer or if you’re willing to get a short chop, give them a few extra inches.

Other organizations might accept donations as short as 8 inches, but you have to confirm so you don’t waste your time and efforts. Longer is always best!

Know that it takes many hair donations to make a single wig, so offering more length gives better options in the wig creation process.

Cutting Your Hair

When you’re ready to cut your hair to donate it, you need to do so carefully. First, know that your hair must be completely dry! You cannot donate wet or damp hair; it gets moldy and will be thrown away.

Take your dry hair and tie it into a ponytail.

In my case, my hair is very thick so I actually have four ponytails in total!

If your hair is layered or angled, try to separate the same lengths into ponytails for ease upon receipt.

My angled ponytails are likely too short for Locks of Love to use in their hairpieces, but they could sell those to offset some costs.

Other organizations might not sell hair donations, but I’ve worked in enough nonprofits to know the extra costs associated with the work. If the shorter hair donations I sent can’t be used for wigs but can be sold to offset other costs, that’s totally fine by me!

Another reminder: Your hair must be clean and dry before you cut it! This is especially important since a hairdresser’s instinct is to wash and then cut your wet hair.

Remind the salon when booking and again when you arrive that your hair must be cut while dry.

Donating Your Hair

After you have your ponytails cut above the elastic, you might also want to wrap an elastic around the middle and end of each ponytail to keep the hair together more easily.

You cannot donate hair that isn’t in a ponytail or a braid – so don’t bother with that hair on the ground!

Depending on where you donate your hair, you should check the submission requirements for where and how to submit it.

To donate to Locks of Love, you can print and fill out the Hair Donation Form and mail it in with your ponytails. The ponytails should go into a ziplock bag if possible.

If you don’t donate to Locks of Love, just be sure to confirm the submission requirements of the organization where you intend to donate. You certainly don’t want to waste such a donation!

Why Donate Your Hair

Donating your hair to Locks of Love, or to any similar organization, is a simple way to do something good.

I’ve donated four times now and will probably do it again someday because it’s just that easy.

Bonus baby Amanda photos after the first two donations back in the early 2000s!

And, yes, that is my senior photo with the hilarious background and absurdly over-the-top photo editing.

Donating your hair takes minimal effort but can have a huge impact on someone somewhere who needs a confidence boost.

I will never meet whoever gets a hairpiece made from my donations.

In fact, I’ll never know if those donations were used in a single hairpiece or if they were sold to help the organization offset other costs!

But that bit doesn’t matter.

I send off these donations under the assumption that some young child who needs it will receive a hairpiece.

Whether that’s directly or indirectly because of my hair donation does not matter to me.

I can only imagine that a young child suffering from hair loss might struggle amongst peers – kids can be tough sometimes!

And if getting a hairpiece helps a young kid to feel more confident and comfortable, then it’s truly the least I can do to cut my hair every once in a while.

Note that Locks of Love offers wigs to all kids, not only those undergoing cancer treatments. Other organizations specifically support those in that situation. The vast majority of Locks of Love wig recipients actually have Alopecia, a condition that causes irreparable hair loss and often begins in childhood.

I, personally, don’t care what the reason is for a child to need a hairpiece. If getting a wig helps that kid to feel better in some small way, that’s all that truly matters to me!

How fast will your hair grow back after donating?

How quickly your hair grows back will, of course, vary. For me, I donated hair twice in four years, so you can see how quickly it not only grew back to ponytail length, but to donation length.

This fourth time I donated my hair, I cut it the shortest it’s ever been. The stylist actually used a razor in the back! I’ll admit I was nervous about it being so dramatically short. But, frankly, you can get used to anything with a little time.

How to donate hair to Locks of Love - image of Amanda Walkins before cutting her hair
Long hair just before the cut
How to donate hair to Locks of Love - image of Amanda Walkins after cutting her hair
Super short chop!

My hair went from way down my back to above my neck in seconds. It then took a few months to come back down.

While I originally wrote this post in 2019 after donating my hair to Locks of Love, I thought I’d offer an update for inquiring minds. Since I cut it, here’s how fast it’s grown back…

Within one year of my hair being so short it was shaved at the back, it was nearly down to my shoulders yet again. I couldn’t quite get it all into a ponytail without requiring a bobby pin, but it was close.

Trust me, it grows back. In fact, it grows back quickly and unavoidably!

Amanda Walkins and Stirling the cat
One year and one month after donating, my hair was back to my shoulders.
Almost exactly a year later, with my kitten who thought he was a parrot.

Two years after I donated my hair to Locks of Love, it’s not quite ready for another donation yet.

But it’s long enough to be in a high ponytail with no stray hairs requiring clips or pins. It’s also long enough to be a nuisance on a windy day when you’re trying to get a photo in front of Edinburgh Castle!

Most days, it’s long enough for a big ole messy bun on my head that takes no effort at all.

Amanda Walkins posing in front of Edinburgh Castle
Profile view of Amanda Walkins after donating hair to Locks of Love (two years later)

So, every once in a while, I think it’s a good thing to grow my hair out and then cut it short to remember how lucky I am to have that convenience and ability.

If you can donate your hair for the same reason, go ahead and do so! It’s a simple act to extend some sympathy to someone else.

And, hey, you’ll also save a lot on shampoo for a while!

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