Donate Hair

Girl with long hair before a donation headshave
Photos: Heijo/Shutterstock
Q: I really would like to donate my hair, but it has already gone through relaxers and color treatments. I was wondering, if I shave my head and start with a new set of hair, can I donate then?
A: Yes. Some organizations that take hair donations require virgin hair (which cannot be treated with color or chemical straighteners or perms, etc.) while others have requirements that are not quite so strict (in other words, accepting hair that is color-treated, but not chemically straightened or permed).
All of them do require hair of specific lengths, though the lengths may also vary with organization (usually based on their intended uses). This becomes important to consider, since if your hair needs to be completely shaved, and then you wish to begin growing hair for your donation, you are looking at a fairly considerable time investment.
The average person's hair grows about a one-half inch per month, which means that you would get an average of six inches of growth in a year. If the hair is trimmed every three months for the purpose of keeping it healthy and free of split ends (taking off one-quarter inch), you lose one inch from that six-inch total. This means you'll get an average of five inches of hair growth from your one-year of growing.
Girl with buzzcut short hair after a donation shave
Photos: Heijo/Shutterstock
You should know that the most common requirement for the organizations who accept donated hair for use in making wigs for children is that the donated hair be at least twelve inches in length. Some accept as short as ten inches for children's needs, but twelve is preferred. These organizations, who help children, do not accept hair that contains gray, and the hair cannot be color treated or chemically straightened or permed.
There is an organization that provided hairpieces for adults (and they accept 8 inch donations). They also accept hair that is colored with vegetable dyes and semi- or demi-permanent color. They set a limit on 5% gray in the hair.
So, you can look at the organizations to which you want to donate and make a determination on how long you will need to commit in order to reach your goal. For an eight-inch donation of hair, you will likely need at least a year and a half, and for the twelve-inch donation, you can expect nearly three years of growing time.
With all that being said, this is a truly wonderful idea and one that many women pursue for various reasons. I wish you luck in your endeavors.
See also:
How to shave your head
How to store a cut ponytail
How will my hair look after shaving it with a zero for charity?
How should I cut my long hair off when I want to donate it?