By Kayla Smithgall
On April 29, 2016, I will be donating my hair. This will be the second time I’ve donated my hair, with the last time being seven years ago.
When I tell people I’m donating my hair, their responses are something along the lines of “Oh…” with a surprised look on their face.
I have spent several months growing out my hair. I do not straighten it very often so it will be healthy when it is cut. I even moisturize it two times a day. Doing these things has made me anticipate the “big day” so much more.
Having people show less than excitement when I tell them about what I’m doing is frustrating to me. It’s just hair; it’ll grow back. More importantly, my hair is going to someone who doesn’t even have hair.
“When you are battling cancer and lose your hair, it is often hard to be in public places and feel comfortable. Having a wig to wear can make you feel more comfortable and you don’t have to deal with strangers staring at you. I lost my hair during chemo treatments 10 years ago; however, I bought a synthetic hair wig to wear in public. It is one way to make you feel healthier when you aren’t feeling your best,” said cancer survivor Kendra Short.
Perhaps when you think of hair donation, you think of Locks of Love (LoL). Most people think of giving free wigs to children with cancer when they think of LoL.
In my opinion, Locks of Love is more about money than it is about love. LoL charges between $3,500 and $6,000 for their wigs, which are sold to “financially disadvantaged children who have permanently lost their hair.” How in the world can a family struggling to make ends meet afford a $3,500 wig?
Also, because cancer patients’ hair will grow back, LoL does not sell wigs to children with cancer.
On the other hand, Pantene’s wigs are free and are given to women who have lost their hair to cancer.
Another difference is Pantene’s minimum donation length is eight inches while LoL’s is 10 inches. If donated hair is shorter than 10 inches, LoL will sell the hair to offset manufacturing costs of the wigs.
Also, according to LoL, 80 percent of the hair they receive is unusable. They also said that to make one hairpiece, 6 to 10 hair donations are needed.
According to forbes.com, of the estimated 104,000 hair donations, LoL should produce a minimum of 2,080 hairpieces per year. In 2011, they only produced 317 natural hairpieces. This means that only three percent of donations received are used. The 1,763 unaccounted pieces are worth $6.6 million.
When LoL was contacted and asked to verify Forbes’s claims, they responded by saying “they do not count, catalogue, nor maintain lists of hair donations.” Because of this, they do not know how much hair they have sold because they “do not count it.”
Since beginning in 2006, Pantene has received 800,000 ponytails and made 42,000 wigs.
LoL started a year later, in 2007.
Assuming they receive over 100,000 hair donations each year and that they only produce 2,080 wigs each year, in the eight years they have received hair donations, they have only produced 16,640 wigs.
LoL has received more donations than Pantene, and yet Pantene has produced more than two times as many wigs as LoL.
If you ever have the desire to donate your hair, which is a wonderful thing to do, please donate your hair to an organization that is not Locks of Love.