how I finally donated my hair

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Instagram photo I snapped in the salon before the Big Cut

Except for an unfortunate time in college when I cut it waaaay too short, I have pretty much always had long hair.  My whole life whenever I mention that I’m going to get a haircut, people ask, “Oh!  Are you going to donate it?”

And I always said no.  Always no, and always for a logical, pretty unselfish reason.  I just wanted a trim, or it wasn’t long enough, or I didn’t want cut it all off to meet the minimum donation length.

But one day I hoped I would say yes!  Yes, I am going to donate it.  Yes, I donated my hair!  Something that could be useless — my hair in a trash can — is going to be something beautiful and useful, something that will meet a great need for someone else.

Back in the spring I was getting so. sick. of my long hair, especially with my newborn and toddler constantly stuck to me.  I mentioned on this photo on Facebook that I wanted to cut it, and a lot of people cautioned me about my plan to donate it to Locks of Love.  In the end I decided I needed to do more research.

In the process I learned about this article, which exposed Locks of Love’s apparent wastefulness with its donations.  Also, Locks of Love often donates its wigs to children with alopecia, not cancer.  If possible, I wanted my hair to go to someone with cancer because I lost a dear childhood friend to that disease, and I remember her own hair loss and her own wig.  I also did research into which organizations accepted hair and were reportedly honest and reliable.  Over and over one name kept popping up: Pantene Beautiful Lengths.  Even the American Cancer Society (which does not provide wigs) recommended this organization.

Also, as a bonus, Pantene Beautiful Lengths had a shorter minimum length requirement (8 inches); Locks of Love and Wigs for Kids required 10 inches of hair.  As I still wanted my hair to be touching my shoulders after it was cut, I wanted to stick to 8 inches.  My hair, which has some layering, varied from 8 to 10 inches in length, and with Pantene it seemed like most of it could be put to good use.

I felt ready.  One afternoon while we were still in the States, I got the blessing of my husband (“It’s ok as long as you’re donating it… but I really love your long hair!”) and asked my mom to watch my two children, and then I drove down the road to the same salon where Lena had just gotten her first haircut.  I put my hair into two pigtails (in order to maximize the length), tied hair ties around each one, let the stylist move in for the kill, and… chop chop!  The deed was done!

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It was weird looking at my hair detached from my body.  I slipped it into a zippered bag as directed and took it to the post office right away.

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I thought it would be cool to hear when my hair made it to Pantene, and so I followed their instructions and wrote my name, mailing address, and email on the bag.

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And there it goes!  I donated my hair for a great cause, and I hope with all my heart that it makes it to someone who really needs it someday soon.  In fact, just this morning I read this amazing article by a cancer survivor that made me even more thankful that I had donated specifically for a wig for a cancer patient.  Maybe I’ll grow my hair out and donate again!

becca-garber-hair-donation-pantene-5 Finally, here are two things that made the experience even more fun: an M&M McFlurry (one of my many guilty pleasures… drooling just thinking of it now…) and having the same French braid hairstyle as my little girl!

Have you ever donated your hair?  Would you like to one day?

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11 Responses to how I finally donated my hair

  1. Jessica October 17, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    You look beautiful with shorter hair and great job donating! I have donated twice to Pantene :) About every 3 years. Soon I’ll be chopping it all off again. Personally I love shorter hair so it’s always a challenge for me not to get too sick of it too soon and cut it all off before the required length.

    • Becca October 18, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

      Wow, Jess, so cool to know that you’ve done this too! Getting sick of my long hair was always my problem, but I didn’t really realize what a manageable length 8 inches is. I always assumed it had to be down to my waist or a foot long or something like that. I’ll see about donating again. :-)

  2. Tiffany October 17, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    I have donated to Locks of Love a couple of times, but I’m so glad to have this information–will make a better choice in the future! I figure I have one more “season” of long hair left in me, so I’ll probably donate it then and keep it permanently short. Your cut looks great!

    • Becca October 18, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

      I love that you think you have one more “season” of long hair! I hadn’t thought about that before, but it is true that most women into their 30s usually keep their hair shorter rather than longer. I’ve been recently inspired by my husband’s Aunt Kathy, who has gorgeous, thick, and long hair… and it’s all silver! It’s really stunning.

  3. Carrie October 17, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    Your hair looks great!

    It is hard for me to let my hair grow long. I always want to get a new style, and then I cut it shorter and instantly regret it. So I am finally learning my lesson and leaving it longer for now. Plus then it is easier for me to just throw into a ponytail and be ready for the day with the babe :)

    PS – You totally made me want a McFlurry now too!

    • Becca October 18, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

      McFlurry lovers unite!

  4. Jenniferje October 17, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

    How great that you made the leap and literally donated a little piece of yourself for someone in need! I know someone planning to donate to Locks of Love, so I’ll definitely be passing along this info… I’ve never done it, but I would consider it if I could stand for my hair to be long enough to chop so much off! Your new look is super cute and totally worth it :)

  5. Elisabeth October 17, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    That’s so awesome! Joanna also donated to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths. She is currently growing hers out again. I didn’t do my homework, so I am glad to hear that Pantene is a good program.

  6. Joy @ Caspara October 18, 2013 at 7:45 am #

    Your hair looks beautiful!! So great that you donated it, too!
    I have never donated my hair, and I do feel bad, but I like shorter hair (really enjoying my shoulder-length style right now). I always admire those who do, though!! :-)

  7. Di October 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Well done! If I’d ever been able to grow my hair long enough!!!

  8. Kelly October 23, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    Pantene Beautiful Lengths is a great organization; after donating twice to Locks of Love, I did a bit more research and discovered the same things you did, plus enjoyed the fact that I didn’t have to cut as much each time. My first donation to LoL had been “guestimated” by the hair dresser at 10 inches–it was closer to 15! I’m due for at least a trim sometime soon, but not sure yet if I’m ready to donate again. Maybe next year…

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