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Hair Donation UK: Everything You Need To Know

Thinking about donating your hair? It’s a great way to support people who’ve lost their hair due to health conditions like cancer and alopecia. Hair donations are used to create realistic human hair wigs and hair systems for men, which are then worn by patients to help them feel more comfortable and confident.

Discover more about UK hair donation below, including how your hair is used and the steps to follow for successful hair donation.

Table of Contents

What is hair donation and why is it important?

Hair donations are used to make wigs for people who have medical conditions that have led to hair loss.

Hair loss related to cancer treatment and other health problems can lead to significant emotional distress in those who are already suffering. For 56% of cancer patients, chemotherapy-related hair loss was the most traumatic side effect of treatment [1].

Human hair wigs can feel and look more real than synthetic wigs, which is why hair donations are so important. These wigs help some patients restore some confidence in their appearance at a difficult time in their lives.

Lottie Rennie post chemotherapy and wearing a wig
Lottie Rennie following chemotherapy treatment (left) and wearing a wig (right).

Speaking in the Guardian, breast cancer patient Sandra Jones recalls [2]:

“Looking in the mirror for the first time wearing a wig, I felt glamorous, confident and my self-esteem soared through the roof. Without it, I don’t know where else I would have got the strength from.”

How long does your hair have to be to donate in the UK?

Hair donation charities will generally accept hair donations at least seven inches in length. However, longer hair is usually in higher demand, so the more you’re prepared to donate, the better.

Hair Donation UK: Everything You Need To Know, Wimpole Clinic

Where can I donate my hair in the UK?

Certain UK charities are set up specifically to receive hair donations, which they then use to create wigs. These charities include:

You can also sell your hair to companies who make wigs, like Banbury Postiche and Bloomsbury Wigs. Generally companies that pay for hair need longer hair that’s in excellent condition.

How to donate your hair

  1. Check out the charity’s guidelines on cutting and sending your hair.
  2. Wash and dry your hair thoroughly. Make sure any products and conditioners are fully washed out.
  3. Tie your hair into plaits or banded ponytails.
  4. Ask your hairdresser to cut your hair just above the highest hairband.
  5. Keep your hair lengths tied up and package them according to the charity’s instructions (you might need to fill in a hair donation form and send this along with the hair).
  6. Receive your letter or email of acknowledgement.

Watch this video to learn more about donating your hair:

Things to know about hair donation

Planning to donate your hair for charity? Here’s what you need to know.

1. Longer hair is more sought after

While charities accept donations of hair longer than seven inches, lengths upwards of 12 inches are in greater demand. So if you can, aim to grow your hair as long as possible (without compromising on hair condition) before getting it cut.

2. Make sure your hair is in good condition

Hair that’s in poor condition might not be usable, so treat your hair well while it’s still growing. Here are some tips for treating damaged hair:

  • Condition your hair regularly (and use leave-in conditioner if needed).
  • Don’t yank your hairbrush through knots and tangles; use slow movements and detangling spray to minimise breakage.
  • Hydrate your hair with coconut oil.
  • Minimise the use of heat-styling tools like straighteners and hairdryers.

3. Tell your hairdresser you’re donating hair

Your hair needs to be cut in a certain way if you’re donating it. It should be clean and completely dry, then tied into plaits or ponytails before it’s cut.

Standard haircuts usually take place when your hair is wet, so make sure to let your hairdresser know if you’re planning to donate your hair. They can help you plan a successful hair donation, and give you a shorter hairstyle you’ll love.

4. Follow the guidelines for your chosen charity

Each charity sets out its own guidelines for how you should cut and send your hair. Make sure you follow their advice carefully so your hair arrives in perfect condition, and can be easily used to create stylish wigs.

5. Men and women can donate hair

People of any gender can donate hair, provided it meets the guidelines above.

Check your chosen charity’s guidelines about ethnicity, hair style, and hair colour. Afro hair, grey hair, and treated hair might not be accepted — it depends on whether the charity’s wigmaker can use the hair type to craft a wig.

Can donated hair be used for hair transplants?

Hair donations aren’t normally used for hair transplants. Instead, donor hair is taken from your own scalp and implanted into your thinning areas. If you don’t have enough scalp hair follicles, you might be able to have a body hair transplant.

Donated hair doesn’t work for hair transplants because there’s a high chance your body will reject hair transplanted from another person, as seen in the eyebrow transplant patient below [3]:

negative reaction to artificial eyebrow grafts

You may be able to have an artificial hair transplant, but this is only available in certain circumstances (for example, you must be in good health and pass a tolerance test to check compatibility).

Should you donate your hair to charity?

If you have long hair and you’re considering a substantial restyle, donating your hair is really rewarding. You can get a stylish new look while knowing you’ve made a positive difference in someone’s life.

Need some inspiration for your new hairstyle? See our female-receding hairline hairstyles and male-receding hairline hairstyles for lots of modern, stylish ideas.

Hair Donation UK: Everything You Need To Know, Wimpole Clinic

The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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