How to Grow Your Hair...and Donate it Without Crying Too Much

Monday, January 11, 2016

February 29, 2008                                                                       May 1, 2013                                                    August 23, 2014

It started out as a way to "make a change" after ending a relationship.  Sidenote: why do we always think changing our look makes some dramatic statement about how we've "changed'?  Always the one with long hair, I wanted to chop it off and get rid of it.  This was a massive deal for me; I've cried over more haircuts than skinned knees, breakups, and any other sad thing you can think of.  In fact, I rarely get my haircut.  It's much more like a yearly pilgrimage destined to bring forth the waterworks.

So, I sat down in that chair and an old family friend removed ten inches (the minimum requirement for Locks of Love) from my head.  As I was inseparable from my straightener in 2008, I straightened the crap out of it hoping for a little extra length (woof, not a good look).  Oh, and I cried.  A lot.


I ran to Target the next day with my mother after searching natural hair growth remedies and stocked up on a variety of vitamins.

Well, I think you all know how this story goes: my hair grew back.  Not immediately, obviously, but it did and I was fine.  I actually stuck with a "shorter" haircut for a while, falling below my shoulder blades.

By 2012, my hair growth surpassed its previous length.  I just couldn't stop.  I'm not sure when it dawned on me to just do it.  Of course, I kept coming up with excuses. I wanted the longest possible donation and told strangers when they commented on my length.  Another year flew by and my hair continued to grow until finally in May 2013, enough was enough.


So many people told me not to cut my hair, that I needed to spite them.  My beauty was wrapped up in the length of my hair, that I started to believe that's who I was.  Spoiler alert: It is not who I am.  I made an appointment and once again snipped ten inches off and shipped it to Locks of Love.  This time around, I didn't cry.  Because I'd made the minimum cut, my hair was still fairly long.  I wasn't entirely happy with the girl in the mirror, but it made myself a lot easier to look at knowing I was benefiting someone else who was having an even rougher time accepting the girl who looked back at them.

 I was hooked.  I stopped seeing my hair as mine and started seeing the good I could do.  It costs me nothing but a haircut I was going to get anyway.  For most women, the way our hair looks absolutely defines how we view ourselves.  A bad hair day makes us feel ugly, but we're not. We're beautiful human beings with often flawed hair.  How we appear doesn't alter who we are in the world, it's just an accessory.  Our hair will gray and thin, maybe fall out entirely.  Our skin is going to wrinkle and bunch up.  If I keep focusing on how I look to the world, I'm wasting time figuring out what I can do for the world.  What we do with our lives and the things we have is what defines us.

In May 2014, one of my best friends took me on a walk around her neighborhood to break it to me gently: she was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer.  I knew immediately when her treatments started that, even though I donated so recently, it was time to give back again.

In August 2014 I chose Pantene Beautiful Lengths to donate to and this time around packaging up those ten inches was a relief.   I guess I have to also admit though, I loved the haircut.  The last time my hair was that short I was in the third grade.  I'm actually looking at the girl in the mirror now and wishing her hair would stop growing.


For my fourth donation, I will be donating again to Pantene Beautiful Lengths and I estimate donating in June 2016.  I'm waiting until after my brother's wedding.  This guarantees a nice long donation and hair to style at the wedding.

I like Pantene a little better, their requirements better suit me and ensure my hair will be used while Locks of Love reserves the right to sell your hair to offset costs, so you're not sure if your hair will be used in a wig for a person who needs it.  However, their guidelines are much more strict.  With Locks of Love, if your hair is colored or permed it is accepted, whereas dyes are a no-go for Pantene.  As I get older (and grayer) I will probably donate to Locks of Love, but for now my go-to is Pantene Beautiful Lengths.

Pantene's Requirements

  1. Minimum 8" donation length.
  2. No dyes, bleaches, or chemicals.
  3. No more than 5% gray (it is more difficult for gray hair to absorb the hair dye they use in a batch of 8 to 10 ponytails).
See more at their website: Pantene Beautiful Lengths

Locks of Love Requirements

  1. Minimum 10" donation length.
  2. Bleached hair is not accepted, but dyed hair is, unless the bleach was done years ago and has faded since then.
  3. Layered hair is accepted as long as the longest layer is 10".
See more at their website: Locks of Love

Have you donated? I would love to see your pre/post haircuts, so send them my way!

1 comment

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