I Donated My Hair and Shaved My Head: Everything You Need to Know About Donating Your Hair To Wigs 4 Kids

This post documents how I donated 12 inches of my hair to shave the rest into a buzz cut. For more information on the Wigs 4 Kids donation process, skip to the section titled “Donating My Hair to Wigs 4 Kids at Great Clips.”

Carley looks over her shoulder at neon streetlights.
My long hair before I donated it.
Photo by Omi Winkelman
"I want to shave my head." It was a phrase I had uttered several times over the past year. But now it was coming from someone else: a new friend. “No way. Me too.” I said excitedly. “What if we shave our heads together?” they asked excitedly.
And that’s how I ended up at a Great Clips salon the next day donating 12 inches of my hair.

I knew I had the perfect hair to donate: 16 inches of healthy locks untouched by bleach or box dye. But I didn’t know where to donate. My small Midwestern town didn’t have any local nonprofits or wig makers. So I turned to Google.

A deep dive down some old Reddit threads encouraged me to donate to Pantene Locks of Love only to find out the program had been discontinued.

Several of my friends have donated their hair and encouraged me not to donate to Locks of Love because they sell their wigs and unusable hair they receive. According to a Snopes.com article, although Locks of Love has charged families for wigs depending on their income level, those who qualify for financial aid receive them for free.

In my opinion, selling the unusable hair is better than throwing it away, but if you’re thinking about donating your hair, I encourage you to do your research to make sure the charity you choose will be able to use your hair length and type in their wigs.

Donating My Hair to Wigs 4 Kids at Great Clips

Carley sits in a stylists' chair with braided hair in front of her.
Carley donating her hair at Great Clips.
Ultimately, I decided to donate my hair to Wigs 4 Kids because they partner with Great Clips salons and all their wigs are given free of charge. This translates to a free haircut, confidence that the stylist cutting your hair is familiar with the donation process, and less stress put on me to make sure my cut hair is dry and shipped to the correct address.

I called my local Great Clips to see if they accepted hair donations through the program and they said yes, as long as my hair was at least 12 inches of virgin hair (never color-treated or permed). If it didn’t meet these requirements, they could still cut my hair for donation, I would just need to find somewhere to donate to and send it there myself.

Since my hair qualified, I drove to the salon and made an appointment, which ended up being about a 2 hour wait time. You can also check in online to speed up the process.

Once I was in the salon chair, the donation process was easy. My hair stylist carefully wet and brushed out my curly hair, sectioned and braided it. There ended up being six braids in all, each twelve inches long with a little extra at the top of the elastics so they wouldn’t come unraveled in shipping.

I asked my stylist if a lot of people donated their hair at her location and she said yes, many people grow their hair out to donate it over and over again. When she finished cutting all the braids off, she asked me how I wanted my short hair styled and I told her to just make it even because I would be shaving it all off soon.
My hair after donating 12 inches.

Subscribe for part two where I talk about the physical and mental aspects of my head-shaving process!