Giving to charity is a wonderful thing to do and whether it’s a little or a lot, it all goes towards making a difference. But if you wanted to do something a bit more substantial, excluding actually joining a charitable organisation, there are a few more radical things us regular folks can do to raise more awareness, raise more money and give more back.
No doubt you remember the Ice Bucket challenge and similar campaigns, where everyday people would do something particularly crazy or daring to get sponsors and raise more money than the average piecemeal donation. A similar and in many way more courageous act people often get sponsored for is Brave the Shave, where participants would gather donations to go for a full buzz cut in the name of fighting cancer.
But we’re here to talk about taking “Brave the Shave” a step further and make it not only a less traumatic experience for your appearance, but also get some use out of your sacrificed locks – hair donation.
The tragic reality is that hundreds of children under the age of 15 get diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK alone. Thankfully, advances in treatments are made every day so more and more of those brave kids go into remission, but these treatments are still lengthy and often very painful. If that isn’t bad enough, imagine being a little girl or young teen and on top of dealing with the reality of living with cancer, you lose all your hair.
Morale is such an important part of fighting any illness and this strikingly visual announcement to the world that you’re sick can deplete a child’s confidence and make their battle for recovery that much harder. But the gift of a carefully crafted, real-hair wig can make a huge difference in these children’s lives and help them feel healthier, more hopeful and more beautiful – although they already are, of course.
So this is where we can come in, and all it requires us to do is not cut our hair for a few years. Yes, years, you really need to commit if you want to do this. Charities like The Little Princess Trust are the perfect places to send your hair and they provide super clear guidance on how you should care for your hair and best practices for sending over your donations. Unlike Brave the Shave, it’s not necessary for you to go completely bald – unless you want to, of course, it’s a pretty badass look – but there are some limitations as to what kind of hair can be donated.
Generally, the minimum length required is 7inches, as cut from the top of a low ponytail at the nape of your neck. 7 inches really isn’t too long and your hair might be long enough for that already. However, the most in-demand wigs require significantly longer hair, with at least 16 inches in length and ideally longer. If you’re starting off with a short bob, depending on how quickly your hair naturally grows, it could be 3-4 years before your ponytail is long enough to send in.
Length isn’t the only consideration. If you dye your hair, only permanently dyed natural colours are accepted, since semi-permanent dye will eventually wash out. Too much grey is not accepted – this isn’t a criticism on greying, it’s just the wigs are intended for children. A little bit is fine, as it can be removed. Bleached or highlighted hair is also ok, as long as it is in good condition – and generally speaking, your hair needs to be in very good condition to be usable – no split ends, dreadlocks or bad extensions.
So for a good few years, you need to take excellent care of your hair, while letting it grow out as long as possible and the longer the hair gets, the more of a pain it can be to look after – from the additional need of conditioner alone!
When you’re finally ready to get it cut, there are some ground rules for how that happens as well, so if you’re going to get it cut at a salon, make sure your hairdresser understands the proper procedure. Put your hair into ponytails tied at both ends and measure it from hair tie to hair tie to make sure it’s the right length – the wispy tips at the end don’t count.
The hair needs to be clean, but without any additional product in it – so no conditioner, no mousse etc. It also needs to be completely dry before being packaged up and sent. This makes your hair appointment almost a twofer, so you’d need to book an extra-long appointment since if you want any colour or styling after the fact, they’d have to rewash your hair from scratch. Hopefully, since you’re doing a generous thing, they won’t charge you extra for this, but you never know!
While you won’t be able to meet whomever your wig winds up going to, be it kids with cancer or alopecia, there are so many heartwarming videos online showing how moved and thrilled these children are to receive their wigs and you can pat yourself on the back for doing something really great! Plus, it may not be a shocking shave, but feel free to start a JustGiving page for your haircut and donate the extra money to another charity of your choice! If you’re feeling a bit of trepidation, it’s understandable, but just remember – your hair will grow back and maybe you’ll even donate again!