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My Daughter Wanted to Donate Her Quarantine Hair

The pandemic has affected everyone’s daily lives and we have all found ways to cope with our new lifestyles. While our experiences vary, there’s one thing many of us had in common: quarantine hair.

Salons were closed for months, but our hair didn’t stop growing. So my 12-year-old daughter, who needed a haircut even before the quarantine, decided to do something good with her hair. She decided to donate it.

We had talked about donating her thick blonde hair before, so she knew that it needed to be a certain length. “Maybe someday,” she said.

During the quarantine, when her hair had grown the longest it’s ever been—long enough to both meet the donation requirement and leave her with a cut that fell just above her shoulders—I wasn’t surprised when she announced she was ready.

When my salon finally opened again, my daughter sat confidently in that chair and explained to the stylist how she wanted a big change. She talked about how great it was that she could help someone else just by cutting her hair. Listening to her chat about music, the unusual summer, and the upcoming school year, I wondered when my daughter had become so mature.

Any worries I had that she would regret her decision, that she had chosen this drastic change in her appearance simply out of adolescent quarantine boredom, disappeared as I watched the stylist hand her the first snipped ponytail.

I couldn’t see her smile beneath her face mask, but her eyes sparkled with excitement.

The quarantine has been a challenging mix of emotions for kids, and my daughter is no exception. After months of stay-at-home orders and social distancing, this was the happiest I’d seen her in a long time. She beamed as she held all four ponytails, which ranged from 10 to 12 inches, as her newly washed hair was cut and styled, transforming her into a young adult before my eyes.

She wanted a change, and she got it. I stood in the background commemorating the event with photos and videos, documenting her makeover with that sense of parental nostalgia that hits our hearts when we realize we’re witnessing the end of a stage in our child’s life. I walked into that salon with my little girl. I walked out with a young lady and a resealable bag filled with the hair I’d watched her grow her entire life.

Days later, as we stood in line at the post office to mail her donation, I glanced at my daughter. She was running her fingers through her short hair and I felt so proud of the kind, thoughtful young lady she had become.

For other tweens and teens interested in donating their hair, here are the tips that helped my daughter and me during the process.

How to Donate Your Hair

1. Choose a charity

There are a number of hair donation organizations. We sent my daughter’s hair to Children With Hair Loss, where donations go to children under age 21 who have experienced medically-related hair loss. Other organizations include Wigs for Kids and Hair We Share.

2. Know the requirements

The most important requirement for hair donation is length. For instance, Children With Hair Loss requests a minimum of eight inches, whereas Wigs for Kids requires at least twelve.

Send clean hair free of styling products in ponytails or braids, and make sure it’s dry because wet hair can mold and be thrown out. Other guidelines include policies regarding hair that is gray, color treated, permed, or in dreadlocks.

3. Plan with your stylist

When booking an appointment with a stylist, share your plans to donate and the charity’s requirements. Some organizations partner with salons, and you can ask your stylist or search the hair donation websites for a salon partner near you.

4. Mail your hair

Once you have cut your ponytails and placed them in resealable bags and completed the donation form on your charity’s website, all that’s left is to mail your locks, and enjoy your shorter new ‘do!

Heather Sweeney

Heather Sweeney is a freelance writer and an associate editor at Military.com. She is the mother of two teenagers and lives in Virginia. You can find her on Twitter at @WriterSweeney.

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