The simple yet generous act of donating your hair can help a female cancer patient feel like herself again. Since 2007, over 120,000 Canadian women have donated their ponytails to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths campaign, a program founded by Procter and Gamble Canada in association with the Canadian Cancer Society. Each ponytail donation goes towards creating a real-hair wig for a woman fighting cancer. Want to make a difference? Here’s how you can donate your hair.
1. The need is great
According to Statistics Canada, an estimated 93,600 Canadian women were diagnosed with cancer in 2014. While beating the disease is the main priority, patients also strive to feel and look their best during treatment. ‘Women dealing with cancer who are going through a treatment where they lose their hair want to feel like themselves,’ says Deirdre Brough, associate director of corporate engagement for the Canadian Cancer Society. A wig made from real hair helps these women feel more confident and normal during a stressful and difficult time.
The Canadian Cancer Society and Proctor and Gamble Canada provide free real-hair wigs to female cancer patients, but without hair donations from the public, their program cannot be a success. It takes an estimated eight to 15 ponytails to create one real-hair wig. Since July 2014, the Beautiful Lengths program has received 46,277 ponytails, but more donations of real hair are needed to help the growing number of cancer patients.
2. Does your hair make the cut?
Before you donate your locks, check to see if your hair meets the following criteria:
- It’s a minimum length of 8 inches: To make sure that your hair is long enough for donation, put your hair in a low ponytail and measure its length. If it’s less than 8 inches long, it’s too short for the real-hair wig program. Continue growing your hair until it’s at least 8 inches long.
Your hair is clean, dry and wasn’t swept up off the floor after it was cut: Cut hair that has fallen onto the floor before being collected isn’t considered clean and viable for donation.
It’s free of chemical treatments such as hair colour, bleach or perm solution: Hair that has been put through a chemical process ‘ hair dye, a perm or chemical straightening – cannot be accepted for donation. The reason? Brough says that in some cases donated ponytails will have to chemically treated by the Beautiful Lengths program so that they match other hair donations. Since several ponytails are required to make a single real-hair wig, the colours of each ponytail must be carefully matched to give the finished wig a natural appearance.
3. Time to make the cut
Once your hair is long enough to be donated, the Canadian Cancer Society recommends that you take the following steps:
1. Thoroughly shampoo and condition your hair, but don’t add any styling products such as gel, mousse, frizz control creams or hairspray during the drying process. Ensure that your hair isn’t damp and is completely dry.
2. Gather your hair into a low ponytail at the nape of your neck. Affix a tight elastic band at the top of the ponytail. This band should be situated just below the spot where you will be cutting your hair. You can also place another tight elastic band near the bottom of the ponytail to keep the hair together.
3. With your scissors, cut your hair above the top elastic band. This top elastic should remain on the ponytail after it’s been cut, and will keep the hair securely together. Once you’ve cut off the ponytail, don’t wash or style it.
4. How to donate
Your cut ponytail ‘ complete with its elastic bands – should be placed in a zipper-lock style plastic bag and closed tightly. Take the ponytail in the zipped plastic bag and put it in a padded or plastic envelope. To receive an acknowledgement of your donation, include a note with your name and address. Seal the envelope and address it to:
Pantene Beautiful Lengths
2-1055 Middlegate Road
To cover the cost of postage within Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society has a free e-label that can be downloaded from their website.
Pop your envelope in the mail and you’re done! Your kind donation will make a huge difference to a Canadian woman battling cancer.
If you’re a woman dealing with hair loss due to cancer treatments, please visit the Canadian Cancer Society’s website for more information about receiving a free real-hair wig, or call 1-888-939-3333 to speak to an information specialist.