We all have a few self-conscious traits about our appearance. We all understand how these can significantly affect our self-esteem.
So imagine how hard it is for children suffering from hair loss. Whatever the cause may be ー alopecia, chemotherapy, severe burnsーwigs made from hair donations bring the shine back into their lives.
The good thing is, hair donation is accessible for almost everyone. By making sure your hair matches preset conditions and following a few simple steps and general requirements, your hair donation will be up and ready to deliver!
Donating My Hair
I donated my hair at the beginning of August, and the process wasn’t all new to me. It was my second time. That feeling that my big chop had done some good for a child like me out there certainly was worth the three years of patience, enough for me to consider going through the process again from the start!
Going to the hair salon, I was definitely excited. I longed for that feeling of walking out of the shop with a light heart, awed at the lost burden weighing down my head, right after a big haircut.
The whole process took as long as I had expected. In my memory from three years earlier, it had taken hours before the final touches.
Ironically the start was the climax: measuring the length of my hair, then chopping it off, one bundle at a time. This process was finished first, putting off wetting the hair for later. After that first step, the rest of the salon visit is the same as for a normal haircut.
Here’s a tip: in some salons they will give you a discount for your contribution.
The salon where I cut my hair no longer did the filing and shipping process due to changes in COVID-19 regulations. So I received an envelope with the address, a plastic bag containing my hair, and the donation form. The experience itself was indeed meaningful and fun, though I must say I do not look my best in a short hairdo. That is a cost to consider when making your cut. After all they say an experienced person knows it all.
After My Donation
My donation was only one of about 30 others. But even with that small contribution, I knew it made a difference to the child who needed it.
Unfortunately, hair donations are relatively unknown in Japan compared to other countries, and even the quite famous name JHD&C (Japan Hair Donation and Charity) barely rings a bell for anyone. Even if it did, most people wouldn’t immediately feel obliged to try it out.
It is perfectly understandable if someone cannot summon the courage to cut off their hair. After all, I was quite hesitant for the first couple of months. But raising awareness is a step that you can do right now, immediately.
Information is a vital step in reaching that goal. Just casually mentioning hair donations in a conversation with your friends, classmates, co-workers could bring about their curiosity.
But do remember that hair grows without our will, so there is no pressure at all! Just wait patiently through two years (and a couple of sweltering summers), and voila! You’re ready to make a change in someone’s life.
Making a Donation
Here’s how the process works in Japan:
The Donor’s First Steps
- Cut hair at the required length.
Tie hair in divided bundles at or over the required minimum length, 31cm/12 inches, and cut roughly 1 cm above the rubber band. This process can be done at a charity support salon or your usual hair salon, and even on your own.
If cutting at home, read instructions first. If cutting at your salon, make sure your hairdresser has noted the requirements beforehand.
- Pack to send (if doing at home or a non-hair donation supporting salon).
Print out and fill in the Donor Sheet and put it in an envelope with the bundles of hair, and write the charity address with your own address on it.
- Wait For Your Proof of Receipt.
This step is entirely optional. You will receive a Proof of Receipt, depending on whether you add an envelope that is self-addressed and self-stamped.
Accepting and Preparing Donated Hair
- Accepting The donated hair.
They receive thousands of donations from donors worldwide. Unfortunately, the majority of these generous donations would have to go to waste or be sold separately to the manufacturing company to use for experimenting their products on, for many reasons such as lack of length and mold.
- Sorting the hair.
The hair is classified into different groups depending on color, length, and texture. Some of them are mixed, to create a natural appearance close to mix-colored hair.
- Sending the hair to the wig manufacturer.
At the wig manufacturing factory, the hair is disinfected and treated with heat to speed up the chemical reaction, then washed with water. The hair is not dyed or straightened to match the ideal shape to give it a more natural look and prevent [further] damage when used.
- Flocking the hair into a wig.
Professionals then sew the hair onto the cap, one hair strand at a time, with the utmost precision and care. Buyers can customise these caps at the time of order. The process takes about a month, including collecting enough hair. One full wig requires 20 to 30 donations.
- Adding the finishing touches and sending to the user.
When the wig is adjusted to make it more comfortable for the recipient to use, it is sent over to the headquarters to receive the final touches.
Finally, after nearly three months of coming and going, it is sent to the recipient’s waiting hands!
Ordering and Receiving Medical Wigs
The procedures for ordering a wig for a child who needs one are simple and straightforward. The wig is available to children in need who are 18 years and younger.
At the same time, because each one is hand made from donations, it can take time to receive one. Here’s how to get started.
- Fill in an application form and send it in. You will need to make an appointment and have your child’s head measured.
- Wait patiently for about 2 to 3 months.
- Try it on when it’s delivered. If you prefer, you can have it styled at a hair salon to match your taste.
- Make sure to take before-and-after photos of you before your wig arrives, and with your wig, and send the photos to the office via email.
Author: Moa Maeda