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September 04, 2020 6 min read

Maybe you have been thinking about cutting off your long hair for a while now? Maybe you’re tired of all the combing in the morning and are ready for a short hairstyle? Or maybe you've just heard about the idea of donating your hair and doing something good for someone else. This is great, and the reason why you want to cut your hair is secondary. The important thing is that you think about it. There are a few questions about hair donation that we want to answer here. You will learn how donating hair works, where to donate hair, what happens with your donated hair and why we think hair donation is a great thing. We describe our joint campaign of Emerald Berlin, the Deutsche Krebshilfe, Treatwell, Rieswick & Partner Friseur GmbH, @marisol_prada and @florianferino. And possibly you!

Why donate hair?

Many people lose their hair due to illness or therapy. In Germany alone, about 500,000 people get cancer every year. There are many physical and psychological changes, with the loss of hair through chemotherapy as a very visible change. For many people, this is very distressing and they lose their self-esteem. Wearing a wig that looks like their own hair can add to their quality of life. However, a wig is not compulsory for people who are losing their hair. Many consciously decide against a wig, because one thing is obvious: Hair doesn’t define you, and your beauty doesn’t depend on it. Beauty comes from within!

What is the benefit of donating hair?

Nevertheless, for many people it can make a small contribution to feeling a little better, giving them back a little self-confidence in a time when it takes a lot of strength and courage and when every support counts. A wig can help, and only wigs with real hair from a hair donation look real. 

One of the people who have donated her hair is @Marisol_Prada, sustainable hair and make-up artist. She explains that while a wig is not a must, it can help: "It helps many people through this difficult time, but many women also feel comfortable with a scarf. It is important to love yourself, no matter if you have hair or not, wear a wig or a scarf, and to keep your inner glow". For the cooperation between Treatwell and Deutsche Krebshilfe, Marisol documented her hair donation and tells us in an interview what her motivation was and how she feels with her decision. For her haircut, she put herself in the experienced hands of @florianferino, Hair & Makeup Artist from Berlin.

Who can donate hair?

Anyone – men and women – can donate hair if it is long enough.

How long is long enough? How long does your hair have to be to donate?

A hair donation is possible with a hair length of at least 25 centimetres/10 inches. In general, however: the longer the better. Because when the hair is processed into a wig, a few centimetres of length are lost. So if you donate 25 centimetres, the result can be a wig with hair that is about 15 centimetres long. This corresponds approximately to a shoulder or chin-length haircut.

What kind of hair can you donate?

Most hair can be donated. Structure and colour do not matter. Grey hair can also be donated. Of course, healthy hair is easier to process than damaged hair – dreadlocks and chemically treated hair cannot be made into wigs and therefore cannot be donated.

How does donating hair work?

To donate your hair, it must be clean, combed and dry. Damp or wet hair can go mouldy during shipping and can’t be used. You can either cut your hair yourself at home or go to a hairdresser.

If you want to cut your hair yourself, it is important that you braid your hair into a plait which you fix at the top and bottom with a hair tie. Now cut your hair above the top hair tie so that you have a tied braid that will not fall apart during transport. Unfortunately, hair that has already been lying on the floor cannot be further processed. 

Donating hair – who can cut your hair?

If you do not want to chop it off yourself, better get professional help from a hairdresser for your haircut. They can then advise you directly and give you a stylish new look. You can get an appointment simply and easily through Treatwell. The platform helps you to find a suitable hairdresser in your area and you can book directly online. Basically, you can have your hair cut for the donation by any hairdresser. However, on Treatwell you will find salons that actively support hair donations and where you can book the service online. There are currently over 200 salons. As a leading beauty platform, Treatwell draws attention to this important topic and makes it easier and more accessible. These salons will also take care of the shipping of your hair. 

Where can I donate my hair?

If you can't find a salon near you through Treatwell, you can ship your hair yourself, for example to the Rieswick company, a wig manufacturer from near Borken in Nordrhein-Westfalen/Germany. The family business advises people in all hair situations and makes wigs to measure. After your haircut, you put your hair – i.e. the cut, braided hair, carefully tied together at both ends – securely into an envelope and send it together with your contact details to Rieswick & Partner Hairdresser GmbH, Hüpohl 5 & 7, 46342 Velen-Ramsdorf. Rieswick goes one step further: for every hair donated, the company donates up to 130 Euros to charitable organisations, for example the Deutsche Krebshilfe.

How much does donating hair cost?

If you want to donate your hair, you only pay the cost of your haircut in the salon. If you cut your hair yourself, you pay the costs for shipping. You can also donate a sum of money – in addition, or if your hair is not long enough for a donation yet. Of course, the production of a wig also costs something, as it is made of high-quality material and involves many hours of work. Donations can be made for example in the participating Treatwell salons, online at Treatwell and here at Emerald Berlin directly to Deutsche Krebshilfe.

How is hair made into a wig?

Once you have cut off your hair and shipped it, it is collected by the wig manufacturer and processed into a wig by hand in up to 250 working hours. Interesting to know: Not every braid corresponds to one wig. The plaits are sorted according to their texture, length and colour, and up to five plaits are needed for one wig. The wigs are then given a haircut and are ready to be worn. They are fitted exactly to the wearer and individually designed.

The recipients of the wigs may receive a subsidy from the health insurance company. However, applying for this can take some time and effort. We think that people who are ill should not have to worry about this, but rather be able to put all their energy into getting well. That’s why every donation counts! The more hair donations there are, the more wigs can be created and reach the recipients faster.

Donate your hair – together for an important topic

For you, it's just a new hairstyle – for the people concerned, your hair donation means all the more. It is a personal, very direct help for people who are in a difficult situation. Caro and Stéphanie are among those who have received wigs. Caro says that the wig has given her back some self-assurance and a bit of normality: "You couldn't see the disease at first sight so I just felt safer and more myself.” 

With your hair donation, you are also part of a growing movement of individuals and organisations that are putting the issue on the agenda. If you would like to contribute to making even more people aware of the issue, you can contact Deutsche Krebshilfe. The aim of this non-profit organisation is to help people with cancer and their relatives on many different levels, by listening to them and their wishes and needs. They also work for the prevention and early detection of cancer, for psychosocial care and cancer self-help. Deutsche Krebshilfe is concerned to make the possibility of hair donation better known, because every donated braid helps, as only through hair donations wigs can be created. You can send pictures of your hair donation to online@krebshilfe.de and they will be posted as a contribution on the organisation’s social media channels. And of course you can use your own network, your circle of friends and acquaintances.

United forces for a good cause

How to donate your hair to a charity, best places to make a hair donation – what do you need to know? These questions were the starting points for us at Emerald Berlin and our partners. The campaign was developed by For Good https://www.forgood.co.za/ and Emerald Consulting. Juliane Wernhard and Emerald Berlin founder Barbara Zeiss bring together non-profit organisations, companies and people who want to get involved for a good cause. They advise on the strategic and operational implementation of campaigns: They find the right partners, build a campaign across channels, develop ideas for complementary actions and for cooperation with influencers, develop cross-channel donation opportunities and design the implementation. It results in campaigns with many participants joining forces for a good cause, like in this project, where we all stand together in the fight against cancer. It shows one more that commitment can be both passionate and simple.


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