My Experience Donating Hair In Tokyo
A Summer Haircut For A Good Cause
A win-win scenario: A refreshing summer haircut for me and a new wig-do for a cancer patient in need.
I hadn’t been to the hairdressers in two and a half years over the pandemic and it was time to freshen up for the hot and humid Japanese summer. But after growing my hair out for so long, I didn’t want my hair to go to waste. That’s when I started looking into donating it.
Can you donate?
According to Chie a hair donation charity will accept most hair donations as long as it isn’t highly damaged and over 31 centimeters in length. That means as long as you have the required length to donate regardless of texture or color and even, in some cases, bleached as long as it doesn’t break apart when lightly tugged on. However, many charities prefer dark brown or black hair in order for them to create a wig most naturally suited to Japanese patients.
Yes, 31 centimeters is quite a bit to donate but I ended up donating around 35 centimeters which grew out from shoulder length. A site that lists hair donating salons around Japan, Hair Doneige, says on average, growing your hair out 31 centimeters will take about three years to achieve. So if you want to donate hair but don’t have the length, you might need to wait a while. However, once all that hair gets finally cut away, the feeling of accomplishment will definitely gratify you! If you’re someone who already has the required length, make this your sign to finally try out that new summer short-do.
Contacting your salon
There are multiple ways to donate hair in Japan but the easiest way I recommend is to contact your usual hair salon and ask if they provide a hair donating service. If they say yes, all you need to do is book your usual appointment whilst making sure to mention you want to donate your hair. Some salons might offer to cut your hair for donation but will return your hair back to you at the end for you to donate yourself. If your salon doesn’t provide any sort of service you can either attempt cutting your hair yourself or find another salon that does.
Cutting it off
Now to the fun part, chop-chop! As well as being washed and dried beforehand (very important as your hair might mold if you leave it wet), the first step to cutting hair will involve tying it up into separate sections with rubber bands. Chie recommends tying these bands at least a centimeter below where you want to cut your hair as you will need to leave that space when cutting.
From here you might want to measure out the hair tied up to check if you have the required length. Make sure you cut at least a centimeter above where you’ve tied the rubber band.
I was lucky enough to get Chie to do all the work, including cleaning up the haircut once all the sections were cut off. If you choose to do all the work yourself at home you’d probably need to book a hair appointment anyway just so you don’t look like this:
Sending the hair off
If you’re like me and went to a salon that cuts and donates hair for you, your hair donation journey comes to an end with you getting a fresh new do. However, if you’re someone that visited a salon that returns your cut hair to you or you cut the hair yourself, here are some tips to get the hair to the charity of your choice. Although Chie usually donates hair cut at her salon on behalf of you, she let me take my hair back home so I could demonstrate that process.
Bundle the hair up in a big rubberband
Fill out any documentation asked for by your charity (usually a donor form, a piece of paper with your name and place of residence, or an online form)
Put the bundled hair and printed documents together in a big enough envelope/letter pack.
Thanks to Chie the whole hair-cutting process was so easy for me. Her salon in Harajuku was very relaxing and smelled amazing. Chie speaks English so I was able to communicate the kind of hairstyle I was after. If you’re in search for a friendly English-speaking salon I highly recommend visiting Chie’s salon Silvia Papilio, whether you’re looking to donate your long hair or just after a usual hair appointment.
- Address: Galleria Harajuku 2F, 3-6-1 Sendagaya, Shibuya, Tokyo
- Business hours: Tue-Sun from 11 a.m.- 8 p.m. (Closed Mon)
- Instagram: @chie_funakura_silvapapilio
- Colors products are imported from Europe
- Donatable hair types: all natural hair types are welcomed, also artificially colored, permed or bleached hair, as long as it’s not highly damaged
- Address: NPO JHD&C, Chiyoda North 7A 13-38 Naniwa-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka, Japan 530-0022
- What to include in the envelope: Your hair, donor sheet form and a separate envelope with your address on the front with a stamp and JHDAC address on the back (only if you want proof of receipt)
Growing out my hair for donation took a long commitment and many bottles of shampoo and conditioner to maintain. Still, it was definitely a rewarding experience and it really was all worth it.
Have you ever donated hair before? Tell us about your experience in the comments.