It’s Time To Pony Up: APW & National Donate Your Hair Day

Rock that short haircut!

Whenever Meg and I talk about our partnership with Pantene Beautiful Lengths and the incredible community response to it (because we do talk about you at cocktail parties), we keep saying the same thing: It’s such a big ask. Most online partnerships that require reader participation are relatively simple. Share this. Retweet that. Enter a contest. The idea is that you just can’t ask the internet for more than that. But no. Back in June, we asked you to donate your hair. More specifically, to cut off eight inches of hair so that women who have lost their hair to cancer can get free wigs and regain a sense of normalcy in an otherwise shitty situation.

And you delivered.

You delivered better than we ever could have asked, and that was before the official event even took place. So today we want to give some love back to the people who have already donated their hair, rally the rest of you for National Donate Your Hair Day on Saturday, and let you know about some exciting things we’re participating in to help mark the occasion.

National Donate Your Hair Day: The Details

First up, National Donate Your Hair Day is this Saturday, September 7th! I know a lot of you have already pledged to donate your hair, but if you’re new here, these are the requirements (for a complete guide on how to donate, scroll to the bottom for a handy infographic. If you click on it, you can get the full size image):

  • Ponytail must be a minimum of 8 inches to donate
  • No dyes, bleaches, or chemicals (henna is fine, though)
  • No more than 5% gray

It’s Party Time! (Enter to Win)

And because the Pantene Beautiful Lengths team has fallen head over heels in love with the APW community, they want to give back and invite one reader from the Tri-State area to join them for the official National Donate Your Hair Day event in New York. The event will take place this Saturday, September 7th at the Mark Garrison Salon in Manhattan and the reader will receive a free haircut by a celebrity stylist as part of their donation (in addition to makeup touch ups from the CoverGirl makeup team and the opportunity to hang out with the other Beautiful Lengths VIPs at the party). Pantene Beautiful Lengths will even let you bring a friend or partner for support. Just leave a comment at the end of this post saying, “I’m ponying up!” and we’ll choose one of you at random by the end of the day today. The actual time of the appointment will be confirmed once a winner is chosen. Eligibility rules still apply (as in, you have to be able to donate your hair to enter) and access is non-transferable. View full terms and conditions here.

The Vine-umentary

Now for the really fun part. (I know, I know. Like it could get any cooler.) As part of National Donate Your Hair Day, Pantene is putting together a video documentary featuring past and present Beautiful Lengths donors as well as Vines of this year’s donors “Ponying Up” and donating their hair, and they’ve asked APW to be a part of it. To participate, all you have to do is take a video of your “Pony Up” moment and upload the video to Twitter and Vine tagging @Pantene and @PracticalWed, using the hashtag #BeautifulLengths. To celebrate the incredible commitment you’ve all made to this cause this year, we’ll be collecting all the Vines you send in and sharing them with the rest of the community. I predict it will be amazing and make me cry. (P.S. Since so many of you have asked, if you are ineligible to donate, but still want to show your support for the campaign, you can do so by pledging to donate next year or by Tweeting or Facebooking your support for the program. Mention @Pantene and @PracticalWed using the hashtag #BeautifulLengths.)

Hot & Short

And finally, what you’ve all been waiting for. Proof that APW readers are, hands down, the coolest people on the internet, and that y’all are super hot with short hair.

When we first starting putting together this post, a mixture of pride, gratitude, and disbelief overcame me. This project started out as a quiet conversation at Meg’s dining room table. It was a dream that had lived inside of me for almost six years, one of those dreams that you’re afraid to say out loud because you don’t think it can exist as anything other than a dream. And with every photo that we’ve received, every ponytail that’s been Tweeted at us, that dream has become a reality, and one that’s exceeded my wildest expectations. When we introduced this partnership, we called it “Solidarity, Wigs, and Pantene Beautiful Lengths.” I thought what that meant was that we would show solidarity for the women who need wigs. It turns out, it was also solidarity for each other.

So let’s do this thing, guys. National Donate Your Hair Day is this Saturday. Let’s make it count. Full details on how to donate your hair are below. I, for one, can’t wait for the videos to start rolling in. I’ve already got my box of Kleenex ready to go.

For more information about National Donate Your Hair Day, Pantene Beautiful Lengths, and how to get involved, please visit

Why This Partnership: Maddie’s Hair Donation Story

Liz’s Head Shaving Story, Part I (Words)

Liz’s Head Shaving Story, Part II (Pictures)

How To Donate Your Hair To Pantene Beautiful Lengths

Downloadable Donation Pledge Buttons Featuring Liz

**This post was sponsored by Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Thank you Pantene helping make the APW mission possible!**

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  • Emmy

    I just did this on Sunday. It was awesome! Everyone should try short hair at least once. Remember, if you don’t like it, it will grow back! That’s the beauty of hair!

  • Emily

    I have to say, I’ve been a little nervous about my donation on Saturday. Not because I’m losing my hair—it’s to the point where it’s hard to get it to stay up, and it’s on my neck in the August heat, gross—but because I’m afraid of what I’ll look like without it.

    So it makes me feel better to see a whole page of after photos full of women that not only look good, but look HAPPY.

    • I totally relate to the scariness, but it’s a really liberating feeling to be rid of a LOT of hair! Also, I think it will look good on you!

    • I may be making a tough face in my picture like I’m so cool, but truth be told that was taken hours after the cut (last Saturday), and I only just got used to it (mostly) this past weekend, a week later. I had to prep myself to not recognize myself, and I *still* had mild anxiety about it and had to get used to it. And I was thinking about this for over a year! (Last year I cut 12″ to donate, but only went to a bob.)

  • Caroline

    When I saw the partnership originally, I thought, I can’t do that. These photos are making me think “maybe…”

    • meg

      Me too! Actually I keep deciding I’m doing it, and then remembering I don’t meet the donation requirements. GAH.

      • Caroline

        I meet the requirements but the question is if my hair is long enough to meet the requirements and be a length I am comfortable with. I’m getting a haircut next week, so I’ll measure when I get home. I just can’t chop it all off. I can’t. Most days, my awesome, long curly hair is the main/only thing that makes me feel sexy. While I definitely see others with short hair as sexy, I can’t right now for myself. I might have 8inches below where I’m comfortable with though.
        Is curly hair 8 inches of curls or 8 inches stretched straight?

        • Astro A

          You can straighten it! I am in the exact same boat, with the long curly hair that I think is the only thing that makes me feel at all attractive. But I am seriously considering doing this…

          • This is Emma, the curly hair gal from this post. It’s 8 inches straight, so while I didn’t straighten it, we counted 8 inches from pulling it out.

            I LOVE my short curly hair! I know what you mean about the long hair being sexy, but there’s a powerplay to be made with short hair making you feel badass, believe me :)

          • Maddie

            I also have really curly hair. And for a long time my long beautiful hair was my claim to fame/what made me feel beautiful. Cutting it off was a bit of a rebellion against that (at the oh so mature age of 13). In case you needed a little nudge, let me tell you, it can be just as sexy on the other side.

          • Caroline

            My hair doesn’t straighten. Literally, by the time I get the straight iron to the far side of my head an hour or two later, the first side is curling again. Sounds like I could just pull it straight though. I know, short hair is awesome and badass, but I am not ready to let go of my long hair. When I have a bad self esteem day, I do my hair REALLY nice and feel better about myself again. The magic is in how much I love boinging my ringlets when they are perfect ringlets. As a child, I longed for ringlets, or to play a part in the ballet that made me curl my hair into ringlets. Now, a little product and they are so perfect and bouncy, it cheers me right up.

        • Rebecca

          I cut my long hair super short right after high school graduation (over a decade ago) and rocked it for years. Now my hair is long again after 3 years of working hard to grow it out for my wedding next month. I can’t go back to short hair right now either. Not only does the length make ME feel all kinds of feminine and sexy, but my FI LOVES it and compliments my hair all the time now. I’m actually taking comfort in the fact that I don’t meet the donation requirements (highlights, so it’s not like it’s something I can’t change), but then I feel all guilty about that. Thank you for having the courage to talk about this insecurity. I, too, feel like my hair is the prettiest/sexiest thing about me and I am not ready to let go.

        • Meg

          I also have very long, curly hair; it really is weirdly part of my identity. I have no idea what my hair will look like shorter nor what to do with it. Nonetheless, I am 80% sure I will cut it to donate on Saturday, even if it’s the only time I do it. Are there any participating salons in the Bay Area?

  • KC

    Hooray for Team Practical Hair Efforts! Is there a minimum thickness for the ponytail?

    I’m classified as Introvert, Specialty: Avoid VIPs And Celebrities, with a side of Escape NYC Whenever Possible, so the party sounds like basically the exact opposite of my jam, but I’m sure someone else will enjoy it! Have fun!

    • Ang

      There is no minimum thickness for ponytail that I’m aware of. I donated my uber fine and thin hair last year to Pantene Beautiful Lengths and I was surprised that they actually made it into two ponytails.

      I hate my long hair, basically I only grow it out for weddings. Donating my hair is the light at the end of the tunnel of growing it out for me – kind of backwards from everybody else!

  • I’m still in bad haircut recovery mode (it’s been 13 months now and is looking about normal), but next year I’m so in.

  • So, after the first set of APW/Pantene posts, I decided to grow my hair out for my wedding next October and donate it after. And THEN my two sisters (who will both act as my bridesmaids) decided they’re going to donate their hair, too. I’m looking forward to the three of us going together to shed our locks almost as much as I’m looking forward to getting married.

    • That’s awesome!! The first time I donated, it was with 3 of my sisters. We took a before ‘long’ picture, but I’m bummed we never got an after pic with our short hair styles.

    • Jenna

      I’m doing the same thing for my wedding next October 4th! By then, my hair may be so long that it’ll be past my butt, and it’s SUPER thick and curly/wavy, so I think I might even have enough at that point to donate the six (6!) ponytails it takes to make one wig. I’ve donated to PBL before and I’m really excited to do it again!

      Sweet Starling, what date is your wedding? Maybe we can organize a second APW donation day in late October…..?

      • Oh my goodness, my wedding is October 4th, too! I would love to coordinate another APW donation with you. :)

  • ella

    I’ve donated hair twice! It’s currently too short to cut off now, but I figure once it gets long enough again I’ll chop it and start the process over again. The first time I cut off 14 inches and I was so sure I was going to cry, but instead I LOVED it. Short hair feels so sassy and light. Take the plunge! It’s just hair!

  • Kara

    (I’m the Kara from the pictures…hello!)
    While it might seem daunting at the time, you’ll be amazed at the love and support you’ll receive from complete strangers, co-workers, friends, family, etc.

    When I mentioned what I was doing at the salon, several men and women wanted to know more about Pantene Beautiful Lengths, so it’s a great way to spread the word.

    • Liz

      People still ask me about my short hair, comment on it, and compliment it. Extra opportunity to spread the word is definitely an amazing side effect!

  • How do you calculate 5% grey? I am thinking of suggesting this to my fiance, who has a long curly ponytail and has been thinking about getting his hair cut much shorter soon. He has grey at his temples, but I think most of the length is still brown.

    • meg

      He’s probably not going to include the hair at his temples in the ponytail (too high up), or he can exclude it on purpose. Then, SOLVED!

      • Well, like I said, the ponytail is *mostly* brown. I’m trying to figure out 5%.

        • Paranoid Libra

          Pull out the major grey patches before putting on the pony tail?

  • Riah

    I’ve donated my hair three times now. I’m pretty much perpetually in a cycle of growing my hair out and then cutting it off all at once. (This makes me sounds more altruistic than I actually am though. It’s mostly just that I’m too lazy to get haircuts and my hair grows really fast.)

    Anyways, I’m totally cutting my hair off and donating it with you guys, but my wedding’s September 14 (so soon!) so I’ll be about a week late.

    • Angie

      I am in the same boat! I’ve donated my hair twice now and could probably donate about 12-14 inches at this point and still be shoulder length. My wedding is in October so I’ll be chopping it and donating it again right after that. I’m too lazy to get haircuts and also I’m too lazy to style my hair (I’m not good at it even if I did have the motivation though), which I feel like you have to do more when it’s short. When it’s long I just throw it in a ponytail or sock bun and call it a day.

      Looking forward to using less shampoo very soon though! And all these pics look so fantastic! Hooray.

      • MDBethann

        Eh, depending on the texture of your hair, you really don’t have to style it much when it is short, especially if you have a good stylist who can layer it properly. My hair starts to get limp and lifeless when it gets down to my shoulders, so I usually try to keep it close to a chin-length bob. With the way it’s layered, I don’t even have to blow dry it in the mornings – I shower, dry, use a round brush to fluff & tame my fine hair into place, and then I’m off. I actually find my short hair to be LESS work than when it’s long enough to pull into a ponytail.

        Hats off to those of you ponying up. I wish I could join you, but my hair doesn’t do well long & takes forever to get long enough for something like that (14 months to go from bob to below my shoulders for my wedding hair). Enjoy rocking your shorter locks!

  • Suzy

    I’m ponying up! I’ve done it twice before, but not for YEARS. I’d say it’s about that time…

  • Paranoid Libra

    Well that stinks I am legally in PA but could hop the train and be in NYC in 3 hours time but I am no longer a legal NJ resident :( so I can’t try to pony up.

    The past 2 weeks though I have been enjoying my hair down though :)

  • Meredith

    I would love to do this but I’ve been dying my hair my entire life & I see they don’t accept it that way. I would have to grow it all out, cut off the dyed portion, then grow my hair again to donate. I wish I liked the natural color of my hair… Hmmm…

    I think everyone that has/ is donating is amazing. Thankful for the generous, caring people in this world!

  • My hair isn’t long enough yet but I’m getting closer. Hopefully by December or so I’ll be able to pony up!

  • Aw crap, mine probably hasn’t grown out fast enough from the last time I participated. Unless I basically shave my head … which would be a really interesting look. Also interesting for our wedding reception in a few months hah. All the best to everyone who can!

  • Lauren

    Hey gang!! I’m Lauren from the pics and I must say my fellow ladies pictured are looking amazing!! It’s really not that bad you guys and the feeling you get from doing something so great for strangers is out of this world. My hair was so long I couldn’t wait for Saturday to donate and I donated it in April. It’s already growing super fast and I’m hoping to donate again after my wedding next July. You can do it!!

    • Paranoid Libra

      Question why did yours get split up into several pony tails there?

      • Lauren

        They split it up because I had so much hair. It was just easier for the hair stylist to separate the hair and cut it that way. Both times I’ve donated they have done it this way.

    • Lauren! I saw your sweet face and immediately facebooked Mo, Colleen, Corrine and Brittany! You’re amazing! Miss you!

      • Lauren

        Kate!! Hi!!!! OMG this is awesome! I’m not at all surprised to see you on this blog. High five! Miss you! xoxo


    I donated my hair once about 6 years ago – it was such a positive experience! My hair is the longest it’s been since then, since I’ve been growing it out for our October wedding. I plan to donate it after though! Good luck everyone who is donating :)

  • Sarah D

    I’m in a wedding on the 14th, for which I want long hair. Directly after that I have about a foot to chop off and donate! Excited to do it for the first time.

  • Elizabeth

    I love charity and supporting a good cause. I have extremely curly hair, that takes forever to grow and breaks frequently, keeping it short. With all respect, I notice that the individuals who are taking part in this effort all appear to have majority white or European ethnicity, no kinky-curly hair.

    This is just not a way I can give, but I’m happy for those who will benefit from this project. I’m looking forward to effort that I and others of different ethnicities can join in on!

    • Liz

      No way! Alyssa of Kind of a Mess is also donating and she has lovely curly hair!

      • KC

        Some peoples’ hair truly doesn’t grow long naturally due to texture and dryness; if your hair doesn’t grow over 8 inches long before breaking off, then this isn’t going to work.

        (ref: four white girls talking about how to get the oil *out* of their fine/straight hair so it doesn’t look greasy/weighed down and one island girl talking about how she can’t get enough oil (argan oil, etc.) *into* her hair to keep it from breaking, especially in the winter, and me being glad that, however else my hair misbehaves [and oh, it does], at least it gets the oil thing more or less right, and keeping my mouth shut. Racial differences in hair: they exist.)

        • Liz

          Yep, not arguing that different hair isn’t different. Just that we do have folks from different backgrounds donating, even if they’re not all pictured.

          • KC

            Ah, okay – sorry for the misunderstanding. I was misreading the “no way!” as referring to “race can in some cases affect whether your hair grows long enough to donate”, since I don’t know of any people who are as, um, pasty as I am whose hair breaks off quickly by itself, and I wouldn’t have known this otherwise.

            (that kinky/curly hair can be a major pain to deal with, especially given cultural norms/expectations, this I knew long before the conversation I referred to above. That, for some people, their very dry hair actually breaks off all by itself at around 4-6 inches just because it wants to, I didn’t know!)

    • meg

      Hey Elizabeth,
      People of different ethnicities can join in on this, (see: Alyssa of Kind of a Mess). Also, assumptions are a little tricky, in that not everyone in these photos is white.

      That said, clearly EVERYONE can’t donate. Just because Alyssa has hair that she can grow long enough to donate doesn’t mean that you do. But that’s not so much a race issue as a hair issue. I can’t donate because my hair is maybe 40% white, and color treated. Just because I can’t donate, doesn’t mean it’s not an important cause.


  • Elemem13

    I’ve donated my hair three times. I decided I was going to do this when I was nine after my grandmother passed away from cancer. The first time was at the end of my senior year of high school, and the second time was my junior year of college. My most recent donation was just about a year ago after my wedding. While I will admit that the first time I donated my hair, I was pretty scared because I had had really long, ballerina hair my whole life. After the cut, I was surprised by how much I liked my shorter hair and how free it made me feel. After the second cut, I HATED my hair. It was too short, and I felt like I couldn’t do anything with it. I made a quick note to self that I like chin length or longer hair. I grew my hair out again to donate for a third time, and this time, I am absolutely in LOVE with my haircut. In fact, I like it so much that I have maintained it short for a whole year now. I am so proud of team practical for taking this on, and to those of you who are considering donating your hair, you may love or hate it in the end, but it is so, so worth it. A few good ideas are to stick to the chin length rule (especially, if you’re scared), bob’s are adorable (period), and a good stylist makes a big difference when getting a new haircut.

  • All you girls are rocking the short hair! I went for a pixie last winter, though sadly my hair was too dyed to be donated. Now that I’m staying with my natural color, turns out I’m TOTALLY GOING GRAY. Hopefully it will stay under that 5% mark as it grows long enough to donate some time next year.

    Good luck to all of you about to donate, and to all of you october brides above!

    • I chopped off my hair after my wedding and would have loved to donate, but like you, my hair was dyed so it was a no-go. Though in my case, I’ve been greying since I was 19 and part of my motivation to dye was cover-up for the greys (that and I like changing up my appearance.)

      Tis a pity, because that was a LOT of hair that came off.

  • Jemma Q

    Is there a time deadline? I live in the UK so post will take a while and am working away (in a town that only seems to do old lady cauliflower haircuts) for the next week and a half! Off to measure up now. . .

    • One More Sara

      Pantene accepts donations year-round. This day is a big promotion to get the word out. I’m in NL and plan to donate…. in about a month or two when my hair is just a tad longer (husband is a bit attached, so we’re compromising). I’ll probably take some pics and tweet them to @PracticalWed when the time comes though :)

    • anon

      Surely there’s some kind of hair donation charity in the UK you could send it to instead…?

    • I’m not donating until the 14th! (I’m shaving my head for St. Baldrick’s too and I had to move my shave date.) Donate and Vine it anyway!!!

    • Jenna

      “Old lady cauliflower haircuts” — this cracked me up! What a perfect description of the classic senior citizen ‘do! :-D

  • Liz


  • I’m ponying up!
    I donated my hair two years ago with Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths and my hair is finally long enough to donate again. I think I have 12 inches to donate. Excited and nervous for the big haor change.

  • PurpleShoes

    I’m donating on Friday and I’m so excited!!

  • Mallory

    I chopped and donated my hair in June (I was over it and just couldn’t wait!) then just this past weekend cut it even shorter into a pixie! This feels d*mn liberating after a lifetime of long hair! As a gal who likes to prepare, this is when I’ve actually collected images on Pinterest and then utilized the ideas for my cuts. And my stylist really appreciated the direction since my vocabulary for hair consists of, “Um, a bob? I mean a pixie? Here look at these pictures…” So thrilled that I did it and that APW gave me the push I needed to move from terrified to excited as well as coordinating with an amazing organization that makes the entire process seem that much more worth it.

    • MDBethann

      I did that too – when I first went short, Reese Witherspoon was rocking a short haircut for Sweet Home Alabama, so I basically asked my hairdresser to give me something along those lines. It sort of worked, we both liked it, and now I go in and ask for “the usual.”

  • Granola

    I really wanted to be able to say “I’m ponying up” and mean it an be excited about it, but it’s not for me right now. I’ve had a lot of change lately and I need to keep my hair.

    Rock on ladies. I’m cheering for you.

  • wendy

    Omg I just saw this article today , I ve always wanted to donate my hair, I lost my mother due to cancer and I want to give back !(p.s. I love you MOM <3 )

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