Let’s Rally: National Donate Your Hair Day

When I got back from Maternity Leave in April, I hoped I’d be able to get excited about work, after such a huge life change. It turned out that I was about to work on a campaign with Pantene Beautiful Lengths, motivating those of you cutting off your hair after your weddings to donate it. The experience was extra powerful, after having just experienced brand new life. First, Maddie talked about losing her little sister to cancer and why that made her passionate about hair donation. She then flew across country to document Liz shaving her head to benefit cancer research and to donate her hair. And finally, Liz wrote about the struggles of shaving her head. These days, Liz’s hair is growing back (and looks damn hot). And the circle of life keeps on spinning. Let’s bring this thing home.


Proud Maddie

Earlier this month, Meg wrote about the APW sponsor community, and how artists making their living with the help of APW is one of her greatest sources of pride. Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m most proud of these days. It’s no secret that this has been an overwhelming year and a half for me. You know that person we keep talking about? The one who needs to stop bragging about how busy they are and unplug for a little bit? Well, that’s me. And for the past few months I’ve been working tirelessly to clear out my life, my calendar, my office (for the love of all that is good, please don’t wait six ten months to clear your office again, self) and learning to exist in my own life. As I clear a path for myself through the clutter, I’ve been given the opportunity to reflect on everything I’ve done this past year.

When I set out to make the Pantene Beautiful Lengths campaign a reality, my only goal was to take an existing phenomenon (women cutting off lots of inches of hair after getting married) and use the power of this community to do some good with it. I wanted to see how many APW readers I could get to donate their hair, giving other women the chance to feel beautiful again on their own terms.

I got so much more than that.

This is What Support Feels Like

When I shared my story of why this campaign mattered so much to me, I knew you guys would rally around the effort, because that’s what this community does. But I didn’t expect the level of personal support that you threw behind Liz and me. From the deeply personal comments about how cancer has touched your lives, to the private message in my inbox featuring photos of your ponytails and messages of support, every time someone contacted me to let me know they’d be joining the effort, I’d shout to whoever was listening in the house (roomie, dog, husband, didn’t matter) that I worked with the coolest people and that our community was simply the best. Since then, any time I go home and talk to my family or friends about what I’m doing out in California, this is the story I come back to.

As the campaign progressed, something even more awesome happened. I jokingly mentioned to Michael that since my hair is too short to be able to donate this year, he should keep growing his out and donate on behalf of our household. So he is. Because that’s what partners do sometimes.

This project has already been such a huge success, on a personal and a professional level. So in our final post of the campaign, I’m asking for the APW community to help us bring this home in a big way. Here’s how:

National Donate Your Hair Day

On September 7th, Pantene and Seventeen Magazine are teaming up to host the second annual National Donate Your Hair Day. National Donate Your Hair Day is all about creating a community movement, a day where we all come together in support of an awesome cause. I want APW to have a presence in that effort (don’t worry, it’s not hard to do). So, if you’ve been planning on cutting your hair after the wedding, hang on a few more months. I want all of us to donate at the same time so that we can all see the impact of the APW community at work. If Michael’s hair is long enough, that’s when he’ll be cutting his too.

Here is how you can donate:

  • Head to any salon, and ask them to put your hair in a ponytail (like the ones pictured in the link above), then send the ponytail to:

Pantene Beautiful Lengths
Attn: 192-123
20770 Westwood Dr
Strongsville, OH 44149

The requirements to donate hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths are:

  • Each hair donation must be at least eight inches long.
  • Hair may be colored with vegetable dyes, rinses, and semi-permanent dyes, but it cannot be bleached, permanently colored, or chemically treated.
  • Gray hair is difficult to use in the wig-making process, so hair may not be more than five percent gray at the time of donation.

Spread the Word

Once your hair is cut, send us an email at team (at) apracticalwedding (dot) com. We’ll compile everyone’s efforts together, send them along to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, and put it up on our Facebook page!. If you’ve already donated your hair as a result of this campaign, the same goes—please let us know! You can also Tweet your photos at @practicalwed, @pantene, and @seventeenmag using the hashtag: #beautifullengths.

In the meantime, leading up to National Donate Your Hair Day, we’ve put together a few images to help rally the team (big thanks to APW staffer Liz for letting us use her picture!) If you’re thinking about donating and want to let people know that you support this cause, or you just want to make my day, then steal any of the photos in this post and post them to your Facebook page, Pinterest account, use them to Tweet your support, hang them up in your house—I’m happy with any of the aforementioned options. The button at the top of this post can also be taken and used as a in a blog sidebar, or anywhere else you want to put it. And hey, if you’re throwing these photos around, Tweet @practicalwed about that too. We wanna see it all in action!

I can’t thank you guys enough for making this such a worthwhile project. I remember sitting at lunch with my best friend years ago, telling her about an idea I’d had involving a big hair donation effort, and I’m still flabbergasted that it’s now a reality. So for the theme of Pride this month, my submission is you guys. You guys and this effort and all of the good it has done.

For more information about National Donate Your Hair Day, the Pantene Beautiful Lengths, how to get involved, and a list of participating salons, please visit www.beautifullengths.com

Photos of Liz pre and post donation, taken by Maddie, thanks to a generous partnership with Pantene Beautiful Lengths

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

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  • Kristen

    Maddie and the team,

    After Liz’s story, I considered donating myself because it was such a beautiful idea. But I don’t fit the criteria (about 35% gray). Other than fundraising, is there anything else one can do for the cause?



    • Maddie

      I’m in the same boat because my hair is too short right now, so I’ve just been encouraging anyone I know who is thinking about cutting off lots of hair to donate. A lot of people don’t know it’s an option, or don’t know that PBL is a program they can donate to (and that it has totally different recipients from Locks of Love).

      Otherwise, spreading the message about National Donate Your Hair Day is also always welcome! (I mean, plus, look at Liz’s prettiness. That needs to be all over the internet, right?)

    • Katelyn

      I’m in a similar boat! I’ve colored my hair for nearly a decade – and am also rapidly greying. But I do know some brides around the office who are growing out that I’ll promote this to!

    • meg

      Answers from the PBL team (we asked for you!)

      “Definitely! We don’t accept monetary donations, but we encourage those who cannot donate, to organize a local donation event with family and friends. Here’s a link to a helpful toolkit to organize their own event

  • ElisabethJoanne

    Has anyone found a more precise link to the list of participating salons? The last time I looked, all there was were a few in comments on a Pantene blog post.

    [Yes, I know I can go to any salon, or do it myself and then have a salon fix my hair, but I don’t like going to the hair salon, and I don’t like making chit-chat with the stylists.]

    • meg

      Answers from the PBL team!

      “Not at this time, but we’re constantly updating the list on the PBL blog. If she dislikes salons, she may want to have a friend who’s handy with scissors come over and cut her hair. We’ve found that this is a unique bonding experience with family and friends.” (Awwww)

  • my mom passed 9 years ago from breast cancer and i will absolutely be donating my hair after my august wedding this summer. thanks for the reminder and for rallying for such an important cause for women.

  • Kimberly

    I have dyed hair, but I’ll tell everyone I know to do this!
    When my bf was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, I wanted so badly to shave my head with her (she didn’t want me to). I wish I could donate it now. This is just the kick I need to stop dyeing and start growing out my natural hair!

  • I’ve been stalling on a much needed haircut so I can be well over the 8 inch limit. Having a baby may have thinned my (insanely thick) hair out, but it grows like a foot a year, so if I’m going to chop it, it should go to a good cause, yes?

    When the chemo made my dad’s beard fall out, I was unable to look at his face, because he had had a beard for every single day of my life. Vain or not, hair matters. (And if there was such thing as a beard wig, I’d have bought one for him.)

    • Kristen

      Aw! I love this – a beard wig!

    • Emily

      At the hairdresser a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned I was thinking of growing mine out. She suggested coming in every 12 weeks for a small trim to help it grow faster. I was amazed how a bit of cleanup helped my hair look so much better, and I barely lost any length.

      • I don’t think cutting the ends of dead cells makes them grow faster. Look better? Yes. But I don’t think the follicles in the scalp will produce hair at a faster rate just because you mess with the ends.

        But look better? Oh yes. When I grew out my 2 inch spiked haircut, I couldn’t afford regular trims, and looked like 80s Tony Danza for a while. Not my best look…

        • Emily

          Right… Despite that last post, I’m always a bit skeptical of advice from hairdressers, because hair growth is only from the scalp.

          • Hintzy

            I’m mostly reiterating what Sara replied, but yes it doesn’t make your hair “grow faster” rather it prevents your hair from breaking off on it’s own and makes it so you can get longer hair. When your hair splits at the end the split will eventually continue up the hair and break off higher up – making your hairs shorter all over.

            This also depends largely on the texture of your hair – I have ridiculously fine hair and it breaks very easily (like I can’t have it layered because the longest layer will break off in about two weeks time), so I have to trim it very regularly in order to maintain any kind of length. If you have thicker, stronger hair, it might not be as noticeable.

        • Sara

          My stylist told me that it doesn’t make it necessarily grow faster, but helps it maintain its length healthily. When you don’t cut it, the ends can split and break off on their own. Sometimes the splits can go all the way up the indivudal strands. Getting it trimmed helps rid yourself of split end/damage and keeps the hair healthy. The not cutting has a tendancy to backfire when you actually do for a cut and they have to cut off all the damage.

          But actually growing…no.

          • meg

            This is true. Hormones, whatever, the bottom half of my hair is wrecked right now. Without cleanup it would probably ALL be wrecked.

  • Thank you, Maddie! I’ve been wondering when in September this was. (Now that I know it’s on Brasilian Independence Day, I definitely won’t forget.) I was going to cut my hair sooner, but after you & Liz did your PBL posts, I decided to wait. (Barring a teensy trim, maybe, because the ends of my hair are awful-looking.) I will for sure be participating, and I’ll take before & after pictures for you. So excited!

    • Cleo

      Is it just me or does anyone else find it amusing that the day official day chosen to remove/donate hair is also on *Brasilian* Independence Day?

      • Ha! I didn’t even make that connection.

      • meg


  • Anne

    I SO wish I could do this — but I’ve been getting highlights in my hair for years. It’s too bad, because every time I get my hair cut my hairdresser remarks on how much strong, thick hair I have. I’ll pass the info along, though.

  • Maria

    I’m in. I put it in my calendar and everything. :)

  • Martha

    Woot!!! I’ve been thinking about donating mine since a good friend remarked how “long and pretty” my hair had gotten for my wedding. I’ve had short hair in the past, so I’m certainly not afraid of a big chop. I’ve been trying to come up with a good time to hack it off and I think September 7th sounds like a great day!!!

  • Emily

    I won’t have 8 inches to spare by September, but I hope to be patient enough to last until October/November!

  • brynne

    wonderful! however, are they doing any organizing as to locations where people can get their hair cut on that day? i can’t seem to find anything on their website. i’m ready to cut! and i’m cheap! where can i do it for free in the dc-area?

  • C

    Is this going to be an annual thing? I’m getting married next spring and would LOVE to do this next year, as growing out my “wedding hair” is slowly driving me (and my hair dryer) insane. :)

    • theemilyann

      I would also like to know this!! If it’s true, I’m going to tell all my bridesmaids! Maddie? Is this a push you’re going to do annually.

      • Kristen

        Just what I was wondering! My wedding is a year from today, and I’ve been planning on donating afterward anyway, so I would definitely be on board. This hair’s going to be crazy long by next September. :)

  • WOW. I literally have an appointment for 7pm tonight to cut off all my hair and donate it. I’m too psyched to reschedule for 3 months from now, but I will use my story to help encourage others to commit to September 7th! Hoowah!

  • Lija


    Does anyone know if there is an equivalent program in Canada? I went to the website, but there was a little note about US residents only; I guess there is a rule about shipping hair over the border? Anyway, the date is a week after my wedding, and I should have lots of hair to spare. It’s a great cause (I did the same thing about 10 years ago).

  • Nicole

    Does henna count as a vegetable dye or a permanent dye? I would love to donate but unsure if my henna-ed locks will be rejected.

    • meg

      Hennaed locks are allowed!!

      • Nicole

        YAY! I am so excited to hear this. I am not getting married til next fall–so perhaps if there is a second annual Donate Your Hair Day, I will GLADLY be participating!

  • Jenna

    I love this program and this idea! It’s what I’m planning to do after my wedding next fall. The last time I donated, I had so much hair that I was able to give two ‘normal’-sized ponytails…..my hair will be even longer this time around, so I’m hoping for a full half-wig (3 ponytails)!!!

    I wonder if I could organize a post-wedding event for any of our guests who wanted to participate—instead of just brunch on Sunday morning we could also do haircuts! :o)

    • meg

      The. Best.

      You guys are the best.

  • Irene

    Couldn’t wait till September , cut my 8″ last weekend!! And wasn’t the only one donating – there was a young woman donating 12″ at the same time!

  • Erin K.

    My appointment is already made for Sept 7. I’m already past the eight inches and am looking forward to it being a bit shorter! I can’t think of a batter way to honor the incredible women in my life that have been touched by cancer.

  • Teresa

    I was about to do a post-wedding donation cut next month, but I think supporting my favorite wedding site/community is a good enough reason to hold off for a couple more months!

  • VivaLuisa

    Also, an FYI: some salons will give you a sizable discount on your haircut if you are donating your hair. Just make sure to tell them when you book your appointment!

  • Lauren

    I swore up and down that I wouldn’t be the girl that grew out her hair just for her wedding.

    Then I forgot to get a haircut for 8 months.

    Then I swore up and down I wouldn’t be the girl that chopped off all her hair after her wedding.


    [I joke, I joke. It’s a great cause and I will clearly be participating.]

  • Rachelle

    Well, I won’t be donating on September 7 because I’m getting married that day! I donated to Locks of Love about 4 years ago and I’d love to do it again, with PBL this time. Hopefully I can grow it a few inches after the wedding and decide what sort of short haircut I want to rock as a new wife… Luckily my fiance loves short hair!

  • Paranoid Libra

    I have a pony tail I could already donate :)

    I was contemplating cutting it again so I think I will be sending in 2 pony tails.

  • Katie

    My wedding is not until September 28, but I will definitely think about doing this in October!

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  • AnnieP

    does anyone know how the rules apply for us curly-haired gals? Does the ponytail have to be 8 inches when your curls are pulled straight? Or 8 inches of curls? There is a big difference. :)