Chopping your hair for charity

Turns out, it doesn't hurt as much when it's for a good cause.



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Not to flatter myself, but I was always the girl with the Botticelli hair. At some point during a lifetime of compliments on my long red curls, I came to think of them as my defining feature. And so I never changed ’em. I’ve looked exactly the same since seventh grade.

Several months ago, though, I started thinking more about my attachment to the overgrown spirals. It sounds melodramatic, but I couldn’t separate my idea of myself from my neglected ’do. Who would I be if we parted ways? The question reverberated manyfold when someone close to me lost her hair during chemo. If I trembled at the thought of a trim, what was it like to lose it all? Shitty, apparently: The American Cancer Society reports that 58 percent of women with cancer describe hairloss as the very worst part of treatment.

That humbling notion, combined with a heavy dose of vain curiosity, tipped the balance: I decided to chop off a dozen inches and donate it. Even if I hated the look, I couldn’t regret having given my ponytail to someone who could use it.

I’d heard great things about Arrojo salon, so I booked an appointment there with “curl expert” Topher Gross, who unceremoniously whacked off two pigtails before giving me a stylish, collarbone-grazing coif—exactly what I’d asked for. My first reaction was euphoria: I’d lost a limb and survived! My second reaction, which happened at about 3am the next morning, was panic: What was going to differentiate me from everyone else now that I didn’t have “special” hair? Two weeks out, I’m discovering that while every outfit looks different with my new cut, and my silhouette is more noticeable without a curtain of hair in front of it , I’m mostly still just me. Shocker, right? Plus, my showers last about half as long (you’re welcome, EPA!).

More important, my discarded junior-high look will get a new life as a curly red hairpiece (or part of one: it takes six to eight ponytails to make a full wig), free for someone with cancer thanks to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program. The organization asks if I’d like to receive a thank-you letter after I send in my hair; instead, I think I owe them one.

Where to send your hair

I donated to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths (, which makes wigs for women with cancer. Other options include Locks of Love (, which devotes most of its efforts to children with alopecia areata, and Wigs for Kids (, an organization focused on children with cancer, alopecia and burns. Length requirements range from eight to 12 inches.

Where to get your hair cut

Amoy Couture Hair
Donors get snipped for free at this plush new salon, through April 30. Cuts start at $65 for men, $100 for women. 874 Lexington Ave between 65th and 66th Sts (212-529-5153)

The first reader to e-mail “Arrojo donation” to will win a free donation cut with celeb stylist Nick Arrojo. Other donors who mention TONY will score a free Arrojo hair-product kit, through April 30. Cuts start at $68. 180 Varick St between Charlton and King Sts (212-242-7786)

Dickson Hairshop
The first reader to e-mail “Dickson donation” to will win a free donation cut with owner Severin Dickson. Other donors get 20 percent off through April 30. Cuts start at $65. 137 Allen St between Delancey and Rivington Sts (212-260-5625)

Dop Dop Salon
This hip cuttery offers 25 percent off to all donors through April 30. Cuts start at $80. 170 Mercer St between Houston and Prince Sts (212-965-9540)

High Horse Salon
Donate your hair at this BK newcomer and the chop is free anytime! Cuts start at $40 for men, $60 for women. 103 Havemeyer St between Grand and Hope Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-388-7703)

Mark Garrison Salon
If you’re planning to donate to Beautiful Lengths, make an appointment for a Wednesday and get a free cut. Donation haircuts are 50 percent off during the rest of the week. Cuts start at $95. 108 E 60th St at Park Ave (212-400-8000)


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Users say


I just called Mark Garrison Salon and it's not free anymore, not even on Wednesday...It's $85.00...I am so sorry because I really wanted to donate my hair, I just had a terrible week after my clinic repeated a mamogram and sonogram for me because they thought they had seen something...and out of gratitude that I am healthy I wanted to donate my hair, but being unemployed I can't afford it.