Do­nat­ing hair more dif­fi­cult as fo­cus shifts to syn­thet­ics

Regina Leader-Post - - CITY+REGION - ERIN PETROW epetrow@post­

SASKA­TOON You can still shave your head in sol­i­dar­ity with cancer pa­tients, but find­ing a place to do­nate that pony­tail will be­come a lot harder by the end of the year.

The Pan­tene Beau­ti­ful Lengths cam­paign, which has been col­lect­ing do­na­tions and cre­at­ing wigs made from real hair for the Cana­dian Cancer So­ci­ety (CCS) since 2006, an­nounced in a state­ment that in the new year it will no longer ac­cept hair do­na­tions in Canada and the United States.

The cam­paign noted that syn­thetic wigs have vastly im­proved — which makes them lighter, cooler to wear and eas­ier to style — and has driven down the de­mand for prod­ucts made of real hair.

Al­though do­na­tions will close, Carly Schur, na­tional di­rec­tor of cor­po­rate part­ner­ships with the Cana­dian Cancer So­ci­ety, said the Beau­ti­ful Lengths pro­gram al­ready has enough do­na­tions to con­tinue cre­at­ing and do­nat­ing real-hair wigs for the next four years.

“Pa­tients have been pro­vid­ing feed­back that syn­thetic wigs are now ac­tu­ally the pre­ferred wig choice for many,” Schur said. “So we have time now to ed­u­cate our com­mu­nity about this change and also look for ways to help peo­ple do­nate their hair to other or­ga­ni­za­tions.”

Kerry Bishop, owner of Saska­toon’s Pink Tree the Fit­ting Shop, which stocks wigs for women with cancer, said the move makes sense.

“We mostly only sell syn­thetic wigs for lots of rea­sons — we might only sell one real-hair wig a year,” she said, adding that staff usu­ally ad­vise against pur­chas­ing re­al­hair wigs for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, in­clud­ing the high cost and that they lack the longevity and ease of use that syn­thetic ver­sions of­fer.

While hair shav­ing fundrais­ers are pop­u­lar among many groups to raise funds and aware­ness for cancer re­search, Bishop said she doesn’t think the de­ci­sion to move away from real-hair prod­ucts will neg­a­tively af­fect th­ese ef­forts, not­ing that for most peo­ple the de­ci­sion to shave their head is gen­er­ally to show sol­i­dar­ity with some­one bat­tling cancer.

Lad­die James, gen­eral man­ager of the Hair­style Inn in Saska­toon, who works with city ra­dio sta­tion C95 to or­ga­nize its head-shave fundrais­ers, agrees. He said the aware­ness and at­ten­tion a head-shave event draws won’t be de­graded by the fact that it will be­come dif­fi­cult to do­nate the hair.

“There are still other op­tions that peo­ple can do with the hair that they can’t source out,” he said. “It can also be uti­lized and re­cy­cled for other pur­poses — any­thing from mak­ing oil ab­sorp­tion buoys to mak­ing mats. Hair is an in­cred­i­bly tough fab­ric, and as a re­sult it can be used for a num­ber of dif­fer­ent things.”

Peo­ple who get their heads shaved for the C95 marathon can rest easy know­ing all those do­na­tions end up with Locks of Love — a non-profit that cre­ates hair pros­thet­ics for fi­nan­cially dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren. The non-profit’s of­fice in Florida con­firmed it has no plan to stop ac­cept­ing do­na­tions.


Kerry Bishop, owner of Saska­toon’s Pink Tree the Fit­ting Shop, says more cancer pa­tients are choos­ing syn­thetic wigs over real hair.

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