Several years ago, local hair salon owner Nancee Testa wore a wig.
Monday, Testa, a cancer survivor since 2004, opened her shop, Mane Door Salon, to people wanting to donate their newly shed, lengthy locks to an appropriate annual fundraiser: Locks of Love.
The fundraiser, which involves hundreds of salons nationwide, is meant to serve cancer patients 18 and under who have gone bald from their treatment — often from chemotherapy.
“For any cancer patient, but especially for women, the loss of hair is a loss of part of one’s identity,” Testa said. “The loss of hair for anyone is like the loss of normalcy, that’s why these efforts, such as Locks of Love, are so important.”
Fort Collins salons including Tuana Hair Design, Mane Door Salon and Topix Hair Studio, offered free haircuts to any person willing to donate six inches of hair or more for the benefit. The offer is good through 8 p.m. today.
While six inches of hair is the minimum amount required to make a donation, at least 10 inches is the preferred amount by Locks of Love — 10 inches is the baseline amount required to make a wig.
Testa said if even one person donated hair to the initiative, she would consider it a success.
“You can hide many physical things, but you can’t hide a person’s head. Donating hair (to be used in) free wigs gives cancer patients who can’t afford them an alternative,” Testa said, who lost her hair during her chemotherapy treatment. She said the average wig costs between $500 and $3,000.
Participating salons are expecting anywhere from 20 to 40 participants between the three salons.
Tuana Hair Design owner Kazmin Tercam said he looks forward to these types of events each year.
“Everybody seems to know some cancer patient, so why not help when we can? It’s a great cause. We get to deal with good-natured, caring people in those who donate, plus we get our name as a salon out there,” Tercam said.
Tuana Hair Design alone in the past year donated more than 900 inches of hair to the Cancer Center of the Rockies, winning it CCR’s “Hair Raiser of the Year” award.
Melissa Still, a senior apparel and merchandising major, was one of several CSU students who donated hair to Locks of Love. And though she became a two-time donor of eight inches Monday, she admitted to getting nervous in anticipation of her hair cut.
“Anyone who has donate-able hair has to have been growing it for a while, so it’s a bit nerve racking to get it cut,” Still said.
Still later said that she was happy with both her hair cut and what it meant to having donated it to someone who can get better use out of it. For Still, she is happy that her donation will help child cancer patients, since as a kid she had multiple friends with cancer.
While there is not any specific hair color or hair type that is more sought after in wig making, texture is considered to be the most valuable quality. Hair that is softer is what makes the difference between wig pricing, Tercam said.
Testa further said that smoother hair is more likely to have sustained fewer perms or other chemical treatments, making it closer to “virgin” hair, or hair that has not been treated chemically in any way.
Locks of Love, a national not-for-profit organization, was founded in 1997 and has increased in popularity of the years from celebrity involvement and its widespread efforts in all 50 states.
Staff writer Vince Crespin can be reached at email@example.com.