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Shave and a haircut: how to sell your hair for extra cash

Updated on June 6, 2013
Hair from miss pupik on Flickr
Hair from miss pupik on Flickr

It’s a stark image, that of a woman shearing off her long locks for money. In O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi," a young woman sells her hair to buy a present for her husband. In Les Miserables, miserable Fantine sells her hair to take care of her daughter, Cosette, after being forced into a system of poverty.

In the heyday of the hair trade, there were no synthetic fibers for wigs. Instead, all hairpieces were made from actual hair. Today, where you can pick up any old cheap, synthetic-fiber wig at Walmart during Halloween, you’d think the hair trade would be dying out. Not true! There’s still a burgeoning market for human-hair wigs, especially for those who need high-quality hairpieces.

Hair can be sold for anywhere between $150 to $2,000 depending on the length, style, and quality of the hair. Because hair takes so long to grow out, this isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. You’ll have to be extra conscious of your hair’s health.

Prepping your hair for sale

If you want to sell your hair for money, you have to take care of yourself. If you take drugs, residue can remain in the hair for some time. If you smoke, the smell will linger. Perms, color treatments, and other abuses of fashion will destroy your hair, and you won’t be able to sell it at a premium.

To lure in eager buyers, you’ll want to give extra love to your hair through salon-quality conditioning and TLC. The best thing to do is to decide that you want to prep your hair for sale and to start a hair care regime from the get-go. This regime would include keeping your hair "virgin”--that is, without colorants and teasing and too much hairspray--and eating a healthy diet.

One common fallacy in hair care is that it’s good to shampoo every day. Unfortunately, shampoo strips hair of its natural oils, so in order to retain a healthy shine, you’ll need to stagger when you shampoo. Don’t brush your hair too often, either: too much brushing will damage your hair at the roots.

You’ll generally need at least 10 inches of hair in order to sell it. Longer pieces will garner higher price tags, so if you’re willing to be patient, you can opt to grow your hair out for a higher return. If you have an unusual hair color, you can generally charge more.

Hair care fun by Nick Nguyen on Flickr
Hair care fun by Nick Nguyen on Flickr

Where to sell your hair

The hair trade is mostly done through specialized websites. The sites generally do not buy and sell the hair directly. They act as classified directories and allow buyers and sellers to meet.

Hairwork is a well-established site and popular for buyers of both hair and Victorian hairwork. It costs $20 to place an ad. charges $10 to place an ad, but it’s frequented often by buyers. Some people online have had concerns over scams on the site, but with the online hair trade, scams are a concern in general. Although there are plenty of legitimate buyers, it’s important to do due diligence and make sure to get payment before you send the hair.

SellHairStore is another big player in the hair trade, having been featured on NBC, The Today Show, and even Telemundo!

HairSellon is a site that offers free ads. Due to this open marketplace, there are a wide variety of buyers and sellers looking at HairSellon. Unfortunately, this means that there are more opportunities for scammers.

It is possibly to sell hair on eBay, but you generally won’t make anywhere near the amount you’d make if you listed on a specialty site. The same caveat goes with Craigslist.

In the salon with striatic on Flickr
In the salon with striatic on Flickr

What do you when you’ve got a buyer

If possible, get a buyer for your hair before you get a haircut. Once you’ve settled on a price and reached an agreement, you can get your hair professionally cut at a salon. The hair must be bound in a braid or a ponytail when it’s cut.

After the agreed-upon sum has been paid, carefully bag up your hair and package it in a padded mailer. Although hair isn’t fragile, the ends can get loosened and messy in transit. Before taking photos for your ad, it might be a good idea to get some natural-light photos and to clean up any split ends with a pair of salon scissors.

Considerations to take

Selling hair can be lucrative, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Some buyers may request that you take photos and videos of the hair-cutting process--and then they won’t respond. Be mindful of scams.

Know that you are selling a part of yourself. While most buyers want the hair for hairpieces, extensions, and the like, others still want it for artwork, collections, or other reasons. Be aware of what you’re doing so you can sell happily and without regrets.

If you end up not wanting to sell your hair, there are many charitable organizations that will accept your hair as a donation. Generally, these organizations use the donated hair to create wigs for children and adults with cancer. Google “hair donation” to look for an organization that piques your interest.


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