Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Oh, Jo, how could you? Your one beauty." - How to sell your hair

"...and she came walking in with a very queer expression of countenance, for there was a mixture of fun and fear, satisfaction and regret in it, which puzzled the family as much as did the roll of bills she laid before her mother, saying with a little choke in her voice, 'That's my contribution toward making Father comfortable and bringing him home!'

'My dear, where did you get it? Twenty-five dollars! Jo, I hope you haven't done anything rash?'

'No, it's mine honestly. I didn't beg, borrow or steal it. I earned it, and I don't think you'll blame me, for I only sold what was my own.

As she spoke, Jo took off her bonnet, and a general outcry arose, for all her abundant hair was cut short.

'Your hair! Your beautiful hair!' 'Oh, Jo, how could you? Your one beauty.'"

- Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

Given that I am a) lazy and b) tight, I only have a haircut every 3 or 4 years, and when I do I sell it to a wigmaker. I'm a hair farm. Pretty much everyone brings up Little Women when I say I sell my hair, so that's the tenuous bookish link for this blog entry.

Since I'm supposedly giving birth in about 2 weeks, it seemed a good time for a haircut. Firstly, I wanted to take advantage of 'pregnancy hair' (thicker and more of it), and secondly, it's one less thing to wash baby spew out of. Also, after 3.5 years of growing it from here:

To here:

I was a bit sick of it. When I turned over in bed at night it practically strangled me.

So how do you sell your hair?

Firstly, you can't sell loose hair (otherwise hairdressers would make a fortune from what they sweep off the floor). The hair shaft has a direction, and wigmakers need all your hairs pointing in the same direction to use them. Also, loose hair turns into a matted furball within about 20 seconds.

So when you go to get your hair cut, first get the hairdresser to put it into four tight ponytails and cut them off above the rubber band, leaving a fair bit of hair (at least 5cm) sticking out past the top of the bands so they don't slide off.

It's bizarre how much resistance you can get from hairdressers at this point. Seriously, what do they care how many ponytails it's put into? I had to bargain to get mine put into two ponytails (he had his heart set on one - this is how you end up with the rubber band slipping off and all your hair landing on the floor, which is how I lost about a quarter of my hair last time). They're also a bit slapdash with the rubber band fastening, so you might need to carefully adjust the ponytails a bit when you get home. Here is my product, after I'd tidied things up a bit:

Then you take it to a wigmaker. There's quite a few around, I rang around the ones in the Yellow Pages about 4 years ago, asked if they buy hair and roughly what they pay and picked the one who gave the best price. Since then I've been selling mine each time to:

C. Harms - A Better Wigmaker
Suite 512 (Level 5)
125 Swanston Street
Melbourne (next to the HiFi Bar)
Ph. 9650 4484

She's open Tues-Thurs 8am-4pm, and makes wigs solely for cancer patients, which is kind of nice.

So what do you get? It depends on the length, weight, colour and quality of your hair. The ponytails generally need to be at least 25cm to be of use to a wigmaker. I've got what is hilariously termed 'virgin hair', which means it's never been dyed or heat-treated (straightened or permed or other such things that damage hair). You get more money for virgin hair, though you can still sell dyed/treated hair to some wigmakers. The wigmaker will weigh and measure your hair and make you an offer (C. Harms writes you out a cheque to cash then you go round the corner to the ANZ and cash it in).

I got $100 for those two ponytails above, I think they were about 40cm long. So I don't exactly get enough to bring Father home from the war with, but it pays for my haircut and it's better than letting it go to waste on the cutting room floor. Apparently you can also sell your hair online at places like The Hair Trader, but they're generally American, are advertisement-based (eBay-style), boast curiously high prices and I've got no idea if they're legit. I prefer just handing it over to a person.

And now I start again from here!


Anonymous said...

I look forward to seeing your hair around town...Nice bob, too.

Anna said...

I also happen to have exactly the same coloured hair as my brother-in-law's dog.

Maybe there's a market in dog toupees too?

Piroska said...

There's something deliciously archaic and slightly disturbing about your hair selling adventures. It is beautiful hair so I'm sure someone will be delighted to have a wig made of it. I love the concept of virgin hair!

Anna said...

'Virgin hair' always makes me think of Rapunzel...

Kirsty Murray said...

Fantastic post! And good timing for a haircut. It's very common to suffer hair loss a few months after a baby is born. My hair came out in handfuls when each of my babies reached about three-four months. Then it grew back thicker and curlier. Or maybe the curls were a by-product of my general sense of feeling hay-wire???

Anna said...

I'd be quite happy to lose a bit of hair, though I'm not sure our drainage is up to the challenge.