Wanderlust Wendy

Birthday Giving: Hair Donation in Saigon

Since turning 30, my desire for elaborate birthday celebrations has waned. Instead of large gatherings, I now prefer to retreat and reflect. Recently, there’s been a trend to raise funds for birthdays on Facebook, to support a good cause. This year, in keeping with the “being uncomfortable” theme, I decided to have a makeover, and do some giving of my own – with a hair donation to the Breast Cancer Network Vietnam

Co-Space & Breast Cancer Network Vietnam

This decision came about rather serendipitously. I’ve had long hair since chopping it off before heading to the Peace Corps over a decade ago. But since arriving in Saigon, the tropical heat has made my thick long hair more of a liability. The number of times I’ve worn it down is exactly zero. I thought a birthday is a great time for a make-over, then my sister, who’s donated her hair FOUR times, encouraged me to pursue a donation. 

As fate would have it, during a recent women’s luncheon at Co-Space, I met a girl who works for Breast Cancer Network Vietnam, and their office, housed at Co-Space, is seeking hair donations. The signs seem too obvious to miss, so I decided to turn the birthday makeover into a little giving endeavor. 

Follow Hair Donation Instructions

Hair donation is great, but unless donors follow specific instructions, the hair will end up int the trash and rendered absolutely useless. I received clear instruction that hair needs to be at least 25cm long, washed and dried before cutting, tied in one or several ponytails, and store in a clean zip-lock bag. 

Please reach out to your charity of choice and inquire about their specific requirements. Every organization is different in how they treat donated hair for wigs. Without following strict instructions, our donation becomes a liability for organizations, and could very well end up serving no one. 

My hair donation!

Ace London Hair Salon in Saigon

I’ve always had long hair. At age 10, my mom took me to get my first major haircut, and since I have naturally wavy/frizzy hair, the cut resulted in a giant mushroom. I was traumatized with short hair. Since, hair treatment and technology has made taming my frizz a lot easier. This time, to avoid another mushroom fiasco in Vietnam’s humid weather, I chopped off the hair and underwent a straight perm. 

I did a lot of research to find a decent salon. The female expat group on Facebook gave a lot of great tips. After rigorous research and glowing reviews, I settled on Ace London Hair, and made an appointment with Chiyono. Upon arrival, she immediately made me feel comfortable and understood my desire to have an easy, no-fuss hairstyle. 

Chiyono measured my hair with a ruler that I had brought, tied them in rubber bands, and chopped off 30cm (or 11.8 inches for the Americans) to be extra safe that the hair would be long enough. And just like that, the long hair I’d been carrying for over a decade was gone. I sat in the salon chair for the next 4 hours, as Chiyono and her team go through the straight perm treatment, getting used to the short hair. 

The team is very professional, and the salon has a great vibe. Chiyono is a wonderful conversationalist, and I felt at ease as she gave me a new look. I’m sure there are plenty of great salons in Saigon, but in case you are looking for a specific recommendation, I highly recommend Ace London Hair!

It’s Just Hair

Hairstyle change can significantly alter the way we look and thus becomes a part of our identity. Both men and women are attached to our hair, and letting go can be hard for a myriad of reasons. Yet in the end, it’s just hair, and given that we are healthy, hair grows back. Donating my hair for cancer patients acknowledges this privilege; I can choose to give up some hair for those who lost hair involuntarily to feel more comfortable.  

Giving is selfish, in that it makes us feel good. I now can see why my sister has chosen to repeatedly grow her hair out for donation. The opportunity to shake up our identity, undergo a makeover every two years, and contribute to a good cause seems too good of a combination to pass up. 

We hold onto our identities due to fear of letting go, but once we let loose, we recognize change is the only constant, and being adaptable spices up our lives and challenge our views of who we are. I look forward to the challenges and changes that this new look will bring in this new year of life!

The obligatory before/after comparison!

Resources from the Inter-web

2 thoughts on “Birthday Giving: Hair Donation in Saigon”

  1. Thank you for detailing out how you went about doing this. I have always wondered about it. I have super long hair. I will take the plunge at some point when I am older and tired of my children pulling my hair:)

    You look super cute by the way! And your message is really progressive and admirable.

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