How to make money selling your hair
Fancy making some extra cash from your fabulous head of hair? Don't get scalped! We've got the tips you need to read before you let anyone near you with those scissors.
If you’re short of a bob or two, a pair of scissors is all that stands between you and a couple of hundred quid – right?
But whilst selling your hair isn't exactly a quick way to make cash (unless you've already got a head of healthy locks ready for a-snipping), there's some easy money to be made if you're planning on growing it anyway.
Here’s what you need to know to get ahead of the hair market!
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What you need to know about selling your hair
Human hair is in demand
Whether it’s for weaves, wigs or extensions, human hair is in demand – and it’s not just about fashion, either. People can lose their own for all kinds of reasons, from ageing to illness or just the luck of the draw.
Human hair is preferred for wigs and extensions instead of synthetic for the same reasons it looks good growing out of your head: it looks natural, and it's easy to wash, colour or style. Y
Human hair has also been used in a whole variety of neat and nightmarish ways, from mopping up oil spills to supplementing pet food. Whatever the reason, that means there are lots of places to tout your tresses.
It’s what’s on top that counts
Just in case you’re wondering – wig makers want the hair from your head. There are places to sell ‘other’ types of hair, but we’ll let you sniff those out for yourself…
The good news is that hair harvesting isn’t just for girly girls: there’s no reason why guys can’t get in on the act, too.
If that sounds wonderfully egalitarian, bear in mind that ethnic demand varies massively around the world, with one UK hair handler stating they pay less for Asian hair than Caucasian. It's a buyer's market!
You need to be REALLY hairy
You’ve probably seen adverts offering up to £200 for your greasy locks, but if that sounds like a short cut to easy money … it’s not.
Read the small print and you’ll find payment typically starts at around £15 for at least 10 inches of hair. That’s roughly equivalent to starting with shoulder-length hair and cutting all but a few inches off – and you’ll earn less than the price of the average haircut!
The weight of your hair also makes a difference, with fabulous, full locks being in more demand than finer types. This is one time it pays to be thick!
You have to plan ahead
So, the money’s not great – unless you plan in advance. And, given hair grows just 6 inches a year (if you’re lucky), we could be talking serious preparation.
For starters, the big money is in long hair: you’ll need at least 16 inches of even hair (it won't work if you have layers) to make between £50 and £150.
Note the range, too – how much you actually get depends on how the buyer assesses the condition of your tresses.
Forget using a hair dryer
To stand a decent chance of selling your hair, it’s got to be in excellent, natural condition: not coloured, lightened, chemically treated or damaged in any way (including sun damage).
It doesn’t mean you can’t have done those things in the past. It does mean you’ll have to grow out and lop off those bits before you can concentrate on harvesting the good stuff. Did we mention it could take you years to cash-in? Yeah, that x2.
You can’t just whip it off
You could end up kicking yourself if you don’t follow the rules before you grab the shears! Luckily, there are only a couple to keep in mind:
- Some companies won’t accept anything other than freshly chopped hair, so don’t hack it off until you find a buyer!
- Hair needs to be tightly secured, usually in a ponytail, before you cut it off. Some buyers also say it must be a ponytail and not a braid – but check for yourself!
- You don’t need to visit a hairdresser to get your hair cut, but make sure you know what’s expected before having a go yourself.
Getting a haircut can be traumatic
We’ve all had one of those snips that’s left us reaching for a hat – but if you think that’s bad, going from Rapunzel to Ross Kemp over night can be pure torture.
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been prepping for it, going from long hair to barely there is going to feel pretty strange at first. Plus it’s going to weird out everyone you know, too. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Where to sell your hair
- There are a couple of well-known hair-buying sites, so it’s worth seeing what they offer or advise before committing to anyone in particular: try Bloomsbury Wigs or Banbury Postiche.
- Try looking for wig makers or hair colleges in your area, or ask your hairdresser for leads.
- It’s harder to find other industries that will take your barnet off your hands, but they are out there: false lashes, industrial gardening kit and fertiliser are all potentials!
- You can try selling directly yourself: there’s plenty of action on eBay and gumtree. Make sure to include lots of details and photos about your hair’s length and condition, and use keywords such as ‘virgin hair’, ‘afro’ or ‘straight’ as applicable.
- If you’re in it for the long-haul, set up a YouTube channel all about your hair’s progress so buyers have plenty of time to find you (and, who knows, start a bidding war). While you’re there, see if you can activate your account for advertising and earn a little extra on the side!
Top tips for growing sellable hair
- Know what you’re aiming for and what’s involved: if you’re after 15 inches of shiny, virgin hair, you’re going to have to commit!
- Ditch the hair dryer, straighteners or keep your head away from extreme heat. Use products (hairspray, wax or whatever) sparingly and wash out thoroughly when they’ve done the job. Towel-dry your hair gently.
- Condition your hair with coconut oil overnight (but protect your PJs and pillows first!), or use one of these home-made hair treats.
- Wear a hat or use a heat protection spray in the sun, and think twice about swimming or surfing without a cap (you can forget about trying to lighten your hair with lemon juice, too!)
- Don’t go nuts brushing your hair too much or too enthusiastically – you could end up breaking it.
- Get healthy from the inside: get plenty of water, fruit and veg, and enough sleep. Don’t smoke. Give anyone who has the nerve to smoke in your presence the stink eye.
- Have regular trims to keep split ends at bay. Multiple salon trips are likely to shave pounds off your final profit, so make sure you do it on the cheap.
That’s the long and short of it: While cutting your hair isn’t a quick fix for extra cash, if you’ve already got the locks, or you just fancy trying it for yourself, you’ve got the tips you need – give it a whirl.
Don’t forget there are other ways to monetise your mane, including being a cut-n-colour guinea pig (ask your hairdresser), running a beauty blog or hair demos, or being a hair model. If you’re creatively minded and not easily creeped out, you can even make and sell your own unique paint brushes, art or jewellery.
Craving more left-field ideas? We’ve compiled a list of the weirdest ways students make money – because you’re worth it!