A story resurfaced which claimed an American charity that provides free hairpieces for financially disadvantaged children experiencing medical hair loss
, was charging recipients up to $1,000 for donated hair, following a phone enquiry.
The initial post regarding Locks of Love spread rapidly across Facebook, and reached over 600,000 shares. However, a fact-check confirmed
the initial claim was false.
The charity also followed up with a statement on its website quashing the rumours: "This false post is just that, FALSE. LOL [Locks of Love] did not receive this phone call and no one at our office would have given this false information".
"We ask many times for the actual phone number people claimed to have called. Many people use our name to draw attention to themselves. IF there is an entity using our name and charging for hairpieces, it would be greatly appreciated if we could identify them and have this stopped".
Locks of Love
Initially connected to a for-profit wig retailer, Locks of Love began to operate as separate non-profit organisation in December 1997.
The majority of its young recipients have medical hair loss from the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata
and its various phenotypes.
Others have experienced hairloss from radiation therapy, chemotherapy, severe burns or inflammation (cicatrical alopecia
), among other causes.
Their mission is deeply connected to all aspects of the process of hair loss in children
, understanding that it is more than just a physical or cosmetic issue. On their website, the charity emphasises, "children who receive these hairpieces have lost more than their hair; they suffer from a loss of self".
The organisation reiterates that while a hairpiece will not cure a child's condition, it "can help restore some of the normalcy to their everyday lives that most of us take for granted",
providing a "foundation on which they can begin to rebuild their self-esteem".
Locks of Love has gained widespread media coverage, Celebrities who have donated their hair to the charity include Olympic champion Shaun White, Gina Rodriguez and Russell Crowe.
Children's hair loss
It can be particularly difficult to treat hairloss in younger children. While Alopecia Areata treatment
is possible for the scalp-only form from 16 years of age, its more severe phenotypes - Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis
- currently have no truly effective treatment options regardless of age.
Additionally, children who are losing their hair may feel ostracised from their peer groups at school, and, as the charity explains, will often "withdraw from normal childhood activities such as swimming, going to the mall or even playing with their friends".
Unfortunately, there have also been many cases of hair loss-related bullying
However, hairpieces make a huge difference to the lives of children who experience medical hair loss. Catherine, a recipient of a Locks of Love hairpiece, tells of how, "having a hairpiece has made it much easier for me to handle my Alopecia and feel beautiful".
Cancer-related hair loss
can also cause a great deal of distress. In many cases, however, hair will eventually grow back in a year or less following treatment. Nonetheless, hairpieces can help to boost a child's self-esteem during this arduous process.
While Locks of Love operates in the US and Canada, the Little Princess Trust
offers a similar service in the UK for children and young adults up to the age of 24. Each charity accepts hair donations to make their real-hair wigs for girls and boys from, as well as financial contributions.