A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

Can I make money selling my hair to a wigmaker?

May 5, 1978

Dear Cecil:

A new sense of social responsibility inspired by a new job has led me to make the crucial moral decision to cut my hair. This is no small matter, since I have been cultivating it for years now (ever since long hair was in style), and it has now grown to a truly astonishing length. But now, mindful of the O. Henry short story "Gift of the Magi," I'm wondering if I can't turn the situation to my advantage (and a substantial cash profit) by peddling my awe-inspiring locks to a wigmaker, as the young wife does in O. Henry's tale. Can you please tell me if there are any firms around that buy human hair? I'll be glad to give you 10 percent of the proceeds.

Cecil replies:

Ten percent of nothin', as Jean-Paul Sartre once observed, is still nothin'. Farrah Fawcett and the Clairol mafia have ruined the market for American hair by inspiring the huddled masses to keep their crops too clean--regular washing with most commercial shampoos strips the hair of its natural wax coating, which makes it too brittle to be sewn into wigs. Wigmakers are only interested in hair that originates in hygienically underdeveloped corners of the world--the dirtier, the better. So unless you've been particularly lax in your personal habits, your chances of making a profit on your next trip to the beauty parlor are virtually nil.

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