Little Princess Trust
Broadway House
32-35 Broad Street

Registered Charity No. 1176160

Little Princess Trust statement on Afro hair

18 November 2020

Recent media reports have highlighted the fact that The Little Princess Trust is unable to accept Afro hair donations.

This is an area we have been focusing on for many years to change but, despite seeking advice from some of the most respected wigmakers in the UK, we have sadly not been able to find a manufacturer who can use donated Afro hair to make wigs.

We do provide Afro-style wigs to our young wig recipients but these wigs are made with straight hair that is then curled into the requested style.

The Little Princess Trust is an inclusive charity that supports young people of every race and ethnicity.

We will continue to keep looking for ways to accept donated Afro hair in our wigs and would appeal to any wig makers who are able to do this to contact us as we would welcome the opportunity to work together. 

Liz Finan, the owner of Raoul Wig Makers in London, is one of the hair professionals we have spoken to as part of our research into using Afro hair donations in our wigs.

She said: "It is a shame that Afro hair cannot be used in wig making, but we have found ways to replicate this beautiful hair type, so that those who lose their hair can receive a wig as close to their own natural look as possible."

Liz has written the following to explain to our supporters the challenges and complexities of wig making using natural Afro hair.

“Despite Afro hair appearing very strong it is actually a very delicate hair type.

The reason for this is because the structure of each strand of afro-textured hair has a flattened cross-section and is quite fine and, therefore, more delicate than other hair types. The curls formed by this structure, create tight circles with diameters of only a few millimetres.

There are many different categories of Afro-textured hair because of the many different variations among individuals. Those variations include: strand diameter (fine, medium, coarse); tightness of coils; size of coils and their resultant “springiness”, for example a given length of Afro- textured hair when stretched straight, can appear much shorter when allowed to naturally coil. This apparent contraction is most evident when Afro-textured hair has recently been wet.

In addition, the curly nature of Afro-textured hair, causes difficulties for the natural oils produced by the scalp, to travel up to the ends of the hair. This leaves the hair more predisposed to dryness and so making it more vulnerable to breakage. Consequently, Afro-textured hair is generally moisturised by applying heavy oils to the hair.

In order to explain why it is very difficult to use Afro-textured hair in the process of wig making, I wanted to explain how hair is used when making a wig.

In order to create a wig, hair is ventilated (knotted) into a wig cap. The hair to be ventilated is sandwiched between two drawing mats – a drawing mat has small L shaped prongs which keep the hair still whilst some of it is pulled through the drawing mat to be ventilated. Hair, which is used in a wig, must be ventilated into the wig cap with the roots and ends turned in the correct direction.

Given the tight coiled structure of Afro-textured hair, it is not possible to get the hair to lay flat and straight in the drawing mat.  The tools used in wig making and the tightness of the knots can cause Afro-textured hair to break, given its delicate nature.

One of the most difficult aspects of using Afro-textured hair in wigs is that when the hair is collected it contracts and curls back on itself unless it is plaited prior to being cut.  The hair must be free of all oils when it is being ventilated as it is too slippery to work with if oils have been used to moisturise the hair prior to cutting it. By removing the oils, the Afro-textured hair becomes dry and more brittle and coils more tightly and is thus is more difficult to work with.

Afro-textured hair is quite precious as it is generally slow to grow and so is very rarely available and hard to work with. It is a shame that it cannot be used in wig making, but we have found ways to replicate this beautiful hair type, so that those who lose their hair can receive a wig as close to their own natural look as possible."

Liz Finan, the owner of Raoul Wig Makers in London.

The Little Princess Trust is proud to provide wigs in various styles to children and young people of all races and ethnicities.