Ponytail Profits: This Woman Made $82 Selling Her Hair on eBay

sell your hair
Beth Punches under Creative Commons

When I recently decided to cut my long hair, a friend suggested I sell it online. I was kind of weirded out, since I usually donate my hair, and it seemed wrong to turn my charitable donation into a profit.

But when I heard that Locks of Love was being investigated by a nonprofit watchdog, I decided to try selling my own hair and donate some of my profits to a cause that’s important to me.

I sold my hair for more than $80 — pretty great for something that usually winds up in a salon’s trash can! If you’re ready to try selling your own hair online, here’s how to make the most money.

How Much Can You Make Selling Hair Online?

While The Penny Hoarder has posted before about selling your hair through other companies, I found selling my hair on eBay was the best option. Rather than having to set up another account on a hair-specific website and remember yet another password), I could use my existing eBay account. Plus, the fees and policies are pretty easy to understand, so I didn’t have to worry about combing through any fine print.

I listed 15 inches of my hair with a starting bid of $69.99. It got eleven bids and sold for $82 (plus another $4.12 for shipping). After shipping costs and eBay and PayPal fees, I earned about $75. I also paid to get my hair cut, but you might be able to bypass that cost if you cut your own hair or have a friend do it for you.

Other people have sold their hair on eBay for over $150, so you could earn even more than I did. Your earnings will depend on a few factors: your hair’s condition, the quality of your listing and a little bit of luck.

How to Make the Most Money

It takes a long time to grow your hair long enough to sell, so you want to make the most of it. Here are my best tips for making more money from your hair.

List your hair on eBay before you cut it. Once you cut your hair, it will start to dry out. Buyers prefer freshly cut hair — and they’ll usually pay a premium for it. Note that you may need extra handling time to cut your hair after confirming the sale, especially if it’s going to be tough to get an appointment.

Cut and sell at least 10 inches. Longer hair will generate higher bids, since buyers can do more with it. This girl sold 11 inches of her hair for $166.50, and this woman sold about 12 inches of her hair for $101.99. When you list the length, keep in mind that your stylist may want an inch or two to work with when cutting your hair. Also, be sure to mention if your hair is uneven or layered; these different lengths may reduce its value.

Give an honest history of your hair. If you haven’t dyed or treated your hair, it will fetch more money. If you take great care of your hair and don’t color it, chemically perm or straighten it or damage it with heat, say so! Buyers will be interested and will likely be willing to pay a higher price. Also include information about your hair’s characteristics: Is it naturally straight, curly or wavy? Do you have natural highlights or split ends? What color is it? Are you a non-smoker?

Include good pictures. Wash and brush your hair and then take several photos of it, both in a ponytail and hanging loose. It’s helpful to include a photo with a tape measure so people can see your hair length for themselves. If you would like to keep your Internet hair-selling a secret, have someone photograph only the back of your head.

Specify how you’re willing to cut it. Some buyers may prefer that you cut your hair in several ponytails, as it can make the hair easier to work with and maximize the length they’ll get. State in your description if you’re willing to cut it into more than one ponytail, and it could help you attract more bids.

Include keywords in your title and description. When people search eBay, they use certain keywords to find exactly what they’re looking for. Using these keywords will help them find your listing — and make more money. Here are the ones you’ll want to know:

  • Virgin: Hair that has never been bleached or dyed.
  • Uncut: When you’re listing your hair before you cut it.
  • Colors: Include synonyms (e.g. “brown” and “chestnut”) and extra descriptors (e.g. instead of just “blonde,” write “light blonde”) in case buyers are looking for something specific.

Tightly secure the elastic before you cut your hair. The ponytail (or ponytails) will need to stay intact during cutting, packaging and shipping. Once you’ve cut your hair, I recommend wrapping it tightly in bubble wrap and placing it in a large envelope.

Why Do People Buy Hair?

Beauty supply companies use human hair to make wigs, hairpieces and extensions. Some high-end businesses will even custom-make a wig or hairpiece for a client’s unique specifications.

But human hair isn’t just used for making wigs — some dollmakers also prefer human hair for their dolls. For example, the artist behind My Salon Doll specifically advertises that the dolls’ human hair allows children to style the hair just like they would their own. In addition to wigs and dolls, there are a few other surprising uses for human hair.

Will You Sell Your Hair?

I wholeheartedly recommend selling your hair on eBay. Initially, I had some qualms about it, but it turned out to be kind of fun. I thought I would feel guilty about not donating my hair, but I actually enjoyed choosing a charity to support with some of the profits, and it was nice to earn a little money to keep for myself. I’m excited for my hair to grow out so I can do it again!

Your Turn: Have you ever sold your hair? If not, will you give it a try?

Crystal Koenig has learned lots of strategies for saving money while living on a graduate student income. She has previously blogged at Crystal and Bryan in Singapore.