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Charity making wigs for young cancer sufferers has finally been able to use real Afro hair

A children’s charity which offers real Afro hair in its wigs for young cancer sufferers has revealed they’ve only had three orders in the past year. 

The Little Princess Trust (LPT) had been researching Afro-textured wigs for many years but were told over and over again the hair was ‘too fine and delicate and can be brittle and break on a wig’.

However last year, the organisation began offering ‘heritage Afro wigs’ after partnering with London’s oldest surviving wig-maker, Raouls Wigmakers, which found the perfect weave to make the Afro hair stronger.

CEO Phil Brace has now revealed the organisation has only provided three of their ‘heritage wigs’, with many still choosing the traditional Afro wigs they had always been offering, where straight hair is styled into tight curls.

He told FEMAIL: ‘The more Afro hair donated the more wigs we can make with different styles. Many have opted for the traditional straight hair curled option so far because we have more of a selection.’

The Little Princess Trust which offers real Afro hair in its wigs for young cancer sufferers has revealed they’ve only had three orders in the past year. Alopecia sufferer Olivia Donaldson, pictured, 11, from Leeds, decided on a traditional Afro wig from LPT last year when she decided she wanted to wear a hairpiece 

Afro-textured hair had previously been ignored in wig-making, especially in factories, because the hair couldn’t withstand the processing needed to mass produce wigs. 

But The Little Princess Trust still offered Afro style wigs to its young customers by using straight hair which was later curled into style.

The charity was just unable to find a manufacturer able to use hair donations from black and mixed race people in their wigs due to its fragility.

Phil explained: ‘When youngsters are told they have cancer or any condition for that matter there are many services for them to consider. 

Poppy Lee-Burrowes, kept growing her long curly hair so she could donate it to the LPT

Last month, the 11-year-old was finally able to donate her hair

Poppy Lee-Burrowes, 11, had been desperate to donate her gorgeous Afro hair to LPT since she was five-years old and last month she was finally able to do so

The Little Princess Trust (LPT) began offering  real Afro hair in its wigs last year, but since the launch last year, the charity have only provided three

The Little Princess Trust (LPT) began offering  real Afro hair in its wigs last year, but since the launch last year, the charity have only provided three

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF HAIR LOSS? 

It is perfectly normal for people to lose small amounts of hair as it replenishes itself and, on average, people can shed between 50 and 100 hairs per day.

However, if people start to lose entire patches of hair or large amounts of it it can be more distressing and potentially a sign of something serious.

Pattern baldness is a common cause of hair loss as people grow older. At least half of men over the age of 50 will lose some of their hair just through the ageing process, according to the British Association of Dermatologists.

Women may lose their hair as they grow older, too.

Other, more concerning causes of hair loss include stress, cancer treatment such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, weight loss or an iron deficiency.

Most hair loss is temporary, however, and can be expected to grow back. 

Specific medical conditions which cause the hair to fall out include alopecia, a disorder of the immune system; an underactive or overactive thyroid; the skin condition lichen planus or Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer. 

People should visit their doctor if their hair starts to fall out in lumps, falls out suddenly, if their scalp itches or burns, and if hair loss is causing them severe stress.

‘The most important is their treatment. And we all know that chemotherapy and radiotherapy kills the cells on the head and then there’s hair loss. 

‘Wigs are not a vanity for these youngsters. These wigs gives the individual identify and confidence and often helps them fight the condition. It’s an important service. 

‘We’ve always provided textured Afro wigs but we’re very aware that heritage is important to many people so we’ve been trying to develop a real Afro wig for many years.

‘But we were told that Afro hair was too delicate to be used in our wigs. We’ve always prioritised inclusivity and wanted to give people a choice but you need intention to find a heritage wig.’

He said the organisation were told over and over again the hair was ‘too fine and delicate and can be brittle and break on a wig’.

But thanks to a collaborative venture, London’s oldest surviving wig-maker since 1899, Raouls Wigmakers, found the perfect weave to make the Afro hair stronger.

Their short wig is hand knotted while longer ones are made using a mixture of wefts and knotting in the lace at the top of the wig cap.

Phil added: ‘Here at LPT we are famous for our base, it’s like a swimming cap, and they’re the heart of our wig process. So to find a weave for Afro hair on one of our caps was difficult. 

‘We’d been dipping in and out of the venture for many years but most of our wigs were made in the Far East and there just wasn’t the detail for Afro hair in their factories.’

Eventually Caroline Shaw, who runs Raoul, in Paddington, teamed up with LPT and over a 12 month period her team tweaked the traditional weaving method to accommodate Afro hair on LPT wig base. 

She recently told ES Magazine: ‘The wefting technique which we use is not a new technique from the world of wig-making but we have adapted and used it for natural, unprocessed Afro hair to create a robust structure which enables longevity.  

‘The hand-tied method [where strands are secured on to the base of a wig meticulously by hand] is used around the crown and the sides of the wig, giving a natural overall finish.

‘This minimises the damage which can occur because of the tension created within the wig-making process.’

Shaw added that the development will now pave the way for other popular Black hairstyles and improves the future of wig-making.

The long length wig made of real Afro hair. Afro-textured hair had previously been ignored in wig-making as the hair couldn’t withstand the processing needed to mass produce wigs

The short Afro wig. A new weave and knot system has made it possible

Afro-textured hair had previously been ignored in wig-making because the hair couldn’t withstand the processing needed to mass produce wigs – but a new weave and knot system has made it possible

Among those to donate to the organisation was Poppy Lee-Burrowes, 11, from Aberdare, South Wales, who had been desperate to donate her gorgeous Afro hair to LPT since she was five-years old.

Poppy first heard about the Little Princess Trust wig service six years ago when her friends were donating their hair but at the time she couldn’t donate because they weren’t accepting Afro hair.

‘I just wanted to be generous and help,’ she said.

And finally earlier this year she chopped off her gorgeous hair and donated it to LPT.

Phil said:  ‘In the last 12 months we’ve provided just three of our ‘heritage Afro wigs’ while our original Afro style wigs were still being ordered,’ he said. 

‘If people don’t know about it they won’t ask about it.  We need more awareness that these real Afro wigs are now available.

CEO Phil Brace has now revealed the organisation has only provided three of their 'heritage wigs', with many still choosing the traditional Afro wigs they had always been offering, where straight hair is styled into tight curls

CEO Phil Brace has now revealed the organisation has only provided three of their ‘heritage wigs’, with many still choosing the traditional Afro wigs they had always been offering, where straight hair is styled into tight curls 

For alopecia sufferer Olivia Donaldson, 11, from Leeds, she decided on a traditional Afro wig from LPT last year when she decided she wanted to wear a wig after her started falling out. 

However, these days, she has found strength in her condition and has decided to go wig free.

Phil explained LPT’s bank of Afro hair now needs to grow and accommodate all textures, colour and styles while more people need to know of the availability. 

‘The commitment and work that has gone on has shown just what is possible when groups of people get together and bring different skills to find a solution,’ he said.

But now their stock of Afro hair needs to grow. He added: ‘And eventually we’ll hopefully be able to offer the same with the new heritage Afro wig too.’

Meanwhile Phil added that these days more and more youngsters are embracing baldness. 

Will Smith’s wife Hollywood Actress Jada Pinkett Smith has alopecia, and Phil said: ‘Will Smith’s wife has decided to go bald and many are embracing that these days. It wouldn’t have happened ten years ago, but there’s a definite shift.’ 

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