Women looking at her hair starting to thin

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is right around the corner, and salons across the country are gearing up to raise funds to support women battling the disease.

This October, there’s a new way your salon can support clients going through chemotherapy—you can help them keep their hair through scalp cooling.

What is Scalp Cooling?

New technology, called scalp cooling (or cold capping), is now available in some hospitals across the country. This technology allows patients to wear a cold cap during chemo to cool the scalp, thus preventing hair loss. The caps work when blood flow to the hair follicle cells is reduced, therefore exposing them to less chemo medications, and the rate of cellular metabolism is slowed, thereby reducing the effect of whatever chemo medication is present.

Unfortunately, scalp cooling is not covered by insurance, and it’s expensive. It’s also not widely known, so most patients never ask about it simply because they don’t know it exists.

That’s where HairToStay plays a role. This organization launched in 2016 with a goal to build a national subsidy program that could be supported by partnerships with both philanthropic and commercial organizations. To date, they’ve raised more than $1M and awarded subsidies to more than 600 patients nationally.

Working Together: HairToStay and Salons

Bethany Hornthal, co-founder of HairToStay realized early on that partnerships with salons were key when her own salon, diPietro Todd in San Francisco, offered to support the organization with one percent of retail sales.

“Our involvement with diPietro Todd started us in the hair care arena,” Hornthal says. “Another salon we worked with early on suggested a cut-a-thon, and they ended up raising $4,500 between donating their own fees and services and a percentage of retail sales that day.”

From there, Hornthal began attending industry events like Modern Salon’s Hair+ Summit, and Cosmoprof, where she connected HairToStay with other beauty companies like Neill Corporation and Amika, a tools and products company that gives one percent of ecommerce sales to HairToStay.

“Amika is also producing a hair spray with information on HairToStay on the back of the can,” Hornthal says. “They donate a dollar per can to us.”

And Debra Neill, principal at Neill Corporation, did a webinar talking about her own experience with scalp cooling for HairToStay’s website.

“A lot of what we do is about raising awareness,” Hornthal says. “Many cancer patients don’t know scalp cooling exists.”

Currently about 400 hospitals have automated scalp cooling. The cost is approximately $1,000, and HairToStay has been able to award more than 1,400 subsidies nationally.

“We’re doing our best to never say ‘no’ to someone who needs it,” Hornthal says. “We’re also working to move along the involvement of insurance companies as well.”

How You Can Get Involved

HairToStay has worked with salons of all sizes, creating campaigns that work with each salon’s staff and locations.

One salon incorporated a donation button into their SalonBiz software, allowing the front desk to ask clients if they’d like to donate, and then simply logging the donations separately during check out.

Other salons have done cut-a-thons, given a percentage of retail sales, created raffles or donated tip money—the options are endless.

“We focus on the months of May for Mother’s Day and October for Breast Cancer Awareness month,” says Hornthal. “Every $1,000 a salon raises means another person saves her hair. It’s very tangible—owners can tell their staff: ‘We’re going to save one person’s hair this month.’ Setting a goal and working towards it is very effective.”

Ready to get started? HairToStay has created a downloadable salon toolkit with everything you need to set up your own fundraising for HairToStay.

“We give salons the option to do whatever works for them, but also give them the tools to get started,” Hornthal says. “This cause is so relevant—salon professionals are the first responders when someone finds out they are going through chemo, and scalp cooling should be an option for those who want it.”

And Hornthal continues to find new ways to raise funds. On November 7, HairToStay the Diva Way, will be held in San Francisco. Stylists will be on stage alongside opera singers and other entertainment at this second annual gala.

“We’ve awarded 1,450 subsidies in the last few years, but we’d like to award 1,000 per year,” she says. “That’s a million dollars to raise, and doing it with the hair care industry is how we’re going to get there.”

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