Do you ever look around your home, at all the varied things you own, and think “There’s just so much stuff here! I bet I could pare it down and that at least some of it would be worth some cash.”
Or maybe someone (like one of us crazy personal finance bloggers) said that you can pick up some extra cash unloading some of your unused junk on eBay. It’s a nice thought, right? Get rid of something you’re not using, pocket the cash.
Well, something along those lines happened to me. Sort of.
Warning: If the title of this post grossed you out, you’re probably not going to like the rest of what follows. Especially the fact that there are pictures. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Huh? What? You Sold WHAT on eBay?
My hair. See, what originally happened is that I decided to take my hair from long (three-quarters of the way down my back) to shortish (just below my ears) – and to donate, instead of discarding, the cut-off hair. I kept the sawed-off ponytail, with the intention of donating it to Locks of Love.
When I did a Google search to find out how to send my hair in, however, I found that there is some controversy out there regarding Locks of Love. Unable to pin down exactly the right place to donate my hair to (at that time), I started researching the alternative: selling it.
At first, I was a little discouraged. Though long enough to meet most requirements, my hair has what some websites designated as a “fatal flaw:” it’s curly. Straight hair is, according to many online guides to hair selling, the most sought-after and highly-priced type of hair.
But still, my hair met all of the other requirements for a good sale, namely:
- Long enough (10 inches or more)
- Chemical free (in my case, completely free of harsh chemical use, since I practice no-shampoo washing)
- Free of heat damage (I do not use hair dryers, curling irons, or straightening irons)
- From a non-smoker who doesn’t take any drugs
So with my ponytail in hand, I logged on to make my first-ever eBay listing.
Actually Selling My Hair on eBay
First, I considered the fact that there are sites dedicated solely to the listing of hair for sale – sort of eBay or Craigslist specifically for hair. But these sites charge you money to list your hair, and since this isn’t likely to be something I do very often, I felt that the no-cost initial listing of eBay was the best bet.
I found this guide called “Selling Hair Facts” written and posted by Karen Shelton on a message board on HairBoutique.com. It’s quite comprehensive, and she won my heart by starting the post off with an explanation of my favorite O’Henry short story, “The Gift of the Magi.”
One of the things Karen Shelton’s post addressed was the risk of not getting paid for your hair, with some services. This is the reason I decided to use eBay and take only PayPal as payment, since PayPal offers some protection for sellers that you would not get by accepting a personal check or money order.
Another thing Shelton’s article pointed out was that hair with a “natural wave” in it might actually garner some real attention and cash, so I went for it.
I took several pictures of the ponytail of hair itself, next to a ruler (to demonstrate the length), one in indirect sunlight and one with the camera flash, to give a good idea of the color.
One thing that I also had was a picture (that didn’t show my face) of how the hair had looked on my head, immediately before I cut it. It was a coincidence that I even had the photo, but it worked out well – I think people buying hair want to see it in its natural environment.
With these pictures, I wrote up a detailed description of my hair, its length, its color, and all the attributes that I listed about (undyed, no chemicals, etc.) and put it up on eBay with the title “11″ Ponytail of Honey Blonde Curly/Wavy Human Hair” and an opening bid of just $0.99.
Why 99 cents? Because it was an experiment, first and foremost. More than making money off it, I wanted to see how high it might go. There were a few bids in the first few days – getting the price up into the teens. I was pretty pleased with that – it seemed like it was at least going to be worth my while to have listed it, considering the hair itself was something I “got for free.” That’s the nice thing about selling your hair – it’s almost 100% pure profit!
There were a few people who had put the listing on their “watch list,” and for the next few days, nothing happened. Then suddenly, as my listing neared its end, the bids began to shoot up dramatically (nothing out of the ordinary for an online auction!).
The winning bid when it closed was $166.50! From that, $5.13 went to PayPal fees, and $5.34 for shipping via eBay’s partnership with the US Postal Service. So for my trouble of keeping the ponytail, photographing it, listing it, and shipping it (maybe two hours of work, tops?), I got a cool $156.03.
All-in-all, I was pretty happy with the experience. The only downside was that a few people in my personal life were grossed out by the concept – my boyfriend/now-fiancé was especially not happy about having the disembodied ponytail in the apartment!
The “catch” is that I can really only grow my hair long enough for this every two years or so. It’s actually been almost two years since this particular incident happened (took me a while to write about it, obviously!), so I could do it again soon, if I wanted. But you have to really want to cut your hair and sell it for this to work. Since my wedding is coming up later this year, that’s not a position I’m in right now.
But who knows, maybe as soon as the wedding is done, I’ll chop my ponytail off once again and sell it to recoup some wedding costs!