If you have long hair, you’ve probably entertained the idea of chopping it all off and donating it to kids and adults with cancer. If you’re ready to undergo the Big Chop, here are a few things you need to know before heading to the hair salon.

Decide which charity to donate to

There are countless charities and organizations in the U.S. that accept hair donations. The three biggest are currently Locks of LoveWigs for Kids, and Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Each charity has different rules and requirements for the kinds of hair they will accept. Examples of common rules include:

  • The hair must be at least 8 inches long from end to end (curly hair should be pulled straight for accurate measurement)
  • No hair coloring, hair highlighting, or other treatments are acceptable
  • Only a certain percentage of gray hair is acceptable (varies)
  • Hair must be bound up in a ponytail or braid before it is donated—not swept up off the floor

Every organization has its own list of rules, so be sure to consult them before heading to your hair stylist.  Here’s a handy chart from Business Insider that breaks down the individual requirements side-by-side.

Make sure your hair stylist does donation cuts.

Not every hair stylist is familiar with the hair donation process, so be sure to check before you schedule your hair salon appointment. Some salons may offer discounts or sponsor donation events, so it’s worth checking.

Be ready to take your style change head-on.

If you’ve never done an extreme change on your hair before, be aware that it can be jarring. There’s no need to go from 12 inches to a buzz cut—research some cute hairstyle ideas, and discuss them with your stylist prior to your cut. Your stylist will also be able to offer experienced tips and insights about styles that will work best for your face shape and hair texture.

Continue to take good care of your hair so you can donate in the future.

Taking care of your hair is a win-win: it’s strong, healthy, and beautiful now, and it’ll be easy to donate in the future. Don’t go crazy with heat styling; use high quality shampoos and conditioners; and follow other tips for healthy hair. Regular trims are also essential to prevent split ends and keep your hair as healthy as it can be—so make sure to schedule a weekly appointment at your Cary hair salon!