When your hair grows back

As your hair grows back after cancer treatment, there are things you can do to look after it. You should avoid massaging or rubbing your scalp. This can damage new growth if your hair is dry or breaks easily.

As your hair grows, your hairdresser can help you choose a style that suits you. Your hairdresser may be able to advise you about shampoo and styling products that suit your hair or scalp condition.

You can also talk to your hairdresser if you are thinking about having your hair tinted, permed or chemically relaxed. If you want to colour your hair yourself, they can give you advice about what to use.

Hair extensions can thicken fine or wispy hair and can be clipped on to your own hair. However, they can cause damage, even to healthy hair, so are not suitable for weak or thin hair.

When you no longer need your wig, you may be interested in giving it to a charity called Wig Bank.

As your hair grows back

Some people believe massaging or rubbing their scalp will help their hair to grow faster. This can damage new hair growth and you should avoid it.

Having your hair styled by a hairdresser who knows you and understands your situation can be very helpful. Often people who were used to long hair find that a shorter style suits them. Your hairdresser can help you choose a style that suits you. Visit mynewhair.org to search for salons near you that are trained to support people affected by cancer.

As soon as your hair is long enough, you may no longer want to wear a wig or head covering. If you have a wig, you may be interested in giving it to a charity called Wig Bank, which cleans wigs and resells them for a low price.

My hair grows so slowly now that I’ve had to keep it short. Luckily, I think it suits me. It certainly saves me money at the hairdressers!

Penny


Hair styling and hair dyes

Hair products

As your hair grows back, you can use shampoo and styling products that suit your hair or scalp condition. Special products are available for Afro-Caribbean hair and other hair types. Most shampoos and styling products can be used on a regular, daily basis without any problems. If you notice that your scalp becomes irritated or the condition of your hair changes, seek professional advice.

Colouring, perming and relaxing

Once your hair is about 3 inches (7.5cm) long, and your scalp is in a healthy condition, you can have your hair tinted, permed or chemically relaxed.

It is best to seek professional advice before you have your hair tinted, permed or chemically relaxed after cancer treatment. Your hair and scalp can react differently, so it is very important to carry out strand and skin sensitivity tests. This is needed even if the same hairdresser is using the same chemicals that were used before cancer treatment.

A professional hairdresser can do tests to check that any chemicals used on your hair will not damage it or cause an allergic reaction on your scalp. They can also advise you about how to care for your hair after colouring or perming it.

You should not use any chemicals on your hair without talking to a professional if:

  • your scalp is scaly, sore or irritated
  • your hair is drier than usual
  • your hair is lighter in colour than it was before your treatment
  • your hair is breaking or not growing normally.

Colouring your own hair

If you want to colour your hair yourself, ask your hairdresser for advice. They may suggest vegetable or plant-based dyes, which are more gentle on your hair and scalp than dyes containing chemicals.

Always try the colour on a small, hidden area of hair and scalp 48 hours before applying it to the rest of your hair. This is to make sure colours will not damage your hair or cause an allergic reaction to them. You should do this even if you have used the same product before. If you do not have any problems with the colour test within 48 hours, it is safe to apply it to the rest of your hair.

It is important to know that many products that claim to be natural actually contain chemicals that may occasionally cause an allergic reaction. This often includes henna products. Unless the henna is bright red, it will have other forms of tint added to it. It is best to avoid henna products. If you do use a henna product, the colour the henna produces may be more intense after chemotherapy treatment.

If you are colouring your hair at home, always carefully read and follow the instructions. If you want a permanent colour with highlights and lowlights, it is best if a trained hairdresser does this.


Hair extensions

Hair extensions can thicken fine or wispy hair and can be clipped on to your own hair. However, they can cause damage, even to healthy hair, so are not suitable for weak or thin hair. Hair extensions are not available on the NHS.


Looking after your hair

Back to Hair loss

Preventing hair loss

Scalp cooling may help to reduce hair loss from the head caused by some chemotherapy drugs. Treating thinning hair carefully can also prevent further hair loss.