Options if you have hair loss

There are many practical ways to cope with hair loss:

  • Wigs – you can continue with your usual hairstyle or try something new.
  • Hats – to protect your head from the sun and the cold.
  • Scarves, bandanas or turbans – they are light and easy to wear. 

Some turbans, scarves or headbands also have optional fringe or hair attachments. 

You may decide not to wear anything on your head. Accessories, clothing and make-up can help draw attention away from hair loss.

If you still have some hair, changing your hairstyle can help cover up hair loss. Specialist hairdressers can offer advice about this. Some hospitals run hair and beauty programmes for people affected by cancer. Some of these programmes offer advice for both men and women.

There are also wigs and headwear options available for children. Teenage Cancer Trust provides young people with a free, human-hair wig. They can also put you in touch with other teenagers who have cancer.

Options for people with hair loss

There are many practical ways to cope with hair loss. They do not make the problem disappear, but they can make life a bit easier for you during this difficult time. 

Some hospitals have staff who can show you how to wear different types of headwear. They can also give you ideas and tips on how to cope with hair loss. You can ask your nurse whether there is anyone who can help you. You could also ask a professional hairdresser for advice.

Some hospitals run hair and beauty programmes for people affected by cancer. Your nurses should be able to tell you if your hospital has these programmes, or if there are any nearby. Most of these programmes are for women, but the Look Good Feel Better For Men website has information for men affected by cancer. It includes practical tips on coping with hair loss.

I started wearing a bandana when I lost my hair. Some people, who I have known for years, didn’t recognise me with the bandana!

Doug


Wigs

Many people choose to wear a wig, as they want to look the way they usually do. You may not want people other than close family and friends to know you have cancer. You might choose a wig in a similar style to your usual hairstyle. Or you might take the chance to try out different styles. If you have only lost some of your hair, there are also half wigs and three-quarter wigs that may be suitable for you. 

See our information on how to choose and wear a wig.

Watch our hair loss video playlist

In these videos, people with experience of cancer and hair loss share their stories. You can also watch tutorials on wigs, headwear and eye make up.

Watch our hair loss video playlist

In these videos, people with experience of cancer and hair loss share their stories. You can also watch tutorials on wigs, headwear and eye make up.


Hats

Hats are also a popular option. They come in many different shapes, styles and colours. They are common fashion accessories, and they can be very practical because they keep your head warm. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat outside is also a great way of protecting your head and scalp from the sun.

Department stores usually have a good selection, and there are also specialist hat shops. Try on a range of different styles to find one that suits you and feels comfortable.

After treatment, I went back to work and was in a meeting. I felt uneasy going back with no hair, so I wore a baseball cap – I couldn’t find anything else!

Deb


Scarves and bandanas

Scarves are another option. They are available in different colours and materials, and are light and easy to wear. The best fabrics to use are cotton, light-weight wool, or blends. Satin-type materials tend to slide off the head too easily. 

Scarves may have instructions and suggestions on how to tie them. We have more information on how to tie scarves and bandanas.

Headscarves allowed me to be creative and play with different looks. I had fun doing this. They also helped me to cope, especially because I got compliments.

Lurline


Turbans

Turbans are available in different materials, such as velvet, silk, cotton and towelling. They are popular and comfortable to wear, especially in hot weather. They are available from some chemists, department stores or specialist wig shops, and from some specialist suppliers.


Hair accessories and replacements

If you normally have a fringe, you can get one on a Velcro® band from some wig suppliers. Some suppliers also make turbans and scarves with optional fringes or headbands with hair attached. You can also order hats, headbands or bandanas with attached hair from specialist suppliers. 

Hairpieces and clip-in hair can be used to thicken thin hair or to cover up small areas of hair loss, for example from radiotherapy. They are only suitable for you if you have some hair. You can attach them using glues, clips or double-sided tape.

Avoid extensions, weaves and any plaiting or bonding systems, as this will put extra tension on the remaining hair. This can affect hair growth and could cause more hair loss.

Remove any hairpieces and clips before sleeping to avoid damage to your natural hair.


Change in hair style

If you have not lost all your hair, you may find that a change in hairstyle helps cover up the hair loss. There are specialist hairdressers who can advise you on a change of style that is most suitable for your situation. Visit the My New Hair website to find details of trained hairdressers.


Hair transplants

Surgery to replace hair is only suitable if you have permanent hair loss, for example after radiotherapy. A hair transplant surgeon will take hair from a part of your head to cover the area of hair loss. The surgeon will test a small area first, to see if the hair transplants well. Techniques have greatly improved in recent years and the result can be very natural-looking hair. But this procedure is not suitable for everyone. It is important to talk to a specialist surgeon if you are thinking about this. Contact the Institute of Trichologists for a list of qualified cosmetic surgeons. 


Proud to be bald

Although we have talked about various types of headwear, you may prefer not to wear anything on your head. Or some people like to show their individual style by using accessories. It is important to do what feels right for you.

I lost all my hair, but it was okay. I decided to just be myself and be bald.

Trudi


Children and teenagers

Many children are not worried about their hair loss. But if they do want to cover up, there are wigs available for children. There are also hats, caps, scarves and bandanas that they can wear. If a child needs treatment from time to time over a few years, they will probably need a new wig each time while their head is still growing.

If you are a teenager, changes in how you look can be very upsetting. There are lots of natural-looking wigs and other ways to cover hair loss. 

If you would like to speak to other teenagers, you can contact Teenage Cancer Trust. It also has a project called Hair 4 U. This offers young people with cancer the opportunity to choose a free, human-hair wig and have it styled at a salon. There are also websites for teenagers with cancer. Some of these have chat rooms where you can talk about your feelings with other teenagers.

We have more information for children and young people who are living with cancer.


Tips to draw attention away from your hair loss

To start with, you may feel like your wig or other headwear is the first thing people look at. But there are things you can do that take people’s attention away from your hair loss:

  • Wear brightly coloured shirts, sweaters, tops, ties or neck scarves.
  • Try wearing make-up around your eyes, cheekbones or lips to direct attention to your face.
  • Wear glasses. This can be very helpful if you have lost your eyebrows or eyelashes.
  • Wear jewellery. Other people may notice or comment on your jewellery. Earrings can look good with hats and scarves.

Some hospitals and support groups run programmes, such as Look Good Feel Better, that give expert advice on make-up and skincare. Your nurses can tell you if there is a programme like this in your hospital or at a nearby support group.

At first, you may not feel confident going out and carrying on with your social life. But hopefully, as you spend more time with other people, your confidence will grow. We have more information about improving your confidence.

Back to Dealing with hair loss

Tips for wearing your wig

Lots of people worry about wearing a wig. There are ways to make sure the wig stays in place and to keep you comfortable

Wigs

Wigs and hairpieces can help you cope with hair loss. There are lots of types of wigs and hairpieces available.