Caring for your hair during Chemotherapy

Caring for your hair during Chemotherapy

The first thing I thought of when was told I was going to be undergoing chemotherapy was that I would lose my hair. I started reading about caring for your hair during chemotherapy to try and prepare myself for it.

As vain as it sounds, one of the things I love doing is styling my hair.  I’d also finally found a style that I really loved and suited me as a busy mum of two.  Darn it!

I decided two things when I got my chemo treatment plan: that I would cut my hair as short as I could bear so it was easier to maintain and that I would try and prolong the life of my hair my using the cold cap treatment during chemotherapy.

Caring for your hair during Chemotherapy - Hairloss during chemo Hair care during chemo

Image Source: Pixabay

I asked my Oncology nurses for tips on caring for your hair during chemotherapy and did some research online and this is what I’ve been doing to keep it healthy and to date, still on my head!  I will add that I’m only into my second chemo cycle so there’s everything to play for :)

1.  Wash hair as little as possible

I was previously washing my hair 2-3 times per week but it’s much better to put as little strain on your hair as possible.  I’m now washing it 1-2 times per week and that’s working out well.  In fact, whatever is in the chemo drugs seems to be drying it out and that’s great as mine is normally very oily.  I did expect to use dry shampoo more but I’ve purposefully not done that, I don’t want to add anything to my hair if I can get away with it.

2.  Use Baby shampoo

Try and find a very gently shampoo to use when you do have to wash your hair.  I have stolen my baby’s shampoo and it’s so lovely and gentle and smells lovely too!  I’m using Curash’s 2 in 1 Conditioner (ph balanced) and I also love Curash Soothing Oatmeal Conditioning Shampoo for the kids.

Curash Soothing Oatmeal Shampoo and Curash 2 in 1 Shampoo & Conditioner Review - Baby Shampoo Baby Conditioner Baby Hair Care Gentle Shampoo

3.  Use a wide toothed comb

Do not be tempted to brush or use your fingers to rake through your hair.  You really need to try and touch your hair as little as possible – which is weird as I’m used to playing with mine all of the time!  I literally now comb it once in the morning, stick in a bobby pin to keep in place and then leave it until the next day.  It’s a far cry from spending time curling and styling it just a few months ago :)  It really is easy peasy though and one less thing to worry about in the morning routine.

4.  Do not use hair straighteners or curlers

It probably goes without saying but don’t put any strain or damage on your hair at all.  I wouldn’t even be tempted to straighten the ends.  Now I’m in the fortunate position of having fairly straight hair and I can’t advise much for ladies with curly hair but I would just try your best to not add any unnecessary tension or stress to your hair at all.  Try not to use styling products or tools or even hair bands that will pull if you can.

I have also been advised not to use a hair dryer but there have been times when I’ve needed to because I can’t go outside with wet hair and risk catching a cold.

5.  Be kind to yourself

My hair, rightly or wrongly, is a big part of my identity to me.  I have always loved having hair that I can style in different ways and having very suddenly gone from that to hair that is so short, thinning rapidly and that I can’t really touch has been hard.

Try and be kind to yourself and tell yourself that it is only a temporary change – which it is.  Yes, your hair might never be the same again but it won’t always be so limiting and difficult to look after it.

Ignore those who tell you “it’s only hair” – that’s very easy for them to say.  It isn’t only hair, it’s your hair.  This isn’t forever though.

Here is me after I chopped my hair off:

My new short hair! Pre-chemo cut – I love it! :) #chemohair #breastcancer #lovefrommim

A photo posted by (@lovefrommim) on

I’ve never had such short hair!  The shortest it has been prior to that is probably chin length and that was when I was in school – about 25 years ago.

I must say it is so much easier to get up, give it a quick come, bobby pin it to one side and go – there are some benefits to chemo perhaps after all :)

Do you have any tips on dealing with thinning hair, hair loss or even styling short hair?

Caring for your hair during Chemotherapy - Hairloss during chemo Hair care during chemo

Disclosure: the beautiful people at Curash, having heard that I’ve been using their shampoo, have kindly sent me some more to use during my chemo treatment :)

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  1. 15th January 2016 / 7:09 pm

    I read this as a hairdresser as I am interested in what options you have to help your hair during chemo. One thing I would say is check the PH level of the shampoo. Baby shampoo is normally the same PH level as your eyes so that it doesn’t hurt if baby gets it in their eyes. However this is a totally different PH level than hair so it’s not good for your hair. Obviously I don’t know the exact PH of the shampoo you’re using but it’s worth checking x x x x

    • 15th January 2016 / 7:14 pm

      That’s a brilliant tip, thank you lovely! The 2 in 1 particularly is ph balanced and so so gentle – it also lathers really easily which means less pulling on my hair x x

  2. 15th January 2016 / 10:17 pm

    I love your short hair lovely -really suits you. It is not only hair, it’s important and part of you. I hope the cold cap and all of your other measures work and your hair stays put xx

    • 15th January 2016 / 11:03 pm

      Ah thank you lovely! I’m clinging on to it while I can :) x x

  3. 16th January 2016 / 8:34 am

    Your Hair looks great short and will put less pressure on your hair follicles which is great, ph balanced shampoo is just fine to use it is designed to be the same ph of your skin, it is kind and not far of neutral. if anything, ph balance wont remove loads of grease and dirt as it is too gentle to strip hair, but it sounds although you hair is feeling dry anyway so thats not a problem, sending lots of love xx

    • 16th January 2016 / 9:25 am

      Thank you lovely! It is nice to spend less time styling it :) although I’ll be happy when I can play with it a bit more in the future too :) x x

  4. 17th January 2016 / 12:03 am

    You look fabulous! I love the new haircut….
    This is so interesting to read…Good luck x

    • 17th January 2016 / 11:50 am

      Thank you so much lovely! x

  5. 25th January 2016 / 8:04 pm

    I decided not to bother with the cold cap treatment because it meant I would have to travel further to a different hospital and spend several more hours in the chair. I’ll probably regret it once my hair starts to fall out in earnest. You do look really nice with short hair. Hope you’re feeling well. Round 2 for me on Wednesday. Great tips. xo

    • 26th January 2016 / 4:39 pm

      Oh thank you…I’m now bald ha ha! I had it shaved :) I hope you’ve feeling well – I have round 3 on Monday x x

  6. larissa
    17th August 2016 / 4:58 am

    Wow, it is so wonderful of you to provide this list for anyone going through the same. I think you are quite amazing for being able to document your story, as well as sharing it with the world!

  7. 30th September 2016 / 11:03 pm

    amazing! you are truly an amazing person for having this posted and opening the readers eyes. and i personally admire you for sharing your thoughts about how to take care of the hair while going through a chemo. I have a friend who has a stage 4 cancer, and I’m sure once i tell her about your article she’ll be pleased. thank you so much!

    • 3rd October 2016 / 6:14 pm

      Thank you so much and sending lots of love to you and your friend x

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