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Ways To Protect Hair During and After Chemotherapy

how-to-protect-hair-during-chemotherapy

The effects of cancer are all-encompassing: from internal to external factors, there is nothing that ends up untouched.

As a holistic hair stylist and trusted wellness advisor, you very well may treat someone with cancer. Maybe you already have or maybe you have experienced the disease yourself. Either way, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we want to share with you ways to help protect hair during chemotherapy.

5 Ways To Protect Hair During Chemotherapy

Choose Shampoo Wisely

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During and after chemotherapy treatment, many find their scalp is sensitive. Some experience hair loss. Choosing a gentle and mild shampoo, especially if the scalp is red and irritated, can help mitigate some of the discomfort experienced.

As for hair loss: it is one of the most dreaded side effects of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy-induced hair loss is called anagen effluvium, which is diffuse hair loss due to exposure to a drug that is toxic to the hair matrix.

Steer clear of fragrances or harsh chemicals that will only further dry out irritated skin. If your hair is thinning but your scalp is comfortable, you might try a sensitive hair follicle shampoo to help with hair growth like Oway’s Micro-Stimulating Hair Bath. This is also a great option for after treatment during remission once your scalp is feeling better to help fast-track new and healthy hair growth.

Linda Machalicek, owner of Dolce Organic Salon and Pancreatic Cancer Survivor of 14 and a half years now relied on Oway products when she was going through treatment.

“The products I used for my hair are Micro-Stimulating Hair Bath and Densifying Remedy. I would massage my scalp to stimulate the blood flow to the papilla, the root of the hair. In about 3 months I had new hair growth,” said Linda.

If you are finding you have a super-irritated scalp, try Oway’s Soothing Hair Bath. It’s an ultra-soothing and healing Hair Bath free from ethoxylated surfactants and all sulfates that instantly soothes and relieves red, irritated or sensitive skin with a calming combination of Biodynamic Fennel Essential Oil, Helichrysum, Chamomile and Organic Amaranth Extract.

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A Soft Scarf: Your New Best Friend!

A Soft Scarf is just the thing to use both during the day when outside and at night to protect hair during chemotherapy and even afterwards as new hair begins to grow. A headscarf is not only a cute, fabulous and lightweight accessory, but also offers great protection from the sun, heat and cold alike. It is a good alternative to a wig if you decide that option isn’t for you. Remember that when you’re outdoors with nothing protecting your scalp, it’s a good idea to use a UV sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

It’s also a good idea to wear a soft scarf when you sleep. Especially if you adopt the use a C-pap at night, the head gear can cause hair loss, rashes and discomfort. A nice soft scarf or cozy cap can help avoid irritation from rough pillowcases, any head gear and fluctuating temperatures in your room. It will also help to protect your fragile new baby hairs that begin to regrow after treatment!

Skip Coloring During Treatment

Even if you do not experience hair loss or thinning during chemotherapy, the treatment can still damage or weaken the hair shaft. This means hair is more brittle, dry and prone to breakage, which makes for a questionable coloring experience. Depending on the condition of your hair, the color may take differently than before you started chemotherapy treatment.

If coloring your hair is a non-negotiable for you, opt for temporary/semi-permanent hair coloring that doesn’t contain peroxide or paraphenylenediamine (PPD) like Oway Hnectar or O&M CØR.color.

“I even colored my hair with Hcolor to give it more body,” said Linda. “If someone has more sensitive scalp I would recommend Hnectar.”

Keep in mind that even after treatment, your new hair growth will still be very fragile. It is best to steer clear of harsh chemicals that are in typical hair dyes and colors. Consider opting for gentler and low-tox options like Hcolor or CØR.color both during treatment and forevermore.

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Consider Sporting A New 'Do

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If you haven’t experienced too much hair loss during treatment, it might be a good idea to consider getting a cut or close-shave. This will help protect hair during chemotherapy and prevent fall-out from any rough handling or products.

You want to make sure you are doing the least possible to your hair during treatment: washing twice a week, patting dry instead of rubbing dry afterwards and using the least amount of products and styling tools as possible is key. If you have a need to apply creams or gels or to use hot-tools on your hair everyday, consider visiting your holistic hairstylist and switching it up for a low-maintenance look that requires little to nothing.

On the other hand, if you experience major hair loss, consider sporting a wig! This is always a very personal choice. If you feel it would help when out in public to feel more confident, go shopping for one earlier rather than later so you can find a piece that matches your current hair style and color.

Remember To Keep Skin Hydrated

Although not related to hair care, your skin is the largest organ of your body and according to survivor Linda, it is extremely important to keep skin hydrated when going through chemotherapy.

The treatment can cause a myriad of skin ailments from dryness and itchiness to swelling and flakiness. Using mild and gentle cleansers and soaps will be important as well as finding moisturizers that are nourishing and fragrance-free.

You want to take care of your skin the same way you do your hair during treatment: pat don’t rub, wear sunscreen, use mild-temperature water and limit the amount you wash, shave and apply products.

“For my skin care regimen [I used] Perfect Skin Cleansing Cream and De-Stress Tonic Potion and Radiance Face Balm. It is very important to keep your skin hydrated especially going through chemo.”

NOTE: If you're ever in doubt on which hair products or scalp care services are safe for you, we always recommend seeking permission from your Oncologist.

Let us know your favorite tips for protecting the hair and skin during chemotherapy in the comments section below!

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