Staying Positive and Making Chemotherapy Hair Loss Look Good

A woman is bald after going through chemotherapy hair loss.

Contributed by Christine Binney

The effects of chemotherapy on cancer patients can be hard to endure.  As chemotherapy drugs work to kill cancer cells, they can also kill other quickly growing, healthy cells including those in the hair root. Many people will experience hair loss during treatment and it is one of the most feared side effects that people encounter. Hair loss can be sudden or slow, full or partial, and occur evenly or in clumps. Hair loss may also occur among eyelashes, eyebrows and body hair. In almost all cases, hair will grow back after treatment. However, chemotherapy hair loss can have a negative effect on a person’s confidence and self-esteem.

If you are dealing with hair loss, you may begin to notice that when you look in the mirror, you no longer recognize the person staring back at you. Instead of seeing your normal self, you are confronted with an image of a cancer victim. Mentally, this can be a hard transition to undergo. Luckily, there are many ways to stay positive throughout the process and make chemotherapy hair loss look good!


Change your hair on your own terms
Many women who are confronted with chemotherapy hair loss make the decision to cut their hair short or even shave it all off before it begins to fall off on its own. It can be distressing to have your hair fall away in your hands as you run your fingers through it. It can be equally unsettling to wake up to find clumps of hair on your pillow. Instead of waiting for the inevitable, you can opt to confront the effects of chemotherapy on your own terms. It can be a very empowering experience, putting you in control of one portion of your unpredictable journey through cancer.


Host a haircut party
One option for cutting your hair before it falls out is to host a haircut party with your closest friends or family. Make it an event where loved ones can offer support through your chemotherapy. Enlist the help of your favorite stylist and experiment with different haircuts, getting shorter and shorter with each style. Finally give yourself the chance to see what you look like with a bob, a shag, and a pixie cut. Before the final buzz, get crazy with a daring mohawk, which will remind you of your courage and fighting spirit in the face of adversity. Have fun snapping some pictures along the way to document the experience. Let your friends vote on the best looks. You may even find a new favorite style that you can look forward to sporting once your hair grows back.


Donate your hair
If you have longer hair, you also have the option of donating it to an organization like Locks of Love, which uses donated hair to create wigs for children with cancer. You’ll have the emotional advantage of turning your negative situation into a positive outcome for somebody else who is suffering through a similar experience.


Keep cozy and comfortable
Once your hair is sparse or your head is shaved, you’ll want to make sure you can remain comfortable in all temperatures. If you live in a cool climate it’s important to keep your head warm, so load up on fluffy knitted hats and soft, cozy scarves. If you live in a hot climate, don’t forget the importance of protecting your head from the sun. A lightweight sun hat or cotton head scarf will keep you cool and covered.


Remember that without your hair to hide behind, your facial features will be allowed to truly shine.  Your cheekbones will be highlighted and your bright eyes will stand out. However, if you prefer a bit more coverage, there are endless styles of accessories that can give you a pulled together look for any occasion. Go on a mini shopping spree for trendy caps and flowing scarves. It’s easy to feel beautiful when you’ve got a brightly-colored silk scarf with a gorgeous pattern tied around your head. Pair your favorite scarves and hats with some sparkly statement earrings and you will be sure to turn heads for all the right reasons.

If you prefer to keep the look of natural hair during your chemotherapy hair loss, there are some truly amazing wigs available on the market today. It’s not too difficult to find a wig that closely matches your pre-chemotherapy hair, restoring a sense of normalcy to your life. You can also have fun and get creative experimenting with a whole host of new hair colors, cuts and styles. Many insurance companies even cover a portion of the cost of wigs for patients undergoing chemotherapy.


There is no denying that losing your hair because of chemotherapy can be frustrating and scary, but you can gracefully adapt to the situation with a positive outlook and a strong network of support.  Remember that your hair loss is temporary. Try focusing your energy on your health, not your hair because you are beautiful.