Losing your hair during treatment for cancer can be one of the most difficult side effects – many women lose all or some of their hair, while others don’t lose any.
Ask your doctor what to anticipate and find out if there is anything you can do to help retain your hair. Then, speak with a hairstylist you trust to find out what to do if your hair thins, and what you can expect when it grows back.
Whether your hair thins or you lose all of it, please know that you can anticipate it growing back once your treatment is over. In the meantime, the Look Good Feel Better community is here to offer courage, strength, support and peace of mind.
Coping with hair loss is jarring and difficult. Many women find it helpful to face this challenge with the strength and support of family, friends and the Look Good Feel Better community. At our group programs, women at different stages of treatments talk about their options, experiences and emotions – and often find it reassuring to see other women’s hair growing back. In a matter of time, yours will too.
Our cosmetologists are happy to help you find the best solution for your needs – whether it is a wig, hat, scarf, head covering or combination of several. If you are comfortable without hair, we can help you identify the right makeup and earrings to set off your natural look.
Look Good Feel Better is here to help you deal with your hair loss – stylishly.
For most women, selecting a wig is something of a mystery – but most shops are staffed with an expert to guide you to the right fit, color, and style. You may find yourself surprised at how sophisticated and healthy a wig can look.
Synthetic wigs cost less than human-hair wigs and are easier to maintain because they keep their style – even after washing.
Machine-made Synthetic Wigs
A well-crafted, machine-made synthetic wig is reasonably priced and should come in a style that resembles your hair. Mass-produced, synthetic wigs often perform better than low-quality human-hair wigs, so it’s important to know what you are getting.
Hand-made Synthetic Wigs
High-quality, hand-made wigs look even more natural, since strands of hair are individually tied, allowing the wig to be parted and styled with hair accessories.
Custom-made Synthetic Wigs
High-end, custom-made wigs are created to your exact specifications. They will look the most like your own hair, but cost more and take several months to produce.
Human-hair wigs can be styled, touched up, and cared for in the same way you care for your own hair. This makes them feel more natural to some women. The downside is that they are expensive, require quite a bit of care, and often need to be styled by a professional.
Research your possibilities online, then have a friend or family member accompany you.
Consider that buying a wig online or through a catalog may be private and convenient, but comes without the benefit of trying it on.
Look for synthetic wigs at hair salons, wig stores, special hair-loss replacement centers, wig catalogs and online. Call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 or your local American Cancer Society office for a recommendation.
If you are in serious financial need, you may be eligible for a wig through the American Cancer Society or Cancer Care.
Ask your doctor about prescribing a “cranial prosthesis,” which your health insurance may cover.
Take your time and ask questions before you make a decision. You may even want to sleep on it.
Look for a wig with a loose mesh cap if you will be wearing it in warm weather.
Try wigs in a shade a bit lighter than your natural color. Some women find that it brightens their appearance and offsets changes in their skin.
Remember that shorter styles are less likely to tangle and easier to maintain.
If it is affordable, consider buying two reasonably priced synthetic wigs with different hairstyles for variety.
Look for falls, bangs, and hairpieces for versatility. They will also come in handy when your wig is being washed.
Consider purchasing some of the following accessories: a wig cap, stand, shampoo, spray, conditioner, gel strips, hair net, hair pins, rollers, and a wire wig brush.
Humidity and poor air quality can affect your wig the same way it affects your hair. A good rule of thumb is to wash your wig after six to eight uses in the summer and after 15 to 18 uses in cooler months. Your wig will also require more washing if you are athletic.
Wig Care Tips
Gently brush straight styles with a wire brush before washing. Opt for a vent brush or pick to keep curlier styles intact.
Add a capful of mild conditioning shampoo to a basin of cool water. Soak your wig for 2 minutes, swish to rinse out the shampoo, and remove.
Swish your wig once again in clean, cool water. Gently squeeze out excess water and blot with a towel.
Try wig conditioner if you want to soften and add luster to your wig. Leave it on for just a few minutes, then rinse and blot as above.
Tightly “finger-squeeze” any curls while the wig is wet.
Do not comb or brush a wet wig -– it may interfere with the style.
To dry, place the wig on a clean towel, wire wig form or tall hairspray bottle. Let the wig air-dry, keeping it away from direct sunlight.
Shake out the dry wig and style. Synthetic wigs or synthetic/human-hair blends will hold their original style. Human-hair wigs will need to be styled after each washing.
Do not use hot blow-dryers, curling irons, or other forms of heat on synthetic wigs.
Store your wig on a wig stand away from radiators, vents or humidity to maintain its shape. Covering it with a hair net will also help it stay styled.
Tie ends in a half-knot. Form the first loop with the lower tied end. Then bring the other end over and around the first loop and continue partially through the opening that is formed, making the knot and second loop. Flare the loops and spread center.
Tie a half-knot. Bring the upper end down over the lower piece. Keep looping around the lower end and come through the opening. Flare endings and spread center knot.
Tie a half-knot, leaving the ends long. Tightly intertwine the ends to form a coil, leaving a short length uncoiled. Relax the coil and guide it around itself. Poke the end of the coil partway through the center of the circle. Spread the sash-ends to ruffle around the rosette.
Tie the ends in a half-knot, making the lower end twice as long as the upper end. Make a loop with the lower end. Then bring the upper end down over the loop. Go around the lower loop and bring the whole scarf-end completely through the opening. Flare the loop and spread the knot.
Band and Coil Techniques
Band: Fold opposite corners of a square to the center, overlap points, and fold again to desired width.
Coil: Twist a band from the center out, for an even coil. Several simple, decorative head wraps may be created this way.
A T-Shirt wrap looks like a cotton turban with a matching headband. This inexpensive, casual head covering works wonders in the spring and summer – and can be made at home in a matter of minutes.
How to Create a T-Shirt Wrap
Start by cutting straight across the shirt, just under the sleeves. You should be left with a smaller piece that includes the neckband and sleeves, and a bigger fabric tube.
Take the hemline of the tube and center it on your forehead at the hairline.
Hold each side of the tube at the back of your head and create a figure eight by crossing the fabric in the right hand over the left.
With the fabric crossed, twist the fabric upward, and pull the lower half of the figure eight from the back of your head to the front. This creates a halo or headband effect. Tuck any extra fabric under the twisted band.
Just like a turban, a T-shirt wrap may be accented with bangs and other hairpieces.
The sleeves of the T-shirt may be re-purposed as headbands or wig caps.
Wearing a hat is an excellent way to disguise your hair loss. And there are many, many options – from baseball caps to fedoras to berets. If you live in a warm-weather climate and haven’t worn a hat, this may feel like a stretch. Take your time and test different styles – some come with bangs or other hairpieces sewn in.