New Hair Looks
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.
It is a good idea to speak with your hairstylist about how to take care of your hair during treatment. There are many ways to approach it – and the choices you make are strictly individual.
- Use gentle shampoos and conditioners during your treatment.
- Steer clear of medicated or drying shampoos.
- Avoid ingredients such as salicylic acid, menthol, camphor, eucalyptus, and henna, which may be irritating.
- Postpone color, perms or straightening treatments until your doctor gives you the OK – generally six months after your treatment.
- Avoid blow-dryers, curling irons, and rollers.
- Speak with your stylist if you know that you are going to lose your hair – he or she may encourage you to shave your head, rather than have your hair fall out in clumps.
- If you are getting radiation therapy on your head, you may want to let your hair grow long to help cover thinning spots.
- Save a lock of your hair to match the color in case it falls out and you need a wig.
- Ask your hairdresser for styling advice when your hair starts growing back – it may be a different texture or color. This could be temporary as well.
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 1-800-227-2345 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.
A cotton or nylon wig-cap is a great way to start. Wear the cap under your wig to stay comfortable and to keep your wig in place.
Getting Started with Your Wig
- Hold the wig by the front at your forehead and slip it over your head.
- Make sure the two wig tabs are placed in front of your ears and set on your temples.
- Keep your ears pulled out from under the wig.
- Pull the wig down in the back to secure it and make sure that the front of the wig begins at your natural hairline.
- Use the hooks or fabric fastener, in the back of your wig to adjust the fit.
- Test the fit and comfort of your wig by wearing it at home for a few hours.
- If this is your first time wearing a wig, allow yourself some time to let the awkwardness pass.
- A good wig shop, stylist or a trained volunteer at a Look Good Feel Better group program can help you get accustomed to putting on your wig.
Styling Your Wig
- Many wigs are made with extra hair that may be trimmed and set to create a flattering hairstyle. Ask your hairstylist or a wig stylist to trim away excess hair.
- Consider using bangs or wisps to obscure the hairline.
- Use light wig spray or low-alcohol hairspray to keep the wig styled.
- If you normally wear a nylon wig cap, try switching to cotton when the weather gets warm or humid.
- Have your wig resized if you lose your hair after the wig has been fitted.
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.
If you’re short on time, exhausted, or not feeling well, but want to look put-together, a turban may be a good choice. This quick, inexpensive head covering comes with endless styling options.
Turban Styling Tips
- Buy a ready-made turban or create one of your own by wrapping a 38-inch scarf or bandana around your head and tying securely.
- Choose colors that flatter your skin tone and accentuate your style.
- Try different styles of turbans – some come with bangs or other hairpieces.
- Use a turban to protect your scalp and keep your head warm while you sleep.
- To add height to a turban, try pinning an unused shoulder pad inside, at the crown of the head. Secure it with a cotton headband or wig cap.
- Personalize your turban with pins, clip earrings, and scarves.
Scarves open up a world of color and style. Choose according to season, occasion, or whim. Endless styling possibilities make scarves an attractive daily or special-occasion option.
- Use a simple 32- to 36-inch square to create a full head covering.
- Use a smaller square or oblong as a band.
- Choose a scarf appropriate to the season and occasion.
- Choose colors and patterns that coordinate with what you are wearing. Two patterns in the same color will add texture and interest to your look.
- Silk is elegant, but tends to slip.
- Cotton is great, casual option – it’s cool and easy to keep in place.
- Wool challis scarves can be itchy, but drape beautifully.
- Coordinate scarves with clothes that have softer lines.
Fold a large square diagonally, drape it low over your forehead, and try some of the following techniques.
- Tie the ends in a bow over the point.
- Knot the ends, fold the point around the bundled ends, and then secure it inside the band.
- Cross the ends over the point and coil to the front. Intertwine, or braid, the coils to make one long, continuous band. Fold the point up into the crossed area.
- If the scarf is too small, fold it off-center to make a larger cap. If the ends are short, band with a second scarf and finish with a good-looking tie.
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.
Fold opposite corners of a square to the center, overlap points, and fold again to desired width.
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.
Enter your zip code to find a Look Good Feel Better program near you. Or call us at 1-800-395-LOOK (5665).