Hair care during cold capping is a so important and a great way of helping to ensure the best possible outcomes, but it is just as important to ensure that you look after your hair once you finish chemotherapy too.
There is some guidance you can follow, which will make sure you are doing the best you can for your hair. People do get very anxious that they are going to do something that will cause all their hair to fall out – this is incredibly unlikely! Hair care is there to support the hard work you have done with the cold cap, and to ensure the hair you have retained continues to be in the best condition possible as you begin to transition back to your more normal haircare regime. There are no hard and fast rules, but below is some simple advice that will set you down the right path.
COLD CAP HAIR CARE – The Post Treatment Guide
Shedding can continue for some time – don’t expect the shedding to stop on the final day of your chemo. It can take a while for the drugs to work their way out of your body, and many people will continue to shed for a number of weeks. If you are getting past the two-month mark, it might be worth speaking to your doctor, as additional factors (such as low haemoglobin/anaemia) can cause hair loss.
Regrowth is stronger, faster and healthier with the cold cap – you have done everything you could to ensure the best possible regrowth. Depending on the drug regimen, some people will see regrowth before the end of their chemo, for others it can take a little while. But it does come. There will be fluffy new hairs sprouting before you know it. And it is pretty common to see shedding and regrowth at the same time.
Losing brows and lashes post chemo – this is really common. They hold on throughout chemo and then when you’ve finally finished they all drop out. Cruel beyond belief! The good news is that they tend to grow back very quickly, but be aware that losing brows and lashes is a possibility.
Don’t make a snap decision and cut your hair off – lots of people get through scalp cooling then feel like they can’t handle a combination of patchy hair loss, retained hair and regrowth. But try to be patient for a little while before going for a style change you don’t really want. You’d be amazed how quickly hair can grow back in and what all of a sudden works as a style option again. A bob may be possible rather than a pixie crop etc.
What’s normal shedding?! – after focusing on your hair so intensely, it can be easy to forget what ‘normal’ shedding looks like. The average healthy person will lose around 100 hairs a day, which is quite a lot really. There may not be a lightning bolt moment where you realise your hair has suddenly stops shedding, but you may get to a point where you just don’t notice it so much, which means you are probably back to your normal.
Return to your normal hair care routine once shedding stops – once you reach normal shedding you can go back to more frequent washing, standard products and use heat styling tools again. Just be gentle and go carefully, as your scalp may still be sensitive. You should also be mindful that your hair may now be much drier and more fragile than it was before chemo, which may mean you need different products than those you used before. If your hair is really dry you should avoid straighteners and curling tongs until your hair is in better condition.
Any retained hair is often very dry – it’s time to start focusing on improving the condition of your hair. Try masks, deep conditioning treatments or oils. Give it some love! You may also see an improvement if you get a trim to remove any really damaged hair. Hang on in there, it will get better.
Be careful when it comes to dying your hair – a lot of people are desperate to get rid of roots or greys, but you may want to take your time. You certainly shouldn’t be dying your hair before shedding returns to normal and ideally you would be waiting another couple of months after that. If you do decide to take the plunge, please follow the advice of an experienced hairdresser. They will be able to tell you if your hair is in good enough condition, and it is imperative that they patch test ahead of time.
Extensions, toppers and halo wigs – there’s plenty of ways to hide patchy hair loss or overall thinning while your regrowth reaches a more disguisable length. Clip in wigs and hair pieces can be great, just be careful that they aren’t damaging delicate new regrowth or fragile retained hair. The same goes for any kind of extensions, you may need to wait until your regrowth is 2 to 3 inches long before extensions are a viable option.
Most importantly, enjoy! You’ve made it to the other side of scalp cooling, so celebrate your hard-won hair.
You can download our post treatment haircare guide here