Everything you wanted to know about Hair after Chemotherapy

Please check out my adorable and stylish chemo hats at my new online store: www.hellocourage.com   I search high and low for the best, cutest and most affordable chemo caps so you don’t have to do so!

CH-h4flappergraysweatshirt1 I’ve been bald almost six months.  Losing your hair is one of the most CollageOctober2014HUGESalepriceasmarked

devastating things about Cancer.  The worst part for me was cutting the hair really short getting ready for the fall out.  The next worst time is the pain involved with the actual falling out of the hair.  Your scalp hurts and is very painful for several weeks and is a constant reminder of what is happening.  It helps to have a satin pillowcase so the hair doesn’t rip out of your head while you sleep.  Ouch!  The actual shaving of the head wasn’t bad, more of a relief to get it over with after thinking about it so long!   Wearing wigs and scarves takes alot of getting used to, and all of it is extremely traumatic.  That is why I started wearing and later selling Chemo Caps – they look great, feel comfortable, and you get a lot of compliments.  People think you are wearing cute hats an don’t know you are bald.  Plus, my wig was SO HOT!

Hair falls out everywhere on your body, except for leg hair on some people.  Mine never left.  I had to shave the entire time during Chemotherapy.  Is that an unfair deal or what?

Those invisible nose hairs were the hairs I would miss the most.  Who knew?  As a result of lost nose hair, I had major sinus and allergy problems.  As the nose hairs return, I got better! I grew up as a blonde, then my hair turned dishwater blonde in junior high.  I started coloring it then and never stopped.  It has always been blonde.  However, when I got my hair cut really short before the big fall out, it was back to dishwater with a little gray thrown in.  The first chemo drugs turned it JET BLACK.  That was a strange sight for me!  So it left my head black and has always been poker straight.

Before my hair started growing back, I began massaging my head with olive oil.  I read somewhere that helps the hair return.  I’ve had one greasy head, and I’m constantly smelling like an Italian Restaurant!  But good news to report!  It worked!   Five weeks after Chemotherapy has ended, someone else’s hair is returning on my head.  It is now about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch long,  It is Toddler Towhead with some wave and curl.  Whose hair is this?

Here are my updates: 1)   Two and a half months after Taxol ended, I had white fuzz on my head.  I had it dyed blonde.  My niece, the hair stylist, had to use more toner so it wouldn’t turn red, but it stayed.  The top part of my head was just tennis ball fuzz, but I felt better!

2)   I am now 4 months past my last Chemo treatment.  My hair is 1 3/4 inches long in the back, about 1.5 inches on the sides, and about 1 inch on top.   I have had it colored twice already!!  Had no problems with that at all.  It is a little wavy, but not curly like some people.  I wear my wig about 25% of the time and go without 75% of the time.  On the days I go without, the bigger the earrings.  My hair feels like baby hair, very soft and new!  Virgin hair without any damage!  It feels great!  Another new beginning!

3) Now 9 months post Chemo – I have had 4 haircuts. My roots changed from white to much darker mixed with a little gray.  My hair is 3 to 4 inches long and looks like a cute short haircut. My new hair is much better than my old hair! It has body, is soft and just a little wild. Hair paste is your friend while growing out your hair I have discovered!   You need lots of it! 4) 18 months post chemo —  my hair is back to my old hairstyle – chin length blunt cut.  But I had at least 7 haircuts getting there!   I am happy to report this new hair is better than my old hair – thicker, more body, blow dry and go.  My old hair was never like that, so I am grateful.  Never do I ever complain of a bad hair day.  It is not even in my thought process.  Every day with hair is a good day!

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43 comments

  1. I am 2wk2d post chemo. (hurrah!) and my hair is coming back! It was salt and pepper gray, curly and it is coming back white…and maybe straight! Too short still to really tell! I have a hint of fuzzy little eyelashes appearing and a few stray eyebrow hairs! This is progress!

      • I had ovarian cancer I was treated with chemotherapy it has been 4 years since I had my last treatment my hair came back but I have bald spots on the top and back I had thick hair before now it is think I have tried a lot of different things but nothing has helped

      • Oh so very sorry about your hair. Did you have the drug Taxotere? That is known for that happening.
        I assume you have tried Biotin and other B Vitamins. So very to hear what you are going through…

  2. You are awesome Denise! Love the post and I can’t wait to see the new hair…it will probably be better than Marilyn’s 🙂

  3. I haven’t heard abt the olive oil treatment. Anyway, two months after chemo, my hair started growing back everywhere just in time for the swimsuit season, except for my eyebrows and lashes. I never lost all of them but they continue too thin. Weird.
    I wanna see the “Monroe” hair. Picture please.

    • Mary, mine came in white, white, white. I colored it 3 months after chemo ended. Now it is
      coming in much darker now that I am 10 months past chemo. But it took awhile! Good luck! Denise

  4. My hair started to come in VERY slow after chemo. Everyone attributed it taking so long to the year of Herceptin infusions however after they finished my hair started thinning and falling out again. I have male pattern baldness with a huge bald spot around the back of my head and very short frizzy hair everywhere else. It has been just about 2 years now since chemo and I have tried everything but still no hair. I believe it is due to Taxotere Toxicity and is more common than people think and no Dr’s ever tell you this before starting the chemo. 6% of people will never have hair again after chemo! So when everyone says “don’t worry, it will grow back right after chemo” they may be wrong.
    Kristen

    • Mine hair is similar. It has been almost 9 months since I finisher chemo and my hair is about a third of what I had and very thin on the front top of my head and barely 2 inches long. My oncologist told me don’t worry it will grow back. I am disappointed any suggestions…..

      • Mine started out like that – I was afraid I would be bald on top. I started taking
        Biotin, a B vitamin, and almost immediately it started to thicken up and grow. Got it
        at health food store. Can’t remember how much I took. I also rubbed olive oil on my
        head. Not sure if it helped, but gave my head a good massage. Do get the Biotin…

      • I’m sorry to hear that. Oncologists just assume that everyone will get their hair back and really don’t concern themselves with any of the continuing effects of chemo once your treatment is done. Unfortunately, I am about 2 1/2 years out from my chemo and still have no hair (just very short thin fuzz/frizz). I don’t want to discourage you but I have tried every shampoo, cream, medicine, herb, supplement, and food out there that is reported to grow hair with no success. Yes, being alive is important but people don’t realize that feeling alive is to!

      • I want to encourage you…I feel your despair. My hair was fine and thin prior to chemo, so I have no idea what will happen when my hair returns. I’m only 2wks out from chemo and my hair has not done much outside of a little fine grayish fuzz. I pray that we both will one day have our hair back. Most people have no idea how important a woman’s mane is. Its our crown…our glory. For some reason until you have lost it….. you have no idea what it feels like to not have it. Praying for you.

      • Me too. It’s almost a year since chemo. I had very thick hair. My whole life i have been known for tons of hair. I lost more than half and it has not grown in.. I now have determined i need a hair cur to make my hair look fuller. I will take this gladly as I have been in remission for almost a year. Woo whooo.

  5. I AM BALD. I’m five weeks out of chemo and its starting to grow…white. Pure white. I actually have a few long strands left that I’m buzzing off tonight before the hair grows too much. I love, love, love my chemo caps. I’ve never worn a wig…just the caps.

  6. I am still mostly bald. I am 2wks out from Taxol. My lashes, brows and hair are still MIA. I have a few hairs coming thru, but they are fine and light colored. I am African American so I can find very little about what my texture of hair will do post chem. This blog is so helpful because I at least get some idea of what can potentially happen. I’m excited to know that it WILL eventually grow back. I never wore a wig…I sported my bald head proudly to the world.

  7. I’m almost 2 months from my last chemo & my hair is slowly growing… Very soft & salt & pepper , it was 26 inches long when I got my diagnosis so it will b along time b4 I get that look back but… It is growing & I’m hopeful it continues. I am also taken Biotin & it seems to help the growth along. This hair process is just another part of the journey….

    • Hi Cassy, congratulations on being done with treatment. You are right — the hair
      process is just another part of the journey. Oh my, I cannot imagine how hard it was
      for you to cut that 26 inch long hair. Biotin helps – at least that was my experience.
      I had my hair dyed at 2.5 months post chemo. I couldn’t wait. Now I find that my chin
      length hair is back – I NEVER complain of a bad hair day. EVER. I NEVER complain I have
      to wash it, or dry it, or style it. But at the same time, I am much more detached from it.
      My hair does not define me.
      I appreciate so much your writing and telling us your hair story! May you feel better as
      your hair grows! My best, Denise

  8. I finished my last chemo on April 23rd, and so am 3 months post chemo with slow growth. My leg hair has come back, same with nose hair, but my head is growing at a glacial pace. Before chemo I had very thick strong hair. Some days are frustrating, but mostly cancer and chemo taught me patience.

    • Hi Michele, my hair came back pretty slowly as well. But
      at about the 4 to 5 month mark, it kicked in. I took Biotin
      which I believe is a B Vitamin. That really helped me.
      It’s funny how much of a blessing nose hair is!!
      Thanks for sharing your experiences, especially about patience!

  9. I know what your going through. I’ve been through chemo, radiation, Hetceptin, surgery. It’s been almost ten years and my hair has never grew back. I had stage 3 invasive breast cancer. So, I was and am unable to take any kind od hormone treatments or any estrogen treatments. It’s devastating. Im still wearing wigs. But I have life ;-). If you know anything that will help my hair grow. Please let me know asap. My hair after all this time in not even a half inch long.

  10. I am approaching 5 years out (January, 2015). I had Stage 2 Triple-Negative breast cancer. Did 6 rounds of chemo, had a lumpectomy and 6 weeks of radiation. I had fine, thin hair prior to getting cancer. It has grown back but the texture is completely weird. If I let it air-dry, it looks totally frizzy in the back and on the sides. The only way I can control it is with some hair product and a curling iron. Otherwise, I wear a hat or put it in the lamest ponytail you’ve ever seen. I developed rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis after my treatment. I take drugs for both as well as for the cancer. All drugs can cause hair loss!!! I also take biotin to improve hair growth. It’s hard to tell if it’s working, but I figure it can’t hurt. I, too, am very thankful to be alive but my hair – it’s impossible. It’s tempting to cut it all off again. I also struggle to cover a bald spot in the back. Ah, chemo……the gift that keeps on giving…….

  11. Happy to hear I can dye this tiny bit of hair I have. Like almost everyone else, mine is growing back mostly white with a little black. I finished chemo July 21 and all the growth I have is about an inch or a little less. I wore scarfs til’ mid Aug. Then I bought a wig. Family wedding. I’ve continued to wear it becuse even though it’s not an expensive one, it’s comfortable and everyone thinks it’s my real hair. I’m beginning to run into a problem with it though. It wants to slide up now that it has real hair under it. It’s becoming uncomfortable for this reason. I don’t like the white/ black effect and I want to dye it the colour I’ve always worn. So far, my hair has not changed texture. It is still thick but very soft and fine at the same time. The cow licks I had are still there in the same places.
    Had to trim my nose hair today. That came as a surprize and I had quite long hair growth from mid ear, half way down my jaw line that also had to be trimmed.
    This process of growth can take a very long time. I’m glad to know I’m not alone and I wish you all the best in growing your hair back. I’ll try the biiotin.

  12. Hi all! I am 8 weeks out of my last chemo, yaay!! Its been almost 3 weeks since surgery and radiation starts in January. My hair fell out with A/C but started growing back during Taxol treatment. It grew in baby fine and white, white, white and bone straight! I used argon oil mixed with castor oil on my bald scalp and now on my hair. My hair has always been soft and thin, right now it feels fuzzier as well as soft and thin. Its about an inch or so long, still straight but im starting to see a little wave. I’m African American and hoping my hair curls up again. I had nice curls. BTW, castor oil really works for thickening your hair but its very heavy so use it sparingly or dilute with lighter oils or product.

    • Kelly, CONGRATULATIONS on finishing chemo! What an accomplishment! Glad you also have surgery behind you! Radiation will be much easier! The white, white, white is normal…it will darken again. Interesting about your hair going straight when it was curly!! I’ve heard from several African American women who said the same thing! But their hair did get curlier as time passed. My hair was poker straight, had curly waves, now is going back to poker straight!

      Thanks for the info about castor oil! I’ve not heard that one! I used olive oil and smelled like an Italian restaurant!

      Best of luck to you, Kelly! Thanks so much for posting!

  13. Hi…

    I am 57. I was hormone neg/HER2+. Had a lumpectomy in July of ’13. followed by 4 treatments of AC, followed by Taxol/Herceptin which began in Nov ’13. Taxol was really tough–I was supposed to have 4 treatments every 2 weeks, but it blistered the bottoms of my feet off and gave me so much muscle and bone pain that the remaining 3 treatments were spread out over 9 weekly treatments. My toe and finger nails also lifted and my big toe nails turned black. Fortunately, I didn’t loose them, but they took a long time to grow out. I finished Taxol treatment in Jan ’14.

    As most do, I lost 98% of my hair after my second AC treatment in September. I was told that my hair would come back after I finished Taxol, but it grew back very slowly. When it grew back it came in first and most quickly and heavily on the sides of my head. The nape of my neck and top of my head have grown in much more slowly. I have fairly thick wavy hair and now it is rather thin and fine with some waviness, but not much like it was pre-chemo. I think I had a lot of side effects from the Herceptin–I still have neuropathy in my fingers and toes from it. I am hoping that the farther out I am post-Herceptin, the better I will look and feel…. : )

    I have started taking vitamins/supplements that seem to be helping a lot! in addition to Biotin & B vitamins (mentioned here before) I am also taking Magnesium, Zinc and VITAMIN D!!!! I think the Vitamin D has been SO helpful. My nails have really taken off and my hair seems better too… my nails are the strongest they have ever been! One last thing: I am also taking a daily teaspoon of UNFLAVORED GELATIN. AMAZING STUFF!!! My hairdresser told me about it and it is really great!! I just add it to water with a little fruit juice….

    Hope this helps someone else!! Thanks for your blog… community!!

  14. I have non small cell lung cancer, I have had two rounds of treatment four doses of carboplatin and permatexat even, then four doses of doxetaxel and nintedanib,unfortunately they have not worked for me. My hair fell out with the second round of chemo the , .Doxetaxel.
    It has grown back in but it looks like something from the 1920s, it it covered in tiny strong finger waves,.
    Does anyone have any ideas, what I can do with theses waves. Even my hairdresser could not straighten them as they are so tight and strong, although my hair is baby soft.
    We are trying another chemo drug right now I have been taking it since June. My ct scan is next week, so fingers crossed, it will give me a bit longer.
    I have had cancer in the past, I had breast cancer 19 years ago and all is well from that one,.
    I have just been unlucky as this is an entirely different cancer..

  15. Hi everyone, my name is Gil I’m 32 years old and was diagnosed with testicular cancer 6 months ago. I had surgery to remove the testicual and had a prosthetic placed in. After that I found out that my lymth nodes were off a little in two lymth nodes in that area. So I had to seek Chemotherapy (9 weeks exact). My hair fell out in my 3rd week of treatment but I had a very successful run through, and didn’t have much symptoms, just hair loss and some pigment changes in skin and nails but nothing to crazy as far as being ill. Although the pigments are hard to look at in the mirror, my hair is my concern. It’s been almost 5 weeks since my last treatment and I still see the same hairs as before during treatment. My hair was gorgeous, thick and beautiful, dark and straight (my facial hair grew back right away, (baby like but the color remained black thank heavens). I hope it returns soon, my mom says she sees a huge change already and I havent tooken anything to help me in the process. She says to just leave it, that it will grow back. Just be patient and hopeful…I’m trying. Thanks for your stories they help me be strong and maybe give me some tips if I become inpatient.

  16. My chemo and radio therapy ended October 2014 it was Xmas when my hair was just about to come through my scalp. It’s now 29/02/16 and I’ve had very slow growth. I’ve only had it trimmed twice and it’s so fine and thin that I get stressed about it not thickening up. My friends have noticed it seems to be growing all of a sudden, but not getting any thicker. I dyed it for New Year as the sides were quite grey and the rest was light brown. I dyed it warm mahogany brown to make it look thicker which it did. I’ve only just had to do it again due to slow growth. I decided to go back to blonde because the dark colour showed my scalp more than the blonde does. I have started to grow another frindge which is about 0.5 inch long and thicker than the rest. I have started taking a skin hair and nails suppliment hoping it will help. My nails must have taken all the goodness from my hair as since they have grown back they have been so strong and long. I never had strong nails before. I now have to cut and file them.

  17. I finished Herceptin in January of 2015. A year later my hair is still weak,thin and sparse. Such a bummer. I have tried everything from Rogaine, biotin, B vitamins, coconut oil, olive oil and trims. Prior to chemo I had very thick hair. I e resorted to wearing wigs because at least I look as healthy as I feel. My current hair condition make me look ill, which I am not.

  18. – I’m Denice with a “C” . I am 60 years old and 5 months out of Chemo . Was stage 4 ovarian cancer and survived !!! I had always heard stage 4 was “curtains” for anyone – but not so true today – I was diagnosed on Thursday and surgery set for Saturday for a removal of all my girl parts . thinking i was cleared of having chemo …the monster tumor burst as it was removed and went all inside me . That meant 6 months of chemo 2 1/2 weeks apart . I actually shaved my head before chemo wanting to “take control” yes , I cried like a baby ! but felt empowered because I could start to figure out what to do with my head early in the game . because i hadn’t started chemo yet i didn’t have the pain associated with hair loss – it was just a little sensitive at the point I would have lost it . I would recommend it . I have a Jamie Lee Curtis look going now – but wear wigs because i never felt good in short hair . Besides it’s fun to have a different colors lengths and styles – go for it ladies – embrace the wild woman inside 🙂 i have some beautiful wigs for $ 40 much less than going to a beauty shop for well over $100 to color and style . I also recommend you go in person and check them out – i’ve had terrible luck online – take a good friend or sister and have fun with it . We didn’t ask for this , but here we are so enjoy !!!!

  19. Sounds awesome for you now…yeah
    My chemo is nine years out. It grew back the same color but with some curls.
    NOW like I said 9 yrs and all of a sudden one side is like a FRIZZ ball and the rest of my hair is getting curler.
    Any help with after all this tim= it is changing so much plus my top and crown area is really thinning?
    DOES ANYONE HAVE AN EXPLANATION FOR THIS or any suggestions?? This soooo much

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