By Guest Blogger Charley
Having been a hairdresser for over 20 years, it never gets any easier when advising a client on the best form of action to take when they are about to lose their hair. Fortunately, there are stages that can help make the process of losing hair more bearable, because let's be completely honest, for most of us, even the thought of our hair falling out due to chemotherapy is devastating.
Losing your hair can have a serious impact on mental well being, some people feel that they have been robbed of their identity and confidence hits an all time low. This why as a hairdresser I feel passionate about advising and encouraging good scalp care because it can really make a difference to how you feel and it supports successful hair growth once treatment is complete.
That first appointment to the hairdresser must be extremely daunting for chemo patients, so my advice is to take some of the stress out of your visit and call your salon, ask to speak to a stylist you trust so they are aware of the situation before the appointment and they can then support you with some options for the best course of action. It will also give you time to process what you want to get out of the appointment.
One of the things we do need to avoid is colouring your hair because no harsh chemicals can be applied to your scalp or hair due to a very high risk of allergic reaction. Personally I would not even do highlights in a contained foil packet because a reaction is still highly likely. Having an allergic reaction to hair colouring should never be taken lightly, especially when someone is undergoing chemotherapy treatment and is suffering the side effects of a weakened immune system.
If you have long hair or just feel too distressed to lose it all at once, it is a great idea to take the journey in baby steps. Start with having more off the length than you would do normally, or be creative and have fun with a short crop. Unfortunately, it is a cruel twist of fate that at some point the scalp will release all hair follicles due to your treatment. At this point I would advise anyone to clipper off the remaining hair to avoid anymore stress on the scalp. Make sure that your stylist only uses sterilised hairdressing clippers to do this job for you and don’t use a razor because you don’t want any cuts to the skin which might get infected.
Protecting your scalp at this point is very important, pamper yourself because your scalp will love you for it! Avoid using harsh chemicals on your scalp when washing and try to use natural products. Moisture is very important to the scalp during and after treatment so use shampoo or shower crème with a moisturising or conditioning agent to prevent the scalp from drying out.
Don’t be afraid to pop to your hairdresser for head massage, not only is this a well deserved treat for you but it increases the blood flow to the scalp, promoting healthy hair growth. I would recommend that you use natural oils for example olive oil, apricot oil or Moroccan oil – if you are into your aromatherapy, look for a good carrier oil – this will do the job nicely!
It is also just as important to protect your skin from the elements such as sun and wind. The sun can damage your scalp so it is very important to keep covered with a chemotherapy hat so invest in a wide brimmed sun hat if your treatment is taking place over the summer.
If you need any further advice on hair loss, join one of the Headwrappers events which take place online on the last Thursday of every month, you can book your place free of charge here. Also, take a look at charity Hair Reborn who offer support, advice and a free hair styling service for people suffering hair loss as a result of chemotherapy treatment.
If you are coming to the end of your treatment, click here to read my next blog about hair regrowth and booking your first haircut.