Friday, 25 July 2014 09:56

What’s your recipe for treating hair that has been affected by chemotherapy?

Written by   Sami Gonzales

Most of us have never really given much thought to our hair. We shampoo it, style it, and have it cut. How would you feel if one day you woke up and your hair was gone? How would you react? If your client has been diagnosed with cancer and is about to undergo chemotherapy, the chance of hair loss is very real. Chemotherapy is a powerful medication that attacks rapidly growing cancer cells. Unfortunately, it also attacks other rapidly growing cells, including hair roots.

Hair loss from chemotherapy is only temporary. On average, hair will grow back within a year. There are some treatments that possibly prevent hair loss, but they have not been 100 percent effective. These include cryotherapy, ice packs placed on scalp to slow blood flow, and Minoxidil, a drug approved by the FDA for hair loss. I have composed a list of things that your client can do to help combat the loss of hair before, during, and after chemotherapy.

Before Treatment

  • Consult with your client about cutting their hair short. Shorter hair always has more volume.
  • Forego all chemical services. This includes coloring, highlighting, and getting permanents. Try to avoid heating tools. All of these have a tendency to weaken or damage hair. 
  • Encourage them to start shopping for human hair wigs. Synthetic wigs have a tendency to look fake and heat cannot be applied to style them.

During Treatment

  • Encourage your client to shampoo less often and only use sulfate-free products. They are gentler on hair.
  • Recommend they use a salon quality dry shampoo in between shampoos. These products are designed to remove oils and freshen up hair without having to use water. 
  • Discuss with your client the possibility of about shaving their head. As aggressive as it may sound, many of my clients say it saves them the embarrassment of shedding.

After Treatment

  • They can continue to use sulfate-free shampoo and salon quality products. Hair will start growing back and your client will want to nourish their new hair with quality ingredients. You can suggest products for them too.
  • Patience is a virtue. Your client’s hair will start growing back slowly, but it will come back.
  • Prepare your client for the possibility of different hair texture. Some of my clients who have recovered from chemotherapy find that their hair was fuller or thinner than it was before treatment. 
  • Your clients may want to consider using scarves or hats to accessorize during their new hair growth.

Although hair loss is usually temporary, it can be emotionally devastating. Make sure your clients have a support system in place; make sure they know they are not alone in this.


Sami-GonzalesTrendsetter, innovator, and global artiste, Sami Gonzales is one of the most sought after colorists of the 21st century. Instructor, master stylist, certified colorist, mentor, and motivational speaker, Gonzales is a leader in the industry with 25 years of experience. He has had the honor of being an educator and creative artistic team member for global Farouk Systems. Former salon owner for 20 years, Gonzales is now in a private suite at the upscale One Fine Day Salon and Spa in Waxahachie, Texas. He is constantly upgrading his repertoire by continuing education with global masters. @samighair

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