Let’s talk about hair and the endless choices available if you begin to lose your hair during treatment. I called on my personal hair-stylist, Christie CJ DeAndrea, co-owner of Willow Salon Studio, to help you guys with hair loss!
Christie knows what a personal experience hair loss can be. “I have had clients come into the salon to have me shave their head,” she shared. “The first client wanted to watch me do it. We cried together, and then thought of cute ways to wear a bandana.
“I’ve also gone to a client’s home to shave her head, because she wanted total privacy.” In every case, “I felt like we shared a special bond,” Christie shared. “It’s a moment we went through together in their journey, and I felt honored to be a part of it.”
The Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation Alliance (OCRFA, formerly OCNA and OCRF) explains how treatment may result in hair loss. Christie offers her advice for women facing hair loss.
Before you lose your hair:
- If you have long hair, consider shorter cuts in different phases. Have fun by trying a bob or a cute pixie cut. Why not try an outrageous color you’ve always wanted to do?
- Try donating your hair first. Length requirements differ by company, but the range typically is eight to 10 inches.
Caring for your scalp is important after hair loss because chemotherapy can increase sensitivity.
- Use at least SPF 30 on your scalp daily.
- Avoid products with fragrances.
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Depending on your activity level, consider washing your scalp only a few times a week. “I love Aveda Scalp Benefits Balancing Shampoo, as well as coconut oil to moisturize your scalp after washing,” Christie said.
- If you don’t wear a wig, consider a hat or a bandana to protect your scalp. Choose a cute fedora, straw hat, wrap or bandana, trying different colors to complement your skin tones. “I’m a huge Michael Stars hat fan,” Christie said.
- Keep your hair trimmed short. Using a clipper with a number 2 guard keeps it not shaved, but short enough that if you choose to wear a wig it won’t peek thru.
- “I lightly ‘straight razor’ the hairline, using a feather razor that has a guard on it,” Christie explained. “This keeps any darker hair from peeking thru and being visible.”
If you choose to go with wearing a wig, the choices are endless. “Make this fun,” Christie encouraged. “Bring friends or family with you when trying on wigs. Or if you get multiple wigs, why not give them names?”
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I want my wig to look close to what my hair looks like now?
- Do I want to try a new look?
Synthetic vs. human hair wigs
Women have turned to wigs as a fashion statement for decades now, and that demand has given us a range of selection, from quality to cost, typically ranging from as low as $150 to as high as $2,000, Christie advised.
I ordered my own wigs through Wigs.com and was really happy with the site’s service and the quality of the wig.
“It just depends on your budget and how many different looks you want,” she said, noting synthetic hair wigs tend to be less expensive, while human-hair wigs are pricier. I recommend talking to your insurance company, because many will cover at least a portion of a wig purchase. Ask specifically what terms or wording need to be on a prescription to qualify for coverage, and then save every piece of paper related to your wig purchase. You may need to purchase a wig first and submit for reimbursement later.
So what’s the difference between synthetic and human hair wigs, besides price?
“Synthetic wigs can be tricky to style,” Christie said, “so I recommend choosing one with longer locks. Bring the wig to your stylist to add layers and texture to your face shape.”
A benefit to synthetic wigs is the ability to wash them and then just let them air dry. But Christie cautioned: “You can never, ever use any heat on them. Heat will ruin the integrity of the wig.”
Christie recommended synthetic wigs as great options for working out or for weekend use. “Save the human-hair wig for work or a night out,” she said. “I’m a big fan of human-hair wigs because you can treat them like your own hair. You can wash, condition and dry it like your own hair. You can also use curling or flat irons on it to achieve different looks. Again, bring your wig to your stylist for assistance.”
Once you’ve chosen the perfect wig, maintenance is critical to keeping the look you love. Christie shared these tips:
- Use the shampoo and conditioner recommended by the wig company.
- If you’d rather use something else, Christie recommends smoothing shampoos.
- Limit the washes! “I always advise clients not to wash their wigs too often,” she said. “This prevents the ends from appearing dry.”
- Use a good detangler and a wide tooth comb or paddle brush. “I love the WET brush,” Christie shared. “They are so easy on the wig when combing out.”
- Limit product use. “I keep it simple when I style wigs,” Christie said. “I like to use a serum or argon oil. Verb makes a ghost oil, and another great one is Marrakesh oil, which keeps the wig smooth and adds shine.”