Post-scalp cooling haircare guide
Well done for getting through chemotherapy and scalp cooling. Here are the things you need to be aware of now that you are on the other side of the scalp cooling process.
Don’t expect shedding to stop on the final day of your chemotherapy. 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 still seeing elevated levels of shedding 12 weeks after your final chemotherapy treatment, it might be worth speaking to your doctor, as additional factors (such as low haemoglobin/anaemia) can contribute to hair loss.
By scalp cooling you have done everything you could to ensure the best possible regrowth. Depending on the drug regimen, some people may see regrowth before the end of their chemotherapy, for others it can take a little while. But it does come. There will be fluffy new hairs sprouting before you know it. It is completely normal to experience shedding and regrowth at the same time.
This is really common. They hold on throughout chemotherapy treatment and then when you’ve finally finished, they drop out. Nobody entirely knows why, but it is believed to be associated with the shorter growth cycle (around 100) days of lashes and brows. The good news is they tend to grow back quickly, just be aware that losing lashes and brows is a possibility.
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 suddenly works as a style option again. For example, a bob may be possible rather than a pixie crop or some smart shaping by a hairdresser can keep your hair at a longer length.
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. There may not be a lightning bolt moment where your suddenly realize your hair has returned to normal shedding, but you may get to a point where you just don’t notice it so much, which means you are probably back to normal shedding.
Once you reach normal shedding you can go back to your normal haircare routine and introduce heated styling tools again. Just be gentle and go carefully, as your scalp may still be sensitive and the hair you have retained has gone through a lot. 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. It is also recommended to patch test any products you are introducing after chemotherapy as your skin and scalp may be sensitive to products, even those you used before treatment.
It’s time to start focusing on improving the condition of your hair. Try masks, deep conditioning treatments, oils and products developed for dry and damaged hair. 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.
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 dyeing 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 who is familiar with your situation. They will be able to tell you if your hair is in good enough condition, and it is imperative that they patch test in advance.