Scalp cooling haircare FAQs
Here is a selection of the questions we get asked most often about haircare:
You should wash your hair less often than you did before you started chemo, and realistically, no more than twice a week. This is because chemotherapy will dry out your hair and scalp, which makes the natural oils on your scalp valuable. It can take a few weeks for your hair to start to dry out, so the aim is to find the sweet spot between not allowing your hair to get too greasy and unmanageable, and not washing it so often that it gets even drier.
There is no problem with using a hairdryer on a low and cool setting, but it’s best to avoid heated styling tools such as flat irons, curling tongs and blow dry brushes – even on the cool setting. They can cause extra tension at the root of your hair, and the heat can cause additional damage to your hair, which is already going through a lot. Try to embrace your natural hair texture if you can.
Not at all. Daily brushing is a really important part of scalp cooling haircare. It may feel counterintuitive to take hair away, but it is essential that you remove any shed hair as it can easily lead to tangling and matting. If you brush gently, you will not remove any hair that wouldn’t have come out anyway. The same with washing – it will liberate any shed hairs, which can be really scary, but it’s such an important part of haircare. Know that it may feel horrible to see that hair shedding, but it would be so much worse if your hair becomes matted and the only option is to cut it off.
No, it is not recommended to dye your hair while you are receiving chemotherapy treatment. Chemotherapy will make your skin and scalp very sensitive, so introducing any of the chemicals in hair dye is not wise. It doesn’t matter if it is naturally derived dye, box dye, or at the hairdressers. It isn’t worth the potential reaction. Try to be patient. It is safe to dye your hair again once shedding has returned to a normal rate.
Absolutely, but it is important not to create additional tension on the roots of your hair. A low ponytail, braid, or twisting your hair up with clips is fine.
There can be some tricky growing out phases where you have lots of different lengths of hair. It’s a good idea to talk to your hairdresser and figure out if there are options for managing the awkward stages, which will allow you to keep as much length as possible without feeling like it looks uneven. Some people just go for cutting it all off, but a bit of patience can give you lots of options as the regrowth appears properly.
Root touch-up spray or hair fibers can be handy tools for hiding patchy hair loss or thinning. Try to use them lightly so you don’t struggle to wash them out.
It is not recommended to chemically straighten or relax your hair in advance of scalp cooling. This has been suggested in the past to help with getting the cap on properly for people with curly or coily hair, but there are much simpler methods of achieving this without permanently changing your hair. The largest problem with chemical processes such as straightening is the damage they do to the hair, which will only be emphasized by chemotherapy. The potential risks of permanently straightening hair before scalp cooling heavily outweigh the benefits.
There aren’t any products available that can prevent hair loss due to chemotherapy. Any hair growth product taken during chemotherapy will unfortunately not make any difference. Wait until you have completed your treatment to introduce any regrowth products. It is also important to understand that most regrowth products with active ingredients such as minoxidil, and supplements such as biotin, can take 6 to 9 months to show any effect.