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Hair Growth & Styling Tips for Short Hair After Chemo



Post-Chemo hair growth and styling can be a nightmare to navigate. The number one thought on most women’s minds during and after chemo is how and when will my hair grow back. Then, when the time does come, the hair texture and color may be unfamiliar causing a host of new challenges.

Having the tools and the knowledge to navigate short hair after chemo will make a world of difference. Also, it will help you feel more confident at each stage of your growth. So, let’s jump right in.

WHEN DOES HAIR GROW BACK AFTER CHEMO?

Keep in mind that your chemo regimen and your genetics will determine how fast your hair grows. I know it’s hard. But, don’t panic if your chemo buddy is rocking a full head of hair and your baby hairs are just sprouting.


Chemo | 1 Year |2 Years


SHORT HAIR INSPIRATION

For many of us, hair regrowth after chemo will be the first time we have ever experienced short hair. Just like with anything new, it helps to have education and “training” and inspiration! Pull out a magazine, save images from social media and browse Pinterest (follow my 'hair' board). Use hashtags such as #chemohair #chemocurls #hairgrowth to find other women re-growing their hair. If you can find someone a few months ahead of you with similar hair texture, their progress can serve as your monthly inspiration. Whenever you find short hair styles you like, save the images in an album. This will give you fun looks to try as your hair gets longer and make it feel more fun rather than a pain (though it definitely can be).


POST CHEMO HAIR TEXTURE

One of the most talked about aspects of hair regrowth after chemo is texture. For many women, hair after chemo can come back with a different texture than before. It can be shocking if you’re not prepared for it. Many times, hair will come back a new color and thicker/thinner than you were used to.


WHAT ABOUT CHEMO CURLS?

Chemotherapy kills rapidly dividing cells like hair, which explains why hair follicles are the first to go. When chemotherapy is complete, remnants of the drugs may remain impacting the regrowing hair cells.

These altered follicles may appear curly and more coarse. As the hair gets longer, the tight curls may fade to waves, while for others the curls may stick around for the long term. In my experience, chemo curls appear at around 6 months and then fade at about 10 months.


WHEN CAN I COLOR MY HAIR AFTER CHEMO?

Chemotherapy kills rapidly dividing cells like hair, which explains why hair follicles are the first to go. When chemotherapy is complete, remnants of the drugs may remain impacting the regrowing hair cells.

These altered follicles may appear curly and more coarse. As the hair gets longer, the tight curls may fade to waves, while for others the curls may stick around for the long term.

Sometimes the pigment of hair can be changed when it returns after cancer. Doctors are not exactly sure why this happens. But it is most likely linked to the chemo drugs and their remaining effects.

For some people their hair comes back light, more grey or a whole new color completely. You may love this change or you may want to do something about it.

So when can you start dying your hair? During the first 4-6 months, your hair will be brand new baby follicles that need to be cared for gently. Try not to dye your hair during that time period. Give your new hair a chance to strengthen.

When you reach the 5 months mark, it’s OK to consult with your hairstylist about colouring your hair. Also, preferably with a non-ammonia colour such as Loreal INOA. Try to stay away from strong lighteners until at least 8 months.



POST-CHEMO HAIR STYLING TIPS & TOOLS

So, now that you have some inspiration and your hair is starting to grow, how do you style it? Experimentation and finding the right products are the keys to success. Knowing what products and styling tools to add to your arsenal at each stage will help you adapt to the changing texture/length and feel more confident about your ever changing 'do.

TIPS & TOOLS |0-3 MONTHS During the first few months there is not much that you can do in terms of styling, but I do have a few tips for you. The sides and nape of your neck will grow much faster than the top/front of your head, so you may want to head to your salon to shape up the edges. It may be terrifying to get a trim when you’re aiming for growth, but it will allow you to have a clean sculpted look as you wait for the top to fill in. As your hair gets a little longer, you can also experiment with a good wax to help tame crazy hairs and slick down the sides. A little shine spray can really help if your hair is coming in coarse and dull.


TIPS & TOOLS | 4-6 MONTHS

At around 4 months you can begin to force a side part with a comb and strong hold pomade. This hair brush is super soft and will help you smooth your short hairs and set the Fauxwax in place.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can also experiment with an undercut or a buzz design while you wait for the top to catch up. Using headbands and strong brows at this stage can really help balance your face and add a feminine touch.



FAUX HAWK

The faux hawk is another great style to try around the 5 month mark. You will have just enough hair to smooth to the middle, and this will disguise the lack of length on the front of your head.


TIPS & TOOLS | 6-8 MONTHS

By about 6 months you will have more of a pixie look, which gives you more styling options. Investing in mini straightener and curl cream will allow you to tame the curls for a curly or straight look. Hair oil is also great for smoothing the frizz that comes with chemo curls. Don’t try to brush your hair at this stage unless you want to end up with a big poof. Instead use a wide tooth comb to detangle and gentle massage hair products into your hair with your hands.


TOUSLED SHORT HAIR

This time period will also lend itself well to the ‘tousled look’. Experiment with dry shampoo and texture spray to create definition and movement with your hair. Hair feeling flat? Try a volumizing spray. This one is my favorite.

You may find that you need hydrating products at this stage to combat the dryness that comes with curly hair.


TIPS & TOOLS | 8-12 MONTHS

As the top of your hair finally begins to catch up in length, you will have more styling options. While you will want to continue to have your hair stylist trim the nape of your neck and ears, start to feather the ear area instead of a blunt cut to allow your ‘fringe’ to develop.

TIPS & TOOLS | 1 YEAR & BEYOND

Once you get to the bob stage (usually around 1 year), you can finally fully straighten your hair (with a 1/2″ straightener), curl it, and even try a fun braided updo. I recommend continuing trims throughout this period to avoid the mullet look. Some people choose to push through the mullet look in order to achieve a little more length quicker. It’s completely up to you as to which route you choose.



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