Chemotherapy and some cancer drugs can cause hair loss. Fortunately, there are special wigs for cancer patients (chemo wigs) that look as natural and feel as comfortable as your own hair. Here are some tips on finding the right one.
Are wigs for cancer patients any different from regular wigs?
Wigs come in different colors, lengths, and can be made of either real or synthetic hair, or a combination of both. Theoretically, you can buy any kind of wig you like. However, you should pay special attention to the lining. Pick one that’s made of soft material that won’t irritate your scalp. Your skin will feel very tender after chemotherapy, and you may be wearing your wig for most of the day. Cheap “fashion” wigs designed for fun are usually made for women who have some remaining hair and are only going to wear it for a special event. Those are like the hair equivalent of 3-inch stilettos: stylish, but a killer to wear. Wigs for cancer patients have soft, non-irritating and high-quality lining.
Should I get wigs made of real or synthetic hair?
This is a matter of preference. Synthetic hair are cheaper and easier to take care of, so it’s a popular choice among cancer patients. Chemotherapy already takes a huge toll on finances and energy, so they want a low-cost, low-maintenance cancer wig.
Natural wigs are more expensive and need to be washed and styled with every use. However, some cancer patients find comfort in touching and seeing “real” hair – it makes them feel that their beauty routine (and their lives) are a bit more normal.
What looks more natural: real or synthetic wigs?
Any kind of high-quality wig can look natural. Modern wigs use modacrylic synthetics that closely resemble human hair. The key is getting a good match. Cancer survivors recommend picking a wig even before your first chemotherapy session, when you have more energy to try on different styles and find one that fits well on your scalp. You can also look for a shade that best matches your natural hair color, though you may want to go for one or two shades lighter since you will look pale during your chemotherapy.
What kind of style should I get?
Whatever style makes you feel and look great! Many cancer patients feel this is their chance to experiment with a look. If you’re going to wear a wig, then rock it! If you’re not sure what style you want, ask a friend to go with you while you shop and take pictures that you can study later. If you’re not completely happy with a look, there are many hair salons and cancer wig specialists that can trim or style one to your preference. Ask your oncologist or hospital for recommendations.
How do I take care of my hair and scalp during chemotherapy?
Many cancer patients report that their hair started falling out about two weeks after their first session. This is normal, but still distressing. You can shave off all your hair from the beginning, or wear a hair net so you don’t wake up to see strands all over the pillow.
Your wig will hide all signs of hair loss, but do continue to care for your scalp. A high-quality lining will prevent most irritation, but to prevent any rashes, go “wig-less” every few days (wear a stylish turban or scarf if you feel self-conscious).
Synthetic wigs for cancer patients require very little care. You can wash them every 2 weeks and style them with regular sprays and gels. However, don’t use any heat styling tools, which will weaken the glue. If you chose a natural wig, ask your stylist to show you how to brush and wash it to avoid breaking the strands.
Hair usually grows back within a year after chemotherapy. Until then, there’s a wide range of wigs for cancer patients that can help you feel and look better