Following on from my Hair Loss page, the 3 basic things to know about your hair growing back are (i) it will likely be a different colour, usually darker; (ii) it may be a completely different texture, for example, coarser; and (iii) it may be a different style, for example, straight hair comes back curly or vice versa. My hair was definitely darker but the texture and style were the same to my pre-chemo hair.
I finished my final chemotherapy session on September 15th and my hair started growing back a couple of weeks after this. When I say that it started growing back, I envisage it growing back to being chin-length immediately but this is not the case LOL!
My hair grew back about 1/4 inch per month so it is a pretty slow process.
I have to admit that I didn’t love the process of losing my hair and having it grow back so I don’t have many pictures to share with you. I basically didn’t have much hair for October and November so I continued to wear my wig. From December onwards, my hair was starting to peek out at the bottom of my wig (very exciting!!!) so I basically stopped wearing my wig. It was such a cold snowy winter that I was able to wear just my winter hat when I went out to run errands and walk Bertie etc. If I ever went anywhere where I would have to take my hat off, then I popped my wig on.
Around the house, I didn’t wear a hat or a wig or anything. If someone ding-donged at the front door unexpectedly then I had a hat nearby to throw on as I wasn’t comfortable sharing my hair with anyone else yet.
Around 6 months post-chemo I realized that I was going to have to brave wearing my actual hair out in public soon. I was comfortable having my hair out at home but I didn’t style it or anything so I wasn’t sure how to wear it out in public. I started to do a lot of research on the internet for short hair styles to try and find some inspiration on how I should style my hair.
Whilst considering what to do with my hair, I cheated and looked into getting extensions. I found a lovely lady, Chantal, in Calgary who specializes in extensions and wigs for people who have lost their hair (due to cancer or alopecia etc.). When I went to meet Chantal, my hair was too short for extensions – you need to have a minimum of 2″ for extensions, but longer is preferable. The other option was a top piece, which is a hybrid between a wig and extensions – it is basically the top part of a wig but it is attached to your hair so you don’t need to take it on and off. The downside of a top piece is that your hair halfway down your head is exposed as the top piece just sits on the crown of your head. This wasn’t quite what I envisaged when I thought of extensions so I decided against it. For me, it was great to explore all of my options and it helped me to realize that I didn’t want extensions or wigs, I just needed to be brave and wear my own hair out.
First Hair Cut and Highlights
Having decided that I just needed to be brave, the next step was deciding how I wanted my short hair to look as it wasn’t amazing in its raw state. I pondered on this for a few more weeks and eventually I made an appointment with my old hairdresser, Angela.
Meeting up with Angela was amazing as she was able to talk me through my options for highlighting and styling my hair. I showed Angela the pictures of the short hairstyles that I liked and she let me know that all of these had been cut and styled to give them shape. It seems weird to cut your hair when you are trying to grow it, but you need to keep the back and bottom trimmed until the top strands of hair eventually catch up with the lower strands, otherwise it will look silly.
At 7 months post-chemo, my hair was about 2″ long and just long enough to have it highlighted with foils. If the hair is less than 2″ long then you would need to use a cap and pull the short hair through that but it doesn’t give you quite the same effect as foils. As my hair had grown back darker, I decided to get it highlighted blonde so that I felt a little more like my old-self again. I also had my hair trimmed and tidied up so it looked more like a purposeful haircut.
Here are pictures of my hair from 7 months post chemo onwards as this is when I started wearing it out:
7 Months Post-Chemo
8 Months Post-Chemo
9 Months Post-Chemo
10 Months Post-Chemo
11 Months Post-Chemo
12 Months Post-Chemo
Tips for Hair Growing Back
As I mentioned above, your hair can grow back in curlier or straighter than it was before. For me, my hair grew back in straight; however, I had a chunk at the front that had a definite kink in it. To try ease out kinks in your hair, smooth some Argan oil over the hair and use a boar bristle brush to brush the oil through and straighten out the hair. I did this at bedtime and washed it out in the morning. This was great for starting to train the hairs to grow in a purposeful direction rather than just anywhere like I had been letting them.
The bristle brush is also great for getting straight frizz-free hair. I still use this brush when my hair is wet after coming out of the shower; it is nice and gentle on the scalp and works through my hair easily. When my hair gets longer, I will probably have to switch back to a comb to get the knots out of my hair when it’s wet.
When your hair is starting to get a little longer and you want to try flat-iron it, then the hair clips pictured above are magic. They are just like the ones they use at the hairdressers and make it so easy to push little hairs out of the way whilst you attempt to flat-iron your hair. I don’t know how I managed to style my hair before (well….back when I had hair anyway LOL!)
Now that my hair is getting longer, the hair clips are still amazing. It looks like they are going to be a staple in my hair styling kit from now on. 😊
Styling Short Hair
My everyday go-to style initially was just to brush my hair when it was wet and leave it to dry naturally. Once it was dry, I added a small blob of control paste to my hands, rubbed them together, and then combed my hands through my hair to smooth it out and make sure I had no crazy bits that were sticking up. I then pushed my hair back off my face with a hairband. Voila, hair done!
For a snazzier version of wearing a headband, I straightened my hair at the front first – I had to wait until around 9 months post-chemo for my hair to be long enough for this. Added the control paste again and then created more of a side parting; rather than pushing all of my hair back. Then I just added a sparkly headband to jazz up my hair a bit.
Once my hair was about 3″ long, I was able to start using hair grips and slides. This is a gamechanger as you can now pin back any wild hairs that are a bit of a nuisance, and can also create the illusion of having longer hair that you have just pinned up.
Hats & Scarfs
Hats are always a winner, but don’t forget about all of the pretty scarfs that you used earlier on in your treatment. Instead of using a scarf to cover my whole head, I now just roll it up and use it more like a headband.