Jan 17, 20202 min
Updated: May 26, 2023
We are really grateful to Sarah Hillcoat aka Journey2Previve for sharing her tips for managing post-chemo hair regrowth. Hair loss is one of the most emotional side effects of cancer treatment and we get asked a lot of questions about how long it takes for hair to grow back. In this blog, Sarah has bravely shared her photo diary, giving a photographic chemo hair regrowth timeline, from 1 month post-chemo in the top left hand corner all the way through to 12 months post chemo in the bottom right. Thank you Sarah.
I’m sure we can all agree that hair loss due to chemotherapy is one of the hardest aspects of going through treatment. We become unrecognisable to ourselves, to others, and even feel a loss of identity. On the flip side of this, there’s the excitement of getting our hair BACK! But I think most would agree this feels painfully slow, and many can still struggle with their identity during this process. I’m 11 months out of chemo, and while I’m thankful for my mullet, I’m still grieving the loss of my long hair. I long for the day that I will feel like myself again. In the meantime, I’m sharing my personal tips and tricks (I’ve tried many!) at attempting to grow my luscious long locks back ASAP!
What worked for me was starting with my overall health. As a nurse I know that proper nutrition is incredibly important. I personally go for lots of protein and chose some additional supplementation. Check with your healthcare professionals if they're OK with you.
You've gotta take care of your scalp (especially when you're bald)! I found that a gentle shampoo (sulphate free) and moisturising plus massage worked well. I often used coconut oil, a leave-in conditioner or mask for this. There are some shampoos/ conditioners / treatments for hair growth. Ask your hairstylist for some advice and be sure to check with your medical team, especially if the formulas include medicinal ingredients / chemicals. Personally I liked the 'plumping' line by Kevin Murphy.
Certain essential oils, like rosemary, are said to boost hair growth. I mixed it with a carrier oil (coconut or castor) and used it as a scalp / hair treatment. Again, check with your medical team before using anything new.
Something that I tried was to limit the damage to my new hair (think dye / bleach / heat and over-washing - you need those natural oils!).
I've tried to keep my hair at its healthiest so that I'm not forced to cut it. The ends came out lacking pigment (they look like frosted tips), and are a little dryer in texture, but most of my hair is feeling baby soft.
My last piece of advice, the hardest to take, is patience. It's going to be a long process and I'm trying to accept / embrace it. If you're willing to cut / colour, try out some fun styles to keep things exciting. Try out a variety of accessories to change up your look.
In the meantime, I'll be over here with my natural mullet, wishing you all magnificent hair growth!
CancerPal stocks a wide range of products to help care for your hair & scalp during chemotherapy treatment.