Hair expert and author Toni Love is no stranger to helping women with hair issues while in cancer treatment. She notes: “Many women who undergo chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments tend to forget about their hair care at the beginning. They are more concerned about their overall health…”. But at some point, reality can set in, your love affair with your turban may be over, and you need options from beauty professionals. Here are a few tips for ethnic hair care from the author of the definitive professional textbook, The World of Wigs, Weaves and Extensions.
Prepare your hair for cancer treatment: “Women should make sure their hair is clean, free of tangles and products. The scalp should not be brushed, manipulated or scratched before starting treatment.”
Lay off chemical treatments 6-8 weeks before chemotherapy begins: “There should not be any chemicals (color, relaxer, permanent waves, bleach) applied to the hair…these will weaken the hair, resulting in rapid hair loss. Not every woman loses all of her hair as she undergoes chemotherapy, especially if the hair is ‘virgin’ and free of chemicals.”
You may want to sneak into the closest wig store you can find, but Toni stresses you seek out professional help if you choose a wig: “Try to be serviced by a certified Hair Loss Specialist. They will most likely suggest a ‘cranial prosthesis’ and/or ‘wig prosthesis.’ These tend to look more natural and last longer; and because of the different bases, they can be altered as the patient goes from bald to gradual growth, to a full head of hair. Be sure to check your insurance and ask if your plan covers the service.”
What IS a wig prosthesis? “Wig prostheses differ from regular wigs because they can be applied and removed daily using a special tape. Or, they can be applied to be worn for months at a time using adhesives, based on the condition of the scalp. If the scalp is bald, there is a particular adhesive to secure it. They have bases made of polyurethane, mesh, and integration chains. Polyurethane base is most commonly used on bald patients for a more secure fit.
But I haven’t lost ALL my hair…: “If the hair is still existing, but thin, there is an adhesive to go over hair to secure the wig prosthesis and a mesh base is used with fine hair. It offers ventilation. And, models with an integration chains base have holes throughout to pull the patient’s hair through to blend with the wig prosthesis for a natural look. It’s used more for patients whose hair is growing back after treatments have ended. It is advised that cancer patients still undergoing treatments use tape for application for safety purposes.”
6. Hair extensions may be another option: “Most hair extensions can be applied if the patient has at least two inches of hair. There has to be enough hair around the outer perimeter to cover the extensions for an overall natural look. Extensions should not be applied until the patient’s hair is strong enough after treatments to withhold the weight. They are very best for women who are in a ‘transitional’ stage. Keratin tipped extensions and fusion are best for short or medium hair. Interlocking (where there are no braids and glue) is another popular technique used to apply hair extensions for volume, as well as length. The application time is much shorter and the results are great! Extensions do not inhibit the grow of new hair. When the extensions have been in for a while, the starting point of the extensions is visible a few inches down the hair shaft, indicating new hair growth, which will be most welcome!”
7. You may wish to go natural during cancer treatment: “Many women opt for natural hair products such as Shea butter and olive oil to prevent dry and brittle hair. Both products add moisture to the hair shaft without leaving a ‘greasy’ film. Products containing rosemary extract have a rejuvenating effect, and the extract helps reduce headaches and swelling. Many women like shampoos which contain soap bark extract, which allows it to foam on the hair shaft.”
Always check in with your medical team before trying any new hair treatments.
In addition to educating beauty professionals and consumers alike, Toni has created a charity to assist less fortunate teens who wish to attend beauty school. More information available at http://www.tonilovegroup.com
Advice from Toni Love
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Toni Love’s Tips on Ethnic Hair Care During Cancer Treatment Hair expert and author Toni Love Read More