Practical tips to care for your hair
These tips are suitable for all hair types. They are especially important for Afro-Caribbean hair – all curly hair is naturally more susceptible to damage.
If your hair is dry or brittle during or after your cancer treatment, try to:
Wash your hair at least once every two days. Leaving longer between washes will not prevent hair loss. It may cause problems as hair loss can build up on your head and tangle.
Only use gentle hair products and non-medicated shampoo.
If you’re having radiotherapy to your head, check with the radiotherapy staff whether you can use shampoo on your hair and if so, which type of shampoo.
When washing your hair, only apply conditioner to the middle lengths and ends of the hair in small sections. Only apply conditioner if your hair is long enough.
When towel drying hair, blot your hair with the towel instead of rubbing it too hard.
Your hair will damage more when it is wet, so use a wide-toothed comb – combs cause less damage than brushes. Start combing from the ends to reduce tangles.
Try to use brushes that have wide spaced prongs. Full-bristle brushes will snag and pull on the hair.
Avoid using too much heat from hairdryers or heated rollers – this can dry the hair and make it break. Put hairdryers on a low heat and hold at least 15cm away from the hair.
Avoid using hair straighteners during treatment as these may cause a lot of damage to fragile hair.
Try to leave your hair a little damp – moisture is important for your hair’s health.
Avoid wearing your hair in a tight band, as this can damage and break it. If you plait your hair, plait it gently.
Avoid perming, colouring or chemically relaxing your hair as this can make it even more dry and brittle. We have tips on colouring, perming or relaxing your hair after treatment has finished.
At night, wear a soft cap or turban around your head to stop your hair becoming tangled and to collect any loose hair – women may find it easier to wear a hairnet.
Try to eat a well-balanced diet including protein and energy.