Hairdressers are in the front line of caring for many people diagnosed with cancer, because to some the impact of chemotherapy on their hair is the worst part of treatment. According to HairToStay, a non-profit organization we are partnering with this October to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as many as 8% of women diagnosed with cancer will actually refuse recommended treatment because of fears about hair loss, thinning, or changing texture.
Why does it happen?
Hair loss is caused by the chemo attacking fast-growing cells, which includes hair. Not all chemotherapy drugs cause hair to fall out entirely, but they can make it thinner, while curly hair can become straight and straight hair kinky. If it does fall out, it might grow back differently for a while.
Innovations in treatment
Scalp cooling has gained credibility as a treatment, and some hospitals and cancer centers have already invested in the technology. But it is still limited in accessibility. HairToStay was established in 2016, following the FDA Clearance of Scalp Cooling, in order to make the treatment available to those otherwise unable to afford it. At that time, there was no insurance coverage whatsoever, and today, coverage is still the exception, rather than the rule.
Being able to recommend scalp cooling, which reduces blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles, promotes a positive client conversation around hair loss and remedies; wearing a cooling cap just before, during, and after treatment can reduce the amount of toxins from the chemo reaching the hair. Check HairToStay on https://hairtostay.org/our-story/
Extra care with hair
But even if the chemo has no apparent effect on the hair, stylists still need to be extra vigilant. To improve the efficacy of cooling, the scalp needs to be in optimum condition, so colorants that may exacerbate dryness should be avoided. Patch testing is crucial every time as treatments can increase sensitivity to drugs previously tolerated by the client.
The advice from the medical profession when chemo is clearly affecting the hair is to avoid putting all chemicals – color, perms, relaxants, or straighteners – on the head not just during treatment but for up to six months afterward to allow the hair to recover and become stronger. Hair extensions are out as well as they can damage weakened hair.
HairToStay recommends clients avoid having their hair cut before or during the use of cold caps to limit stress on the hair, and suggests swapping to a pH-neutral shampoo with no aluminum.
Hair will recover
The good news is that hair loss or hair changes during chemo are almost always temporary. It may regrow as fine, white baby hair, taking a few months to return to normal. But this might not comfort clients devastated by the loss or potential loss of hair and that’s why Vish is partnering with HairToStay for the month of October to help raise funds for recipients receiving scalp cooling treatments. The goal is to increase awareness within the industry to help promote positive, informative, and empowering conversations with clients.
Help make a difference
Join owners Gayle Fulbright of Headlines the Salon, Rowena Yeager of Studio Wish Salon Spa, Maggie Difalco of Maggie the Salon, and Bonnie Conte of Avalon Salon Spa to help us raise awareness for this incredibly important cause.
How you can get involved
- Donate 10% of your extra product charges for the month of October through the donation page here.
- Purchase our limited edition Vish scrunchie online here. 100% of profits will be donated to HTS at the end of the month.
- Share our posts on @vishsalons on Facebook and Instagram. Help us get as many eyes on the amazing work HairToStay does with women every day and help them reach their fundraising goals. Plus, follow @coolerheadsprevail to stay connected to HairToStay.