Can I Dye My Hair During Chemo?

Everyone has their daily habits: what time we wake up, making the excruciating choice between bacon or no bacon, and the key transformation between just-woke-up and ready-to-roll: we're talking about your hair and make-up rituals. 

But, as we all know, your hair styling and general hair care doesn’t end with your initial morning routine. There’s washing, conditioning, deep conditioning, trims, and of course, hair dying. But what happens when the die-hard hair dyer is hit with a cancer diagnosis?  How do you navigate the differences in dying hair before, during, and after chemo? We’ve compiled the most concise information below for those who plan to dye their hair before chemo, those who do not lose their hair during chemo, and when you can get back to your hair dying routine after chemo.



Dying Your Hair Before Chemo Treatments Begin

Hair dye before chemo - Woman in salon having hair dyed red.

If you are considering dying your hair before chemo, go nuts! Whether you are keeping up your regular hair care routine, covering grays, or making a drastic color change, dying your hair before chemo begins is completely safe. In fact, many who will lose their hair view this as the ideal time to live out their dream of becoming a saucy redhead, rock a platinum blonde barbie look, or add a pop of a purple purple to their ‘do! 

Before you buy the dye or trot to the salon, keep in mind that some cancer treatments cause little to no hair loss. Be sure to consult your doctor regarding what the probability is you will end up losing your hair or your newly purple'd style may last longer than you planned.



Dying Your Hair During Chemo Treatment

Dying your hair during chemo - Curly purple and blue hair

If you don't lose your hair:

If your doctor predicts you will most likely not lose your hair, you may find yourself tempted to maintain your regular color treatment schedule. However, dying your hair while going through chemotherapy can actually prove to be a very bad idea. Chemicals from the hair dye can end up counteracting with the chemotherapy drugs or other medications you may be taking. The hair dye chemicals can also cause severe irritation to your already overly sensitive skin. 

While alternative hair dying methods do exist, the safest possible route is to take a break from dying your hair for the time being. If you are still looking for an alternative, we recommend asking your doctor if they have any suggestions, as this is most likely not the first time they have heard this question. While some websites do suggest Henna, as this is a less abrasive hair coloring method, chemical components are still present and may still prove harmful. Some websites and stylists offer all natural color treatments, but they may not offer the quality you expect (while also making a noticeable dent in your wallet). 

However, just because you can't use dye your hair doesn't mean you cant change it up! Try getting a cool, edgy haircut or using extensions and accessory hair to shake up your 'do. For instance, wear colorful clip-ins to add a fun twist to your hair style, or use clip-in extensions in a contrasting color to create an ombre effect.


If you do lose your hair:

If you do lose your hair, you can still get a cool hairstyle with the help of a wig. Whether you choose a wig that matches your natural color, or a more adventurous hue, you're sure to find a style that you love. Many people who dye their hair love the look of rooted wig colors because they are darker at the root.

Shilo by Noriko Wigs - Example of rooted wig



Dying Your Hair After Completing Chemo Treatment

Hair dye after chemo - woman with hair dye in hair waiting with clock.

When all is said and done, chemotherapy can affect your hair in several ways, especially if your hair completely fell out. For example: 

  • Your hair may now be straight or curly when it wasn't before
  • The texture of your hair may change 
  • Your hair may grow in a totally different color
  • You may notice hair coming in thinner

While adjusting to your new locks, it is highly recommended to not dye your hair for the first 6 months after chemo is complete. This is due to the possibility hair may be more fragile and, therefore, more easily damaged. Perming your hair is also off limits during this time for the same reason. 



How to Protect New Hair Growth

Hair dye after chemo - protect hair growth - woman in pink sweater with short blonde hair

To protect your hair and scalp from the elements, wear hats or scarves when there is a possibility you will be outdoors for an extended length of time. Use gentle shampoo and conditioners to help soothe and heal your scalp. It is highly recommended you consult with your doctor before you begin color treating your hair again. 

For tips on styling your hair as your hair grows back, visit this helpful guide.



Whether you’re a bottle blonde, brunette, red head, or something a little more daring, we hope our post has helps you navigate through this one aspect of going through cancer treatment. Have anything to add? Leave us a comment below!


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