Losing your hair during cancer treatment is a common and unsettling experience. Here are some hints for selecting, obtaining and caring for a wig.
Tips on Getting Ready for a Wig
Many women have found that it is best to cut their hair short before they start chemotherapy. It’s less traumatic to lose short clumps of hair than long ones-and it’s easier to fit a wig over less hair.
If you get used to short hair, you won’t have to wait as long for your hair to grow back to feel like yourself. Shorter is also cooler-an important consideration because wigs can feel hot in the summer.
Since a short-haired wig is easier to wear and care for, if your hair is already short you’ll have an easier time living with temporary hair of a similar length.
Try to pick out a wig before your chemotherapy begins. You’ll have more energy and the stylist will be able to see your natural hair color and style. You can get used to wearing the wig in trial sessions, alternating with your own hair.
Wigs come in all styles and colors. A wig made of real hair could cost between $800 and $3,000 or more, and requires more care than you give your own hair. Most women choose synthetic wigs. They look and feel good, need very little attention and care. And cost much less ($30 to $500).
The wig needs to be comfortable, not lined with material that’s going to feel scratchy against your scalp. (Remember that most wigs are designed for women who have some hair.)
Color is probably the most important quality in choosing a wig. Select a somewhat lighter color than your own hair, for two reasons:
Your skin color may be off during chemotherapy. Less contrast is generally more flattering, and won’t call attention to your complexion. Wig hair is usually thicker than your own hair. So while the shade may be the same as your hair color, the wig will appear darker.
Turbans, Hats, and Scarves
Turbans and hats are a lovely alternative to wigs, which some women find hot and uncomfortable to wear. An advantage of the Boutique at the Cancer Resource Center is that people may make a free selection of all kinds of headwear to take home and try out.
The types, colors, and styles of turbans, hats, and scarves are limited only by what is available at any given time at the center. Most have been made and donated by generous women in the area. Once you have found items that are becoming and meet your needs, you may choose to buy similar ones online.
Turbans, hats, and scarves are available online through several catalogs.
The above information was gathered from a number of sources, including breastcancer.org, interviews with a number of stylists, and the generous input of the CRC Friday Noon Group for Women.