After you've long lost your hair from cancer treatment, and finally start to see your hair inching its way back, you'll likely notice it doesn't look the same. Ouidad, "The Queen of Curls" and cancer survivor, offers these thoughts.
"Almost every woman, after losing their hair, when it grows back it's almost always the opposite texture from what her hair was," says Ouidad. "It's because of the chemical reaction in your body from the treatments to kill the cancer."
If you had tight curls before treatment, they may come back looser or even straight, she says. If you had loose curls, they may come back as tight coils. But the change is often not permanent, and your hair usually returns to its previous curl pattern within a year to 18 months. As the hair grows back, there is more to think about than adjusting to the new texture.
Here, Ouidad shares five steps to healthy hair for breast cancer survivors.
"Some women get their hair back very gray, then when it falls out and their regular hair starts to come back, little by little the color comes back," Ouidad says. "So, try not to be anxious about it."
Remember, your curly locks will usually go back to their normal color and curl pattern after the effect of chemotherapy on the hair follicle wears off.
Conditioning is Critical
If you never really got around to staying consistent with conditioning treatments in the past, it's time to get diligent. Use a deep treatment every two weeks, in addition to your daily conditioner, Ouidad recommends.
"Even though it's new hair, it's not fully conditioned because internally you're still dealing with cleansing yourself of the chemicals [from the cancer treatments]," she says.
Hold off on Highlights/Color
"Don't start coloring your hair right away," Ouidad says. "Wait at least one year. You want the new hair to have substantial growth. Again, it's going to take a while as your body cleanses itself of the [treatment] chemicals."
Try Helpful Hair Accessories
While your hair is growing, you're grateful, but it's just never seems to come in as quickly as you'd like. For the in-between stage, you can show off the growth you have, as you accessorize.
"You can do so many things with accessories. You can go with extensions or beautiful scarves," Ouidad says.
Take the time to invest in a beautiful accessory, one that is special to you. Then, wear it in a creative way — and with pride!
Enjoy What You Have
Going through cancer treatments and losing your hair is a drastic and stressful time, so embrace the joy of being on the other side of it — even if your hair is different or grows exceptionally slow.
No matter the color, no matter how curly or straight, when it comes to your hair, Ouidad says: "Celebrate that it's back!"