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Many companies produce shampoos and conditioners for people undergoing chemotherapy. These products may strengthen the hair, make it appear fuller, and add moisture.

This article discusses how chemotherapy affects the hair and how to choose hair products during chemotherapy. It also explores a range of shampoos and conditioners and provides tips on how to manage hair loss.

A quick look at 9 of the best shampoos and conditioners for chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that can cause hair loss or hair thinning. It can affect the eyebrows, eyelashes, pubic hair, and leg hair, as well as the hair on the head. However, not all chemotherapy causes hair loss. Some chemotherapy medication has no effect whatsoever on the hair.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), hair loss may occur because chemotherapy damages cells that are dividing rapidly, including both cancer and hair follicle cells.

The ACS also states that some individuals may start to lose their hair within a few weeks of starting their treatment. If hair loss occurs, it usually becomes more visible 1–2 months after starting chemotherapy.

Some breast cancer medications that can cause the hair to fall out include:

  • paclitaxel (Taxol)
  • doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
  • epirubicin (Ellence)
  • cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)

Learn more about when hair grows back after chemotherapy.

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Price: The selected products suit a variety of budgets.
  • Suitability: The products are suitable for different hair types.
  • Design: Manufacturers have designed these products to strengthen the hair and reduce the likelihood of it breaking.

Below, we provide more information about nine of the best hair products to use during chemotherapy that are available to purchase online.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

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Best for a caffeine shampoo: Davines Energizing Shampoo

  • List price: about $34
  • Hair and scalp type: dry, thinning, and breakage-prone hair
  • Fragrance-free: no
  • Bottle size: 8.45 fluid ounces (fl oz)
  • Pros: does not contain parabens or sulfates and may stimulate hair growth
  • Cons: dries the hair, according to some reviews

According to the manufacturer, this shampoo is for individuals who have thinning and breakage-prone hair. One of its ingredients is caffeine, which the company claims can help increase circulation and improve hair elasticity. A 2017 study found that caffeine significantly stimulates hair follicle growth.

In addition, Davines suggests that the shampoo prevents weak hair from breaking.

This shampoo contains:

  • caffeine
  • peppermint oil
  • eucalyptus leaf oil
  • citric acid

This product does not contain parabens or sulfates.

Best for all hair types: Davines OI Shampoo

  • List price: about $36
  • Hair and scalp type: all hair types
  • Fragrance-free: no
  • Bottle size: 9.47 fl oz
  • Pros: contains vitamin E and is paraben-free
  • Cons: may dry out the hair

According to the manufacturer, this shampoo is suitable for all hair types. The company also manufactures an OI conditioner.

This shampoo contains:

It is also sulfate- and paraben-free.

Best for curly hair: Mielle Organics Babassu Conditioning Shampoo

  • List price: $12.99
  • Hair and scalp type: dry and curly hair
  • Fragrance-free: no
  • Bottle size: 8 fl oz
  • Pros: may help strengthen and soften the hair
  • Cons: may be too heavy for people with straight hair

According to the manufacturer, this sulfate-free shampoo acts as a gentle hair cleanser. Supposedly, the product does not strip natural oils and is best for natural hair types 3A to 4C.

Its formulation includes:

Mielle Organics states that these ingredients help soften and strengthen the hair. The company also says that all of its ingredients are organic.

Best for an oil: Alikay Naturals Essential 17 Growth Oil

  • List price: $18.99
  • Hair and scalp type: itchy scalp
  • Fragrance-free: no added fragrances
  • Bottle size: 8 fl oz
  • Pros: may help reduce itching and stimulate hair growth
  • Cons: possible irritation to the scalp from the essential oils

Alikay Naturals claims that this hair oil promotes hair growth. Some people may find it more suitable to use after completing chemotherapy treatment.

The ingredients in this product include:

  • tea tree oil, which is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory
  • rosemary oil
  • horsetail powder, which may reduce hair loss and dandruff

The company suggests that the oil strengthens the hair follicles to help stimulate hair growth. People may notice that this oil reduces their dandruff and scalp irritation, making it suitable for those with dry or itchy scalps.

Best for a leave-in lotion: Oyin Handmade Hair Dew

  • List price: from $13.99
  • Hair and scalp type: dry hair
  • Fragrance-free: no
  • Bottle size: 8 fl oz
  • Pros: available in a variety of sizes
  • Cons: may not be suitable for finer, straight hair

The product is a leave-in lotion that conditions the hair. The company claims that a person can use the lotion to add moisture to their “kinks, coils, and curls” to prevent dryness and breakage.

According to the manufacturer, the product is lightweight, and individuals can use it every day, as it does not weigh the hair down.

Key ingredients include:

Best for a no-added-fragrance shampoo: Jupiter Balancing Shampoo

  • List price: $24
  • Hair and scalp type: all types, including an itchy and dry scalp
  • Fragrance-free: no added fragrances
  • Bottle size: 9.5 fl oz
  • Pros: may help reduce itchiness and dry scalp
  • Cons: not suitable for those with an allergy to coconut

This shampoo contains zinc pyrithione, which has antifungal properties and may help alleviate dryness and itching of the scalp.

The company states that the shampoo removes skin flakes and buildup while calming and moisturizing with essential oils. The ingredients include:

  • zinc pyrithione
  • coconut oil
  • squalene
  • sugar kelp extract

This product is also cruelty-free.

Best for wig cleaning: TPH By Taraji Master Cleanse

  • List price: $14.97
  • Hair and scalp type: dry and curly hair
  • Fragrance-free: no
  • Bottle size: 8 fl oz
  • Pros: suitable for use on wigs, as well as natural hair
  • Cons: product is too watery and dries out the hair, some reviews suggest

This shampoo comes in a bottle with a three-pronged head to help spread the product through the hair. The company states that this product can help reduce dandruff and ease itching.

Additionally, this shampoo is suitable for both wigs and natural hair. Its ingredients include:

Best for a daily conditioner: Acure Daily Workout Blood Orange and Watermelon Conditioner

  • List price: $9.99
  • Hair and scalp type: dry hair
  • Fragrance-free: no
  • Bottle size: 8 fl oz
  • Pros: an affordable option and suitable for daily use
  • Cons: may not moisturize the hair enough

This conditioner may be particularly beneficial to those who wash their hair every day, work out often, or have oily hair.

This product’s ingredients include:

Additionally, the conditioner is free from parabens, mineral oil, animal products, sulfates, and petroleum, which may benefit those with more sensitive scalps.

Best for a more eco-friendly conditioner: Ethique Wonderbar

  • List price: $17.99
  • Hair and scalp type: normal and oily hair
  • Fragrance-free: no
  • Bottle size: 2.12 oz
  • Pros: uses minimal ingredients and has a long shelf life
  • Cons: can make the scalp itchy and dry, according to some reviews

The company claims that one bar of conditioner is equivalent to five conditioner bottles, lasting for up to 80 uses. It is suitable for normal and oily hair, and people may also use it as an in-shower moisturizer for sensitive skin.

This conditioner has a shelf-life of up to 5 months and is suitable for color-treated or damaged hair. The ingredients include:

  • hydrogenated castor oil
  • coconut oil
  • cocoa seed butter

The company states that this product is free from palm oil and aluminum. Each bar comes in a recyclable and compostable box.

The following table compares the products in this article.

TypeList price Bottle sizeHair type
Davines Energizingshampooabout $34 8.45 fl ozdry, thinning, and breakage-prone hair
Davines OIshampooabout $369.47 fl oz all hair types
Mielle Organicsshampoo$12.998 fl ozdry and curly hair
Alikayoil$18.998 fl ozitchy scalp
Oyinleave-in conditionerfrom $13.998 fl ozdry hair
Jupitershampoo$249.5 fl ozall hair types
TPHshampoo$14.978 fl ozdry and curly hair
Acure Dailyconditioner$9.998 fl ozdry hair
Ethiqueconditioner bar$17.992.12 oznormal and oily hair

A person undergoing chemotherapy may wish to consider the following when choosing what shampoo and conditioner to purchase:

  • Ingredients: It is best to check the ingredients present in the formula and choose products that are gentle on the scalp. Many brands offer hair products that come without fragrances, sulfates, or parabens. These may be more suitable for people with a sensitive scalp.
  • Hair type: A person should choose a hair product that best suits their hair type. Some products work better on dry hair, whereas others are more effective on hair with a high chance of breaking.
  • Price: Cancer treatment can be costly, and individuals should consider their budget when choosing a product.

The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center provides tips to help people take care of their hair during chemotherapy. They suggest that people try:

  • covering their head during summer
  • washing and conditioning their hair every 2–4 days
  • brushing their hair gently with a soft-bristled brush or comb
  • wearing a hat, scarf, or wig to keep their head warm in winter
  • using a soft towel to pat their hair dry

Some tools and styles can be harsh, as they pull on the hair. As a result, there are some things that it is best for a person receiving chemotherapy to avoid, including:

  • straightening their hair
  • putting their hair in braids or a ponytail
  • using hair ties, bobby pins, and barrettes

The ACS states that people looking to buy a wig may wish to consider choosing a synthetic one rather than one made with human hair. These may be more affordable and require less maintenance.

Breastcancer.org suggests that although hair loss can be challenging, people may find a sense of fun and control by experimenting with new looks and embracing having very short or no hair.

Learn more about choosing a wig for chemotherapy.

Below are the answers to some common questions about hair products for those undergoing chemotherapy.

How can I strengthen my hair during chemotherapy?

The United Kingdom’s Macmillan Cancer Support states that there are various ways that people can help strengthen their hair while undergoing chemotherapy. These include:

  • washing the hair with a non-medicated shampoo to remove tangles
  • avoiding hair dyes, bleach, hairdryers, and curling irons
  • combing wet hair with a wide-toothed comb
  • wearing a hair net in bed to collect loose hair

A person may also wish to speak with a doctor for advice.

What is the best shampoo for hair regrowth after chemotherapy?

According to Breastcancer.org, there are shampoos for thinning hair that people can use to manage mild to moderate hair loss. Volumizing shampoos may also help make the hair look fuller.

A person may also consider asking a doctor about shampoos for hair regrowth.

What should I use on my scalp during chemotherapy?

Cancer Research UK states that individuals with cancer can cover their heads with a wig and use sticky pads to keep the wig secure. However, this may not be the best option, especially in summer, as wigs can feel hot and itchy.

People may also opt for hats, scarves, or baseball caps.

Another option is using cold caps, which are devices that provide scalp cooling. Wearing a cold cap lowers the temperature of the scalp, which also reduces blood flow.

Does hair return to its previous state after chemotherapy?

Breastcancer.org states that people may notice that their hair initially looks and feels different than how it was before.

However, it also states that if the hair does not grow back or grows back thinner after the treatment, it is best to see a dermatologist. This is because other conditions may be causing hair thinning or loss, such as a thyroid disorder or stress.

Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that can cause hair thinning or hair loss.

Various shampoos and conditioners are suitable for people receiving cancer treatment. These may help protect the hair and scalp. A person should avoid using hair dryers, hair dyes, or hair ties, as these can be harsh on the scalp.

People may also wish to speak with a doctor about what types of hair products to use during chemotherapy.