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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 hair and tips to help a person choose hair products during chemotherapy. It also explores a range of shampoos and conditioners, tips people can follow to manage their hair loss, and frequently asked questions.

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

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

It also states that some individuals may lose all their hair within a few weeks of starting their treatment. If hair loss occurs, it usually becomes more visible one or two months after starting chemotherapy.

Breastcancer.org states that some breast cancer medications that can cause the hair to fall out include:

Learn more about when hair grows back after chemotherapy here.

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

  • 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 fragrance, sulfates, or parabens. These may be more suitable for sensitive scalps.
  • Hair type: A person should choose a hair product that best suits their hair type. Some products work better on dry hair, while others are more effective on hair with a high chance of breaking.
  • Price: Cancer treatment can be costly, and individuals should consider their budget while choosing a product.

The next section explores some of the best hair products for people going through chemotherapy in further detail.

How we choose products

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Price: Products will suit a variety of budgets.
  • Suitability: Products are suitable for different hair types.
  • Design: Manufacturers have designed products to strengthen hair and reduce its chance of breaking.

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.

Davines Energizing Shampoo

For a caffeine shampoo

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.

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

This product does not contain parabens or sulfates.

The price is around $32 on Amazon.

Davines OI Shampoo

For a variety of hair types

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

The shampoo contains:

It is also sulfate and paraben-free.

It costs around $35 on Amazon.

Mielle Organics Babassu Conditioning Shampoo

For curly hair

According to the manufacturer, this sulfate-free shampoo acts as a gentle hair cleanser. It also claims 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.

Prices start from around $15.95 on Amazon.

Alikay Naturals Essential 17 Growth Oil

For a hair growth oil

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

Ingredients in this product include:

The company suggests the oil strengthens the hair follicles to help stimulate hair growth. People may notice that this oil reduces their dandruff and scalp irritation.

This product costs $17.99.

Oyin Handmade Hair Dew

For a leave-in lotion

The product is a leave-in lotion that conditions hair. The company claims that a person can use the lotion to add moisture to their 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 curls down.

Key ingredients include castor oil and olive squalene.

Prices start at $13.99 for an 8-ounce bottle.

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

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

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 the hair in braids or ponytails
  • using hair ties, bobby pins, and barrettes

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

Breastcancer.org suggests that while 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 here.

Below are some common questions and answers 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 hairnet 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, tools that provide scalp cooling. A person wears a cold cap to lower the temperature of their 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 looks and feels different at first from 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.