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Chemotherapy - New hair growth

Following chemotherapy hair nearly always grows back. It may be a different in texture, colour, and amount or it may be just the same as it was.

The great thing is that it is your new hair and a time to plan a new style. The advice that follows will take you through all of the commonly asked questions and help you to make a plan for your new hair.

Other ladies show you their new hair and share stories and information on our Talking Heads TV videos MORE>



At what speed does new hair grow ?

The growth rate of hair can vary a great deal. The average hair is meant to grow at approximately half an inch (1.25centimetres) a month. It’s important to remember that following chemotherapy the hair nearly always grows back but it can take a while.

For most people, once treatment has finished the first new hairs can peek through quite quickly, usually this means that a light smattering of new hair is visible within two to three weeks. Following treatment your body may be run down and depleted of nutrients this can be part of the reason why it takes a little longer than normal to grow.

The hair growth often returns to a quicker and more stable rate once the body has recovered and regenerated. This may feel frustrating but there are plenty of ways to enhance your short hair until it reaches the length you like.

Some people may notice that their hair starts to grow back before treatment has ended. Either way, the new hair growth may be a bit patchy and uneven to begin with.

Often the slowest growing areas are around the hair line at the front of the head, nape of the neck, and the crown area. Everyone should find that normally after 2 – 3 months a covering of hair will be visible and so a very short crops style will start to evolve. In my experience, on average, it takes around 5 – 8 months before the hair is long enough to have a short textured style, but hair does grow at different rates and I have given people their first hair cut (a few snips) after just 3 months.

We will talk you through lots of ways that you can support your new hair growth and give you styling ideas and tips.

How long does my hair need to be before I can have it cut?

There is no rule as to when you can cut your hair - it all depends on the condition of your hair and what style you are aiming for. It is an entirely personal decision. You are best advised to have a chat with a hairdresser who can help you plan your new style and pencil in a time for a trim.

Quite often hair grows at different rates so you may want to trim one area and not another. For example, many people find that there are longer sprouts of hairs that they want to snip at, in particular on the area around the ears and hair line.

These areas commonly need a trim before the rest and it is fine to do so. Some people snip at the odd long hair themselves– there are no rules here so feel free to snip at those annoying sprouts!

It is a myth that cutting hair makes it grow more quickly. The important thing is that your hair is free of split-ends and not too dry or brittle as this may result in the hair breaking and so will appear to be making the hair grow less quickly.This is why people often say “A good hair cut will make your hair grow quicker”.

Some people decide they want to grow their hair as long as possible and as long as your hair feels healthy then that is just fine. If your hair feels dry then I would recommend that after a few inches of hair appear that you have the bare ends trimmed (even just a few mm) to take off those dry bits.

How can I find a good hairdresser?

That first hair cut may just be a few snips here and there, but it is something that most people will never forget and makes all the difference even to very short hair. It is amazing what can be done with just a few centimetres of hair, adding texture and creating a shape.

Finding a caring and professional hairdresser that can advise you on styles and make you feel comfortable is very important. You may wish to have someone visit you at home, or maybe you are ready to visit a salon. Take a look at our guide in FIND A HAIRDRESSING SERVICE section.


Jaya pictured here says "As you can see my long hair did come back I must admit I coloured it very soon – looks natural hey?”

Will my hair be a different colour and texture then before?

Again there is no rule of thumb here. Sometimes after treatment hair growth can be altered so your hair may be a different texture then before. But equally it may be just the same as before. Jaya here found that her new hair was curly to begin with. Then as the hair grew longer the curls stayed but were softer and more sleek.

Texture refers to the shape and feel of our hair. For example: straight, curly, thick , fine, dry, and so on. You may find that the texture has altered.

For example, if  you used to have straight hair and now it is curly. After some time you may find that the hair reverts to a more familiar texture.

Quite often after chemotherapy the body is depleted of key nutrients. Once your body has time to regenerate so too does the hair and it normally becomes a more stable and the texture is established. In our experience after a period of 12 to 18 months the hair's growth pattern is much more stable and thus the texture settles.

Our hair growth pattern, texture, and colour is determined by a combination of factors - genetic make up (hereditary), nutritional intake, wellbeing, how we take care of our scalp and hair - and in your case the after-effects of treatment.

If you are aware of any hereditary or genetic hair growth patterns such as a widow’s peak, double crown, etc…then these tend to be the same as before. So in other words if you had a double crown then it is likely that you will still have this “genetic” pattern.

When it comes to the amount of hair, how thick or fine your hair is, and how much of it you have, this varies. Some people say the hair is similar to before treatment and others completely different. It is said that the average person has around 120,000 hairs on their head, but amounts of hair vary from person to person.

Whatever your new texture, we will give you lots of ideas how to manage it and create a style to suit you.

Is it true that most people will have curly hair when it grows back?

No it’s not true to say that most hair will be curly, but some people will have curly hair-growth.

As explained above, some people have straight hair before treatment and curly after, or vice versa. There is no way to predict what texture the new hair will be and it can take a while to see the new texture until it becomes established.

Remember that very short hair nearly always sticks up and appears frizzy or fly-away or it sticks up because of its short length. Once you have some length on your hair (a couple of inches or more) the hair will be at what I call “tip-over stage”, where you can shape and mould it more easily.


Will the colour be the same?

The colour may also be altered or it may be just the same as before, again this is unpredictable. This can be the result of an alteration to your normal hair growth and may adjust and change as your hair becomes more stable.

Generally speaking, as we get older the amount of hair colour (pigment) that is naturally produced reduces, thus hair appears grey or white. So if you already had grey or white hairs then it is highly likely that they will come back the same. For everyone, there is a possibility that hair may be a different colour.

It is quite common for people to say they notice more grey or white hairs within their new hair growth, this may be true, but it’s fair to say that many women colour their hair and so weren’t really sure how much grey they had. Another factor to take into consideration is that when hair is short it tends to stick up and so any greys and whites can appear more prominent.

You can colour your new hair and we will introduce you to some lovely hair colours that offer you more natural and organic ingredients. The good news is that you can have fun experimenting with new styles and colours as your hair grows.

When can I colour my new hair?

We have put together an advice section entirely about Colouring New Hair Growth. Generally speaking, as long as your hair and scalp are healthy, and you do a skin-sensitivity test for colour, there is no specific length required to apply all-over colour to the hair. However I would recommend that you allow at least an inch of hair to grow before colouring it, so that you can be sure that the hair is of a good quality.

Colouring hair is a great way to add some individuality to shorter styles but many people are very nervous about any possible damage to the new hair. There are plenty of clever techniques and natural colours to use both at home and at the salon. Natural henna, semi-permanent and permanent colours, coloured mousse and cover sticks are just a few ideas you might think of trying.

To find out if your hair is in a suitable condition to colour and for lots of helpful tips take a look at Colouring New Hair Growth



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