Protecting Your Head During Chemotherapy

If you're losing your hair from having chemotherapy for breast cancer, you'll need to protect your scalp from the sun. The skin on your head is just as vulnerable as the rest of your body to sunburn, freckles, and other damage. And while a well-crafted wig or a smartly-wound scarf are both great options for protecting your exposed noggin, sometimes a stylish hat is just the thing.

A really good hat can be pricey, though, and of course, you'll want at least several to get you through until your hair grows back in. Here are some ways to build up your headwear wardrobe without breaking the bank

Have a High Tea Hat Party

woman in doctor's office wearing a hat
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If you have a friend you feel comfortable throwing a few hints at, suggest (or just ask outright) that she host a tea or luncheon for your most supportive friends. The price of admission: a hat for you to wear until you finish chemo and your hair begins to grow out. Take lots of photos of you and your friends trying on the hats. After you no longer need them, donate them to a chemotherapy clinic.  

Find Chapeaus at Your Clinic

Many chemotherapy clinics, hospitals, and cancer support centers keep donated hats, caps, and scarves on hand that are free for patients to take. If you don't see a collection of donated headwear at the clinic where you receive treatment, ask one of the infusion nurses. The clinic social worker and even other patients may have some thoughts where you can find free hats.

Halos of Hope

Founded as a labor of love by Pamela Haschke, a survivor of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), Halos of Hope provides free hats for men, women, and children who are dealing with hair loss caused by chemotherapy. Haschke received handmade hats from friends and loved ones while she was having chemo and was so comforted by them she founded Halos of Hope after she finished treatment. The organization accepts donations of hats that are knit, crocheted, or made from cloth, then ships them to patients and clinics who need them. 

Check Out Look Good Feel Better

Visit Look Good Feel Better to find a workshop near you. This free service for women having chemotherapy or radiation treatment is staffed by volunteer cosmetologists. Services can vary depending on your location, but many workshops offer help with skin care, makeup, and head coverings. In addition to free hats, Look Good Feel Better chapters may offer free makeup kits, wigs, scarves, and sleep caps.

Wearing Your Hat Well

A hat will fit differently on a bald head than on one covered with hair. To prevent hats from slipping or blowing off, layer a snug cap or a cotton scarf against your scalp and under your hat. If you feel inclined, you can attach a partial hairpiece (a ponytail, for example) to a hat to make it look more natural. 

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Knots of Love. About us.

  2. Look Good Feel Better. Program finder.

  3. American Cancer Society, tlc. Hats.

By Pam Stephan
Pam Stephan is a breast cancer survivor.