How to Get Free Headgear During Chemotherapy

Wigs, Hats, Scarves, Caps, and More

When you're heading into chemotherapy for breast cancer, it's a good idea to prepare ahead for hair loss. Many of the drugs used to treat breast cancer result in complete hair loss, and gathering headgear before is occurs can help you avoid rushing at the last minute. Plus, you may not be feeling like you want to run out wig shopping during chemotherapy.

You may get help from your health insurance (as long as you have a prescription written by your oncologist for a head prosthesis) to pay for a wig, but if you don't, take heart. Here's how to get free wigs, hats, caps, and scarves during chemo for breast cancer. Save money and have fun with colors and styles until your hair comes back, and then donate your headgear for others to enjoy.


Wigs in store window
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Wearing a wig during cancer treatment provides great camouflage and insulation for heads left bare from the effects of chemotherapy. If you live in a colder climate, it's likely that you'll be surprised just how much insulation hair provides. A good wig can help you maintain an appearance of health and normalcy—valuable things when you don't feel that great.

Wigs can be expensive, and not everybody can afford a nice one. Why not look into these places that can help you get a free wig—then when you don't need it anymore, pass it on so others can enjoy it.

It's important to note that many insurance companies cover the cost of one wig during cancer treatment. In order for a wig to be covered, however, your oncologist will need to write a prescription not for a wig, but for a "cranial prosthesis."


Sun hat and sun glasses on a table
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For those days when a wig is just too hot, too much work, or takes too much time to style, a hat is a great alternative. On the other extreme from wigs in cold weather, many people in warmer climates will find a wig stifling at times, if not totally itchy.

Hats provide an island of personal shade when you need it—an oasis from the sun when you're photosensitive from chemotherapy. But nice hats can come with a hefty price tag unless you know of a great resale store, so why not get a free hat? Better yet, get a couple of free hats to boost your style during cancer treatment.

Breast Friends Hat Project is another organization offering free hats for women with breast cancer going through chemotherapy. Started by a woman diagnosed with stage II breast cancer, funding is in place to cover free hats for breast cancer warriors through at least 2019.

When you are done with treatment and your hair grows back, consider your donating your hat to reduce the cost for another facing chemotherapy.


Stack of knit hats
Christine Lauritzen / EyeEm / Getty Images

Caps will stay put, and unlike a brimmed hat, they won't betray you by blowing off on a windy day. A good, snug, soft cap helps you sleep in a cool room, keeps your head covered in public, and tops off your outfit with color. Caps can be used to anchor a hat or scarf on a bald scalp. 

You can find inexpensive caps on sale or at resale stores, but free caps are available, too. It's easy to find inexpensive and free caps if you know where to look.


Woman sitting on a couch wearing a headwrap
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France Luxe offers a choice of 54 free scarves through their Good Wishes program. CEO Laurie Erickson created the complimentary scarf or headwrap program when a customer in chemotherapy asked what they had for women who were temporarily hair-free. Erickson designed these elegant scarves from "soft and silky, hand-picked breathable fabrics." Each scarf has been shaped and elasticized to create a cap shape, from which stream two colorful bands of cloth. Valued between $72 and $94, you will feel pampered and beautiful in a free scarf from France Luxe. Call the company at 888-884-3653 or email Laurie Erickson to ask about a free scarf to wear during chemotherapy.

Completing Your Look

In addition to head coverings, there are many options for coping with hair loss. For example, many women aren't sure what to do when their eyebrow hairs fall out. The program Look Good Feel Better provides free consults for women going through cancer treatment as well as samples of cosmetics and more.

A Word From Verywell

If you're just starting chemotherapy, don't worry about making a decision as to whether you should wear a wig, scarf, or hat. Having at least one of each on hand ahead of time gives you options to try when the time comes. Many people with breast cancer alternate between these different head coverings depending on the weather, occasion, and whether they will be lounging at home or heading off to work.

While losing your hair can feel devastating (and the fact that you may not need to shave your legs for several months doesn't quite compensate), reframing your thoughts so that you view this is a time to experiment can be helpful. Who knows, you may decide you like a new look even after your hair returns.

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