6 Ways to Prepare for Hair Loss During Chemotherapy

Not all chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss, but if you know your planned chemotherapy drug will cause hair loss, there are things you can do to prepare. Preparing for it before treatment begins can help, especially because it's one less thing you need to do when you start treatment and may not be feeling like your best self.

Hair loss can be emotionally challenging, on top of the physical effects of cancer and chemotherapy. Early preparation can help with coping and adjusting to any changes.

Here are some tips that might be helpful when thinking about how to prepare for chemotherapy-induced hair loss.


Buy a Wig

Rob Atkins / Getty Images

If you plan on wearing a wig after you lose your hair to chemotherapy, try to buy one before your hair begins to fall out. Purchasing a wig before hair loss is ideal because it allows you to choose a wig that matches your hair color best, and you'll have it on hand when hair loss starts.

You may want to consider buying at least two wigs. That way, one can be worn while the other is being washed or styled. Many insurance companies will also cover the wig cost, so be sure to check with your provider before investing.


Cut Your Hair Before Treatment

A woman having her head shaved by a hairdresser
Linda Raymond / Getty Images

Many women choose to cut their hair short or shave their heads entirely before hair starts to fall out. It's a lot less shocking to have short clumps of hair fall out in the shower or in your hands, rather than a handful of long strands. Plus, hair tends to come out in uneven patches, and short hair can help temporarily mask this.

Best of all, short hair is in style.


Get Some Head Coverings

Hats for sale in an outside marketplace
Krzysztof Dydynski / Getty Images

Even if you buy a wig, you will need some type of head covering for when you are not wearing your wig, especially during chilly weather. Your scalp will most likely be sensitive when not covered, not to mention cold. Hats also provide excellent protect protection against the sun and wind when outdoors. If you're feeling crafty, you might even want to learn how to knit a hat.

You may also want to wrap your head with a scarf or a turban. Many techniques and fabrics are available that may add some color to your wardrobe and be a fun accessory.


Stock up on Sunscreen

Suntan lotion
Image Source / Getty Images

If you venture outdoors without covering your head after your hair has fallen out, you must wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn. An already-sensitive scalp, combined with a sunburn, can be extremely uncomfortable. Learn how to apply sunscreen properly—yes, there is a right way—and how to choose the best sunscreen for your skin.


See a Cosmetologist

False eyelashes
TEK IMAGE / Getty Images

Because chemotherapy can cause hair loss all over the body, some people consult with a cosmetologist about what to do when eyebrows and eyelashes are gone. A lesson with an experienced cosmetologist will teach you how to pencil in eyebrows and apply false eyelashes.


Find a Support Group

Breast cancer group therapy meeting
Steve Debenport / Getty Images

Most people are not as emotionally prepared to lose their hair as they thought before chemotherapy. This is why having someone to turn to who has experienced chemotherapy-induced hair loss is helpful. Support groups for those undergoing chemotherapy are ideal places to learn how to cope with hair loss during chemotherapy.


If it's likely that you'll lose your hair during chemotherapy, this can be a big change, both emotionally and physically. Preparing for hair loss can help you steel yourself emotionally and also get ready on a practical level for protecting your head from the elements and figuring out what you want to do, appearance-wise. There are many options to choose from, which can also be an empowering part of your cancer journey.

A Word From VeryWell

Hair loss isn't just physical; it's emotional and psychological. If you're having a challenging time adjusting, tell your treatment team. Find a counselor or a support group that can help you through this. This is no small thing, and your feelings are valid. Having social support and peers who know what you're going through can be helpful.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does your scalp hurt when losing hair from chemo?

    The scalp can become itchy, sensitive, or tender when the hair is falling out. If someone has a sensitive scalp to begin with, this might be experienced as a bit of scalp pain.

  • Will cutting your hair off in advance affect the new hair growth?

    No, it will not. Cutting hair does not affect the hair growth cycle.

4 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.  Sotelo Teague, C; Hutchison, M. Wigs. Breastcancer.org.

  2. Qi J, Garza LA. An overview of alopeciasCold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2014;4(3):a013615. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a013615

  3. Watanabe T, Yagata H, Saito M, et al. A multicenter survey of temporal changes in chemotherapy-induced hair loss in breast cancer patientsPLoS One. 2019;14(1):e0208118. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0208118

  4. Suwankhong D, Liamputtong P. Physical and Emotional Experiences of Chemotherapy: a Qualitative Study among Women with Breast Cancer in Southern ThailandAsian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2018;19(2):521–528. doi:10.22034/APJCP.2018.19.2.521

Additional Reading
  • "Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home: A Guide for Patients and Families." Treatment Topics and Resources. American Cancer Society.
Originally written by Lisa Fayed