What do I need to do to get ready for scalp cooling?
Questions such as 'Do I need to cut my hair before starting scalp cooling?', 'Can i colour my hair before scalp cooling starts?', 'Shall i buy a wig?' and 'What products shall I use during scalp cooling?' are very common. In this section we will help you to prepare in advance of scalp cooling. Taking some time to prepare for scalp cooling can help you to avoid unnecessary worry or changes in style that may not be needed.
In particular there is usually no need to cut hair short, you can normally have colour and may like to consider semi permanent make-up options, all of which need to be done prior to starting chemotherapy and scalp cooling.
- Can I get my cold cap fitted before treatment starts?
- What condition and style should my hair be in and should I cut my hair?
- Can I colour my hair before scalp cooling starts?
- Can I perm or relax my hair before scalp cooling?
- Can I have semi-permanent make-up or micro blading?
- What products and items do I need to have for scalp cooling?
- Shall I get a wig or headscarf?
Can I get my cold cap fitted before treatment starts?
It is ideal if your hospital or healthcare provider can offer you the opportunity to have a cap fitting prior to your first appointment. Not only does this give you the opportunity to take a look at the scalp cooling system but also to ask any questions. In our opinion it also reduces anxiety prior to your first treatment.
Take a look in our section Getting a good cap fit.
What condition and style should my hair be in and should I cut my hair?
In our experience many women are misinformed and cut their hair very short before scalp cooling thinking that they should prepare for hair loss. This is not necessary as the aim of scalp cooling is to minimise hair loss. It is also often more beneficial to have some layers or length of hair. This is because most people will experience some hair loss often resulting in areas that are thinner. Having some hair to ‘play’ with and adjust can help to cover other thin areas.
In our experience the best way to describe the most beneficial hairstyle for any hair type during scalp cooling is that you can keep your hair easily clean and tangle free.
It’s our recommendation that your hair is in the best condition possible prior to starting scalp cooling. A good way to measure this is to ensure that when your hair is shampooed you can glide a wide toothed comb or appropriate wet brush through (with conditioner) as easily as possible.
If you hair is dry at the ends or not easy to comb through consider having a trim to ensure best condition.
Below are some specific guidelines for different hair types/styles/conditions:
You need to remove hair extensions prior to starting treatment. Once removed ensure your hair is trimmed to remove dry ends.
Have any split or dry ends trimmed off so that you can glide a wide toothcomb through your hair during conditioning. Reducing tangles is very important during scalp cooling.
You can colour your hair prior to scalp cooling. Read Can I colour my hair before scalp cooling starts?
It is not recommended to perm or relax hair before treatment as these processes put additional stress on the hair. Read Can I perm or relax my hair before scalp cooling?
Depending on the length and condition of your hair you may like to trim off dry ends. If you are wearing extensions you will need to remove these. It’s not recommended to relax your hair prior to treatment.
There is nothing wrong with already having short hair prior to starting scalp cooling however, we don’t want people to think they ‘have to’ cut hair short unless they wish to.
It will be important to ensure that you get a good cap fit of the cold cap. If after attending a session to try on your cap you don’t get a good fit, you may like to have your hair layered or some of the bulk removed. However, as hair is likely to thin out, we would recommend that you concentrate on ensuring your hair is in the best condition possible before so that your hair is tangle free.
It is not necessarily to cut long hair short if your hair is in good condition. To ensure that your hair is in the best condition possible it is important to ensure that your hair is tangle free. If you hair is easy to comb through when conditioned with a wide toothed comb then this should be adequate. However, if your hair is not tangle free then cutting some of the length may be beneficial.
Can I colour my hair before scalp cooling starts?
As long as you are not experiencing any hair or scalp issues and you do a sensitivity test prior to colouring then colouring hair in advance of starting treatment should not be a problem. Take a look in our dedicated section Colouring hair for more information.
Can I perm or relax my hair before scalp cooling?
It is not recommended to perm or relax hair prior to starting scalp cooling. This is because these types of chemical processes can be very stressful for the hair and usually make the hair dryer then normal.
Can I have semi-permanent make-up or micro blading?
It is really important to point out that most doctors will not give approval for you having semi-permanent makeup during cancer treatment. This is due to any possible allergic reaction or cross infection following the procedure. Their concern is that in the event of a problem it could cause a delay to your treatment. However, many people have told us that they chose to have semi-permanent make-up before or after treatment without any issues.
Take a look in our dedicated section Semi-permanent make-up to discover more.
What products and items do I need to have for scalp cooling?
Your health care provider should provide you with a patient care leaflet or direct online information and guidance. These leaflets will be from your specific scalp cooling manufacturer. When it comes to hair care products these recommendations from your manufacturer are guidelines and suggestions.
There are no ‘must use’ products such as shampoos and conditioners. What manufacturers offer is a guideline and suggestions of what may be helpful. For example most manufacturers recommend using shampoos that are ‘sulphate’ and ‘fragrance free’. However this is a recommendation only.
You will not cause damage to your scalp or hair if you do use a product containing ‘sulphate’ or a ‘fragrance’. This recommendation is based on creating the best platform for the possibility of a sensitive scalp. Your scalp may become more sensitive the usual due to chemotherapy treatment. It’s really important to understand this because in our experience many people can be unnecessarily worried that they may be using the ‘wrong products’. What is important is to use products that are appropriate for your scalp and hair. The condition of your scalp and hair might change during treatment.
We have worked with hundreds of women trying and testing products that may be helpful and getting feedback from individuals, nurses and scalp cooling manufacturers to help offer you some guidance.
Most people plan to use something that is more suitable for a sensitive scalp and invest in fragrance free (or natural ingredients based) shampoo & conditioner, a wide tooth comb, a headband (to use as a forehead protector) and a hat.
Deciding on what products may be helpful can feel a little overwhelming. But help is at hand with our section Daily hair care and products tips for scalp cooling.
Shall I get a wig or headscarf?
At Cancer Hair Care we always recommend that people take some time to look at wigs and headwear such as specialist scarves and hats. This way you can feel open about other options.
It’s worth knowing that a good wig supplier (including all NHS suppliers) will let you attend a wig fitting without you feeling obliged to buy a wig. This way you can try on a wig and the supplier can take a note of your preferred options. If at a later stage you need a wig you will know that one is waiting for you.
If you will be traveling home from a hospital with wet hair – after treatment, it is worth investing in a hat of some sort (this does not need to be a specialist hat) to keep your head warm on the way home.
Take a look in our guides:
How should I prepare my hair for my first scalp cooling treatment?
You will need to prepare yourself both emotionally and practically for your first chemotherapy and scalp cooling treatment.
Many women tell us that they would really like to share with other women how the very first treatment, in that everything is new coupled with the natural anxiety of starting treatment, is tough to get through. In terms of scalp cooling, they say don’t judge scalp cooling based on your first session. This is because they feed back that, on the second treatment, everything is more familiar.
In terms of preparing your hair, generally speaking, your hair will need to be clean and tangle free. Some hospitals and healthcare providers may ask you to prepare your own hair prior to scalp cooling treatment, other providers might prepare your hair for you.
Take a look at our guides:
How do I care for my hair during treatment?
You will need to be very gentle with your hair for the duration of your scalp cooling and chemotherapy regime.
Take a look in at our guides
Preparing hair - scalp cooling day of treatment
Daily hair care - scalp cooling
Washing and conditioning - scalp cooling
Drying and styling - scalp cooling
Colouring hair - do’s and don’ts
Visiting a hairdresser during scalp cooling
Thinning hair & trouble shooting - scalp cooling
Next planned review: February 2020