Patient Blogs | Breast Cancer
A Beautiful Wig Can Make All the Difference: How It Changed My Breast Cancer Journey
photo of young woman with curly hair in wig shop

A quality wig can truly fix your self-esteem if you’re losing your hair to cancer treatment(s). I am a living testimony to the effects of hair loss during treatment. As a salon owner, I have spent my career caring for clients' hair and keeping it healthy. When I started my breast cancer journey with chemotherapy, there was nothing I could do to keep the hair from literally melting off my head.

A woman's hair is truly her crown and glory and losing that can be the difference in her self-esteem and self-confidence. When it comes to hair loss, wigs, and extensions have always been a staple when it comes to changing your style, whether it's for protective styles, medical reasons,  or just experimenting with new hair color, textures, or lengths. I’ll never forget the first wig I chose. It was auburn in color and had a cute pixie cut. I never wore color before and realized what I’d been missing. I looked amazing in it, and it totally changed how I wore lip and blush colors, even my attire was enhanced with this new look. 

Selecting the right wig will make all the difference in feeling normal and getting back your beauty. Start looking for wigs that you can wear and feel comfortable in. There are varieties of ready-made and made-to-order wigs to choose from through online wig sites, beauty supply stores, wig salons, wig banks, as well as foundations that provide donated wigs 

Start the process of finding the right wig before treatment begins. Match your color, texture, wave pattern, length, or just consider a totally different look. The process is all a part of experimenting with new hairstyles. It can really be a great experience trying on different looks that flatter your face structure to give you a total transformation and a beautiful hair style. 

Wigs can differ in style, comfort, price, and maintenance. Some of the most beautiful wigs can be synthetic and very affordable. A human hair wig can look more natural than a synthetic wig, and they are more costly because they generally require more maintenance. I found that pricing differs depending where you choose to purchase your wig -- ranging from $30 upward to $1,500. 

For me, the selection of my wig was easy. I spent under $50, I didn't want to spend a lot of money on my wig, and I wanted to be sure I would like it. It had to also feel good on my scalp and easy to wear. Because the loss of my hair gave me an opportunity to change my look often, I bought four different wigs in color, length, and texture and had one for different occasions.  I also wore my head bald too and I felt empowered.  The times I didn't wear my wig, skull caps, scarves, and caps were so much fun to wear and they kept my head warm, too.  Once chemo was over and my hair started to grow back after about 6 months, I didn't wear wigs after that. It grew back curly, soft, and beautiful.

Search out foundations that provide wigs, complimentary wigs, and salon services. Once you have found one that you like, I suggest taking your wig to a professional to help with fitting, styling, and shaping. The best fit will be after you have lost your hair to chemo treatment. The best tools to use are vent brushes and picks for curly styles and wire brushes for straight styles. 

If you are fairly active and work out regularly, it is suggested that the cleaning of your wig can be done every 2 or 3 weeks, otherwise generally every 6 to 8 weeks is sufficient. Avoid using adhesives and tapes while in treatment and thereafter, as they can smother your natural hair growth. 

I pampered my scalp with baby shampoo or I would use the cooling effect of Sea Breeze astringent for daily cleansing, then to keep my scalp from being dry, I would treat my scalp with Olive Oil Creme moisturizer, which kept my scalp soft and supple, just as I would lotions on my body to stay hydrated. 

Remember when shampooing, be careful not to irritate the scalp with too many manipulations so as not to make your scalp more sensitive than it already is.

If wearing a wig is irritating to your sensitive scalp or is just not for you, try selecting beautiful scarves, turban, or hats to cover your scalp and aid in keeping your head warm during the cooler months. Remember, your wig will only be temporary. Once you are done with chemotherapy, the hair starts to grow back!  


To connect with other breast cancer survivors, join our Breast Cancer Facebook Support Group




Photo Credit: VEAM Visuals / Moment via Getty Images

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Venita Graves

Venita Graves

Diagnosed since 2003

Venita Graves is a Houston salon owner/stylist of 30 years. She was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in 2003 after she found a lump during a self-exam. Understanding the effects cancer can have on a woman's body, especially their hair, she began a new journey with Beauty Beyond Breast Cancer. Her life's work has been grounded in making sure women have access to free wigs that give them beauty beyond their diagnosis. You can follow her on Twitter.