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My vanity is showing - any thoughts on coloring hair while on chemo?

traci43's picture
traci43
Posts: 411
Joined: Jul 2007

I've just started Xeloda, Oxilaplatin, and avastin for stage IV colon cancer (1st recurrance). I really don't want to go a year like I did on the first go round without coloring my hair as the regrowth is nasty! I thought maybe the semi-permanent color that washes out would be okay. I guess I should just be thankful that I won't lose my hair while on chemo, but I don;t want the ugly regrowth either. Traci

cahalstead
Posts: 119
Joined: Jan 2007

I wouldn't and didn't put any color on my hair. I was just too thankful to have my hair and wasn't about to take a chance on damaging what I had. I had thinning but not complete loss. I guess hair color was the least of my concerns. I even changed the frequency of washing my hair. I went from daily to every other day.

I guess everyone is different and has to go with their own instincts.

traci43's picture
traci43
Posts: 411
Joined: Jul 2007

first round for me, I felt like you did. Now I'm feeling more like Cheryl. We'll see how it goes. Traci

pamness
Posts: 511
Joined: Nov 2007

I was diagnosed 3A - with surgery, folfox and radiation with 5FU - I asked my nurse practioner and my colorist - they both felt that highlighting would not be a problem. It was one of the few things I did for myself to make me feel less of a mess.

It caused me no problems. But, I know everyone is different. You might ask your colorist and/or your nurse practitioner and see what they have to say. I found it gave me a mental boost.

Pam

traci43's picture
traci43
Posts: 411
Joined: Jul 2007

Pam - I only started coloring the base a few years ago because of the gery. Previously, it was just highlights. I'll talk to my stylist and ask her about Aveda color vs. just highlights. My MD is a guy and USELESS for this! His response is No one's ever asked me that before. Like I'm the only vain woman undergoing chemo. Thank goodness for the Look good, feel better program. That's where I got my information. Traci

kimby's picture
kimby
Posts: 804
Joined: Oct 2007

Last year on Folfox I colored my hair regularly. My hair thinned but the regrowth was awful! It made me feel so much better. This year on folfiri I lost my hair. Even better! No regrowth...lol. Bald is better for me than the regrowth without coloring would have been. Good Luck and ymmv.

Kimby

traci43's picture
traci43
Posts: 411
Joined: Jul 2007

Kimby - Thanks for the tips. It's good to know it won't ruin my hair. Sorry to hear you lost yours this round, hope you're having a good time experimenting with wigs, that could be fun.

What does ymmv mean? I'm not too good with the acronyms. Traci

CherylHutch's picture
CherylHutch
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

I was also told not to colour my hair because the chemicals of the hair colour, combined with the chemo (which does get into the hair shaft) can cause a bad reaction such as breakage, drying, damaging, frizz... your basic "OMG, what happened to my hair???" ;)

So, I bit the bullet and didn't colour my hair for the 7 months of the 8 months I was on chemo. After the first 8 weeks, I was climbing the walls! I had never let my roots get that long, hence I really had no idea what my "natural" colour was... what a shock to find out!! LOL!! It was a total mousey brown/blond/beige with two huge gray streaks in the middle of my head going from the middle part straight down, not to mention gray at the sides. I would look at this every morning as I tried to compensate by throwing some makeup on. All that did was make me look like someone who only half attempted to make herself look civilized. I totally looked like one of those women who you think to yourself, "Poor gal! If she'd only throw some colour in her hair she wouldn't look like such a matronly bag lady!!" :)

I tried to tell myself that if the worst of the treatments was I'd look like a bag lady for the length of the treatments, then I'm not doing so bad and what a pleasant surprise I will be when it's all over and I can start colouring my hair again ;) But, I honestly was climbing the walls every time I saw myself in the mirror!!

A friend of mine, who is a hairstylist, told me I should go and talk to an Aveda hair colourist and see what he/she would have to say and if there's anything they can suggest. Aveda is a product that is 98% chemical free and made from natural plant products. It is NOT all that cheap and as the technician explained to me, everyone is different and their hair reacts differently to chemo, not to mention, there are so many different kinds of chemo out there, so there's no way to know how anyone who is on chemo is going to react to any hair product.

I thought, "What the heck! The worst thing that can happen is the product damages my hair and if it's that bad, if I shave my head, no one will be surprised since they all know I'm going through chemo." So I had Jodi do my hair and he was sooooo wonderful! I got the full, pampering treatment... the colouring as well as a trim, hand massage, neck massage and just a basic couple of hours of solid pampering. It was worth EVERY SINGLE PENNY!! My hair LOVED the product, took to the colour and no damage whatsoever. I only wish someone had told me about Aveda products earlier in my chemo journey :) I highly recommend these hair products to anyone (not just those on chemo who are looking). Obviously, I can't guarantee everyone will have the same wonderful experience as I did because we all are on slightly different chemo plans and we all have different side affects from the chemo.

But, for what it's worth, Aveda was definitely worth the extra expense and and care the technicians take with you when they know you are undergoing chemo. I would NOT recommend anyone try the drugstore, off the shelf products... but then, I wouldn't recommend them for non-chemo users either :)

Hugggggggs,

Cheryl

VickiCO's picture
VickiCO
Posts: 934
Joined: Oct 2008

Yes, Cheryl, I agree. I go to an Aveda colorist (did before chemo as well) and she is wonderful. It is definitely worth the extra dollars..and the pampering at the spa is fantastic. When I show up, they have a manicurist work on my hands (I can't do acrylic nails while on chemo - too much chance of bacteria) with warm wax and buffing. I think it helps my neuropathy. AND - they won't let me pay for that part! I love these girls...they all call me "Mom" and call to check up on me as well. Last time I treated myself to a pedicure as well....HEAVEN! My docs left it up to me. I know they would have preferred that I didn't color, but as my oncologist said "If it makes you feel good, why not?"

Vicki

traci43's picture
traci43
Posts: 411
Joined: Jul 2007

You had me LOL! What a great attitude, I was too scared of losing my hair to try it last time, but this time I'm thinking what the heck! I think I'll try Aveda since it's so natural. Your comments about your experience with hair regrowth mirror mine. I was horrified to see the "true" color of my hair. Yikes! Thanks for the excellent advice. Traci

krystiesq's picture
krystiesq
Posts: 242
Joined: Jun 2008

My mom was on folfox + avastin last year and she colored her hair regularly. We went to the hair stylist together, it was a fun time for us. It didn't bother her at all. This year she lost all of her hair due to folfiri.

traci43's picture
traci43
Posts: 411
Joined: Jul 2007

My Mom, sister and I get our toes done regularly, that's our fun time together. Glad to hear you Mom had no problems last year (with the color). I'm sorry she lost her hair this time. I hope she's been experimenting with different wigs, I think that would be fun to try out new looks. Traci

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

But of course, we DO care! I lost my hair due to FOLFIRI as well, and when it grew back in I just said what the heck! It's hair! But I finally decided to color and was very glad. The first coloring didn't come out quite as expected, and I remember that happening the first time I colored after chemo the last time; probably residual chemo. But, I just waited a few days and colored again with no problems. It made my hair more glossy not to mention it wasn't "grey" anymore! I find that most of my regrowth now comes in white! I color from the store, too, so you don't have to go to a professional colorist for good results! I read somewhere that coloring can cause the new growth to fall out but that's hogwash from what I can tell! I haven't found a SINGLE person who colored with bad results!
mary

traci43's picture
traci43
Posts: 411
Joined: Jul 2007

So reassuring to know that others have had good results. Too bad you lost your hair on folfiri, but glad to know it's coming back. Take care, Traci

lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3663
Joined: Jul 2008

Hi, I've colored my hair twice while on chemo- no problems! It did make it drier than normal, but I still was glad I did it. While I felt like I looked like crap a lot of the time, it was sure a pick-me-up to make my hair look better. At first, I wasn't sure if I was going to even have any hair, but when I didn't lose it, I decided "what the heck". Since I had no problem the first time in chemo (folfox and avastin- the same as you), I wasn't sure how'd I'd do on Folfiri. I'm fortunate to not have lost it again, so I went ahead and had it colored at Thanksgiving- no problems this time either.

You do what you need to do for yourself! (just be sure the hairdresser knows your situation and does what she can to go easy on it).
Lisa

traci43's picture
traci43
Posts: 411
Joined: Jul 2007

Thanks Lisa for the advice. I think maybe a good conditioning treatment along with the color would help. I'm definitely leaning towards trying it. Traci

KierstenRx's picture
KierstenRx
Posts: 249
Joined: Nov 2006

The hair color issue is so close to my heart. I decided not to color my hair and had it matched close to my natural color before starting chemo. I was also very happy to keep my hair, but it thinned dramatically during treatment (folfox and avastin) and I cut it quite short. My hair was quite dry, but if I had to do all over again I probably would have put a few highlights in just to jazz things up a bit.

Now over two years after diagnosis I have the most amazing hair ever!!! My hair was always very fine and thin, but it is so thick (for me) and healthy now. I am actually growing it out past my shoulders for the first time in my life. I get compliments on it all the time. It is a few shades darker now (was a blonde until my early 20's) and I keep it pretty natural with highlights. Talk to your hairstylist to see if there is something fairly mild she can use. My oncologist never told me I couldn't color my hair, but I didn't want to risk further damage to it.

Kiersten

traci43's picture
traci43
Posts: 411
Joined: Jul 2007

I love your hair cut and color. I wish my hair regrowth was thicker as I too have thin hair. Oh well, at least it's healthy. Thanks for the advice. Traci

traci43's picture
traci43
Posts: 411
Joined: Jul 2007

It's great to know I'm not the only person out there wanting to look normal and hating the regrowth, especially the grey ;) Frankly, I've been coloring so long I had no idea what my natural color is, now I know and it isn't pretty - dirty blond with lots of grey! Especially around my face, ughh.

My first go around with chemo (FOLFOX)I was very conservative - no color, washing every other day and no blow drying. My hair looked and felt great.

This go around, I'm a bit more rebellious and want to color so I think I will take your excellent advice and talk to my stylist about Aveda products. I know she doesn't use them, but I'll see what she thinks. It may be worth it to get my color at an Aveda salon but continue going to her for the cut, I'll have to see.

Anyway, you ladies are great! Enjoy your day. Traci

lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3663
Joined: Jul 2008

I just reread everyone's posts here and am calling my hair stylist right now to see if she can possibly fit me in today or tomorrow! I've done the color before, but now , my hair's looking pretty mousy again- I could use a few highlights around my face, and the cut needs some shaping too- my hair is still there but it's thinned on the sides and the nice cut I had before definitely needs something. That, combined with the stupid rash I have on my face, really makes me in want of a pick-me-up.
Thanks everyone!
Lisa

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