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Why does hair come back darker after chemo?

Posts: 167
Joined: Apr 2011

Hi everyone,

Quick question: does anyone know the reason why hair can come back a different color after chemo?


sinee's picture
Posts: 197
Joined: May 2011

the answer to that one, but who cares as long as it comes back, mine came in all curly, so I am enjoying my new chemo perm....love to you. If you find out why, let us all know. Sinee

Posts: 148
Joined: Jun 2011

My post-chemo hair came in white! It's now getting darker, but some of what is coming in is permanently gray. I can't blame the gray on chemo, because I am at that age. It was also soft and fuzzy, and is gradually getting straighter and finer. I don't know whether it will get back to the way it was. My hairdresser says it will take nine months to get to its new normal. I don't know why that is, but I am glad to have something on my head, so I don't care what it looks like!

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

And it came back, ultimately, very dark brown with beautiful silver (different than grey before) hair. It went thru stages, first white, then golden, then finally dark.

My hairdresser (who is envious of my 'chemo-made highlights' *smile*) offered that maybe it was because the hair follicle, color included, got a jump start after chemo was over..a variation of those guy treatments where bald turns back to hair....

I also grew a light fuzz on my face and shoulders...not apparent by the eye, but the feel...sort of like a baby's down....

I'm happy...just testing for the right cut to show off my new head of hair....

Hugs, Kathi

mwallace1325's picture
Posts: 806
Joined: Apr 2009

Never questioned the why. Mine came back darker (probably my natural color, can't remember cause I colored it forever) with lots of silver grey, looks totally professionally done. One of my friends in fact asked me who'd done my hair and was really disappointed when I said it was color by chemo. I love that I have hair and probably would have been happy if I'd gotten ostrich feathers up there.


Posts: 3660
Joined: Aug 2009

I was so hoping that mine would not come back the same as it was but it did. I'm too old to not have grey hair. It's Daddy's fault though - his side of the family did not ever get grey or at leaast not until they were in thier 90's - Mom's side got grey VERY young. So at 65, I have hair that is as very dark brown (almost black but not) as it ever was. Strangers will tell me that I shouldn't dye my hair so dark, most don't believe me when I tell them it's natural, not dyed.


camul's picture
Posts: 2541
Joined: Dec 2010

went out white, came in white. I was hoping it would come in darker...

Posts: 167
Joined: Apr 2011

Thanks for all the responses! Im trying to figure out if there is a scientific basis for the claim that the hair comes in darker after chemo. The only thing I could think of was that light hair genes are recessive and if they are damaged during chemo the body must make use of different genes which are likely for darker hair. Im no doctor or scientist, but it just seemed plausible to me. I have about as recessive a hair gene as they come, light blond, and it appears that the hair is coming back the same color. Im only 29 and I have never colored my hair so can't comment on the grayness issue.

Again, thanks all for responding. I will keep trying to figure it out. Perhaps my MO can offer an explanation. Im just inquisitive!


SAvent's picture
Posts: 62
Joined: Nov 2013

From what I have read, researched and experienced personally it is your bodys "starting fresh" approach to hair.

Hair growth cells are some of the fastest moving and producing in the body. Chemo attacks those cells which is what stops the hair from growing. Once done with chemo the body starts to generate and use the cells again but for lack of a better term the cells dont remember from before. So they start fresh and get to work. As they start to do that the process may be a little slow, hair may grow different colors and or textures. Many peoples hair cells do start to "remember" after several monthes of being back to work. But some dont and continue to work in their differed capacity.

Here is a link I found that will explain it better than I can.



The color or texture wasnt a problem for me but I do have another issue. Has anyone experience a lack of growth in one area of your head? My hair started growing back immediately after chemo but the left back side of my head doesnt want to grow like the rest.. in that one area it seems to just stay short and the rest grows normally.

mamolady's picture
Posts: 796
Joined: May 2011

Mine came back darker but has since lightened up. I don't know why though. The curly has to do with the hair folicle but I don't remember the whole reason.


poplolly's picture
Posts: 346
Joined: Apr 2011

I would also like to know why it comes back curly. I tried drying mine to straighten it, and I still have this wispy pieces of hair standing out.


laughs_a_lot's picture
Posts: 1369
Joined: Mar 2011

Mine came back greyer than it was before chemo. Here is an interesting thought though. I think my hair took turns dying off. Some hair came back a bit longer and another hair right next to it felt like five o'clock shadow. Of course my hair always did what it darn well pleased anyway.

skipper54's picture
Posts: 936
Joined: Feb 2011

but it's getting back to normal. It was a very "flat" color at first but my natural highlights are now back. Lots of people talk about chemo curls but all I got was wave. It was always poker straight before. Of course, mine always did what it wanted anyway, and the way it dried was the way it stayed. It's just as thick as it always was, and soft and shiny. People have said they love it and wish they could do it too but don't want to go through what I did to get there. Gee, I wonder why they'd pass up that chance? (LOL)

CypressCynthia's picture
Posts: 4014
Joined: Oct 2009

My has come back greyer each time.   Definitely not darker.  Lol, I wish.

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