Using hair dye after chemotherapy

Changes in your hair can affect how you feel about yourself. For some people this change can be one of the worst parts of their treatment. 

Using hair dye

It is best not to use dyes or perms for around 6 months after finishing chemotherapy. This is because when you are recovering from chemotherapy, your hair is more fragile than usual. It is more likely to get damaged. 

 It takes about 6 months for the hair to become stronger. It isn't a good idea to use:

  • permanent hair dyes
  • semi permanent hair dyes
  • perms

These products contain strong chemicals that can damage your hair. Your scalp may also be drier and itchier than normal during this time. Using strong chemicals on your hair can make this worse.

Henna and vegetable based dyes

It's understandable that you might not want to wait to dye your hair. You can ask your hairdresser to suggest henna dyes or vegetable based dyes for you. These are gentler on the hair than the other types of hair colouring. So hair specialists think it is safe to use them.

Even with a vegetable dye, it is worth testing before you use it. You can test the dye on a small section of your hair first to see how it works.

How chemotherapy might affect your hair

This will depend on which chemotherapy drugs you had. Some types of chemotherapy make hair fall out completely. Other types make the hair thin, or change in texture. 

You might find that your hair doesn’t grow back exactly the same as it was before. Here's some possible changes that might happen to your hair: 

  • the colour may change
  • the texture may be different
  • your hair may be more curly
  • it may be straighter
Speak to your hairdresser and ask for their advice on ways to look after your hair following chemotherapy treatment.
  • Chemotherapy-induced alopecia advice and support for hair loss
    H. Roe
    British Journal of Nursing. 2011. Vol20, No.10,4-11

  • Use of hair dyes following chemotherapy
    GM Decker
    Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing 2004, Volume 8, Issue 1


Last reviewed: 
27 Aug 2020
Next review due: 
27 Aug 2023

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