Hair loss is a common effect of cancer treatment such as chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, or radiation therapy. Although hair loss might not seem as significant when compared to the other physical side effects of cancer and cancer treatment, it can be one of the symptoms which affects your life and confidence the most.
It can also cause you to feel a range of emotions. Such a change in appearance can force conversations, with friends, family, work colleagues, or neighbours, that you might not be ready for and might make you feel uncomfortable. Losing your hair is also a daily, visual reminder of what you’ve been through.
For many people, hair provides a strong sense of their identity and without it, it’s understandable if you face issues with your self-esteem, if your overall body image is affected or if you feel depressed about your appearance. You may also worry about how others will perceive you or treat you, and if losing your hair will affect your relationships.
If you are looking for ways to build your confidence after hair loss, the professionals at Perci Health have put together this handy guide that outlines some steps you can take to help you feel your best.
Get a wig and try a new style
Wigs can be a great solution for coping with hair loss and helping you gain back some confidence.
Synthetic wigs are the most common type of wigs used by cancer patients and in recent years, the variety of wigs available has increased greatly. They are easy to care for and can be washed and left to air dry.
The NHS, some private health insurance companies, and cancer support organisations or charities may even be able to help with the cost of a wig.
You don’t have to choose a wig that resembles the hair you had before your diagnosis; you can opt for a new style or colour, or even routinely change your look with several different wigs.
If you previously had a beard or moustache and feel less confident without facial hair, there are even companies that make hair prostheses and can provide advice about how to wear and take care of them.
Try different makeup looks
Using makeup is another way to show off your personality and style whilst boosting your self-esteem. There are so many different products available, so you’ll have the opportunity to experiment with colour and different looks.
Alongside head hair loss, losing your eyebrows is another common side effect of cancer treatment. Using makeup such as an eyebrow pencil or a pomade to draw on your eyebrows can help you frame your face and feel more like yourself.
If you don’t normally use cosmetics or you would just like some advice on how to use them, there are plenty of tutorials available online. Large pharmacies and beauty retailers will also often have makeup counters with trained staff who are there to help you find the right products and give you information about the best application techniques.
Experiment with accessories
If you are used to styling and doing different things to your hair, it can be difficult to find other ways to express your individuality.
Accessories, however, are a great way to get creative with your look and bring you joy. You could try different hats, headscarves, or bandanas in a variety of fabrics and patterns. If you wear glasses, you could try a new style of frame. If you have pieces of jewellery you love but don’t often wear, incorporating these into your outfits might make you smile. You could even go shopping for some new statement pieces such as earrings, bags or neck scarves.
Question your style
You may have fallen out of love with an outfit that used to be your favourite, or you may find that the clothes you wore often no longer feel comfortable. You can use this as an opportunity to refresh your wardrobe and embrace a new style. Maybe you can try types or cuts of clothing that you haven’t before? Look for items of clothing that you are instantly drawn to and that make you feel good when wearing them.
Nourish your body
When you aren’t feeling so confident with how you look on the outside, it can help to be mindful of what you are putting into your body. Eating and drinking flavourful, colourful, and nourishing foods that you enjoy can benefit your overall wellbeing.
There are also some food types and supplements that can promote hair growth. For instance, protein, such as is found in meat, eggs, fish, and dairy, is crucial for the growth and repair of tissue and will support healthy hair regrowth.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells against the damage caused by free radicals and it is found in a huge range of fruits and vegetables. Vitamin A is known to keep skin healthy by promoting the secretion of sebum, a substance that moisturises the scalp. Vitamin A is found in dairy products, oily fish, and eggs.
Join a support group
Talking with other cancer patients can help you to process your emotions surrounding your hair loss. It can also make you feel less alone. Support groups are also a great place to swap ideas on building confidence or share tips about how to feel more comfortable with your current appearance.
Talk to friends and family
It can be tough to talk to family or friends about how you are feeling about your appearance. But, family and friends often have a great way of reminding us about the positive things we often struggle to see about ourselves.
Being open with family and friends may make you feel more confident around other people or when leaving the house without covering up your head. It may even give you the chance to find someone to go shopping with who will help you pick out some new clothes or accessories that you can feel great in.
It can also be beneficial to talk to work colleagues or even your manager who can offer support to employees with cancer. If your colleagues know about your hair loss, then you may be less likely to be asked insensitive or thoughtless questions about your appearance. If your workplace has a uniform policy, your employer might also be able to make an exception for you to wear a hat or headscarf.
Find out more about Perci Health’s professionals, including our Image Advisors who can help you to manage any physical changes to your appearance caused by cancer.
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