Chemo Curls Hairstyles: Why does Hair Grow Back Curly after Chemo, and How to Straighten or Style?

Why does Hair Grow Back Curly after ChemoYou know it’s true:

Changes in the original hair quality occur to most people after chemotherapy, with hair loss is one of the most common chemo-induced side effects.

If you have ever undergone cancer treatment or if you have seen anybody who experienced the same, you may have noted some changes in the texture and color of the hair as well.
Hair that grows back after chemotherapy is sometimes a different color than before, and some cancer patients who used to have straight hair may experience hair growing back in tight little curls.

While curly hair is nothing negative and it can be beautiful too –

So how long do such chemo curls last? and how to style curly hair after chemo?

Why Does Hair Grow Back Curly After Chemo?

Chemotherapy drugs may not be in a position to distinguish between healthy cells and cancerous cells and for this reason, it destroys all of them. They may not be able to distinguish between cells that are responsible for hair growth and those that are causing cancerous growth.

As a matter of fact, most chemotherapy drugs (such as Doxorubicin the ‘Red Devil’) are aimed at destroying rapidly growing cancerous cells – but because the hair and hair follicle also grow very fast, they fall victims.

There will be some changes on the hair texture and color due to these chemo drugs. This may not be permanent because the hair will get back to its normal texture and color, after the chemotherapy treatment is finished and the body clears all the chemo toxicity.
Recommended read: 9 Cancer Patients Revealed ‘Must-Have’ Items to Survive Chemotherapy
In the brief video below, Joan Lunden gives a good elaboration on why cancer patient gets chemo curls:

After chemo, your hair is likely to grow as thin fuzz. It may as well be very difficult to style.

The hair is also very thin and for this reason, it may not be very visible from a distance. The hair may as well be very difficult to style because some hair follicle may be in active growth which makes hair grow in different length.

As the drugs leave your body, the hair will start to get back to a normal or a slightly normal state. Though, the texture may be slightly different from the way it was before.

This is what some people recovering from cancer call chemo curls. The main reason they call it this way is because it can grow more brittle or unruly, change color or even grow curlier.
Recommended read: 93 Chemo Side Effects Remedies that Improve Patient’s Quality of Life

How To Straighten Chemo Curls (with Demo Videos)

After the cancer treatment, it can be challenging to move along with your hair styles, while it can as well be difficult to keep up with the texture and color.

You may want to straighten your chemo curls to see how long it is, and you can do that with ease:

  • Trim the hair to make sure it’s of the same length and there are minimal longer strands.
  • After that, get a perfect tool to straighten the hair. Although you may not be able to achieve the length that you had before, you will realize that your hair is still long. You don’t have to keep your chemo curls half straight half curly, you just have to straighten it to a desirable length.
  • When straightening your chemo curly hair, you first of all have to protect it. Remember that your hair is still very fragile and if enough care is not put into place, you may lose more hair on head. It is recommended to get a heat protector and use it before straightening.
  • After that, get a quick brush and use it to straighten your hair. You can as well use a comb or even another effective brush.
  • Now use hair dryer to straighten it further. Blow the hot air over your hair to make it more flexible. Use a super thick brush to straighten it further. You can use your brush protector and a comb to protect your fingers and do the work. Straighten it until it’s done.

Here is one example of how chemo curls get straightened, with before and after comparison:

In the video below, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor AliGomie shared the experience of straightening her chemo curls. Watch her go from curly to straight:


How to Style Short Curly Hair After Chemo

Now you have a new hair and it may feel as if you are having a really different and a bad perm. You may think it makes zero sense to style it but the most imperative thing is to keep your hair looking good.

As shown in the pictures of chemo curls above, creating the ideal hair style after chemo shouldn’t be a really frustrating affair. With a little creativity, this can be very easy.

  • Styling your Comb Over: The comb over is one of the hair styles that you can try. The best way to do this is to use hair paste to create this very feminine hairstyle. Rub it on your hair styling it into a comb over.
  • Styling your Pixie: Some of women recovering from chemo takes this hairstyle and styling it is very simple. The best thing to do is to use hair paste to make this hairstyle look good. Ensure you cut the hair to a perfect length before styling. The hair should be the same size. Make sure there’s no long and short hair before you pick it.
  • Styling your Faux Hawk: After some time, hair will start to grow and the best hair style is a Faux Hawk. The hair at this time will be patchy and the center will be longer. To style this, then use hair paste to mold the center of your hair.
  • Styling your Short curls: At this time, your hair is growing but you can take this hair style until the hair gets longer. Use your hair paste, press it on your hair and eventually rub it. You should as well have hair pins to place wherever bits of curly hair are forming up. The little curls in front should be tamed using a mini straightened.

    If you want to add some panache to this hairstyle, then get some headbands. However, when looking for headbands, choose the one with thin sparkly bands. These will add a little dimension to your hair.

In this video, xofancy shares her tips on how she has been styling her hair when her chemo curls were starting to grow:

The video below shows another example of how to style chemo curls during and after chemotherapy:

As shown above, one popular method adopted by cancer patients with chemo curls or hair loss after treatment is to put on stylish scarves or head wear (eg. turbans, bandanas, hats).

You can check out this comprehensive guide with excellent tips on chemo scarves and headwear for cancer patients.


Examples of Chemo Curls Hairstyles for Short, Medium and Long Hair.

Despite the fact that you are recovering from cancer, you can still enjoy a good looking hair style no matter what. Here are some of the hair styles that you can try.

They all work well because they don’t need a lot of hair in your head to look good. They also don’t need a lot of your time to take care for or even to dye:

  • The comb over
  • Short curls
  • Faux Hawk
  • The Pixie
  • Layered Pixie Haircut with side bangs
  • Honey highlights on Dark Brown Hair
  • Sassy Medium Short Pixie
  • Victoria beckham short hair
  • Pixie Pompadour
  • Sleek Pixie
  • Retro Pixie Curls
  • Betty Draper Bob
  • Bow Bonanza, and many more.

Recommended read: 121 Thoughtful Gift Ideas and Items Cancer Patients Actually Want
Here are some pictures of possible hairstyles after chemo:

Need more inspirations on hairstyles for chemo curls?

Here are some easy hairstyles for women with medium or long curly hair for your reference:


Do Chemo Curls Go Away? How Long Do Chemo Curls Last?

Chemo curls can be a very heartening sign, but the good thing is that it is not a permanent thing. They are going to stay until you complete your chemotherapy. Soon after, your hair will start coming back and the curly hair will grow back straight after chemo.

However, it may take a longer time to return to the initial texture or color. This will still hold regardless of what you use. Your chemo curls may take up to a full year to fade away but this depends on the treatment methods you use and how good you take care of your hair.

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Chemo Curls Hairstyles

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