1. How long does it take for hair to grow back after treatment?
2. Will my hair grow back differently?
3. Can I speed up hair regrowth?
4. How soon can I colour my hair after it grows back?
5. Donating your wig after your hair grows back

1. How long does it take for hair to grow back after treatment?

For most people who experience hair loss after starting chemotherapy, their hair almost always starts to grow back once their treatment is over.

Sometimes hair may even start to grow back before treatment has finished.

However, some people can experience permanent hair loss.

How quickly hair regrows varies from person to person but most people will have a full covering of hair three to six months after treatment. For some people this may be patchy.

Hair may be weak and fragile or softer to begin with but over time the condition and texture of hair becomes stronger.

Other hair, such as your eyebrows and eyelashes, may grow back more quickly or more slowly than the hair on your head.

2. Will my hair grow back differently?

Hair can sometimes grow back differently to what it was like before treatment. For example:  

  • The colour may change
  • The texture may be different
  • It may be curlier
  • It may be straighter

This change may only be temporary but occasionally it will be permanent.

For some people having hair grow back differently to what they are used to can be very difficult. You may feel it is another change to your appearance that you need to cope with, especially if in the short term you’re not able to treat or style your hair in the way you’re used to.

While your hair is growing back it will be very delicate and liable to break easily, so it’s best to treat it with care. You can also talk to a hairdresser about how best to look after your hair.

You may also find there is an in-between period when your hair is growing back but you aren’t quite ready to go out with your own hair. You may choose to continue wearing a wig or other headwear until your hair is longer.

3. Can I speed up hair regrowth?

Many women wonder whether there is anything that can speed up hair regrowth.

The condition of our hair is strongly linked to lifestyle factors including diet. A healthy diet that is balanced and varied provides all the nutrients needed for healthy hair.

There are supplements available that claim to help strengthen hair or promote hair growth. However, there is limited evidence to support this. If you are considering taking any supplements, it is always best to check with your treatment team first, particularly if you are receiving treatment such as chemotherapy or hormone therapy.

Although there is some evidence that caffeine shampoos may promote hair regrowth, there is currently no evidence that these shampoos work for people who have had breast cancer treatment.

There is limited evidence that using a drug called minoxidil may help when applied to the scalp. Minoxidil can also be found in some hair loss treatments. You can talk to your GP, a dermatologist (doctor who specialises in skin problems) or a trichologist (person who specialises in hair loss problems but is not medically trained) about the possible use of minoxidil.

4. How soon can I colour my hair after it grows back?

It’s best to wait until your hair is longer and your hair and scalp are in good condition before applying permanent hair colour.

Although there is limited research in this area, Cancer Hair Care recommends you allow at least an inch (2.5cm) of hair to grow before colouring it, so you can be sure the hair is of a good quality.

For some people this may be six months to a year, for others it will be sooner.

You can talk to your hairdresser about when to begin colouring your hair. Before you have a permanent hair dye applied your hairdresser should check how your scalp and hair may react by doing a skin-sensitivity test (patch test). They may recommend henna or vegetable-based dyes as these tend to be gentler on the hair and scalp.

Temporary or semi-permanent dyes are a good way to find out if a hair colour suits you before you try a permanent colour.

My New Hair and Cancer Hair Care have more information on this.

5. Donating your wig after your hair grows back

Once you no longer need your wig you may consider donating it. You can contact Wig Bank to donate your wig, or Cancer Hair Care who recycle wigs and headscarves.

Last reviewed: February 2022
Next planned review begins 2024

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