Q: It has been 2 years since I had radiation and chemotherapy for head and neck cancer. My hair did not all grow back but is
fine and thin. I would like a home perm is it safe now?
A: The first step I would recommend is to speak to your oncologist for his or her opinion concerning the potential problems with
perming your hair after radiation and chemotherapy. At the very least they can possibly offer you advice on what to expect based on other patients’ experiences.
That is to give you some information from the medical field. From the cosmetology side of
things, you want to perform a strand test on your hair before you get the perm, in addition to performing patch tests to make sure
you won’t have negative reactions to the waving lotion and neutralizer on your scalp. This will prevent you from having some
potentially severe reactions on the chance that you have developed sensitivity to the products. There are instructions on
performing these tests included on the package of the perm formulas.
I recommend selecting a perm formula designed for fine and/or chemically treated hair, to
ensure that you are using the gentlest products. Doing this, combined with performing the patch tests and strand tests will help
you to know whether or not your hair is safe to perm at this point.
If all of this sounds like a lot more trouble than you anticipated, you might want to consider
having your hair done by a reputable stylist. In fact, you could try to contact the organization called “Look Good, Feel Better”
which is a group of cosmetologists who specialize in providing hair care services for cancer patients in order to help them look and feel their best.