Written by Sonya Keshwani, Survivor & Founder of StyleEsteem
Your hair journey – from hair loss to regrowth – can take place over many months and seasons. My own experiences in this journey taught me that there is much we can do to care for our hair and scalp throughout each phase. Each season brings with it new challenges and needs when you are in treatment. That's why I'm sharing with you here, my favorite scalp self-care tips for chemo and hair loss during fall and winter. (For Part 1 where we cover spring and summer tips, check out this blog post.)
1. Avoid Hot Showers
A long, hot shower can sound tempting on a cold day. But overtime, this can disrupt your skin barrier and make it more prone to irritation. Consider enjoying shorter showers – 5 to 10 minutes is ideal. Stick to tepid water and avoid exposing your scalp to high temperatures.
2. Exfoliate Before Moisturizing
Cold weather can lead to drier than usual skin. Rather than going straight for your moisturizer, consider using a gentle exfoliator first, 1 to 2 times a week. This will help remove dead skin cells and prime your skin for maximum absorption of your moisturizer. Stick to gentle and organic products that nourish your skin without the harsh chemicals.
For my face and scalp, I always reach for Era Organic’s microdermabrasion scrub with manuka honey and walnut. And for body exfoliation I love SatlyGirl Beauty’s bergamot rose organic sugar and salt scrub (get 10% off your SaltyGirl purchase with the code STYLEESTEEM).
If your skin is too sensitive for typical scrubs and loofas, use a bamboo wash cloth to gently rub and cleanse your skin under warm water as an alternative.
3. Moisturize Within 60 Seconds of Showering
Your skin is most receptive to moisturizing products immediately after a warm shower and/or exfoliating. The key thing is to apply your moisturizer pretty quickly afterward – preferably while your skin is still damp.
Aquaphor is a savior for anyone undergoing chemotherapy or other harsh treatments. The rich formula is great at counteracting dryness, cracking and blistering brought on by side effects of medication. Aquaphor is also a great overnight cream. A thick layer of this over your scalp and other areas of your body will give your skin maximum protection and hydration while you sleep.
4. Bundle Up with Knit Turbans
Bundling up when you go outside during hair loss is a must. But there’s no reason to sacrifice style for comfort this season. Having an assortment of knit turbans that suit different occasions and style moods is important. This will make it easier to coordinate your outfits and it will help you feel more confident when you step out into the world. Whether you go for solid colors, a touch of elegant pearls, or even some bling, there are so many styles to choose from in our knit wear collection to keep you cute and cozy!
5. Keep Applying SPF
SPF isn’t just for warmer months. During chemotherapy your body more easily absorbs the sun's ultraviolet radiation. This side effect is called "drug-induced photosensitivity". Over exposure to the sun during this time can cause severe damage and burns. The scalp is especially at risk because of the loss of its protective barrier, i.e. hair. To prevent this from happening, use a moisturizer with a minimum of SPF 30 or higher. Apply the product to your face and work it upward to cover your scalp entirely. SPF is most effective when worn consistently, even on days with cloudy skies and under your turban.
6. Cozy Up with Lounge Wear Turbans
As you begin to spend more time indoors during colder months, making your environment relaxing and comfortable is a priority. Part of that is what you wear. Dressing elegantly at home – whether you choose a soft robe or a cozy lounge turban – is a small act of appreciation toward yourself. Our plush, and hair healthy satin lined turbans, are a perfect addition to a lounge wear outfit. Many of our spring and summer day wear turbans are also great for adding a pop of color to your home style. This will give you more options in your wardrobe, and it will also keep you inspired while you wear beautiful colors during shorter and colder days.
7. Use a Humidifier
One of my best kept skin and scalp secrets is using a cool air humidifier. Humidifiers increase moisture in the surrounding air. By placing a humidifier in a room you spend the most time in, your skin barrier will automatically hydrate throughout the day. To prevent dryness in the air, be sure to also keep your heating on low. Isn’t it nice to put your self-care on autopilot sometimes?
8. Heal Your Nostrils
Hair loss is riddled with many surprising twists and turns. Experiencing cracking, bleeding and major discomfort in my nostrils due to losing my nose hairs was definitely one of them. This can be even more severe during colder and drier months. A really easy solution I discovered was to moisturize - yes! moisturize! - my nostrils.
I searched for a clean balm-like alternative to the traditional petroleum jelly (ie. Vaseline). After researching far and wide I came across the Organic Baby Face Nose & Cheek Balm by Earth Mama - which I love and use to this day! I would simply take a dab of this product on the end of a Q-tip and gently coat the walls of each of my nostrils to feel the immediate relief. Best of all, this coconut and shea butter based balm can be used multiple times throughout the day, and even be used to moisturize other parts of the body.
Always remember that the best way to stay empowered during your hair journey is to put your self-care first. Having a hair and scalp routine that helps you reconnect with yourself through small habits will create a continuity in your self-image, even as your hair goes through changes. Try out these habits (you can even start with one or two and work your way up) and let me know if this has helped you in your hair journey!
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