Hair Dye During Chemo

This topic contains 17 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  karenb 3 years, 4 months ago.

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January 20, 2015 at 8:39 pm  #1268158    


Is it safe to use over the counter hair dye during chemo treatments? I color my gray roots about every four weeks. I will be starting Cisplatin and Gemcitabine in a couple of days. Will hair coloring promote further hair loss if that should be a side effect I experience?
Thank you

January 21, 2015 at 4:16 am  #1268160    
JimC Forum Moderator
JimC Forum Moderator

Hi Marie,

In answer to a similar question, Dr. West said:

“I don’t have a firm answer here because I’ve never seen any good information about this. I don’t know of any problem, but I am happy to have my patients minimize exposure to any potential toxins (except for the ones I’m giving).”

In that same thread, a couple other GRACE members stated that they hadn’t had problems coloring their hair during chemo, and Dr. Sanborn added:

“I am not aware of any data about potential hazards of hair coloring while receiving chemo.

One issue about hair coloring is that even if hair does not come out, the hair shaft and follicle may become more delicate, with the hair more prone to breakage or coming out with “trauma”. That being said, if the hairdresser is aware and is reputable, I sincerely do not believe that hair coloring is going to interfere with chemo.

The odors may turn a queasy stomach, so I would be careful with that.”

Forum moderator

Jul 2008 Wife Liz (51/never smoker) Dx Stage IV NSCLC EGFR exon 19
4 cycles Carbo/alimta, 65% shrinkage
Tarceva maintenance
Mar 2010 progression, added Alimta, stable
Sep 2010 multiple brain mets, WBR
Oct 2010 large pericardial effusion, tamponade
Jan 2011 progression, start abraxane
Jun 2011-New liver, brain mets, add Tarceva
Oct 2011-Dx Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis; pulsed Tarceva
At rest Nov 4 2011
Since then:

January 21, 2015 at 5:26 am  #1268164    


Thanks Jim, I appreciate the quick response. After I’m into a couple of rounds of chemo, I may not care about this at all!

January 21, 2015 at 6:33 am  #1268167    


Hi Marie,

I asked my Oncologist the same question a few weeks ago before I had my first chemo treatment. She told me is was not a good idea to add any chemicals to the body except hers! She did say that while I won’t lose my hair on my treatment plan, the dye would weaken the follicles and it would cause breakage and thinning and perhaps fall out. I have decided to go natural (UGH) meaning dark brown to silver. Let me know what you decide and perhaps we can agonize over this together!!


January 21, 2015 at 7:29 am  #1268169    


Hi Karen –
Last week I asked the oncology nurse (but not the oncologist) about the hair dye, and she said she thought it would be okay. She hesitated before answering, so I’m not sure if she really knows.
So last night I colored my gray roots, and tomorrow is my first chemo session. I’m having 4 cycles, 3 weeks on/1 week off. By the end of the first cycle, my roots will be gray again. Guess I’ll decide then what to do. I have never seen myself with gray hair – and I think it will bother my husband more than me. I too am dark brown.
Is your hair short or long?
How are you feeling on chemo? And how many treatments have you had?
I tried to find a profile on you to read your history and diagnosis, but couldn’t. I’m not sure yet how to navigate around this site…need to practice more.


January 21, 2015 at 7:59 am  #1268170    


Glad you got the color in before tomorrow! It is these small things that make us smile!! :) I am already on week 4 and the silver is shinning through!!! My hair is long and layered. I wear it in a ponytail or french braid and I can see that won’t be happening much longer!!

I feeling wonderful on chemo so far!!! But there could be another reason for that. The oncologist over at Moffitt (where I was going for those trials) put me on Lexapro, and antidepressant to see if it would help me sleep at night. I stayed on it for 3 1/2 months. I was so fatigued during the day that I had to take a nap. I thought it was the cancer doing this. HA, it was the pill. My oncologist here at Mayo told me to wean off and see what happens. Well, I have so much energy that I actually went for a light jog this morning! So, the only side effects from my 1st treatment was being on a fast buzz from the steroids for 3 days and crashing on day 4 from not sleeping. Oh, I became staving as well and have gained 5 lbs!!! My 2nd treatment is next Tuesday (27th) so I am hoping that this wonderful feeling I have continues.

Good luck tomorrow…you will be fine!!!!!!!!! Make sure you have plenty of liquids in the house and drink more than usual. My lips peeled constantly but that could be from the cold weather as well.

I am too lazy to do a profile but will one day! Click on my name under the avatar. Scroll down to the bottom and look for Frustrated & Heartbroken. That was me!!!

Don’t forget to wear a button down shirt tomorrow if you have a port….I didn’t own any!!!!


January 21, 2015 at 8:19 am  #1268172    


No port for me – my oncologist wants me to try it without one first. I sure hope my veins hold out!
So have you only had one treatment in four weeks? If you don’t mind me asking, what is your schedule and what chemo drugs are you getting? Why do you say your ponytail or braid won’t last much longer – are you expecting to lose your hair? (I know no matter how prepared we are for that, it is going to be very upsetting.)

You sound like you’re doing great! I’m so glad for you. I hope I fair as well… My oncologist has given me two prescriptions, one anti-nausea and one steroid (the steroid I just take the two days after the ciplation). I’m hoping it doesn’t keep me from sleeping – I hate being awake all night! My cancer therapist just prescribed Lorazepam. He said it was for anxiety, but would also help with the nausea. I haven’t asked my oncologist about taking that yet, but will tomorrow.

Thanks for the kind words and good luck wishes! Marie

January 21, 2015 at 8:48 am  #1268173    

Tom Norkunas

My wife did the hair dye thing until the cancer came along.

She decided to do what some folks do, and was proactive, having her hair cut off. That way she felt she was in control.

It came back softer, and salt and pepper.

Does she look different? Yes. And I’m mighty glad I still have her. And I’ll be grateful to God for as long as I have her.

Wife Lucy DX stage IV adenocarcinoma NSCLC 11/13, T2AN2M1A. Right lung tumor 3.8 cm, nodes and plueral fluid, SUV 5.2. Pluerodesis to deal with fluids – success. EGFR wild type, ALK-. 4 rounds of carboplatin, paclitaxel and bevacizumab, tumor 2.7cm, stable. 2/14, started ECOG 5508 bevacizumab arm 2/18/15 progression. 3/3/15, two brain mets, ineligible for Roche MPDL3280A “OAK” trial – stereotactic surgery to brain mets, pemetrexed second line therapy.

  • This reply was modified 3 years, 5 months ago by  Tom Norkunas.
  • This reply was modified 3 years, 5 months ago by  Tom Norkunas.
January 21, 2015 at 9:00 am  #1268175    


I forgot you were going to try without a port…sorry! My treatment is every 3 weeks for 3 times and then a CAT scan. I am on Carbopiatin and Alimta. Hair thinning is a side effect but not hair loss. The ponytail really lets the gray show around the hairline whereas wearing it down is not as bad!!

I have to take the steroid 1 day before and then the day after chemo. They give it in my infusion the day of treatment along with an anti-nausea med. I also have one at home but so far did not need it.

My oncologist gave me Xanax…I take it at night right before bed and I sleep fairly well for 4 hours. Told to take another one when I wake in the middle of the night but I don’t really want to. Tried Ambien for sleep but did not work for me…my anxiety rears its ugly head in the middle of the night!

Hope the steroid doesn’t keep you from sleeping….everyone is different so hopefully they won’t bother you at all. I went 3 full nights with very little sleep last treatment and I was wiped out! This time I plan on doing some work in my office to at least be productive!!!

You are going to feel great….keep telling yourself that! If possible, try to get some exercise in today to help with the anxiety. BTW, where do you live?

January 21, 2015 at 9:29 am  #1268176    


Tom, thanks for the post. It’s obvious you love your wife very much…I pray you have many more years with her.

Hey Karen! I live in the St. Louis, Missouri, metro area, and will be treated at the Siteman Cancer Center. I do have a prescription for Lorazepam which I think is for anxiety. Thanks for all the good thoughts!

January 21, 2015 at 4:44 pm  #1268183    



You are 10 degrees colder than where I am. Hope you got some exercise today! Please come back and update us on your first treatment. You are going to be just fine!!!!


Thanks for posting about your wife….you sound like a really lovable hubby! Hope my husband feels the same way when this long dark hair goes silver!!!!

January 27, 2015 at 5:15 am  #1268260    


Just wanted to add my two cents to this discussion.
I was dying my hair throughout the chemo and maintenance ( 15 months) as I am working and my
everyday appearance is important.
However I managed to span my dying sessions to 6-8 weeks.
The trick is using Bumble & Bumble hair powder at the routs.
It blends perfectly with dark hair.
Best of luck to all

January 27, 2015 at 9:16 am  #1268264    
catdander forum moderator
catdander forum moderator

Oh my gosh Tamara, I had to look up bumble and bumble, “where do you think the term powder room came from”. I know they weren’t the first to use powder on hair but I do admit I sometimes powder mine and appreciate its attributes as mentioned on the site.

As a mod I want to say that I’m thrilled to see a good member led discussion on the forums :-P We miss it and encourage it!


January 27, 2015 at 11:42 am  #1268267    


Thanks Ladies. Tamara, did you use the powder on roots until you got to the 6-8 week mark, and then use an over the counter box dye or go to the salon for something special (maybe organic)? I’m going to look up Bumble and Bumble now, although I’ve recently been told I’ll most like lose my hair anyway (Cisplatin/Gemzar).
Thanks, Marie

January 27, 2015 at 3:25 pm  #1268269    


Hi Marie,
The bumble and bumble hair powder was suggested by
my hairdresser. It is being sold mostly at hair salons along
with their other products.
I usually go with the salon dyes but it is a great idea to request an organic dye
( if they have any).
Good ideas are flowing :)

January 27, 2015 at 4:52 pm  #1268278    


Thanks Tamara for the suggestion! Question: Does the powder get all over the pillow case as night?
My hair after 1 treatment is already thinning and today was my 2nd treatment. I am not working anymore so I am willing to see if the silver turns to white or stays mixed with some dark.
Love having some girl talk on here although the Dr’s are probably rolling their eyes!!! :wink:

Marie, how was treatment?

January 28, 2015 at 8:48 am  #1268290    


Treatment has been kind of rough – but not as bad as it could have been. Last Thursday was the cisplatin and gemzar. Tomorrow is just gemzar so I’m hoping it’s not as bad. Headache first two days; dull nausea every day. And just general “crappy” feeling. Strange dreams some nights. May be my imagination, but I think a more than normal amount of hair was in the sink this morning – but it seems early for that, although you said yours was thinning already.
Don’t mean to sound depressing, but I feel it’s going to be a long, four months.

January 28, 2015 at 10:21 am  #1268294    


Hi Marie,

Sorry you had a bit of a rough time. I too had the headache and was told to take Tylenol. After having treatment yesterday I have a dull one today. I think it is lack of sleep being on these steroids that are doing me in. Can’t stop eating on these pills either. I do feel much better if I go outside and get fresh air. It was in the 30’s here this morning but I walked through it and felt better.
My hair is definitely thinner and in my sink and brushes.
Four months will be nothing in the long run….Just keep the positive attitude and we will get through this!!

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