Straight Talk on Chemo Hair

straight hair
Photo courtesy of Jordan Pfaff, almost 5 years old

I’ve never really liked the curly hair I got post-chemo. Now, it’s not as curly as when it first sprouted, but it’s definitely wavy and full, and on a humid Florida day (that would be, like, seven days a week, mostly year-round), it grows really big. Thank goodness for the flat iron, because I use my pretty pink one every. single. day. no. exceptions. (Well, except for that one day I let my locks go natural and Joey greeted me after school with an enthusiastic, “What happened to your hair?”)

OK, so I overuse my flat iron, and the crazy-hot heat is damaging my hair for sure. So realizing my strands really needed a break, I had this hair-straightening procedure done two weeks ago. Here’s how it worked: My hair stylist washed my hair and dried it, rubbed and combed in this solution, dried it again and then flat ironed it all over. For three days — OMG, three days — I could not wash my hair (ewww!), supposedly so the magic could lock itself in and straighten my hair for up to four months. And now that I’ve been washing and conditioning my hair for a bit (with special no-salt products), I’m here to tell you what I think about what cost me $150 (plus tip, plus $30-ish for products).

The Coppola Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy seems to have some merit. It has not worked miracles, and I still have a sort-of bend in my hair, and it’s not immune to the effects of weather, but my hair is smoother and straighter now than it was pre-expensive treatment. I can blow-dry it and leave it as is, if I’m OK with a tiny bit of fluff, or I can dry it and pass through a couple of times with the flat iron — which is what I’ve been doing. My ideal scenario would have been to pack away the iron entirely, but my hair is just not as poker straight as I’d dreamed it would be, so I use it a little — much less than before, though, so that’s a good thing.

When four months is up, or whenenver the effects wear off, I’m not sure I’ll do this again. Truth be told, the no-shampooing thing was really hard, mostly because I like to exercise and sweat every day (so hair washing really is a daily necessity for me) and also because my hair got heavier and greasier by the day, and that just basically grossed me out. I guess if after three days I was rewarded with perfectly super-straight hair, I’d take the plunge and empty my wallet again, but it’s just not. It’s an improvement. Just not dead-on straight — you know, like the hair I had pre-cancer, the hair I permed non-stop because I was sure I wanted curls forever. Well, I was wrong. I don’t.

9 thoughts on “Straight Talk on Chemo Hair

  1. Thanks for testing this out Jacki! I’ve been wondering about it. Post chemo my hair came back with a lot more curl than I had before, and I’ve been a slave to the flat-iron too. Sounds like a you got a deal- my salon quoted me $400!!!

  2. How much stuff would I have to put in my hair to get my ringlets out? I can’t imagine. I have heard about a reverse perm–is this the same thing?

  3. I finished chemo in March 09 and have the curly thing going for me as well. I was thinking some kind of ‘miracle’ chemical on the open market would work, but I guess not. I have not cut my hair yet, and it is about 4 inches, so I’m hoping to cut the curls off and maybe they won’t come back. Any luck after cutting?

  4. July, no luck after cutting for me — BUT, the more my hair grew, the more the curl got heavier and less, well, “curly.” I’d call it more wavy then tight curly, but I still straighten it every day, because wavy is just not for me! Let me know how your hair evolves! And hey, thanks for reading!

  5. I am a hair extension specialist located in New York and have experience working with Cancer patients. The hair I use is very high quality that is imported from various countries, depending on your texture. Each client is a custom order to match their hair to an exact. The hair extensions are threaded through your hair by a tiny copper coil, then the hair extension strand is inserted, then securely clamped with a professional tool. This system uses NO glue, heat, polymers, sewing, tracks etc. I have Cancer clients that have grown out this system, with using only a little over a year. The hair is also re-usable, which is unlike any other hair extension system. All you need to have is 2-3 inches of hair growth to start. For more information on my system, visit Good luck to you & happy new year!


  6. Thank you so much for this wonderful post. The chemotherapy is really the most painful phase not physically, but emotionally. My sister-in-law underwent a breast removal surgery after being diagnosed stage 2 borderline 3. The following chemotherapy had serious side-effects. She lost all the hair and had to stay in home for months together.

  7. This company is not truthful, they actually put Formaldehyde even in the product they have called infusion. Formaldehyde is not bad if disclosed, but they are putting it on consumer products.

    My client came back with irritations all over the neck.


  8. Marco you are correct.. Keratin Complex does have formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals in their products. I just got back from a beauty show in Orlando and discovered Peter Coppola’s new line of formaldehyde and aldehyde free products called Keratin Concept. (Peter Coppola has not been associated with Keratin Complex for many, many years). You can learn more at his website

Comments are closed.