Coping with Hair Loss with Style During Cancer Treatment

Q&A with Frédéric Fekkai

Renowned style-maker Frédéric Fekkai is one of the most celebrated names in beauty and hairstyling. Acclaimed for his modern, individualistic approach, Frédéric has made an indelible mark on the beauty and fashion communities with his innovative styling, exclusive salons, and luxurious hair care products. Look Good…Feel Better recently conducted the following interview with the celebrity hairstylist.

Many women say that the most devastating and obvious change they experience from chemotherapy is hair loss. What advice would you give women on how to create a chic, easy-to-maintain hairstyle if they start to lose their hair due to cancer treatment?

I think one of the most important tips at the start is to keep a positive outlook and surround yourself with advisers you trust—whether it’s your hairstylist, a best friend, or your daughter. They can help you make the right decisions. Also know that we have a wealth of amazing beauty resources to help you get through this difficult time, and hair loss is almost always temporary.

For thinning hair or minimal hair loss, try a shorter style with slight layers, which can add extra fullness to the hair. If hair loss is extreme, you can choose from a large selection of stylish ready-made or custom wigs available through salons and wig stores. Today there are salons that specialize in wigs and hairpieces especially for clients experiencing hair loss from chemotherapy. The key is to locate a hairstylist or wig specialist who is skilled in the art of wig styling—someone who will make you feel comfortable, relaxed, and confident. Ask around for recommendations to learn where people have had the most positive experience.

If a woman chooses to purchase a wig to camouflage hair loss during cancer treatment, what should she look for?

There are many options today for women interested in finding a wig, including custom-made to ready-to-wear styles, natural or synthetic fibers, and many colors and styles. The first step should always be a personal consultation with either your hairstylist or a wig specialist. I suggest bringing a photo of yourself from a great hair day. This will give some guidance to the specialist as to what you may want to create when selecting a wig. If you find a wig with the perfect color and texture, a wig specialist can cut it to match your look.

Most wigs look natural—even the synthetic ones, which are less expensive. Keep in mind that human hair requires more care and will have to be washed and reset from time to time, depending on use. The focus should be on finding a style that makes you feel confident and beautiful.

As you consider your options, take the time to educate yourself before you make a purchase, as prices vary.

How should a woman go about picking a color that will enhance and brighten her complexion?

Consult a colorist and pick a shade that will be best for your complexion. I would suggest trying a wig in a shade lighter than your natural color. Some women find that it brightens their appearance and offsets changes in their skin.

What are some suggestions for stylish alternatives to wearing a wig?

If you want to take a break from your wig, you’re running late, or you just want to change your look a little, try a scarf. I love a headscarf on a woman. It can be a very chic look. Think Jackie O and try wearing a gorgeous, richly colored scarf and a pair of oversized sunglasses—a classic style.

There are endless ways to tie scarves. For different scarf-tying techniques, visit the “Beauty Guide” section on the Look Good…Feel Better website (www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org). For additional ideas, visit “Playtime with Your Scarf” on the Hermès website (http://usa.hermes.com). There are also some amazing hats available that can disguise hair loss. Use this time to experiment with your style and have fun. Keep it classic and look online to see how past fashion icons have worn hats and scarves.

Once hair starts to grow back after cancer treatment, what do you suggest for keeping it healthy?

It’s important to moisturize your hair with a light conditioner. Allow the conditioner to sit on the hair for extra time, and massage the scalp to relax the cuticles.

If a shorter haircut is the only option, what styles would you recommend to make it fashionable or trendy?

I suggest a short bob like Halle Berry’s current style or a classic like Louise Brooks’s. Keep it short and all one length to give the impression of more body. Use moisturizing products and do regular hair masks to help maintain healthy hair.

When shopping for wigs, women sometimes want to experiment with fun new styles that they normally would not wear. What guidelines should they follow when picking new styles that complement their face shape and bone structure?

I always believe in keeping it modern and classic. You want a style that suits your face structure and personality best. I would stay away from being too trendy, as you want to try to feel like your most beautiful and elegant self.

The Look Good…Feel Better program was founded and developed in 1989 by the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, a charitable organization established by the Personal Care Products Council, the leading national trade association representing the global cosmetic and personal care products industry. The program is a collaboration of the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Professional Beauty Association/National Cosmetology Association, a national organization that includes salons, spas, distributors, manufacturers, and more than 25,000 beauty professionals. For more information about Look Good…Feel Better or programs available in your area, please visit www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org, call (800) 395-LOOK [5665], or contact the local American Cancer Society office.