Wigs, turbans, scarves and hats

Some people choose to wear a wig, hat, scarf, turban or beanie after losing their hair, others prefer not to wear anything on their head.

The important thing is to do whatever makes you feel comfortable and gives you the most confidence.

  • Scarves usually need to be at least 50 cm long to cover the scalp. Cotton, lightweight wools or blends are the best fabrics to use as nylon or silk tend to slip off the head too easily. Scarves can be tied in lots of different ways.
  • A beanie, soft cap, or turban is often a comfortable choice.
  • Bucket hats are popular and they offer more protection for the face.

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Choosing a wig or hairpiece

Wigs are made from real hair or synthetic materials. Both can look natural.

  • Human hair wigs – tend to be more expensive and need to be washed and styled like normal hair with hot rollers, curling wands and straighteners. They can be trimmed and coloured darker but not lighter, they are heavier and will last longer.
  • Synthetic wigs – are less expensive, lighter, dry quickly and need less care. They can’t be restyled or recoloured but they can be trimmed. Synthetic wigs will only last about nine months but this may be all you need.

Before selecting a wig

Take a friend or family member along with you for support and to help you choose your wig.

  • Check if your treatment centre or local Cancer Council has a wig loan service or donated wigs at a reduced price. This can be an economical alternative to buying a new wig.
  • Ask your hairdresser or speak to the consultant at a wig salon about a style of wig that would suit you. There may be a cost involved for a wig consultation. Remember to ask about the cost when making an appointment or a decision.
  • Visit specialty wig suppliers who are experienced in fitting wigs for people receiving chemotherapy. Look in the Yellow pages for suppliers or contact Cancer Council 13 11 20.
  • If you want to match your wig to your own colour and style, start looking for it before hair loss begins or take a photo from before losing your hair. Some people like to try something different and choose a different style and colour.
  • Look for a wig that adjusts to any head size to allow for variations as you lose your hair.

Paying for a wig or hairpiece

You may be able to get assistance with the cost of your wig or hairpiece.

  • Treatment in a public hospital – you may be entitled to financial assistance towards the purchase of a wig. Ask your nurse or social worker for information.
  • Health insurance funds – some will cover part of the cost of a wig if you are losing your hair due to disease or treatment. You will need a letter from your doctor to accompany a claim. Check your entitlement with your particular fund before you buy your wig.
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs – will cover the total cost of a synthetic wig if you have full entitlements as a veteran.

Look Good Feel Better workshops are dedicated to teaching men and women techniques to help restore appearance and help maintain self-image during treatment for cancer which can improve self-confidence. Look Good Feel Better workshops are held regularly in metropolitan and some regional areas.

Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 for support and information about services, resources and Look Good Feel Better workshops, or visit lgfb.org.au.

This information was last reviewed in February 2015
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