Once I learned that I needed chemotherapy, my first thoughts were about losing my hair. What would I look like bald? How long would it take to feel like myself again?

Although everyone is different, it truly helped me to see photos of others in the many stages of hair loss and hair growth. I made pinterest boards of cute short hairstyles, funky head wraps, and empowering photos of people with shaved heads.

Losing Your Hair

My doctors pretty much nailed it to the day when my hair would start to fall out. It was nice having this predicted timeline, so I could face this process in small doses.

A few days before my second treatment, I booked a haircut. My hairdresser cut my hair in phases to show me different lengths. I had never had short hair before, so it was fun to see my hair in a “bob” and a cute pixie.

A few days after my second treatment, as predicted, my scalp was uncomfortable and large chunks began to shed. I knew it was time to cut more.

My husband cut my hair into a 2000’s boy band flip. We blasted Beyonce and I fluctuated between laughing and crying.

For me, the anticipation of losing my hair was the hardest part. I felt a sense of relief when it finally was gone and I could focus on other things — like resting and taking care of myself through treatment.

Bald is Beautiful

The freedom I felt when my hair was gone was surprising. I felt empowered bald.

Although I spent too much money on a fancy wig, I never wore it. There was something special about owning this new me and I did not feel like myself hiding behind an itchy, hot hair piece. Instead, I found the beauty in my bald and found fun ways to accessorize — funky head wraps, earrings, and fake glasses.

Hair Growth

Once chemotherapy was over, I was beyond excited for my hair to grow back. As my hair grew in, I embraced each stage, documented the process, and felt a part of me returning back. The buzz cut was my all time favorite — I felt bad ass and received so many compliments on the “brave choice to shave my head for fun.” As the little hairs grew, so did my confidence. I excitedly styled each phase; faux hawk, slick back, and pixie cut.

And then came the awkward stage of chemo curls and a mullet.

Here are five tips that got me through the awkward phases of post-chemo hair growth.

1. Accessorize: Find Ways to Feel Cute and Confident

For me, funky head wraps were my go-to! I tied scarves into top knots and rocked that look with cute earrings and fake glasses. When the chemo curls were unruly, I wore a bold headband.

2. Try New Styles

As your hair grows in, embrace each stage. Try new styles and get funky with it. My favorite look was something I didn’t think I’d love. It didn’t feel like “my style” but it gave me a new sense of confidence. My husband used his pomade and blow dryer to slick the mane back and I felt like a rockstar!

As the hair got longer, bobby pins became my best friend as I twisted pieces back and faked a ponytail on multiple occasions.

3.  Take Care of Your Hair

Your fresh hair will be delicate, so make sure to treat it well! I rubbed my bald head in castor oil and coconut oil each night. Who knows if this practice actually helped, but it was part of my self-care routine and made me excited about the growth process.

Consult with a hairdresser (and/or your doctor) on the best products to use and avoid, and how to fuel your hair from within. Good nourishment and vitamins (if approved by your doctor) are important!

4. Get Hair Cuts

This is advice that I should have listened to! I was too afraid to cut my hair throughout the regrowth process and ended up with a strong mullet and split ends. Looking back, if I had gotten small trims along the way — my hair likely would have grown back faster and would have been easier to style!

5. Embrace Each Stage  

I documented my stages of hair growth on Instagram with the hashtag #allieshairgrowth. This ritual was cathartic for me, to reflect on all I had been through and a fun way of showing the world the progress I was making.