Hair. It’s a loaded topic. Some of us have lots, some of us a little, but no matter where you’re at, losing it is devastating, especially if you’re undergoing breast cancer at the same time. Many of the 1.7 million women around the world told that they’re suffering from breast cancer this year will find losing their hair to chemotherapy to be one of the most traumatic aspects of their cancer ordeal- losing hair, eyebrows and eyelashes can melt away your self-esteem, confidence and resolve with every clump that falls.
To support women going through breast cancer and try to mediate some of its morale sapping effects, ghd has partnered with women who’ve been through the disease, along with well renowned experts in the fashion and beauty industry and Breast Clinical Nurse Specialist Denise Brett to establish a unique online resource for sufferers and their families on ghdhair.com.
The tutorials take in everything from tying headscarves with style to defining the eye area, brows or no brows, and making a shop-bought wig look cool, natural and unique to you. With the philosophy of ‘you are not defined by your hair’, the online resource aims to empower women and professionals alike with smart, considered advice and practical information.
Meet the women who’ve suffered with breast cancer and feature in the tutorials below, and then learn from the experts how each woman became a model and muse for a beauty tutorial like no other.
Alex Jones, age 26, from Manchester
Alex was diagnosed with primary breast cancer aged just 23 in December 2013, just after moving into her first home. She immediately had a mastectomy, as well as fertility treatment. After spending most of 2014 undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments, a CT scan showed no further evidence of cancer so Alex went back to making the most of life. But in January 2015 Alex began to get pains in other parts of her body, and tests revealed that she had secondary breast cancer which had spread to her hip, two places in her spine, ribs, shoulder and skull. Alex’s secondary breast cancer is unfortunately incurable and she will be having treatment, including oral chemotherapy, for the rest of her life. But she remains determined to live her life to the absolute fullest; working, spending time with friends and family and travelling the world.
Alex said: “I have always taken pride in my appearance and how other people see me, so I did lose a lot of self-confidence when I was first diagnosed – and even now I don’t leave the house without makeup. I’m still receiving treatment for secondary breast cancer and makeup gives me confidence to know I look well, even if I’m not feeling my best one day. Tutorials played a really important part in my learning about beauty which is why I’m so pleased to be a part of this special project with ghd. During treatment for breast cancer you are going through so, so much and you have all these different things to think and worry about – so having access to tutorials, in the comfort of your own home, offering hints and tips to help you feel like ‘you’ can help alleviate anxieties about appearance, and helps to rebuild confidence step by step.”
Helen Weller, age 34 from London
Helen was diagnosed with breast cancer in summer 2014 aged 32, after finding a lump in her armpit. During her treatment Helen’s family were her rock and supported her through the gruelling chemotherapy. Helen’s latest mammogram has shown as all clear, although she’s still on a treatment regime including taking the drug Tamoxifen.
Helen said: “How I looked has always been massively important to me; I never wanted to have short hair, let alone no hair! I tried to hold onto my hair as much as possible during treatment, but I started to lose my hair after my second round of chemotherapy. Eventually I asked my friend to shave my hair all off. I was sat in front of the mirror and had a lump in my throat and shed a tear. I know that people who are not ill think that we wouldn’t want to bother, that we are too ill to think about looking and feeling good. But no matter how ill you get, you just want to look ‘normal’, to say I can look good, even when everything inside is falling apart. I didn’t care as much about makeup but I really cared about my hair. I’ve learnt a lot about wigs and styling from being part of this tutorial. Having your wig cut and styled at the hairdressers is apparently a ‘thing’; I wish I’d known!”
Sue Stannard, age 63, from Grantham
Sue was diagnosed in January 2011 with a common but aggressive type of breast cancer called invasive ductal carcinoma. Two weeks after her first chemotherapy treatment, her immune system collapsed and she spent a week in hospital on intravenous (IV) antibiotics. Over the next couple of years Sue had several surgeries, first to treat her breast cancer and then for reconstruction. She is now on a course of drug treatments to reduce the risk of recurrence, which will continue for at least ten years. These include drugs to protect and strengthen her bones due to the risk of osteoporosis. The main drug blocks oestrogen and so has an impact on skin ageing and appearance.
Sue said: “I always ‘glammed up’ as much as I could for chemotherapy sessions and other hospital appointments – it was important for my confidence and because I didn’t want to be seen as just another cancer patient. Toughest of all to cope with was the return of my hair after chemo. I had had very little grey hair pre-treatment but my hair re-grew completely grey – which I’ve since learned happens to many women in this situation. It is also normal for re-growth to be a bit coarse and curly, and over the months as my hair got a bit longer it began to resemble something between a thistle and a loo-brush! I’m now a few years on from the initial re-growth stages, and learning how to manage and look after my ‘new’ hair over this time has been very important to me. I really hope this tutorial helps others in the same situation.”
Indira Jayasuriya, 39, from Kent
Indira was just 31 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a real shock, as she had no family history of the disease. Indira and her husband knew they wanted to have a family and so Indira had some embryos frozen prior to her starting her treatment. Her initial treatment was successful and a few years later in 2012 following IVF, Indira gave birth to her daughter, Thilini, now three years old. But three years later when she was six months pregnant with her second child, she began experiencing severe stomach pains, and was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer. Her son Dilan, now a healthy one-year old, was delivered prematurely by caesarean section in May 2015, so that Indira could begin her treatment as soon as possible. Indira is a Buddhist, and her positive thinking and outlook has helped her remain strong throughout her treatment for secondary breast cancer, for which there is sadly no cure.
Indira said: “When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, my main concern was the loss of my hair - I wept inconsolably when my hair fell out in the shower. Now, whilst I’m still being treated for secondary breast cancer, I’m getting on with my life and I’m loving being a mum to my two gorgeous children. But appearance is something I’ve definitely struggled with over the years. I’m delighted to be part of this tutorial with ghd – I just couldn’t get on with wigs so learning more about head scarves has been fantastic. I hope that the videos provide support to others affected by breast cancer and need some words of beauty wisdom during or after treatment."
"Often the hair that we lust after on famous people is all wigs, so don't be scared of them. Synthetic wigs are a great starting point as the price point is so fantastic.” Zoe Irwin, ghd UK ambassador
1.Use dry shampoo to take away some of the high gloss shine and reflection.
2. Wear a wig cap to protect your sensitive scalp and help keep your wig in place.
3. When you first take the wig out of the packet, brush it out thoroughly.
4. Ask your hairdresser to trim your wig so it suits your face shape.
5. Natural hair wigs can be washed, blow dried and heat styled like your own hair.
6. Check instructions before using heat stylers on your synthetic wig.
A few more nuggets of wisdom:
“Start with a wig that’s one shade lighter than your natural hair.”
“Brush the root of the wig upwards to give it more lift, and use a wide tooth comb to give it a casual look.”
“Avoid using tape or glue to secure your wig as this can cause skin damage.”
“There are two main types of wig – synthetic and real hair. synthetic wigs are created from man-made fibres, last for six to nine months and cost £50 to £200. Wigs made from real hair last for up to three or four years and cost £200 to £2,000.”
How to wash your wig
Take a bucket and lather shampoo in cold water (avoid hot water).
Gently wash the wig by pressing it into the water.
Repeat process with conditioner.
Pat dry with a towel.
Place on a wig stand in the shade to dry.
Watch the tutorial featuring Helen and Zoe here
Wrap It Up
"See a scarf like another accessory and work the rest of your wardrobe around it. The best thing you can do is embrace it!” Lily Russo, fashion editor
1. Make a fashion statement out of your headscarf.
2. Go for cooler, breathable fabrics like linen, cotton or modal.
3. Be inspired by fashion icons like Bianca Jagger and Talitha Getty.
4. Pair with a bold lip or statement earrings.
More styling advice:
“Try using a bandana as an under layer to keep the scarf securely on your head.”
“Avoid satin or silk scarves as these can be slippery.”
“Chemotherapy-induced alopecia can make the scalp painful and tender as the hair falls out. you may find wearing a headscarf at this time can help soothe your scalp.”
“Post surgery you may find your range of shoulder movement is limited. this may reduce your ability to self-manage your headscarf.”
How to style a headscarf
1. Fold your square scarf in half, into a triangle.
2. Wrap scarf around head, with the point of the triangle hanging over your forehead.
3. Pull the loose ends around your ears and tie into a knot on top of your head.
4. Take the loose ends from the knot and tie these into a bow.
5. Tuck the loose triangle hanging over your forehead behind the bow to finish.
1. Wrap a long, rectangular scarf around your head and bring the loose ends to the front.
2. Tie a knot at the front and twist the ends together.
3. Wrap the twist around the knot, in a circular motion.
4. Tuck the loose ends underneath the knot to finish.
Watch the tutorial featuring Indira and Lily here
“One of the hardest things for me was losing my lashes and brows, you don’t realise how much expression and definition they are responsible for until they’re gone!” Sophie Beresiner, beauty editor
1. Natural brows are thicker at the front- concentrate on the front section.
2. Mimic eyelashes by pressing your mascara wand against the edge of your eyelid.
3. Without eyelashes, your eyes will water more. Waterproof eye makeup will last longer.
4. Define your eyes by adding a flick of liquid eyeliner.
More makeup tips
“Choose a brow pencil lighter than your usual shade to help your eyebrows look more natural.”
“Avoid using false lashes unless you have some lashes left to root them onto – make lash suggestions instead with grey or brown kohl pencil smudged in.”
“Hot flushes and sweats can cause makeup to slide off the face so try to use make-up with long staying power.”
“When it comes to skincare use hypoallergenic products.”
“If you have any concerns regarding product ingredients.”
“Check with your medical team, hospital pharmacy or hospital medicines information services.”
How to create a healthy glow
Use a highlighter or foundation two shades lighter than your usual.
Highlight under your eyebrow arch to brighten your eyes.
Highlight the high point of your cheekbones to give a natural glow.
Highlight the middle of your face (bridge of your nose and centre of forehead) to brighten up your face.
Use a non-shimmer bronzer and set with powder.
Contour each side of the nose to define its shape.
Contour under your cheekbones to slim the face.
Contour around the hairline to shorten the forehead.
Go for a blusher that has more peachy orange tones rather than pink, with a bit of shimmer, to create a very subtle, natural blush.
Aim for the most natural placement, which is low on the cheeks.
Watch the tutorial featuring Alex and Sophie here .
The Grow Back
“When your hair starts to come through, you’ll find that it’s uneven. If you had curly hair it might grow back straight; this is absolutely normal.” Adam Reed, ghd global ambassador
1. Avoid heat styling your eye over the first six months of treatment.
2. Brushing your scalp with a baby’s brush can help to stimulate circulation and encourage hair growth.
3. Tame your hair with product. This won’t prevent growth, but it will make it easier to control.
4. A diet rich in vitamin D and omega 3s is great for hair health.
5. Look after your scalp by massaging it with a natural oil such as olive or almond oil.
More grow-back gems
“Try wearing a do-rag overnight to help to prevent frizz in the morning.”
“Avoid strenuous or harsh brushing and product that contain alcohol, as both can irritate the scalp.”
“Before colouring hair, allow at least an inch of hair to grow to be sure that the hair is of good quality. also get your hairdresser to do a skin-sensitivity test.”
“Straightening Afro hair is not advised at all until the hair and scalp are fully recovered.”
Watch the tutorial featuring Sue and Adam here
How you can help
So far ghd has raised over £9 million for breast cancer charities around the world by way of twelve limited edition pink ranges. In 2016 the company aims to up that to £10 million, with a donation from every electric pink purchase going to charity. This year ghd will make a donation for every electric pink purchase on your behalf to Breast Cancer Now. Bright, bold and a beacon of hope, £10 will be donated for every tool bought in the range, with £1 donated from the sale of electric pink hair pin bags (let’s face you, you need to rein those kirby grips in anyway). The high-performance range of stylers, hairdryer and pin bag are available for a limited time only, so if you can afford to, show that your hair cares and support the #notdefined campaign in anyway that you can. Visit www.ghdhair.com/pink for more information, to view the tutorials and explore further links through to specilaist NHS and Breast Cancer Now web pages. Also, shop. It’s for a bloody good cause.
Shop the electric pink range here