Come join others currently navigating treatment in our weekly Zoom Meetup! Register here: Tuesdays, 1pm ET.
Fill Out Your Profile to share more about you. Learn more...

Gray hair after chemo



  • woolfarm
    woolfarm Member Posts: 1
    edited December 2009

    My hair grew in probably 75% gray and I was SHOCKED! After several inches (8-10 mos?) the color started to come back and then I was back to my original sprinkling of gray. My hairdresser talked me into putting a temporary color on my hair to mask the gray and although I liked it at the time, I am sorry that I did it because I ultimately had to let that grow out an a 'temp' color still changes the shade of ALL your hair so you could see the color band growing out.

  • dfrn212
    dfrn212 Member Posts: 3
    edited January 2010

    Thank you all for sharing.  I am 5 weeks out of chemo, mostly gray with some very dark hair and am more bothered by this than I was being bald (go figure).  After reading the posts, I will hang on to hope that this soft fuzzy grayish hair is temporary, I'm only 38 and wasn't gray before. (Even if it's not temporary maybe the denial period will buy me enough time to get use to it).

  • Snoopygirl5
    Snoopygirl5 Member Posts: 4
    edited January 2010

    I am one year post chemo and my hair came back completely gray.  It has taken over a year for it to grow this long!   My Oncologist said that it would be ok to color my hair, so as soon as it was long enough, I ran to the salon.  I've experiemented with color - brown, red, platinum, etc.  May as well when you have the chance.  I chose the brownish blonde and have been getting it colored ever since.

     Chins up beautiful ladies - it will come back and you will be able to color it again. Good luck and hugs to all!


  • cary1
    cary1 Member Posts: 106
    edited January 2010

    I am 4 months post chemo and my hair (which alas is barely over an inch) is about 80% steel-colored gray and about 20% dark brown or maybe black. There is so much salt in the pepper that I really can't tell what the dark color is. Pre-chemo I had medium to dark brown hair with about 15% gray. Now it looks like a Brillo pad, it feels like one, and I am not exactly sure what to do. I am still wearing scarves. I don't see how I can take them off until it is at least 3-4 inches long. If I were as thin as Mia Farrow in her "Rosemary's Baby" role, I could have her haircut. But as a broad-shouldered apple-shaped woman with about 50 lbs extra, I just can't take the contrast. My hair was my shield before. 

    I kind of like the salt and pepper, it is sexy to me, but it is so different from what I started with that I don't know if I have the nerve to "surface" this way in a couple of months. Plus my SO is 11 years younger than me, something that has never bothered him but has always troubled me. I know it would make our age difference stand out more.

    Before BC and chemo I would sometimes color my shoulder-length extremely wavy hair with Rainbow Brand dark brown henna sold at Whole Foods. It kind of turned my 15% gray into coppery highlights since henna doesn't color gray the way regular dyes do. It is great in how it fades out naturally. But now I have so much gray I am not sure that is a practical option. Anyone tried any variation of henna? What did it do? Since I now actually have virgin hair, I am not sure I want to try a non-natural dye since you can't henna after that.

  • mbtlcsw01
    mbtlcsw01 Member Posts: 250
    edited January 2010

    Couldn't help but post here.  I am 15 + months since my mastectomies.  I am 55 years old and really had no idea what color my hair was (my pic shows blonde but that is chemical) and I knew the sides were white.  I decided to go gray.  My hair came back almost ringlet curly and the sides are completly white.  I must admit I go back and forth, but I've had so many compliments about my hair that I just decided to enjoy it.  I have few wrinkles (the one good gene my mom gave me) and believe I still have a young look.  I'm afraid if I color it, I will lose the curls.

  • GryffinSong
    GryffinSong Member Posts: 42
    edited January 2010

    Mary, permanent die definately changes the texture of hair. It will feel thicker and harsher. I didn't like the feel of it. Washes (temporary color) don't change the texture.

    I finished chemo last Julyish, and it's now about 2 or 3 inches long and mostly gray. Definately far less color than I had before. It seems to be coming in darker underneath, and is still a very soft texture. Almost fur-like, rather than hair-like. I've chosen not to color it because I want to see what it's going to do. I took off my darn scarves as soon as I had enough back to start curling, at perhaps a half inch or less. I love the freedom of short hair, and revelled in having any at all to show!!! The weirdest thing is how many compliments I got. I felt self conscious at first, but when I felt nervous I'd just say my hair was styled by chemotherapy, and everyone was very supportive and friendly about it. :)

  • apple
    apple Member Posts: 1,466
    edited January 2010

    i've used temporary color.. close to my own natural color. 

    I don't follow the directions.  I put about 1/4 of the bottle in (with gloves as specified)and brush the extra grey areas with a toothbrush to fully distribute the color.. touching up the sides with a brush every week or so. I leave it in for about an hour.  it looks great and simply coats the hair.  Mine came in totally grey but quickly changed to dark brown (if you call 3 months quick).  I like doing my own hair.

    you can always go a shade or two lighter in the meantime.

  • vhqh
    vhqh Member Posts: 11
    edited January 2010

    I have always had long golden blond hair and as time marched on developed quite a bit of gray that blended in nicely enough to fool a cosmetologist who was cutting my hair into asking if I had frosted it.  I finished chemo in February 2008 and my hair came back a mousy grayish brown.  I finished whole brain radiation in November 2008 which wiped out the hair again,  Slowly it grew back, thinner but it is blond again!  Still some gray and curly but I like it. 

  • Diana_Wigged_Out
    Diana_Wigged_Out Member Posts: 2
    edited February 2011

    Has anyone been confused about what to do with their chemo hair and regretted dying it or dyed it and buzzed it off again because people told them they liked the gray hair better?

  • Pegs
    Pegs Member Posts: 32
    edited February 2011

    yes, my hair is coming in all gray, before i had some gray strands, but this is all gray.  i don't plan on doing anything about it yet, its still too short (for me ) to go without the wig, i think i am nervous about everyones reaction.  it feels a lot thicker that before too.  hey whatever it is is fine with me, i just want hair back,  i was dirty blonde with some gray.  i want to wait and see how it all looks before i decide to color it.  its all up hill from here!!!

  • RainbowPrideSister2011
    RainbowPrideSister2011 Member Posts: 2
    edited June 2011
    I am 51 and had black hair prior to chemo. Never colored it. At the present time it's starting to grow in. I see some gray but it's mostly black. Smile
  • vivirasselena
    vivirasselena Member Posts: 51
    edited June 2011

    mine is!  white as snow!  but I think it's kinda cool...I've got olive skin and i'm trying to decide whether to keep it or color it.....might keep it and rock it for just a little while

  • Merilee
    Merilee Member Posts: 734
    edited June 2011


    I love your affirmation. I hope my hair comes in white, I have always liked that kind of hair. I will be 52 in the fall. Right now I am only 1 week post chemo and getting some scraggly fuzz ( which I a savoring LOL)

  • lago
    lago Member Posts: 11,653
    edited June 2011
    My hair came in more gray on the sides (Paulie wings) and black. My hair did have some gray but it was dark brown not black. I had it dyed professionally the day after I went topless (3 months).
  • mrsnjband
    mrsnjband Member Posts: 64
    edited June 2011

    My hair was more gray & white and a darker brown than my orginal color when it first started coming in.  But as it filled in and continued growing it started returning more to my natural color.  I had some gray before & more now than I used too.

    When I first stated coloring I went to just brown and now I just do blond highlights.  My hair did not come back as full as it was before but at least I have hair.  It took a really long time for it to come back & is still coming back.  

    In my avatar pic it is only about 1.5 inches long and that is 1.5 years after I lost it. It was very slow returning. 

    My brows & lashes have been slow to return as well but are still coming back.  It's hard to believe that it has been 3 1/2 years since I lost my hair but I am thankful to have hair. NJ

  • Hauntie
    Hauntie Member Posts: 369
    edited July 2011

    My hair definitely had more gray, when it came back. That was 16+ years ago. It's even grayer now, but I guess it's a real pretty combination. I've always received complements on it. My friend/hairdresser has even gotten requests from clients asking if she can color their hair like mine.

  • Dnye
    Dnye Member Posts: 1
    edited September 2011

    I am 2 months post chemo and my hair is very grey and peppered with black...I had long blonde hair so the look is tough for me. Tougher though is the downy white and black hair that grew all over my neck and face at same time. This is really freaking me out. I tried facial nair and now hair laser, but still have scruff/beard. After all the hair loss, now having too much is crazy... did this happen to any one else? My dermatolgist said it is rare but does happen as a sign of breast cancer/after treatment.

  • Ossa
    Ossa Member Posts: 685
    edited October 2011

    Thank you all for all the info. I am 52 years old. I still have one Docetaxel treatment and 14 Herceptin treatments.Will have mastectomy in late November, then tissue expander, four weeks post surgery I will start radiation. Look forward to being done.... My hair has started coming in, but oh so gray (white) The sides of my head looks white and straight, top of head mix og red but mostly white, had some gray before chemo, but was mostly red. so exciting to see hair grow back even if it is s l o w l y..... Hoping it will come in a little ticker than it was before as I have alwasy had very fine hair. Stay srong ladies.. We are women hear us roar!!!!!!!!!!

  • shouston
    shouston Member Posts: 1
    edited December 2014

    Well, don't sit and watch for gray yet! Although my father did stay very dark brown late (I have no idea when -- he's 80+ now), my mother went gray in her late 20's. I was told to expect either gray or dark. My hair has always been a medium brown and I had been highlighting since -- gee, I don't know -- 4th grade. My children, [now] ex (of 20 years), friends, even parents (remember, they are old) had forgotten that I was not a [natural] highlighted blonde (who sat in the sun, blah, etc.). My engineer ex (they are analytical, yet can't spell their own names) asked me about three years into marriage why I kept putting that dark hair color down my part (Thank you UT -- a masters in Petroleum Engineering evidently never touched on cosmetology (I kid you not)) . . .

    Anywho, after being left practically penniless (second time was a deal-breaker), I just quit doing anything (including cutting -- and, I had kept it short since the day I cut it all off in anticipation of the inevitable -- then vacuumed the rest off (when the time came -- after watching my poor, dear mother-in-law hang on to every strand -- stuck hard to my vow to not pick hair up all over my house, just to be reminded . . .

    Where was I? Oh yea, my hair is the next shade before black. I haven't seen this (lighter as a child), my kids have never seen this, my friends "assume" it's dyed . . . At 54, I just found a my first few grays and they are a part of a patch that was shaved after a car accident in my teens and came back curly, an alter-ego to my stick-straight locks. Don't necessarily be standing by with the Loreal . . . you might find that it comes back not only dark, but darkER. Okay, I am off to make an appointment to have this sh*t highlighted, lol. I am tired of being called a liar and told that really need to choose a different shade, lol. This one is just too "dark." I can't win.

    A sidenote. My friends that die their gray blonde always seem to look the best and most natural! I guess blonde likes gray better. My mother used medium brown until she was 70 and, when the sun hit it, it was so reddish -- and "looked" dyed. Yes, I have to highlight mine to make every believe (including my own children) that I have not dyed it. duhhh. And, never give up. I've had it three times . . . will NEVER do chemo again. surgery was enough. I do not want to "survive." I prefer to LIVE! When I ask my 35 y/o doctor where she was 18 years ago (4th grade?), she shuts up, lol!

    You just do not know what color you will get -- maybe you can will it back what you've always wanted, ;)

    note -- I did not proof this, sorry. :) Contact me any time!