by Fitcoachion | Last Updated: April 28, 2020

If you’re facing hair loss or thinning hair because your treatment for breast cancer includes chemotherapy, whole brain radiation, or tamoxifen, you may be curious about trying out a wig.

Wigs can conceal hair loss and — depending on the style, length, and color you choose — help you look more like you did before treatment or provide a whole new look. They can also protect your scalp from the sun and from cold air.

Many women find that wearing a wig gives them a sense of normalcy and consistency during cancer treatment. A wig can also provide some privacy in that it may prevent people from asking questions about your appearance and diagnosis. Some like to experiment and have fun with different wig styles and colors, or to alternate wearing a wig and other head coverings, such as hats, turbans, or scarves.

Not sure if a wig is right for you or where to begin looking for one? On this page, you can learn about where to buy a wig or get one for free, how to choose one that suits you, how to care for a wig, and more.

How to prepare for a wig

If you think you might want to get a wig, it’s helpful to take some steps to prepare before you start chemotherapy or another treatment that may cause hair loss. For example:

Consider picking out a wig before you start a treatment that can cause hair loss. You’ll have more energy, and you can get used to wearing the wig in trial sessions, alternating with your own hair.

Where to get a wig

How do you find a wig? There are a number of options:

Wherever you decide to shop for a wig, be sure to find out about return and exchange policies in advance. You may want to try on several wigs at home and return some of them, or you may decide after trying some on that you don’t want to opt for a wig at all. So, it’s useful to know if there will be restocking fees or other limitations on returns.

Covering the cost of a wig

Many health insurance companies cover part or all of the cost of the wig if your doctor writes a prescription. A wig is, after all, a remedy for a treatment side effect, just as important as medication you take to treat nausea. Here are the steps to take if you want to try to get your insurance to pay for your wig:

If you don’t have coverage or would prefer not to go through the process of filing an insurance claim, keep in mind that the American Cancer Society and a number of other organizations offer free or reduced cost wigs to people undergoing cancer treatment. You can find out about options for getting a free wig by searching online, contacting your local chapter of the American Cancer Society, or contacting the social workers at your local cancer center.

Choosing a wig

Here’s how to select a wig that fits well, is high quality, and suits you:

Putting on your wig

Follow these steps to put on your wig and get a good fit:

For step by step instructions on how to put on your wig, watch this video:

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Caring for your wig

With proper care and storage, a synthetic wig should last for 3 to 5 months and a human hair wig should last 9 months to a year of daily wear. Here’s how to keep your wig looking good for as long as possible:

Learn more about wigs

You can learn more about wearing and styling wigs in the following articles:

Join the Conversation

This page was developed with contributions from the following experts:

Carliz Sotelo Teague, founder of Wigs.com

Melissa Hutchison, American Cancer Society patient navigator at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA