Haircare & Hair Tutorials

6 Ideas for How to Style Short Hair After Chemo

Following treatment for breast cancer, many people experience the phase of tight curls called "chemo curls" and may struggle to find new styles for their shorter hair. The texture of your hair and the speed at which it regrows following chemotherapy can differ for each person, but knowing how to style it at each stage can build confidence. In this post, I will share six ideas for how to style your fresh new baby hair after cancer.

How to Style Short Hair After Chemo

Caring for newly regrown hair post-chemo requires delicate attention. Opt for gentle cleansing routines using sulfate-free shampoos to avoid stripping natural oils. Moisturizing treatments, like leave-in conditioners or hair masks, replenish hydration lost during treatment. Shield fragile strands from heat damage by minimizing heat styling and using heat-protectant products when necessary. Embrace protective hairstyles to minimize stress on delicate hair. Remember, patience and tender care are key to nurturing your hair back to health.

Managing your chemo curls can be a new adventure and challenge, and in this post, I share more about the tools and approaches I found helpful. As your chemo curls get longer, creating more of an intentional short hairstyle will be easier. There are many beautiful ways to style short hair, from braids and twisted bangs to classic 80s hairstyles like the bob perm and even the super badass slicked-back look. Recreating these looks with a little knowledge, the right styling product, and a lot of patience is easy! Read on for five ways to style short hair to help you embrace your lovely locks.

How to Style Short Hair After Chemo

Curly Bob

We often associate curls with long locks, but curls can be beautiful on shorter hair as well. As more women embrace their naturally curly hair, it can inspire your chemo curl hair phase. I loved browsing Pinterest and Instagram for hair inspo during this phase of my chemo hair regrowth.  If your chemo curls need taming or you want to add more formed curls to your short hair, you can do so with heated styling tools, pomade, or curl cream. Add moisture and hydration to your curls with this curl product as well.

Straightener vs. Curling Iron

At the very short hair phase after treatment, you might find that it’s easier to use a mini straightener to style your hair vs. using a curling iron or wand.


Although those of us with short hair can’t have braids hanging down our backs, we can still style our hair with plaits in many pretty ways. The key to a polished braid hairstyle on shorter hair is to section off small amounts of hair and leave the rest of your locks loose to give the appearance of fullness. You can also loosen smaller braids to create a look of more volume.

During my hair growth after chemotherapy, I leaned into braids on the front of my hair to frame my face. This style creates a fancy half-up, half-down style that gives maximum impact for minimum effort. A side French braid is a really beautiful look for a special occasion as well. This loose French braid can be done on shorter hair with some practice.

Braided Updo Tutorial for Short Hair

Check out this how-to video for step-by-step instructions on how to recreate this braided updo on short hair. This was one of my go-to hairstyles as my hair got a bit longer after chemo.

Braided Updo hairstyle

Twisted Bangs

As your hair grows back, you will notice the front and sides grow much faster than the back. This is just the natural way our hair grows, though it can be frustrating. To style this longer hair in the front, you can also twist the bangs to get a striking style in just a few short minutes. This is particularly good for pixie-length hair.

To achieve this style, section off a part of hair from one ear to the other over your head. You will then pin back the rest of your hair and begin twisting the separated section in small pieces. Grab another section of hair and twist that in adding to the originally twisted piece. It’s similar to the French braid process, but you’re twisting instead of plaiting. Keep going in this manner, as you sweep around the front of your hairline, finishing on the opposite side you started. Secure with bobby pins and hairspray. For this style a texturizing spray or volume powder really helps as your braiding by making the hair less slippery.

Slicked back

Slicked-back hair is one of the major trends that is still strong on red carpets and runways. The great news is it works just as well with short hair as it does with long hair. If you want to add twist to the slicked back look, try slicking down the sides and adding curls on the top. This works particularly well if your top hair regrowth gets longer and you choose to keep the sides trimmed.

How to Create the Slicked-Back Style

The slicked-back look is easy to achieve with a few products. Apply wax or your favorite styling product to your damp hair, and then slick it back into position with a fine-tooth comb. Use a mini straightener to curl the top sections for curls on the top. Finish with a blast of hairspray to set, and voila! Krystle and Kristen are both rocking this amazing style below.

How to Style Short Hair After Chemo


Yes, the bouffant style is normally linked with the 1950s or 2000s, but it is a fun way to give great dimension to shorter hair.

You can use a volumizing, texturizing powder to give your hair more grit before you get started. I like to use a teasing comb to backcomb for additional volume. Start at the back of your head and work forward, layering each section that is backcombed over the one behind it. You can then smooth it out with a smoothing brush for a bump-free finish.

Bouffant | How to Style Short Hair After Chemo

Which of these hairstyles will you try first? Have some fun and treat each of these hairstyles for short hair as an adventure during your hair regrowth process.

We'd love to hear from you! Share your own journey with styling short hair after chemotherapy in the comments below. Whether you've discovered a unique styling technique, found a holy grail product, or simply want to offer words of encouragement to others on a similar path, your insights are invaluable. Let's come together as a supportive community, sharing our stories, tips, and triumphs as we navigate this journey of hair regrowth together. Your contribution could make all the difference to someone else going through a similar experience. Can't wait to hear from you!

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