Free wigs and hair loss workshops for patients with Afro hair

Monday 18 September 2023

A patient is seated and having a wig fitted.  A hairdresser is standing next to her.

Shirley Forest and hairdresser Natasha Gordon at the wig service in Guy's Cancer Centre

Patients with Afro hair who experience hair loss because of alopecia or during cancer treatment, can get free wigs and scalp treatments at Guy’s and St Thomas’ on referral. 

September is Alopecia Awareness Month, and helps to raise awareness of alopecia and its impact on people living with it. It is an autoimmune condition that damages hair follicles and causes hair loss.

The majority of wigs provided by Browns, the Trust’s wig supplier based at Guy’s Cancer Centre, are suitable for patients with Afro hair. There are a wide range of wigs available including those with lace fronts or a parting, and synthetic and human hair wigs that can be styled with heat protection products, as well as after care products to maintain the wigs appearance.

Shirley Forest, 50, from Brixton has a form of alopecia, which caused the hair on her head to become patchy and bald in places and the loss of hair on her eyebrows. Shirley’s hair loss problem started five years ago, and she has been cared for by the dermatology department at Guy’s Hospital since 2021, using a range of treatments including medication, specialist shampoos and ointments. 

Shirley said: “I depend on my wigs. For me it's like my hat. Even to get up to go out the house can be an effort if I don't feel good, because I know what's underneath. 

“It's good to have the wig service because they understand what I need. I need a wig that is light and manageable so that my head is able to breathe. If I go to the shops they will say try this or get that, but I have allergies and I don't know which wigs will set things off.”

Hairdresser Natasha Gordon at the wig service at Guy’s Cancer Centre, said: "We have braids, we have twists and many other styles. I'm over the moon when a patient is happy, because you see them light up. They may come in here and they are not in the best of health or frame of mind. But when you get that person saying you've changed their life or you've made them feel better you feel that you are making a difference to that person's life, even if it's just for that moment.”

Cancer Hair Care also run free drop-in sessions at Guy’s Cancer Centre on Thursdays for patients receiving chemotherapy treatment. They provide advice on a range of options including scalp cooling to minimise hair loss during chemotherapy, ways to look after your scalp, workshops on specialist headwear, and products for natural hair types.

Cancer Hair Care is supported by Guy’s Cancer Charity. The charity supports Guy’s Cancer to transform cancer care through the very latest developments in personalised care. From tailored treatments to the ongoing support of the dedicated clinicians, they help fuel innovation and support advances in cancer care. 

Jasmin Julia Gupta, founder of Cancer Hair Care, said: “We offer independent, expert guidance for all hair types including specialist guidance for Afro hair. From advice about removing weaves and braids prior to hair loss right through to when it may be appropriate to relax hair or have braids added to new hair growth. Our specialists really know how to guide people so that they have the inner confidence to make choices." 

Colin Kinloch, Director of Funding at Guy’s Cancer Charity, said: “Hair type, gender and age can all have a significant impact on the physical and emotional experiences of hair loss and we are delighted that thanks to our generous donors we are able to support Cancer Hair Care to provide this vital service for patients at the Trust.

“Ensuring services are inclusive to all is a shared priority of the Charity and the Trust and we are proud to support Jasmin and her team in this important and impactful work.”

Georgia Sang, senior nursing assistant in the Chemotherapy Day Unit at Guy’s Cancer Centre, said:

Every patient is different. Some patients will want to wear head scarfs or to try wigs. Others will prefer the freedom of a bare head. We want our patients to know that whatever their condition, whether that’s for alopecia or cancer, support is available to find the right options for them. We want our patients to feel as confident as they can be throughout their treatment with us.


Last updated: September 2023

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