Melanie Allen has been a dear friend for years. I’ve done her hair for the Chamber Ball, her wedding, birthday parties, and, of course, cut and color on a regular basis.

One year ago, as a result of treatments for breast cancer, she lost all her hair. I’ve never seen anyone be such a great sport about it. She went through hell and back, and, thank God, now she’s on the other side of it.

Like many people who suffer from breast cancer and are treated with chemotherapy, Melanie has ended up with a new growth of what we call “chemo curl.” The new hair grows in very tight and curly. It’s usually much darker or sometimes comes back gray.

Melanie used to have very long, straight hair and be almost a platinum blonde (thanks to me). As you can see in the before picture, Melanie’s hair is now very dark and very, very, very tight curls. It’s the definition of a Caucasian version of an Afro.

After some time of her dealing with this and her hair getting bigger instead of longer, we decided it was time to do something. She couldn’t deal with having her hair so dark.

It is very uncertain as to what is going to happen as far as trying to relax the curl because the texture of the hair is entirely different after chemotherapy.

I decided to put some sections of caramel throughout her hair just to get the overall image of it being lighter, but up close it has a lot of dimension.

Then I had to give her a Keratin relaxer to see the final outcome as far as the length and shape were concerned. It was impossible to tell with it being so curly.

I shampooed it several times with clarifying shampoo to just open the outer layer, or cuticle, allowing the treatment to penetrate and relax some of the curls. We both agreed that it didn’t matter if it stayed wavy, but the curls were so tight that I needed to relax it a bit.

The after picture is adorable, isn’t it? I had to flat iron it to see what the style was, so I could see how to cut it. I cut some bangs to make it fun, and it was a lot longer than we both expected. I just trimmed around the edges and evened up the layers to give her a cute short-ish style.

It should grow in very nicely, so that both the cut and color maintenance should be easy. I’m actually hoping that her hair does have a little wave to it, just as long as the curls are relaxed, and she has a decent haircut and lighter color.

We’re both extremely happy, and the best part is that Melanie is cancer free.

Joy Ross is owner of Style It Salon in Old Town Bluffton.