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Ask a Hairstylist: How to Style Half-Shaved Hair After Surgery

Keep the colour light and the top long.
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Q: Our daughter is going to undergo brain surgery in an effort to control her epilepsy. While a lot about this situation freaks her out, the fact that half of her skull needs to be completely shaved is just the icing on the cake. 

From The Styling Edit Archives

Rhiannon is undergoing brain surgery and will need to have half her head shaved.

She plans to get her hair done before the surgery, as it will give her some sense of control (and not leave her future style in the hands of a neurosurgeon!). But she wants some advice on how she can pull off the “half-bald” look with some sort of flair—and how to best grow it out, as she wants long hair again.

It’s going to be a U-shaped incision at the top of her head. Picture someone looking down at a head and drawing a U from one side (starting from halfway back or so) to the other, flat on top of your head. The sides of the U start basically where her ears start, but high up on the head, at the top... and the bottom of the U is at the very back of the top of her head. Does that explain it?

Rhiannon wants to have long hair again after her surgery.

We’re at a loss as to what to suggest, as she’s not keen on going 100 percent bald. We grew up in the Sinéad O'Connor era, so we think bald is gorgeous! But we know Bill will have ideas. Please inspire her to feel positive about this next step in her life! Thanks in advance. — Wendy and Sean for our daughter, Rhiannon

A: Rhiannon, you are brave and smart...

The best way to tackle this situation is with a preemptive hairstyle in place before surgery, for sure!

So let's start with the colour, which should be done as early before the surgery as the doctors say is safe. I figure the lighter you go with colour, it's a great way to trick the eye—if it's a shade closer to your scalp's colour. This will draw the eye to the bright new colour.

Since you eventually want long hair again, you will have to bridge the gap between the short and long bits, and it will be a process. So you might as well take a walk on the wild side. Eventually the long bits will be cut out, along with the colour.

Here is a pretty version of a shaved side cut with great colour that you can flip over your scar:

Long blonde hair with shaved sides.

This is the more dramatic version, with a stronger colour:

Chin-length platinum hair with shaved sides.

If you ever wanted to be bleached blonde, then this would be the time to do so. With this cut, you could just part it on the other side to give you really good coverage.

Then to bridge the gap from the short to long, this cut could do the trick:

Jaime Pressly at the 2014 premiere of 'The Nut Job.'

Short blonde undercut hairstyle.

Keeping the top long throughout your process will aid you in getting your long hair back faster. 

The hair at your nape will show length first, and usually it takes twice as long for the top to grow back from a short cut. The top strands have a further distance to go to catch up to the nape.

Then grow your hair and colour the blonde to work with your new look.

Short haircut with shaved sides.

I would add a bandana into the mix and make it a part of your personal style.

Rosie the Riveter wearing her bandana.

Here are a few ways of sporting bandanas that I really like:

Bandana worn across the forehead.

Bandana tied at the top.

Bandana tied at the nape.

Bandana worn as a wide headband.

Bandana worn as a skinny headband.

Here is a method of folding a handkerchief.

How to fold a bandana—step one.

How to fold a bandana—step two.

How to fold a bandana—step three.

How to fold a bandana—step four.

It's good to keep the area warm if you're in a cold climate. This knit version was being worn by a stylish waitress at the restaurant I was having lunch at yesterday:

Knit headband in hot pink.

I'm not sure where you reside, but if you live in the Toronto area, I would love to take care of your new style for you complimentary.

The best healing energy spent is being proactive and positive…


Bill Angst is one of Canada’s top celebrity hairstylists and the owner of Angst Hair at 240 Queen Street East in Toronto. Call 416-360-5942 to book an appointment.