Are you considering cold cap therapy to save your hair on chemo?

Published: March 15, 2023

Cold cap therapy, sometimes called scalp cooling, works by freezing the hair follicles on your scalp, causing them to go into hibernation, and reducing the chemotherapy drugs from penetrating the roots.

It’s been around for almost 20 years but is still chemo’s best-kept secret. The good news is that the dial is beginning to shift, and more people diagnosed with cancer are told about cold capping. That’s because oncologists now recognize that a patient’s mental health can negatively impact their recovery following chemo.

Hair loss is one of chemo’s most devastating side effects for many patients, especially women. It can cause depression, affect their sense of well-being and undermine confidence and hinder a full recovery.

We asked several of our patients why it was important for them to save their hair on chemo. Here’s what they said: Why people choose to cold cap to save their hair on chemo.

If you’ve just received a cancer diagnosis and are considering cold capping, you will undoubtedly have many questions. Here are just a few our reps are regularly asked.

Why is hair loss a side effect of chemotherapy?

By their very nature, cancer cells have a ‘fast division’ rate. That’s why some more aggressive forms of cancer spread so quickly. Chemotherapy drugs work by attacking cells with a ‘fast division rate’. The problem is they can’t distinguish between nasty cancer cells and other fast-dividing cells in the body, including your hair follicles. This means the chemo attacks these cells too, which is why you may lose your hair on chemo.


Do doctors recommend cold capping?

For years doctors have dismissed the idea of cold capping, thinking of it as an unnecessary or even frivolous diversion from their primary purpose – getting rid of cancer. But as already mentioned, attitudes to patient well-being and recovery are changing.

57% of our customers are now referred by their medical team, and that’s because of the success health professionals have seen with other patients.

Will it work with my drug regimen?

Depending on the type of cancer you have and at what stage, you will likely be prescribed a regimen of several different chemo drugs. Some drug regimens cause more hair loss than others, but your Penguin Rep can offer advice on your treatment. Patients on some of the harshest drug regimens have had success with Penguin Cold Caps, so don’t give up hope – but all of our patients say that to get the best results, you must follow your rep’s instructions to the letter.

To find out more, see Check your drug regimen will work with Penguin Cold Caps

What makes the Penguin Cold Cap system so successful?

Success relies on keeping all parts of the scalp cooled to the right temperature while the chemo drugs are coursing around your body.

No bald patches: Penguin caps are filled with a pliable Crylon gel which molds gently to fit the shape of your scalp perfectly, ensuring no gaps. If there are any gaps, the hair follicles in these areas won’t be sufficiently cooled, which is when bald patches happen.

  1. Comfort: The specially formulated gel is cooled to the optimal temperature, cold enough to send your hair follicles into hibernation but not too cold that it’s unbearable to wear.
  2. Manual, not machine: Penguin is a manual cold cap therapy treatment. This means you can continue to cool your scalp for the recommended time after the chemotherapy infusion has stopped. If you use a machine-based system, you may be asked to leave the clinic within one hour after your treatment. This means your scalp will warm up too soon, allowing the chemo toxins to attack your hair follicles, leading to hair loss.
  3. Our reps: Penguin has a network of reps and experienced cappers who offer support and help you get the best results. Many of our reps are former cancer patients and used Penguin Cold Caps to save their hair during treatment. They were so impressed with the results they wanted to help others in the same situation. As a result, they understand precisely what you are going through and what you need from them.

Cheryl is a Penguin rep and former Penguin Cold Caps patient. Read Cheryl’s story

Will I get the same results from a Dry Ice and Freezer kit?

The caps must be cooled to the optimal temperature before your chemo session. Penguin supplies a thermometer with the cold caps so you can check to ensure the caps reach the right temperature before you put them on.

Some chemo clinics have a bio-medical freezer where you can cool the caps, but many don’t. In this case, you’ll need a Penguin dry-ice freezer kit with a cool box. You’ll need to source the dry ice in your local area. But don’t worry; your Penguin Rep will help you find a local provider and tell you exactly what you need to order. The results will be the same as long as the caps are cooled to the correct temperature.

These are just a few questions we get asked; you probably have many more

Get in touch

If you’ve just received a cancer diagnosis and any of these concerns resonate with you, we’ll put you in touch with your local rep. They will be able to answer all your questions about cold capping and offer support throughout your treatment.

Email us at, call us at +44 (0)20 8004 4683, or click here to request a callback.

If you have any questions about cold capping, or anything else related to your chemo treatment, why not join the Facebook Chemotherapy Support Group – with thousands of members reaching out to each other, someone will no doubt be able to offer you first hand advice.