How to Wear a Scarf When You've Lost Your Hair

If you are coping with hair loss, scarves are an attractive and comfortable alternative to wigs and hats. Scarves can be a good investment, too, because they can be used in so many ways after your hair grows back.

Choosing a scarf

  • Scarves typically come in either a square or oblong style. For a square scarf, look for one that is 35" or larger. Oblong scarves should be about 21"x 78".
  • Pre-tied scarves are the easiest to wear. No folding or elaborate tying are required. These typically have soft, covered elastic at the nape to hold them securely and provide full coverage. . Look for one with a gently padded, contoured front to prevent gaping.
  • Kerchiefs, similar to bandanas, are another easy alternative for women who are dealing with treatment-related hair loss. They fit just about everyone, and some are lightly padded in the front to prevent gaping and fit just about everyone. Kerchiefs only need to be tied once. When the Kerchief is removed, the knot can be left in, so that retying is unnecessary.

How to tie a scarf

Tying scarves is not as hard as it looks, but for security’s sake, it’s a good idea to wear a turban under the scarf until you feel entirely confident about your tying skills. When you are more confident, a headband alone can be used to make tying easier. A padded scarf or hat liner can also hold your scarf securely, as well as adding fullness.

For square scarves

Directions for tying square scarves follow below. All the ways we show start with these simple steps:

  1. Fold the scarf in half into a triangle
  2. Put the scarf on your head with the point of the triangle in the back
  3. Tie the 2 ends of the triangle together in the back of your head over the back part of the triangle.
  4. Gently turn the scarf, moving the knot from the back to the side of your head. (You can also start out by tying the scarf on the side, rather than in back, if this seems easier.)

Bow style

First, follow the above steps, then:

  • Wrap with an elastic band below the knot.
  • Pull some of the scarf through the elastic to give a nice full look.
  • Instead of using an elastic band, you can make another knot and then make a bow to create the same effect.

To the side, with a hair tie or "Scrunchie"

First, follow the above steps, then:

  • Tie the ends of the scarf together in a knot by putting one end over the other.
  • Gently spread the ends for a fuller look.
  • Place a hair tie or scrunchie above the knot.
  • Pull all the ends of the scarf thorough the hair tie or scrunchie.
  • Spread the ends again for a fuller look.

Rosette style (creates the illusion of hair)

First, follow steps 1-4 above, then:

  • Tie a knot by tying one end of the scarf over and under the other.
  • Twist the ends together several times and tuck into the top of the knot.
  • Gently pull through so that a little of the ends stick out.
  • Tuck the ends back into the knot.
  • For added security, use a safety pin to hold the rosette together, or pin it to the padded liner.
  • You can wear the Rosette to the side or in the back of your head. Either way, it will give the impression of hair. Wear a hat with a brim over this style for another pretty look.

For oblong scarves

Basic Wrap Style

Start by folding the width of the scarf in half.

  1. Place the scarf on your head in the middle of your forehead, above your eyebrows, so that both sides of the scarf hang at equal length.
  2. Bring both sides of the scarf to the back of your neck. Place the left side over the right so that it overlaps. Then bring both sides to the front of your head and overlap the right one over the left one.
  3. Bring both sides to the back of your head again. Make a small knot and tuck the ends into the wrap for a neat look.

Double Twist Wrap Style

  • Follow Steps 1 and 2 above.
  • Bring both sides of the scarf to the back of your neck. Place the left side over the right so that it overlaps. Take one side at a time and start twisting it from the top all the way down to the bottom.
  • Take the twisted side and bring it to the front and all around your head to the back. Tuck the scarf end into the wrap. Do exactly the same to the other side of the scarf to get a double twist effect.

Wrap With Rosette

  • Follow Steps 1 and 2 above.
  • Bring both sides of the scarf to the back of your neck. Place the left side over the right so that it overlaps, and make a knot. Then braid both sides together so you have one long braid.
  • To create the rosette, take the braid and wrap it around itself, pulling the end through the knot.
    For added security, use a safety pin(s) to hold the rosette in place.
    Wear the rosette to the side or in the back.

Wrap With Twisted Front and Rosette Back

  • Follow Steps 1 and 2 above.
  • Bring both sides of the scarf to the back of your neck. Place the left side over the right so that it overlaps, and make a knot.
  • Gently twist both sides of the scarf and bring them in front on the top of your head. Take one side of the scarf and overlap it with the other side. Then with both sides in your hand, twist them once (one side over the other) so that you create a knot.
  • Bring both sides of the scarf around to the back of your head. Tie a small knot. To create the rosette, follow the directions above.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Nail LM, Lee-Lin F. Alopecia. In Brown CG, ed. A Guide to Oncology Symptom Management. 2nd ed. Pittsburgh, PA. Oncology Nursing Society; 2015:21-33.

Última revisión médica completa: Diciembre 12, 2018 Actualización más reciente: Diciembre 12, 2018

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