How Parlor Owner Gwenn LeMoine Transforms A Cancer Survivor’s Hair Experience

It can take a short two weeks for a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy to lose their hair. Among the common side effects of cancer treatment, hair loss is ranked high as one of the emotional turning points for patients. It’s a physical marker for the internal battle that’s unfolding.

We’ve all felt it before. The freedom to experiment with one’s hair is a way to convey identity. Dye it platinum? Chin-length bob? Leave it natural? As society has it, our identities are often wrapped up in these decisions, and once that freedom is taken away, it’s a loss that only adds injury to an already difficult situation. But, the beauty of hair is that it’s easily pliable! Two weeks post-chemotherapy, a thin layer of hair will appear, and it doesn’t take long before one can strut a new short look that’s intentional.

At Parlor, we care deeply about transforming lives by transforming one’s relationship to their hair. This month, Parlor founder and owner Gwenn LeMoine, used her “fairy hair dust,” also known in the hair industry as enlightener and years of experience, to help cancer survivor Carrie Herrera, reimagine her hair experience after completing her final round of radiation in December.

“I had a good amount of my self-worth wrapped up in my hair at different times in my life,” Carrie said. “I had a lot of [hair], and most of the time it was long enough for a bun. The idea of being bald was beyond frightening.”

After being told by her physician that hair loss was an unfortunate, but inevitable part of her chemotherapy, Carrie purchased a wig. It was difficult to find a headcover that she liked. From scarves to hats, Carrie ended up preferring knit caps, the most comfortable out of the options, she said. Yet, on the occasions she wanted to feel dressed up  and go out to dinner with her husband, she wore her wig, a synthetic blonde with highlights, to “blend in.”

Wigs are a great option for women and men who want a natural look while undergoing treatment. Once treatment is over, and one’s natural hair begins to grow back, there can still be hesitancy to make the transition back to embracing a short hair look.

After a few months post-radiation for Carrie, Gwenn visited her in Palm Springs. A light layer of hair had grown back on Carrie’s scalp. Even with the new hair growth, Gwenn noticed that Carrie still preferred her wig.

“It almost felt like she was putting on a veil in the way that she felt the need to cover herself,” Gwenn said.

As a stylist, this was Gwenn’s ah-ha! moment. She immediately  paid a visit to a local Sally Beauty. She collected supplies to craft a new look for Carrie. Simplicity and creativity were key. With those two elements, Gwenn elevated Carrie’s hair into a stylized short hair do’ with flare. It helped Carrie make that emotional leap of confidence for her next chapter of recovery.

“Gwenn said, ‘Now is the time to go platinum. It will make your hair look intentional.’ I hadn’t really thought about it, but she was a hundred percent right and I knew it right away,” Carrie said. “I was excited to make the leap and fully confident in her ability to transform me. Even though she had to go to a Sally Beauty and come up with the products to use, with a master stylist like Gwenn, there’s no need to worry.”

From wig to her new edgy color, Carrie described the sensation of being out in public with her natural locks as a testimony to her fighter mentality. Her new hair embodies her “I ain’t scared of nothing!” attitude.

“[The new color] just made her whole look, look on purpose, like she was just gutsy and had a “short hair don’t care” kinda look,” Gwenn said. “First, she chose to hang out by the pool at the Avalon, then the next day we went out and by lunch time she had her first bystander reach out and say how cool her hair was.  It made me so proud!”

With some quick wit by Gwenn, Carrie was able to step into her next chapter of recovery with confidence.  Post-chemotherapy is a time period that according to MEND, an organization dedicated to providing resources to cancer survivors by educating friends and families of their unique needs, can be the most difficult.

While undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, it’s difficult to create and sustain a sense of normalcy. But upon recovery, it’s equally as easy to forget how to rebuild that normalcy. A survivor’s relationship to their hair can play a large role in reclaiming one’s sense of health. That’s why Parlor has partnered with MEND to provide Aveda gift baskets to cancer survivors. The baskets will include products to aid in the hair growth process and help survivors style their hair in different stages of length.

As a stylist, and at Parlor,  transforming a client’s relationship to their hair is one of the most fulfilling aspects of the job. For Gwenn, it was an honor and a blast to help Carrie in her journey!

And Carrie was overjoyed with her new look, “I haven’t worn the wig for a minute since. And I won’t. I feel so free.”

photo courtesy: @libbyboggsbeauty and Gwenn LeMoine


Haircuts From Around the World: From Melbourne to Japan

POSTED: 02/3/18 8:00 AM

Traveling has a magical element of inspiration. Inspiration for fashion. Inspiration for food. And inspiration for hair.  From the cobblestones of Paris to the blue lagoons in Iceland, a trip abroad isn’t always just about sightseeing, but also people watching. Noticing the magnificent curls of a passerby, in the city of lights, has the power … Continue reading Haircuts From Around the World: From Melbourne to Japan

The Power of The Pixie And Other Amazing Short Cuts

POSTED: 01/19/18 12:27 AM

  The power of the pixie. It is true that history can be mapped by an era’s style and cultural icons, and the pixie cut is no exception. The hairstyle was first popularized in the ’20s alongside the women’s suffragist movement, when cutting ones locks into a short, cropped look was associated with women’s empowerment, … Continue reading The Power of The Pixie And Other Amazing Short Cuts

Holiday Travel Hair Kits

POSTED: 12/15/17 8:00 AM

The holidays are a time for celebration and a time for travel. From a short road trip to a cross-country flight, more people travel during the holidays than any other time of the year, but the hustle of festivities shouldn’t mean your hair regimen goes to the wayside. We’re making it easier than ever to … Continue reading Holiday Travel Hair Kits

Parlor goes Pink!

POSTED: 10/27/17 5:15 PM

Click HERE to donate!   October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!  Parlor has teamed up with Hair To Stay, the only national non-profit organization that helps low-income chemotherapy patients afford scalp cooling.  This is a revolutionary treatment rarely covered by insurance as it is considered a medical luxury.  The potential for hair loss robs a patient’s … Continue reading Parlor goes Pink!

Earth Month 2017!

POSTED: 08/3/17 10:15 PM

Each year, Parlor and Aveda team up with Global Green Grants (globally) and Clean Ocean Action (locally) to raise money for clean water projects.  This year, Parlor is proud to announce that we were the top fund raiser in the entire North-East region!  This is all thanks to you, our Parlor guys and gals! Through … Continue reading Earth Month 2017!

A bangin’ new look

POSTED: 08/3/17 9:15 PM

Summer is upon us! This means new blooms, new adventures, and obviously new hair. If you’re looking for a way to update your hairstyle without completely chopping it off, consider some fresh fringe. (Or just go ahead and chop it off. Dooo it.) Bangs can make a huge difference in how you show off your face shape … Continue reading A bangin’ new look

So you wanna have cool hair?

POSTED: 04/16/17 1:15 PM

Over the past few years fashion colors have taken the Internet and therefore the world by storm. No longer is it the domain of angst-ridden high school students with access to Manic Panic. Alternative, unnatural hair colors have become more widely accepted in the workplace, which in turn makes ours even more fun.