Hair loss, a common side effect of cancer chemotherapy and radiation treatment, adds insult to injury, affecting a woman’s privacy, comfort and self-esteem. Researchers at Heriot-Watt University’s School of Textiles and Design worked with textile company Murray Hogarth Co. Ltd., Selkirk, Scotland, to develop smart textile scarves that assist cancer patients by concealing hair loss and combating side effects of treatment. The attractive, colorful scarves incorporate micro-encapsulated textile finishes released by friction as the headwear is worn.
Murray Hogarth’s “Asha” collection of scarves, turbans and other handmade headwear features capsules that release aromatic oils (such as aloe vera or lavender), vitamins or moisturizers; provide UV protection; and manage temperature. Business development manager Jim McVee, School of Textiles and Design, facilitated the process of developing prototypes, suggesting new finishes and finding a manufacturer to work with Murray Hogarth. Ten percent of Asha headwear sales are donated to Maggie’s Cancer Charity, which provides direct support to cancer patients.