Last winter, Elizabeth Shepard drew compliments on her new hairstyle. The shorter look was "a little bit spiked, a little bit edgy and fun," said the District resident, a vice president and senior financial adviser at Merrill Lynch.

What people didn't know, said Shepard, was that it was a wig.

She got the style idea through "Look Good . . . Feel Better," a national service program whose workshop she attended in February -- a few weeks after she began chemotherapy for breast cancer. The treatment, which lasted until May, caused her hair to fall out.

At Look Good's free two-hour sessions, volunteer cosmetologists offer grooming tips to women undergoing radiation or chemotherapy. Two examples: Find an adjustable-size wig, so it can be tightened securely, or make a head scarf out of a cut-up T-shirt.

Wigs, scarves and hats are available for trying on at workshops but are not for sale. Participants also learn to pencil in real-looking eyebrows and receive a free makeup kit from the program's co-sponsors: the American Cancer Society; the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association Foundation; and the National Cosmetology Association.

"You can go through this treatment and still feel beautiful," said Shepard. "[The program] gives you the confidence you need to pick up kids at school and meet your clients -- to face your life."

To register for upcoming sessions on Monday, Aug. 9, call Reston Hospital at 703-689-9330 or the National Naval Medical Center at 301-295-6360.

For information on other Look Good sessions and programs, like "2bMe" for teens, call 800-395-5665 or see

-- Samantha Ganey