I’ve been receiving a huge number of questions about hair care while pregnant. I get them in my inbox, over twitter, in blog post comments… This is the only one that was actually submitted to the Ask a Beauty Blogger question form, but I thought it was a good time to address this question and a few other pregnancy hair care questions (note that I’m not even going to try to answer that hair dye and pregnancy question that is always so controversial. I leave that up to you, your OB and your hair stylist).
First, to answer Sushmita’s actual question, I pulled in the big guns. Meaning, my hair stylist from California, the woman I miss dearly (my hair stylist here in Michigan is good, but she just isn’t Shannon), and if I could afford it I would really, truly fly to California every 6 weeks to see Shannon. She is that nice of a person and that good. Shannon Ely works at Salon TM2 in Irvine, if you go and see her tell her I say hi!
Here’s what Shannon had to say to Sushmita:
Of course you may cut and trim your hair throughout your entire pregnancy. I, personally, tell my pregnant clients that I won’t do any drastic changes to their cuts at this time however because hormones make them want to change their look and then they typically are regretful. Soo… Wait for your hormones to get back to normal before you decide to try that pixie cut you’ve always wanted.
This is soooo true. I can’t even tell you how many of my friends have chopped (and I mean chopped) and all of them regretted it. Everyone blamed it on hormones run amok.
What we haven’t mentioned yet is that one of the reasons so many women want to cut their hair is that pregnancy hormones mess with your hair’s normal growth cycle. (Read more about hair growth cycles in my Laser Hair Removal at Home post). Basically, everything gets stuck in Anagen (growth) phase without entering the Catagen/Involution phase. So, instead of losing the normal average of 100 hairs a day, things just… stick around.
Many pregnant women love this, they have very full hair with tons of volume. If you’re like me, and you started with very thick hair, the increase in volume can make your hair much harder to style. I normally get my hair “thinned” (meaning my stylist will trim some out much higher to bring down the volume), and it was really hard to not increase the amount of thinning. It is best to continue what you normally do, because all of that extra hair will be coming out.
Once your hormones return to “normal”, you can expect all of that hair stuck in Anagen will enter Catagen and will start shedding. Many women report seeing this sometime after giving birth. They’ll start shedding a lot of hair, and it is such a dramatic increase over what they were losing while pregnant that they feel like they’re going bald! You can see this shedding start at some point up to 6 months or so after delivery, and it can last for months or even up to a year. Note that because it is related to hormone levels, this can be altered quite a bit by nursing as well. Personally, I had my hair start shedding a little bit more about 4 months or so after delivery, but the big shedding didn’t start until after my daughter finally weaned at 16 months. I only had about 2 months of heavy shedding (lucky me), but I lost about 40% of the volume of my hair, even I was feeling bald! (But, the result really was that I was back to where I started, still a lot of volume, just less than I had grown used to having.)
What can you do about the hair shedding? Not much. There are no magic serums, vitamins or hair growth products that can stop this process. NONE. This is hormonally driven. What you can affect is the over all health of your hair and any shedding that you would have from other reasons. You will see shedding if you have thyroid issues (so, if you have so much that it worries you go check with your doctor), for nutritional issues (a healthy diet and maybe even a multivitamin can help, use a prenatal if you’re still nursing), and biotin has been shown to increase hair growth rate in studies. So, you can add a biotin supplement or make sure your multivitamin has at least 1 mg a day. Finally, make sure your hair is healthy and minimize breakage. So, heavy conditioning, avoid heat styling and still get trims to take care of split ends.