Remember when you were pregnant and your hair was probably looking and feeling the best it ever has? Thick, shiny and easy to style; the crown atop your pregnancy glow. Why can’t that Rapunzel mane last forever and, more importantly, why is it traded in for (what feels like) Homer Simpson’s 4 hairs? Believe it or not, once you get over the initial horror in the shower of handfuls of hair shedding whilst you shampoo, in reality your hair is returning to its original state pre-pregnancy.
Everyone’s hair is actually growing for anything from 3-5 years – this is why some people can grow their hair down to their waists, and some only past their shoulders. If each individual hair on your head was growing for 5 years before naturally falling out, at an average of 6 inches growth per year, that person’s hair will be 12 inches longer than hair that is growing for 3 years.
The hair growth cycle happens in 3 stages:
Anagen – (growing phase) lasting 3-5 years.
Catagen – (resting phase) which lasts around 10 days.
Telogen – (shedding phase) when the hair will fall out.
During pregnancy, your body experiences all sorts of hormonal changes, one of which is preventing hair from entering the shedding phase; so, the 80-100 hairs the average person loses per day are anchored to your head – hello Rapunzel! Further hormonal changes after giving birth cause hair to enter a temporary phase called ‘telogen effluvium’ – usually around 3 months after delivery. This is where all the hair shedding that was on hold throughout your pregnancy comes all at once, causing what feels like excessive hair loss. It is only temporary, and your hair will reset to its regular growth cycle.
But – what has fallen out during telogen effluvium will come back during the next growing phase, giving you lots of new hairs that have been fondly named ‘baby hairs’. In 14 years of hairdressing, the most common complaint I get from new Mums is ‘what can you do about these baby hairs?!’. The honest answer: until some super scientist comes up with a magic shampoo that targets baby hairs to grow 3 times as fast, there’s nothing you or I can actually do about baby hairs.
However, baby hairs are the same as the rest of the hair on your head – they’re just at the start of their cycle; and there are many things we can do to keep our hair healthy. Here are my top tips for maintaining hair health post-pregnancy:
- Regular haircuts. Try and have the ends of your hair snipped away at least once every 12 weeks. You’ll be surprised how quickly your baby hairs catch up with the rest when your ends are looking smart. Alternatively, you could rock a Mum-bob and give them even less distance to travel!
- 2 .Invest in good hair products. I recommend Olaplex shampoo, conditioner and treatment. Olaplex will build the internal strength of your hair, whilst ingredients such as acai berry and rosemary leaf promote hair growth and scalp health. Healthy soil, healthy tree – healthy scalp, healthy hair!
- 3. Take a collagen supplement. Collagen is a protein found within our bodies which when topped up with a supplement, will have benefits for your hair, nails and skin (great for stretch marks too!). If you are breastfeeding, please ensure any supplement you take is suitable to take and seek medical advice if you are unsure.
If at any stage you feel like you have experienced an abnormal amount of hair loss then do not hesitate to talk to your GP. Try not to panic when your hairbrush looks like it has more hair within its bristles than you do on your head – what’s happening is totally normal. So don’t stress, enjoy time with your baby and call your hairdresser for a pamper session!
By Charlotte Morton, Stylist – Pure Hair @hairbycharlotte.phs