Remember your luscious pregnancy hair? A few months after giving birth, that thick mane might start falling out. This postpartum hair loss can feel precipitous and dramatic—all of a sudden, you might spot fistfuls of hair in your drain, or strands clinging to your fingers after you run your hand through your head.
Blame postpartum hair loss on hormones. During pregnancy, estrogen increases, which typically encourages hair growth and improves texture, Adeeti Gupta, MD, founder of Walk In GYN Care, tells Health. But in the postpartum period, estrogen levels drop. Plus, you may have vitamin deficiencies lingering from pregnancy, says Dr. Gupta. All these factors—along with the exhaustion that accompanies being a new parent—can lead to hair loss, she explains.
Not all women experience postpartum hair loss, but it is quite common, notes Dr. Gupta. Fortunately, this is a totally temporary situation. Typically, it’ll take three to four months for the post-baby hair loss to subside and a hair growth phase to cycle through, she says. While you wait for your normal hair thickness to return, there are plenty of options to help you slow the hair loss or mask your thinner mane.
Choose the right postpartum hairstyle
Thanks to the chaos of taking care of a newborn, putting your postpartum hair in a ponytail to get it out of the way might be tempting. But Samantha Sheppard, lead stylist with Glam+Go, recommends against this and other pulled-back styles, which can emphasize thinning hair and put added stress on strands.
Instead, Sheppard suggests a blowout. “[It’s] an easy way to add volume and create the illusion of thicker hair,” she tells Health. Use heat protectant (we like CHI Iron Guard Thermal Protection Spray) to prevent additional breakage, Sheppard recommends. No time for a blowout? Try curls or beach waves, Ashley Valadez, a hairstylist with Supercuts in Nashville, Tennessee, tells Health. “These styles create the illusion of volume,” she says.
Use accessories to your benefit
Try headbands or scarves wrapped around the hairline to disguise thinning strands or baby hairs at your temples, recommends Valadez. “These are easy, on-the-go hairstyles for busy new moms,” she says.
Consider a haircut
It may sound counterintuitive, says Sheppard, but a short 'do can disguise thinning hair. If you’re ready for a change, she suggests a bob, lob, or pixie cut. With shorter hair, you’ll naturally have more volume.
Be strategic with layers
When it comes to layers, tread carefully. Add too many, and you’ll remove bulk and weight from your hair, which is the last thing you want if your hair is thinner than usual, points out Valadez. Instead, says Sheppard, ask your stylist to create layers around your face, but leave the back fuller.
Switch up your product routine
If your postpartum hair is very different from your pregnancy hair—or your pre-pregnancy strands—it only makes sense to try different products. Look for options that include the words volumizing or thickening in their name or description, celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons tells Health.
He recommends Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Elixir ($14; amazon.com), a leave-in treatment that strengthens and reinforces hair. “It’s loaded with keratin, biotin, and zinc, which are all great hair-strengthening ingredients,” says Fitzsimons.
You might also want to try Caviar Anti-Aging Multiplying Volume Styling Mousse ($30; dermstore.com). Yes, mousse—but a modern, crunch-free version. “This formula is designed to heal your hair while you style," Fitzsimons says. "It has ingredients like biotin, algae extract, and caviar extract to nourish your hair all while providing a volumizing lift."
A new shampoo is also a good idea. Valadez recommends Nioxin Cleanser ($23; amazon.com) or Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Scalp Care Anti-Thinning Shampoo ($39; ulta.com). Both options are dedicated to improving scalp health, which is important when it comes to regrowing hair, notes Valadez. Another great shampoo option: TOKYO Perfect Volume Shampoo ($13; amazon.com). Fitzsimmons describes this shampoo as nourishing and full of ingredients designed to strengthen your hair and improve scalp health.
What you eat can help control postpartum hair loss, says Dr. Gupta. Try to consume lots of protein, vitamin-rich foods, green leafy vegetables, and eggs and dairy. She also recommends postpartum hair loss vitamins, such as vitamin D and B-complex vitamins. Omega-3 supplements to help reduce postpartum hair loss, she adds.
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