One of the things I was caught off guard by after having a baby was the fact that I would begin to lose my lustrous, pregnancy-fueled hair months after giving birth. It was definitely annoying, but it’s a part of the game, and being prepared with solutions and patience is key.
Postpartum hair loss affects some of us ladies worse than others. The loss period usually starts a few months after childbirth but for some is delayed and can begin anywhere from 6-12 months after giving birth. For me, it happened roughly 6 months after I’d given birth to each of my kids. And yes, it sucked. It’s not fun. But it’s important to remember that it’s temporary.
For me, the hair loss was nothing compared to the brutal regrowth period. The hair loss is impossible not to notice. It seems like every square foot of your home is now inhabited by long strands of hair. You start to spot clumps of hair swirling around in the shower drain, see some rogue strands on your pillow, and even maybe a piece or two shows up wrapped around your baby’s pinky toe. The hair is all over everything, except the one place where you’d like it to be-your head. For us girls, that can be a pretty big bummer since a lot of us feel like our hair is a big part of what defines our femininity.
While you’re pregnant, your body is so loaded up with estrogen and progesterone that you essentially shed no hair and your hair just grows and grows. It’s a good hair moment. A few months after you give birth, your hormones continue to rage and then BAM- they settle down and your scalp decides to make up for lost time and just rapidly eject the hair from your head.
Hair usually sheds about 80 strands a day on average. When you experience postpartum hair loss, you shed roughly 400 strands a day. Some women find the loss of hair to be extremely noticeable, like bald spots, while others, because of- uh- their hair pattern, maybe- don’t notice much besides thinner overall hair. This was me, so I was lucky. But then…the regrowth.
Tiny hairs begin to sprout up all over your head, but it’s most noticeable to you at the front of your head (because that’s the part you see when you look in the mirror). Until they reach the length where they can sort of “go with the flow” of your hair and sit themselves down, there’s just a mass of spiky, short, unsightly and difficult-to-tame hairs. I have countless selfie snaps in my phone which I’ve sent to my mom friends through this hellish hair horror show with me frowning and pointing at the legions of spikes that had sprouted up above my forehead. Despite my best efforts, after I had Gray, I was unable to do anything at all to fix them. It seemed like I couldn’t find any good solutions that worked in the short-term. I took my prenatal vitamins and tried to awkwardly blow dry them into place and spray them down but it was essentially a waiting game.
By the time I entered round two of postpartum hair loss and regrowth, I had done my research and practiced lots of trial and error, so I was armed with a few strategies that made the experience so much more bearable.
Here they are:
1.) Use plain old drugstore clear mascara to minimize the drama. The trick here is to think of it as a buildable product and don’t just swipe a bunch of times so that you coat your hair with a thick layer. If you do that, you’ll end up with an obvious clump of shiny goop in your hair, and it’s not a good look. Be sure to swipe off the excess product and go in lightly on the hairline and your part line with the wand little by little. It’s fairly heavy, so to avoid a matted-down or crunchy/greasy look (which will only draw more attention to the spikes), just continue swipe lightly and repeat as necessary. Tip totally unrelated to this blog subject: I also use this product in lieu of brow gel to keep my brows in place through the day).
2.) This trick was shared with me my by my sister-in-law Christine, who owns a hair salon, and it works incredibly well. Use a color brush (the stiff-bristled brush that hairstylists use to mix color) with hairspray and go in and apply the hairspray to the little flyaways. If you don’t have one of those, a toothbrush will work as well. Simply smooth them out with the stiff bristles. You can watch Christine demonstrating this trick here in her salon’s insta stories highlights.
3.) Make sure your ponytail isn’t furthering the damage. Wear hair ties that are soft and don’t cause more breakage. Wearing your hair down is the least damaging thing, but not at all practical with little ones around (especially at that age when their new gripping skills and hand-eye coordination meet in the middle and they discover a new love for hair-pulling!) so try for looser styles such as low buns.
4.) If the loss is extremely noticeable, and you have actual bald patches, try a colored spray hair powder. I have friends who love using this stuff. Go easy with it- it’s pretty severe pigment- but it can make a big difference at masking the loss.
5.) Keep taking those prenatals and nourish your hair and scalp from the inside by eating a healthy diet that includes natural fats such as avocado and nuts.
6.) Talk to your hairstylist about an approach to mask the loss. Whether it’s through color or cutting, these professionals are highly visual and can help you come up with the way to mask your loss based on your hair’s texture and color, and the way you style it.
7.) Play around with styling and accessories. Bandanas, bobby pins and even switching up your part can help cover the parts where you’re the most insecure.
Regardless of how hair loss makes you feel, I do urge you to try and remember that the loss and the regrowth is much more noticeable to you than anyone else, and it’s temporary. As with so many other things in this journey of motherhood, this is just a season. Logan is currently 18 months old and my regrowth is almost down to my chin and just blends in with the rest of my hair. As much as you may wish to fast-forward through this awkward phase, remember all the glorious milestones that you are experiencing with your baby, and just be present. It’ll be a distant memory soon enough.