How pregnancy changes your hair

Pregnancy can make your hair feel fuller but it can also make it greasier, drier, frizzier or straighter. Oh yes! Here's how to cope, whatever happens on your head

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Will pregnancy change my hair?

Yes, it probably will. And, if you’re lucky, absolutely for the better.

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“Hair changes are a normal physiological event during pregnancy,” says midwife Mary Steen. “Your hair does appear to grow faster, and it definitely becomes thicker. For many women, it get shinier, too – particularly in their 2nd trimester. Others may find it gets drier or greasier instead. Some women notice a change in colour, and some women notice a change in the texture – maybe getting frizzier or even going from straight to curly. “

Why does pregnancy hair change?

Despite your hair feeling thicker, fuller and maybe a different texture, you’re not actually growing more hair. What’s happening is that you’re just not losing as much hair as usual, due to the surge of in your oestrogen and progesterone levels affecting your hair-growth cycle. 

Before you got pregnant, your hair was on a natural 3-month cycle of growing, resting and then gradually shedding. At any one time, around 85% to 95% of your hairs were growing, and 5% to 15% were in the ‘resting’ stage – which gradually leads to shedding, usually when you brush or wash your hair.

However, now that you’re pregnant, your hormones are causing the resting phase of that hair-growth cycle to expand, meaning you’re not shedding nearly as much hair as normal – and that makes it look like you’ve got a fuller head of hair.

When will I see these changes in my hair?

“In my experience, probably not till your 2nd trimester,” says midwife Mary Steen. “In your 1st trimester, when you’re generally not feeling too good, with morning sickness, for example, bad hair days are more common.

“But when you start to feeling better in your 2nd trimester – the ‘blossoming’ phase – your hair improves.

“Of course, the nature of all the changes are mostly dependent on your hormones, your hair type before pregnancy and how you treat it.”

  • Click through this slideshow to find clever ways to cope with your pregnancy hair – however your hormones change it 
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If your hair gets thicker…

Most of us dream about having fuller, thicker hair, and pregnancy sounds like a thick-hair fantasy come true. As MFMer SamSam says, “When my hair became thicker and more volumised, I loved it.”

But, lovely as thick hair is, some folks do find it trickier to deal with that they thought. “Mine was lovely and thick and easy to style,” says MFMer  xLaurax. “but to required a lot of caring for–  and I used a lot of shampoo!” 

Clever ways to make the most of your thicker pregnancy hair

If your hair is long, unleash your inner style goddess and blow-dry with an eye to the ‘oomph’ factor. Apply some mouse for extra effect. And, now that your hair is fuller, you can start experimenting with with different styles that just wouldn’t have worked with your pre-pregnancy hair.

If you find that your hair is too full, try tying it into a glam chignon or a swishy pony tail.

Another great way to decrease fullness is to ask your hairdresser to thin your hair with graduated layers. “This thins thicker hair throughout your whole head, balancing out the thickness and making it easier to style,” says hairdresser Amanda Stone from The Outback Hair Salon.

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If your hair get greasier…

Some mums-to-be find the moisture levels in their hair change rapidly, leaving it oily, greasy and hard to manage.

Fluctuations in your levels of androgen (a sex hormone) can enlarge your skin’s sebaceous glands (tiny glands that sit under your skin), causing an increase of an oily substance known as sebum.

This can cause your hair, as well as your skin, to become greasier than usual, as MFM user OldWomanInAShoe knows only too well: “During my last pregnancy, my hair got really greasy right at the end. I tried so many shampoos, as none of my usual ones were any good.”

Clever ways to deal with greasy pregnancy hair

It seems a bit illogical but greasy hair can become even greasier of you wash it too often – because washing increases the flow of sebum.

However, there are a few other things your can try. Look for a shampoo that says it ’emulsifies’ the oils, and try 2-in-1 shampoos and conditioners, rather than a separate conditioner. (A separate conditioner will generally give greasy hair more moisture than it needs.) And, once a month, use a clarifying shampoo that’s specially designed to remove any build-up of grease and hair product. 

You could also try rinsing your hair in vinegar (diluted to a mixture of 1 tbsp vinegar per 236ml water) or ‘brushing’ the roots of your hair with half of a freshly cut lemon and leaving it for 5 minutes before showering off. 

Failing that, head to your hairdresser and have lots of layers cut into your usual style to give your flat, oily hair some much-needed bounce.

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If your hair gets drier…

It’s not uncommon to find your hair in pregnancy has become dry, coarse and straw-like. This could be down to the fact that your changing body just isn’t stimulating your skin’s sebaceous glands to produce as much of an oily substance called sebum as they used to. Or it could simply be down to the hair products you use no longer being quite right for your changing pregnancy hair.

Dry hair can be annoying prone to breakages and hard to moisturise effectively, as MFMer KB found: “My hair was the driest it had ever been. It felt brittle, limp and desperate for some moisture. But every time I tried another conditioner, it felt like it just stuck to my hair instead of absorbing it.”

Clever ways to deal with dry pregnancy hair

Treat yourself to some leave-in conditioning creams and lotions, which will allow your hair more time to properly absorb the moisture.

Ease off on the shampoo, as this removes natural oils from your hair. When you do shampoo, take your time to massage the shampoo into your scalp, as it’ll help stimulate your oil glands.

Steer clear of heating hair products, such as straightening irons or curlers, as these tend to break already brittle hair.

It’s also worth treating your hair to a replenishing hot-oil treatment. Either in a hair salon or at home, these treatments can provide a quick fix to dehydrated hair. Choose hot-oil treatments with natural ingredients and, preferably, UV filters.

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If you hair goes straight – or curly…

Yep, this is a weird pregnancy change alright. The increased levels of hormones in your pregnant body can cause your hair texture to completely change. If you have poker-straight hair, you might get slight kinks or even full-on curls. If you have curly hair, you might find it will straighten out.

“I have had corkscrew curls since I was a little girl,” says MFMer SallyD, “but, as soon as I entered my 2nd trimester, my beloved curls became limp and people even asked me if I was using hair straighteners. Although my curls returned post-baby, they did lose their bounce a bit.”

Clever ways to deal with curly hair gone straight or straight hair gone curly

The only way to deal with this one is to embrace the change: after you’ve got over the surprise, you might even enjoy having naturally different hair, and it’s only for 9 months after all!

If your normally straight hair becomes curly during pregnancy, dabble in different styles. Enhance your new bounce by putting in some (non-heated) hair rollers to really make the most of those curls.

If you’ve found your hair is a lot straighter than before, do a little dance to celebrate the fact that you no longer need all those products that maintain curly hair at its best. Use this opportunity to ditch the hair products and go au naturel!

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If you want to add some volume to straight hair, you can have choppy layers cut into it, especially around your face area. “By adding a multitude of finely chopped layers around your face, and underneath the heavy layers of hair, you’ll instantly add volume and life into your hairstyle,” says hairdresser Amanda Stone.

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