I was hurrying through my shower, popping my head out of the curtain every 90 seconds, straining to hear if the baby was crying. She was…she wasn’t?...she was? Phantom baby crying is a real thing.
Unable to tell, I decided my shower was over. I ran my hand through my hair one last time to check for any un-rinsed product. Along with the remaining vestiges of conditioner, I also found myself holding a small clump of hair.
Oh, no. It’s happening. Postpartum hair loss
In addition to many other delightful postpartum side effects, hair loss (or telogen effluvium) affects more than half of new moms.
It can start any time after giving birth, and last for up to a year postpartum.
It was some small comfort to learn that I’m not actually losing tons of hair. Pregnancy hormones usually give women the appearance of thicker, more lustrous hair (nature’s way of apologizing for the acne, heartburn, and hemorrhoids?), but what’s actually happening is you stop shedding. Nine months later you have the baby, your hormones return to their normal levels, and all of the hair you didn’t lose while pregnant starts to fall out.
That said, hair can come out in clumps or distinct patches, giving you little bald spots or a receding hairline.
I know it’s only temporary, but that didn’t stop me from investigating my options for restimulating new growth and protecting the strength of the hair I still have. My stipulations for myself were budget-friendly, not time consuming, painless, and easy to do.
If you’re experiencing postpartum hair loss (or just want to protect the integrity of your hair in general) here are five things that are working for me.
1. Restimulate Hair Growth
I keep it super simple (and inexpensive) by using essential oils to massage my scalp, which enhances blood flow to the follicles while sloughing off impurities that can potentially impede new growth.
Use before showering and then rinse out with your normal shampoo and conditioner routine. For either, mix a few drops of the essential oil with one tablespoon of olive oil. The olive oil acts as a carrier for the rosemary or tea tree oils, while conditioning your hair. I let it sit on my head for a few minutes (or however long it takes me to shave my legs), before rinsing it out.
A couple of times a week seems to be doing the job for me--I’ll spare you the pictures, but I did notice a significant decrease in the amount of flaking on my scalp. I also continue to take my prenatal vitamins, since vitamin deficiencies exacerbate hair loss.
2. Treat Yourself Like A Beautiful Show Pony
Now that you’re tackling the problem at the root (thank you, I’ll be here all night), you can shift your focus to protecting the hair you have.
Go ahead, treat yo’ self, and invest in my favorite conditioner out there (I pay a whopping $4.99). I’ve tried the higher-end stuff (over and over), and Mane ‘n Tail remains the ultimate champion in giving me soft, detangled hair. The best part is, you can use it as a leave-in conditioner. My method is to add a blob of Mane ‘n Tail to my regular shampoo and wash it out completely before squirting a dime-size amount into my hand, and working it back into the ends. I get out with the product still in my hair. If you’re worried about greasy roots, be sure to concentrate the conditioner on the ends only.
3. Step Away From The Brush
My hairdresser gasped in horror when I admitted I regularly yanked a round brush through my wet hair. “Jessica!” she admonished me. “Get a wide-tooth comb before I see you again. OR ELSE.” Since she is my unicorn stylist, I knew I had to do as she said if I wanted her to take me back. I noticed a significant decrease in split ends and my hair’s overall strength once I started using this comb to detangle my wet locks.
4. Carol’s Daughter Is One Lucky Girl
After detangling my hair, I liberally spray my whole head with Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Leave-In Conditioner.
But Jessica, you ask, didn’t you already do the leave-in thing with the Mane ‘n Tail?
In addition to making your hair extra soft once it dries, it smells SO GOOD. Like, you’ll want to work out because the sweat reactivates the scent and your hair actually smells better after you exercise than before you started.
5. Tackle Those Ends One More Time With Argan Oil
Finally, condition your ends one last time with a dime-size amount of OGX Moroccan Argan Oil Penetrating Oil. You’re welcome to get extra fancy with the higher end Moroccanoil Treatment but my OGX does me just fine at a fraction of the price.
The marriage of Carol’s Daughter detangling spray and the Moroccan Argan Oil leaves my hair snag-free. And when hair is easy to detangle, you avoid the split ends that stunt growth.
I try to let my hair air-dry as much as possible, and only use heat styling tools when I need or want to make the extra effort. The oils will act as a protectant, and you can also spritz on a heat protector. I like TRESemme’s Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Protective Spray.
For the purposes of this article, I let it air-dry in loose pin curls and then finger-combed it out. As you can see, it's pretty smooth and bouncy.
If you want to pursue more expensive chemical treatments or supplements, there are options like Biotin, the Nioxin hair line, or even Rogaine. But I am wary of spending too much time or money (never mind using certain topical treatments) on a problem that will likely correct itself in a few months' time.
My strategy for dealing with postpartum hair loss is waiting for my hormones to balance back out, while putting up a good line of defense with vitamins, conditioners, oils, and a little extra TLC for the hair I still have.
- Have you dealt with postpartum hair loss? Or any kind of hair loss?
- What products or methods have worked for you?