One unexpected postpartum experience that caught me completely off guard was postpartum hair loss. About 2 months after having Caden I was startled by the chunks of hair coming out in the shower. Naturally, this left me worried. Thankfully, after consulting with friends and over researching this topic, I discovered this type of hair loss, while not ideal, is completely normal. And there are some things you can do to help with regrowth, starting with using a specialized shampoo.
So I consulted with hair expert, who happens to be my own INCREDIBLE stylist, Preston Marks, to guide us on the best shampoos for postpartum hair loss.
- Understanding Postpartum Hair Loss
- How to Choose the Right Shampoo
- Roundup of the Best Shampoos for Postpartum Hair Loss
- A Brand to Avoid
- An Expert’s Approach to Styling After Postpartum Hair Loss
- Additional Care Tips
- How Soon Can You See Results?
- Is it Safe to Color My Hair Postpartum?
- Are There Side Effects to Using A Postpartum Hair Loss Shampoo?
Understanding Postpartum Hair Loss
Postpartum hair loss, often a surprise to many new mothers, can feel quite alarming. But it is indeed a common occurrence and, luckily, temporary.
Causes of Postpartum Hair Loss
During pregnancy, increased estrogen and progesterone levels can cause your hair cycle to change, leading to thicker, more luscious locks. But after childbirth, these hormone levels drop, causing many hair follicles to enter the resting phase (also known as the telogen phase). It’s all part of the natural growth cycle.
How Long Will This Last?
Loss typically begins a few months after childbirth and can continue up to a year. “Each of my clients’ postpartum experience is unique but also very similar,” says Preston. “In my experience, postpartum hair loss only lasts between 2-4 months, and then it stops. Every client’s hair has ALWAYS come back.” Remember, every woman’s experience is unique. For some, it’s a subtle change, for others, it may seem like handfuls of strands at a time. Personally, my hair loss was significant after my first birth, and while it still occurred during the months postpartum with my second baby, it was way less.
If you’re breastfeeding, it’s possible that loss can be delayed closer to the 6-month mark. This is because breastfeeding prolongs lower estrogen levels in the body, which can help to maintain growth for a longer period of time before experiencing shedding.
How to Choose the Right Shampoo
What are the key factors that contribute to the effectiveness of a shampoo? To be considered effective, a shampoo should not only cleanse the hair and scalp but also address specific needs such as moisturizing, volumizing, or clarifying. It should contain high-quality ingredients that nourish and strengthen, while also being gentle and suitable for different strand types. Additionally, an effective shampoo should leave your locks feeling clean, soft, and manageable, without causing any adverse effects such as dryness or irritation
Factors to Consider
Look for shampoos labeled as ‘thickening’ or ‘volumizing’ as they are specially formulated to add body and make your hair appear fuller. These products, enriched with ingredients like Tea Tree, Biotin, Niacin, caffeine, collagen, peppermint oil, lavender, and keratin, promote growth and reduce breakage.
Ingredients to Avoid
Avoid shampoos with harsh chemicals such as sulfates, parabens, and silicones. These can irritate your scalp and strip away natural oils, causing further damage to your strands. It’s also essential to steer clear of shampoos with high levels of alcohol and can lead to dryness and causes breakage.
Roundup of the Best Shampoos for Postpartum Hair Loss
Expert Pick: Tea Tree Special Shampoo
According to our expert Preston, “tea tree special shampoo stimulates the scalp with a refreshing tingle and gives you a really clean feeling.” For ultra hydration and a balanced scalp, he also recommends using this Tea Tree Lavender Mint Conditioner which is “very nourishing and reduces anxiety, which is key for preventing more hair loss.”
This color-safe cleanser primes the scalp for stronger, thicker-looking locks. Enriched with Paul Mitchell’s exclusive Regeniplex blend, including Kakadu plum, pea peptides, clover flower, turmeric, and ginseng, as well as nourishing castor oil, vitamin E, and coconut oil. The refreshing tingle of tea tree gives a sense of deep cleanliness. “My favorite products that I recommend are by Paul Mitchell,” affirms Preston Marks. The shampoo also helps fight free radicals that damage the fiber, thanks to its grape seed procyanidins content.
This shampoo not only smells divine, but it’s packed with Biotin, a key ingredient that boosts growth.
Nourishe Beaute’s shampoo combines the power of Biotin and other growth-promoting vitamins.
R+Co’s thickening shampoo gives an immediate boost of volume, making it a great tool in your postpartum care kit.
A natural choice, Vegamour’s shampoo uses plant-based ingredients to stimulate growth – a gentle and effective option.
Nioxin’s specially formulated postpartum shampoo is a favorite among new moms and a strong contender in our list of best postpartum shampoos.
Oribe’s Gold Lust Repair & Restore Shampoo is just as opulent as it sounds. Designed with healing oils and extracts, this shampoo is tailored to rejuvenate your strands and scalp.
Living Proof’s Full Shampoo is designed to add body and fullness, with a patented “Healthy Hair Molecule” (OFPMA), this shampoo repels dirt and oil, keeping your scalp and tresses cleaner for longer.
Kérastase’s Densifique Thickening Shampoo is engineered with hyaluronic acid and Intra-Cylane® to plump and hydrate thinning strands.
A powerful blend of caffeinated compounds and essential oils. These ingredients aim to reduce strand loss and stimulate the scalp.
Packed with vitamins and oils to nourish your scalp and follicles, it helps accelerate growth and reduce loss.
Pura D’or’s Anti-Thinning Shampoo. With a unique formula that includes biotin, nettle extract, pumpkin seed, & black cumin seed oil, it’s designed to revitalize your mane.
A Brand to Avoid
But what about the brands that you should avoid? A word of caution for new moms on their quest to combat postpartum hair loss: not all products are created equal. Some shampoos, despite their promising labels, contain harsh chemicals that can exacerbate loss. There have been several issues I’ve heard with Olaplex causing hair loss. There is even a lawsuit over it. Whether it really does or not, I can’t say. But it’s definitely not worth the risk.
An Expert’s Approach to Styling After Postpartum Hair Loss
Preston has extensive experience working with new mothers and understands the emotional toll. He states, “My approach to postpartum hair loss has always been to embrace a low maintenance hair color. With severe PPHL cases, I suggest spacing out salon appointments, no sooner than 10 weeks. I’m a huge advocate for celebrating insecurities and learning to laugh at ourselves. PPHL is totally inevitable, but don’t cut bangs just yet.”
I also tried to avoid using excessive heat on my hair, which meant letting it dry naturally. To be honest, this was less intentional as it was necessary to keep up with the chaos of newborn life. I found this in-shower styling cream by Living Proof to be a fantastic way to hop out of the shower and be on with my day, allowing my hair to dry with natural waves and no frizz. Highly recommend!
Additional Care Tips
Aside from the best postpartum shampoo, there are other ways to support your hair’s health during this transition period. Let’s dive into some of them.
When it comes to the overall health of your hair, nothing beats a healthy diet. Including a variety of nutrient-dense foods such as lean proteins like chicken and fish, a wide range of fruits and vegetables bursting with vitamins and antioxidants, whole grains rich in fiber and essential nutrients, and healthy fats like avocados and nuts can significantly contribute to the strength and vitality of your tresses.
One thing to avoid is excessive heat Styling tools such as dryers, straighteners, and curling irons can damage and increase strand loss. So, as tempting as it may be to maintain your typical style routine everyday, try to give it a break from these tools as much as possible.
Be Gentle with Your Hair
During the postpartum period, stress management is crucial as your hair may be more fragile than usual. So it’s essential to handle it gently to avoid any further breakage. Avoid brushing or combing your tresses when wet, as this can cause damage. Instead, use a wide-toothed comb and start from the bottom, working your way up.
Experiment with “Soft Styles”
So tempting as it might be to pull your locks into a tight ponytail, resist the urge and go for more relaxed hairstyles instead. By doing so, you reduce the tension, which can lead to breakage.
Did you know that a scalp massage can help stimulate blood flow to the scalp and encourage growth? Plus, it feels amazing! Aim for a scalp massage at least once a week. Simply use your fingertips to gently massage your scalp in circular motions for a few minutes.
Ensuring proper hydration is crucial for maintaining luscious locks and preventing dryness. By drinking plenty of fluids, you provide your tresses with the necessary nourishment and hydration it needs to stay healthy and vibrant. This tip holds true for everyone, not just postpartum mamas! So make sure to grab that water bottle and keep your locks looking their best.
Easier said than done, especially with a newborn. Still, finding ways to manage stress can also help. Whether it’s through yoga, meditation, or just a quiet cup of tea, ensure you’re taking some time for yourself. Being prepared with these postpartum essentials also helps.
Consult a Professional
If you’re still experiencing loss or have any concerns, it’s always best to consult with a professional. They can provide personalized advice and recommend products that may be suitable for your specific hair type and situation.
How Soon Can You See Results?
Remember, the journey back to your pre-pregnancy hair health takes time. Even with the best shampoo postpartum, don’t expect instant results. But don’t be discouraged! With the right products, a balanced diet, proper hair care, good nutrition, and continued use of prenatal vitamins (including vitamin a, vitamin d, vitamin c, and zinc), you will start to see improvements. In general, most women notice a significant difference within three to six months. It’s also a good idea to maintain your scalp and hair health with a weekly scalp treatment. They work as an effective duo to clear dandruff, reduce inflammation, and support a healthy scalp barrier. Additionally, incorporating DHT blockers like saw palmetto into your routine can help prevent loss.
Now that said, the regrowth process IS A JOURNEY. Try to make light of the situation.
Is it Safe to Color My Hair Postpartum?
Coloring your tresses postpartum can be safely done, but there are certain precautions you should take to ensure you do not exacerbate any loss or damage. According to our expert, Preston, “The secret to coloring after a baby is to avoid dying the sections that are noticeably shorter, broken, and new growth. I like to suggest minimal color placements. Be extra cautious when going lighter and with what sections you are coloring. Bleaching your hair can draw focus and attention to unwanted areas, and short hair doesn’t need to be touched because you don’t really see it, unless you bleach it.” While you can still enjoy the transformative power of color, it’s important to be mindful of your hair’s current health and handle it with care.
Are There Side Effects to Using A Postpartum Hair Loss Shampoo?
There are generally no major side effects to using one. However, it’s best to check the ingredients for any potential allergens or irritants. If you experience any unusual reactions or discomfort, discontinue use and consult with a healthcare professional.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska