Unexpected hair changes during pregnancy and after the
baby's birth is a fact of motherhood. But that doesn't stop it from
being annoying and frightening, says beauty editor Tracey
Why is that some women blossom during pregnancy? Their
skin glows, their eyes sparkle, and their hair has a new lustre.
Others, however, don't have it so good. Hair grows in unwanted
places, skin breaks out, and lank locks become an everyday
"It's hormones, mainly," says Dr Teresa
Cattin, a former GP who now specialises in appearance medicine.
"and each woman is different. While some women 'blossom' in
pregnancy, others don't have quite the same experience."
A change in how much hair you
actually have - whether on your head or other parts of the body -
is just one of the changes women notice when they become pregnant.
"Because of the high sustained oestrogen levels, it's actually
quite rare to lose hair during pregnancy," says Dr Cattin. "But
it's often a different story once you have had the baby or stop
Trichologist Nigel Russell has made a
career out of dealing with problems of the hair and scalp. "Your
hair has three cycles: a growing stage, a resting stage and a
falling-out stage," he explains. "During pregnancy, the cycle is
disrupted so the hair will grow and enter the resting stage, but
will not continue into the falling-out stage. The result is an
accumulation of hair, making it feel thicker, more healthy and
"After the baby's birth, the cycle kicks
back into action. There is usually a lag period of about three to
five months (which can be delayed by breastfeeding). Then suddenly,
all the hair that should have fallen out in the nine-month period
comes out in one go.
If you are unaware of the potential
causes, any hair loss can be traumatic, says Nigel. "If the mother
is healthy, the cycle should settle into its normal routine and
grow normally. But if she's low in iron, stressed, or not eating
properly, the hair could struggle to retain its former
Most women experience hair loss only
after childbirth; the causes for hair loss during pregnancy can be
quite different. "If a woman is experiencing significant hair loss
or poor condition during pregnancy, it can be an indicator for
something more serious - in particular, iron deiciency," warns Dr
"Why am I so hairy?
Hair loss is one thing; unexpected hair growth - especially on the
face, under the chin, the stomach, chest, and other areas where t's
unwanted - is another. "Some women experience an increase of body
hair during pregnancy which recedes over time, but with each
succeeding pregnancy, it may increase," says Nigel.
"Hair growth during pregnancy is so
individual," agrees beauty therapist Leanne Dore, from auckland's
Beauty Connection. "Some women get hairy, some don't. But your
options of how to deal with unwanted hair when you're pregnant are
Laser therapies and IPL aren't
recommended for pregnant women, nor are depilatory creams. "We know
chemicals can get into the body because of medical patches," Leanne
says. "So we don't advise creams."
Shaving and waxing are better options,
but "as you get more pregnant, you often can't get to your legs,"
Leanne explains. "We have lots of pregnant women coming in for
waxing a few weeks before they're due, not only because they can't
comfortably remove the hair themselves, but also because they know
they're not going to have the time once the baby is
Colour my world
Colouring your hair while pregnant is one of those issues that
fall into the same camp as alcohol. On one side are those who say
you should avoid it altogether; on the other are those who maintain
it's fine as long as it's well-controlled.
Nigel, who trained as a hairdresser and
has developed a brand of hair products called Holistic Hair, has
this view: "The rule of thumb is to not to dye your hair in the
first trimester. I would caution against such things as scalp
bleach, high lift-tinting, or full-head bleach highlights during
the whole term, as these are onger processed treatments requiring
chemicals to be left on the hair for long periods of time."
Top colourist Jennifer Morgan, of Morgan
& Morgan Hair and Makeup, often sees pregnant clients in her
busy auckland salon. "If anyone is worried, I suggest foils or
highlights," she says. "What you want to avoid is contact with the
scalp, and both of these processes can be managed so that doesn't
"But even if you do decide not to keep up
your colour while you're pregnant, it's important to continue to
get it cut and conditioned," she adds. "This will stand you in much
better stead once the baby's born and you really don't have a lot
of time to spend on styling it. It's also something nice you can do
As seen in OHbaby!
magazine Issue 3: 2008
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