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Your pregnancy may affect your hair – and not necessarily for the better.

Great hair is something most pregnant woman rave about.  Your hair appears shinier and healthier.  Some woman experience changes in hair texture, such as more or less natural curl.  And many moms-to-be notice a fuller head of hair.

That is because during pregnancy you have increased levels of estrogen and androgen.  Every strand of hair goes through a three-stage cycle of growth, transition and rest before it falls out. Normally, we shed up to 100 hairs a day, but the extra estrogen produced during pregnancy prolongs the growth stage, resulting in very little shedding.

But it could also go the other way:  Some woman see drastic changes when their light hair turns darker, curly hair falls flat, or pencil straight hair turns curly.  Some pregnant woman also notice new hair growing in unwanted places, and can appear thicker and darker.

But how can hair suddenly become darker?  The culprit: Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH).  These levels are raised during pregnancy (and in woman using birth control pills).  MSH is a collective name for a group of peptide hormones produced by the skin, pituitary gland and hypothalamus. In response to ultraviolet (UV) radiation its production by the skin and pituitary is enhanced, and this plays a key role in producing coloured pigmentation found in the skin, hair and eyes.  Couple that with excess adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) found with Cushing’s disease and your hair colour could darken dramatically.

This would also affect the bleach and colour services performed post-partum, as there would be more pigment in the hair shaft than normal, so your bleach or colour service could take longer than usual or could not be as effective as before your pregnancy.

Studies show our bodies absorb very little of the chemicals in hair dyes (as well as those of bleach, relaxers or perms), so three or four trips to the salon during a pregnancy is deemed safe.  But always consult with your doctor first.  If you do decide to colour your hair while pregnant, it might come out a different colour than the one you expect.  Due to the estrogen the hair may be stronger and more resistant to the colour and therefore not take as well as usual (be lighter), or it will be more porous and absorb the colour potentially making it darker than expected. 

Good news is:  Most often the change is temporary, occurring during the pregnancy only.  When your hormone roller coaster levels out about six to nine months postpartum – or possibly later if you’re breastfeeding, your hair’s growth cycle will go back to normal.  Body hair will thin out and lighten; that massive mane will go back to its usual size. For some woman, this transition is dramatic, resulting in a condition called telogen effluvium, where hair may come out in handfuls. Some new moms even experience small temporary bald spots for a few months.

Will it happen to you?  While every pregnancy is different, one thing’s for sure: topsy-turvy hormones.  Whether the good, the bad and the ugly, we as woman experience plenty of pregnancy – related hormonal changes as constant surprises. 

There are a wide variety of products available to make the transitions up to and after pregnancy a little more bearable.

  • Should you want to colour your hair during pregnancy the safest option will be ammonia free colour such as the Inebrya Bionic Colour Range.  This range is also pPD free.
  • For home care opt for products that are certified organic and are free of harmful ingredients such as SLS/SLES or parabens.  Inebrya provides 3 options:  The Karyn and the Green ranges are safest.
  • If you prefer the smooth, frizz-free look, stay away from smoothing systems containing formaldehyde.  Opt for healthier options like the Inebrya Black Pepper range.  This range is 100% Vegan, Organic, Paraben free and does not contain any formaldehyde or formaldehyde releasing agents.
  • Treat yourself to a nice treatment now and again to ensure that you hair remains healthy and moisturised.  The Inebrya Karyn Range is 100% Vegan, only uses organic ingredients and are SLS/SLES, Paraffin, Silicone, Sulphate and Paraben free.
  • To combat excessive hair loss after your pregnancy invest in good quality hair loss prevention systems such as the Energy Lotion and the Tricovit Patches.

Some of the hair changes that happen during and after pregnancy can be distressing, but it’s important to remember that they’re temporary and common.  But if the growth – or loss – is significant or really bothering you, there are professional treatments available; you don’t have to just live with it. If you’re concerned, talk to your doctor for more information.