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Hair in pregnancy

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger HendersonReviewed on 13.10.2023 | 3 minutes read

Pregnancy can bring a torrent of changes both inside and out, with hormones often changing the look and feel of your hair, nails and skin. Some find that pregnancy brings them luscious shiny locks, while others notice their hair is drier, frizzier or oilier. Some may even experience hair loss during pregnancy or in the first few weeks after birth.

You may also experience more hair growth in unexpected or different parts of your body and face, or it may be darker or thicker.

These changes are in response to pregnancy hormones or, in the case of hair loss, possibly stress if you are unwell at the end of pregnancy or during childbirth. Therefore your usual hair type and condition is likely to revert back to its pre-pregnancy state, about 6 to 8 months after delivery.

How can I look after my hair in pregnancy?

Nurturing your hair – whether pregnant or not – is always going to stand you in good stead. But hair may be more vulnerable to breakage and falling out during pregnancy. Therefore it’s best to avoid over-using heat appliances like straighteners, curling tongs, blow-dryers and hot combs.

You should also steer clear of tight or manipulated styles that pull at the root, such as extensions, braiding, or taut ponytails, which may cause tension on the follicles and thereby can encourage hair to fall out.

For dry or frizzy hair, over-washing can cause your hair to appear more dry.

Let your hairdresser get to work nourishing your hair and keeping it in the best condition,

perhaps investing in moisture-retaining products between salon visits. And taking time to invest in your hair will make you feel better at a time when you should be taking care of yourself and feeling nourished.

What about removing body or face hair?

For unwanted face or body hair, stick to traditional techniques: shaving, waxing, epilating, tweezing. Skin may be more sensitive than usual, so the pain of waxing or threading may not be as easily tolerated as pre-pregnancy.

Hair removal creams (depilatory creams) are generally safe in pregnancy, although read the label for specific advice, but some women find skin is too easily irritated for this during pregnancy. Also bear in mind the rather specific smell – your nose may be a little more sensitised than usual to this, and it may bring on nausea.

Laser hair removal is not advised as safe in pregnancy, so make sure you side-step this.

Equally well, you shouldn’t feel the pressure to remove new or different hair from your body or face, and if you want to let it grow naturally, then take confidence and go for it.

Can I get cosmetic hair treatments while pregnant?

Try to avoid over-treating your hair while pregnant, as this may cause stress to the hair shaft or follicle when it may be weakened.

Hair dyes have low levels of toxic chemicals and are not known to be harmful to you or your unborn child. However, many opt to use more natural hair products to colour their hair, or postpone dyeing until after the first trimester.

On the other hand, chemical straighteners, relaxers and perms do contain products that may be unsafe during pregnancy, so it’s usually advised to avoid these. 

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 13.10.2023
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