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Hair in pregnancy

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 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 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 will likely revert back to their 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 – will always stand you in good stead. But hair may be more vulnerable to breakage and falling out during pregnancy. So, avoiding overusing heat appliances like straighteners, curling irons, blow-dryers, and hot combs is best.

It would help if you also steered 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 cause hair to fall out.

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

Let your hairdresser get to work nourishing your hair and keeping it in the best condition, and perhaps invest in moisture-retaining products between salon visits. 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, and tweezing. The 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; some women find the skin is too easily irritated for this during pregnancy. Also, bear in mind the rather specific smell – your nose may be a little more sensitized 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, 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?

Avoid overtreating 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 color 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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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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