A stylist's tips for dealing with post-partum hair loss

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Kellianne Benson
Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.
Bangtox. It's like Botox, but without the not-safe-for-nursing botchulism!
After my baby was born, I lost about half my hair. Apparently this isn't uncommon, even though nothing I read forewarned me about it. Luckily, I have really thick hair so I never developed any bald spots or anything. Now its growing back, though, and my face is framed by a halo/ruff/mane of little half curls. They're too short to be pulled back, too numerous to be clipped back, and it's too hot to wear my hair down.

I've thought about either buzzing my head again (which my boyfriend is not excited about) or getting my hair done up in micro braids (which my budget is not excited about). Does anyone have any other suggestions that could help me and my curly hair get through this awkward transition period? — Anie

Congratulations! You've gotten yourself through the incredibly transformative first weeks of motherhood and, if you're lucky, you even see an echo of your familiar pre-pregnancy body starting to shine through the blissful layers of motherhood. You totally have a handle on this situation, right?

Right. Except that your hair is coming out in uncontrollable clumps. Ouch.

There are lots of theories floating around about postpartum hair loss. One of the most common ones that I hear suggests that all the thick and lustrous hair that doesn't fall out during pregnancy decides to bail a few months after your body quits playing host. I'm prone to believe that in part. My already thick hair felt feral during pregnancy. The fine haired clients I have had the best hair I've ever seen them sport during their pregnancies. What gives me pause about this theory is the fact that much the hair loss seems to take place around the front of the face. The hair recession on either side of your forehead is where we see most of the loss.

When my feral hair decided to start thinning itself out by the handful around the time my new baby hit four months my biggest annoyance was the new mess I had to clean up around our house. Not only was I dodging bodily fluids and doing laundry like a maniac, I was waking up with hundreds of long strands of hair on my pillow case. I was sweeping it off of my floors. I was snaking out my drain.

Kellianne rocking her post-baby bangtox (and post-baby toddler, Niko)
Personally, I decided to cut it all off. It took my focus further off my primping and made me feel like a hardcore mom. BONUS: the strands that were still falling out were shorter and more un-noticeable. However, I get that shearing hair isn't the answer for every lady. Lots of us enjoy the ease of a pony-tail or just dig having a long mane of luxury. In that case, haircut wise, if you have straight or gently wavy hair, I recommend a little bit of bangtox.

Right. Bangtox. It's like Botox, but without the not-safe-for-nursing botchulism. Bangs cover up those new hairline recessions while you walk the slow path of filling back in (believe me, your hair will grow again). Plus they put a nice little coverage over your new worry lines, and provide a nice shadow from overhead lighting that could catch in the bags under your sleep-deprived eyes.

A few more pointers about post-partum hair loss that may help:

  • Keep taking your prenatal vitamins.
  • It's been said that fish oil helps.
  • The hair will look baby fine when it starts to grow back. It is not more fine than your regular hair. It just looks that way because it's soft and new on the ends.
  • Think of the hair that's growing in as hair that will give you more volume. Your hair may look a little fuzzy, but those short hairs will help boost all the long hairs that you've retained. Rock it.

Remember: you still look pretty. Really. So pretty!!

  1. I got a Mom Haircut. (Short and layered.) It didn't stop the hair loss, but it made me feel less like a total hair disaster.

  2. Okay, is this why I see so many new moms rocking shorter hair cuts? It feels like whenever I see a new mom her hair is suddenly 6-12 inches shorter. Obviously not everyone, pictures of my mom with a tiny me show long red hair.

    • Yeah, it depends on the hair loss. I didn't experience much, and kept my hair in super long, low-maintenance braids for the first year of Tavi's life.

      But yeah: shorter hair can be a sign of of a mama dealing with post-partum shedding. It happens!

      • Okay, because up until now (I'm 25) I seriously thought it was some kind of Mama rite of passage. Like, "Have baby? Check! Cut hair? Check! It is done". Or something like that. I feel much more informed now, thanks 😀

        • I'm sure there's a postpartum hair loss component to it, but the main reason I've heard is mommy martyr syndrome. "If you really love your baby you'll hack off all your hair so you can spend the extra 15 seconds it would take to brush the hair you always loved with your baby. Look at how great of a mom I am, I sacrificed all sorts of things I loved, including my hair." Silly, I know, but I've heard it multiple times. I'm going to choose to think of it as a hair loss thing from now on, though. Makes me happier to be around people.

    • Mine got cut after a particularly rough afternoon trying to get my daughter to sleep. When she finally did sleep, it was with a chunk of my shoulder length hair in her surprisingly strong fist. I have a sensitive scalp, so not only was it painful, but I was terrified to move because I didn't want to wake her and start the process over again. Two hours later, the baby was happily awake, my neck was sore, and I vowed to cut my hair.

  3. I ended up getting a short hair cut too, but it was in part because I found a few months after my son was born, I needed a change since I felt like a different version of myself once I had my baby. It felt good to get a 'new look', that also helped deal with the hair loss issue! Luckily I also have really thick hair so no one really noticed how much I was losing but me. I've got twins on the way now – hopefully it's not going to mean double the hair loss, that could be a bit of a problem! lol!!

    • I remember feeling that way too. Post-baby I dyed my hair and cut it super short and it felt awesome. A whole new look to match my whole new life!

  4. I'm totally dealing with this now. My son is 4 months and my hair is falling out all over the place and frankly, it totally sucks. I have PCOS, so I already had super thin hair to begin with. Now I've got a near bald spot on the crown of my head from the PCOS and balding at my temples from the post partum loss. I don't know what to do about it so I just wear hats. I wish I could do bangs but I really don't have enough hair for that. Any tips?

  5. I lost so much hair with my second baby that I shaved my long locks off. I tried a shorter more forgiving cut with bangs but the bald spots were too noticeable. The grow out was a total pain but now my hair is all natural and I love it! Thanks baby baldness for giving me back my natural color.

  6. I shed a lot as well. In fact, my gravatar photo show me at the height of my thinning. My hair was already short-ish (thankfully, as it already left quite a mess), so I trimmed the 5 strands I had left at each temple to match the length of my new softie hair and started blow-drying my hair forward in a Bieber style. Oh! And one day my hair dresser changed my part from right to left, and I couldn't believe the difference it made.
    As for the weirdo little strands poking out the top of my head, I invested in some frizz-ease type product to weigh them down, and I wore some pretty scarves.
    Maybe you could try henna, it seems to plump up hair.
    I, personally, decided that since my hair was fucked anyway, I might as well bleach the heck out of it. It's a good time to let go of your image, maybe. Embrace a new you.

  7. One other reason new moms get short "mom haircuts" is to keep their out of poo. I gave birth but my wife was the one who ended up with the mom haircut to keep her super long hair out of poo when she changed diapers!

  8. Curly hair and bangs? Not the best combo, in my experience. I've tried to make bangs happen for years with my wavy/curly hair, but they just take way too much work unless your hair is naturally pretty straight.

    • Yeah, I was gonna say the same thing. I have super-curly hair, lost a lot towards the front of my hairline right in the spots where the author says is most common, and am dealing with the "curly halo" that the OP has. Bangs are SO not an option for curly girls, particularly curly girls with no time for maintenance.

      My solution has been to mask the thinner spots by parting my hair on the side and rolling the front pieces into twists – kinda like this – and from there I can either pin the back up or leave it down. Plus, there are always headbands, or scarves & wraps, which are super-trendy right now.

      • I am white, by the way, but find a lot of help and inspiration in the beauty department by reading "Natural Hair" blogs. Usually the styles are way closer to possible for me than ones meant for straight hair, or even ones suggested for curly hair, which is usually wavy on most models in beauty articles/tutorials.

  9. After my first I totally rocked way shorter hair. I have fine hair and during pregnancy it was fabuolous. I didn't need any conditioner or mousse to help with volume- it suddenly became amazing. Then I had my little Nate and it all fell out.
    Pregnant with number two now and again it's amazing, but I'm already looking for cute/short haircuts for my post-baby shedding season.

  10. After I had my son (who I gave up for adoption), my hair was to my hips. It stayed pretty silky & I didn't shed too badly, & the only reason I ended up cutting it (to my shoulders) was because I kept closing it in my car door. My hair is thick, but extremely fine, & my skin also tends to be kinda oily, so bangs aren't really an option for me- by the end of the day it looks like I slicked them down with Vaseline or something.
    My fiance & I are considering having a child in the next few years or so, & I hope my hair stays like it did my first time around..

  11. I could sit on my hair when I gave birth, and slowly chopped to a pixie cut by the time she was 7 months old. I lost handfuls at first, and then it just became about having a way to do something that was just for me. My ultra-long hair had gotten noticeably thin, straggly, and not particularly attractive. Now that it's short, and it's growing back in (she's a little over a year) it feels and looks thick again.

  12. My cheapo solution includes hairbands, or alternately, not caring. It's worked out well so far. I don't want to cut my hair. It's waist-length and I love it, though it's pretty thin right now.

    • I not only "this-ed" this, I also did this in real life. My rear-end length hair is in a bun, and I need to cut it off because the ends (the lat 8 inches are so) are too scraggly! but I'll still have long hair even afterwards.

      But for now, totally hidden with bands. And styled with a big pile of I don't give a shit :).

  13. My son is 20 months old, and my new growth is about 8 inches, and I'm finally noticing the volume coming back. I am soo tempted to cut it, but I've had too many bad haircuts lately! I have had bangs for a long time, so that really hid the baby fringe. When I went in to get a trim several months ago, the stylist decided to cut "heavy" bangs. It was the worst thing ever for curly/wavy hair. (I don't know why I trust professionals to know what they are doing!) It's taking a long time to look decent again.

    The cool thing that happened with new growth, was that the straight hair at the nape of my neck went curly, even thought the rest of it kind of relaxed. It looks like I have a reverse perm underneath. it gives my hair a little more volume, and no one can see how weird it is.

  14. I'm going to try temporary Dreads! I have a serious desire to not have to bother with my hair right now, and it is falling out everywhere, but I am really loving the length. So I'm going to get temporary dreads and see if I like them. Then who knows maybe I'll be a dread lock mama for awhile, then shave my head in 5 years when I find time for exercise with 3 kids! 🙂 Love this blog!!!

  15. in the resting phase, or not producing hair, at any given time. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, such as a boost in estrogen, drastically reduce these rest periods (essentially extending the growth cycles), giving moms-to-be lush, full hair because fewer strands are falling out. This site is wonderful to conscious the women about the hair fall.

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