Of the many surprises pregnancy and childbirth throws you, the post-partum hair loss right when you’re in the depths of intense sleep deprivation – and a ten-day streak of Scotch Finger biscuits for morning tea – feels particularly cruel.
It happens because, as dermatologist Leona Yip told Essential Baby, the timing on normal hair shedding is lengthened during pregnancy and then kicks back in a few months after you’ve had your baby.
So all the extra strands that made you whip your hair back and forth shampoo ad style during pregnancy (or you know, scrape back into a top knot as you huffed about your day) start falling out again about the three month post-partum mark. Sometimes in alarming clumps, and sometimes leaving bald patches
It’s distressing, but normal (a cold kind of comfort if you’re currently sporting “baby bangs” with a tufty fringe at the front). But, if it seems to be a lot of hair loss then you should seek medical advice.
There are other medical reasons your hair might fall out or become thin, including stress, iron deficiency and hormonal imbalances. Propensity to hair loss is also in your genes, too.
So, what can you do to remedy thinning hair, or at least give it more oomph?
For one thing, look at your diet. Adding in more protein, iron, spinach (for the folate, iron, and vitamins A and C, which may help with hair growth), fatty fish (omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to hair growth) and foods with zinc (like oysters!) can all help.
Nutritionist Louise Edney says the best diet for healthy hair is “a balanced one”. Although there are plenty of “hair health” supplements on the market, she warns most are not backed by any scientific evidence.
“Biotin, for example, is a commonly touted hair wonder nutrient but there are no studies linking its supplementation with regrowth of hair,” she explains. “There is evidence that a lack of Biotin is seen in people with hair loss, but no more.”
As for regular nutritional supplements, Edney says you should consult with a health professional before embarking on any new regime, warning supplements can be expensive and “excess nutrients can be as harmful as a deficiency”.
Another important thing to focus on is one of the less sexy body parts (but very important when it comes to hair health): the scalp.
Celebrity stylist, and founder of RAW Salon, Anthony Nader says there are a lot of things you can do at home to help with thinning hair.
This includes investing in a thickening/volumising shampoo and conditioner that will “plump up each strand” (the grandly named Oribe Shampoo for Magnificent Volume is a great luxe option), using a body building mousse when hair is damp and drying with a radial brush, keeping to a six-week haircut schedule to keep ends thick, and trying a 100 per cent boar bristle brush: using one every night, says Nader, is like a trip to “Disneyland” for your scalp.
Just like you would cleanse and hydrate your skin daily, your scalp needs the same.
“The simulation of the bristles massaging of the scalp’s surface acts like an alarm (a wakeup call if you will), the blood under your scalp raises to the surface and gets the mechanics working again… A couple [of] minutes morning and night and you’ll give the epidermis of your scalp and hair strands a new life.”
Renowned French colourist, Christophe Robin, who this month launched two new products to his range, including the very good Detangling Gelée with Sea Minerals, is also big on looking after the scalp. His products use old-fashioned remedies, like sea salt scrubs and clay, in modern ways.
“With concerns such as fine or thinning hair, you need to tackle the problem at the source. Just like you would cleanse and hydrate your skin daily, your scalp needs the same,” he says.
“A healthy scalp is the root to healthy hair. Oily hair is one of the main causes of hair loss, hence it’s important to deeply cleanse the scalp once a week to eliminate all the impurities, product build-up, dry shampoos, poorly rinsed shampoos and conditioners that have a tendency to suffocate the scalp and make it oily.”
Robin also warns not to brush your hair when it’s soaking wet (towel dry it first), and rubbing the lengths of your hair. Instead, massage your scalp and use a hair oil with an SPF to protect your tresses from sun damage.
WHAT TO BUY THIS THURSDAY
Your weekly recommendation for a late-night shopping trip …
If, like me, the thought of contouring makes you want to have a Bex and a lie-down, and you like the idea of highlighters but are ever so slightly afraid of them, then try Chanel’s Baume Essentiel ($71, davidjones.com.au). What is it? It’s hard to define! It’s a highlighter, yes, but it has more of a clear balm-like texture, rather than a pigmented sheen.
It comes in two shades, Transparent and Sculpting. You can dab it on your cheekbones and brows (or anywhere you fancy really) and you will absolutely find your light. It honestly makes me glow. No small feat given I have a child who likes to start her day at approximtely 3:57am by demanding a “nana.”