Aside from stress, excess hair shedding occurs frequently in women who have just given birth. While it can undoubtedly be distressing, it is a natural, normal and temporary part of the postpartum experience. During pregnancy, increased levels of oestrogen mean that the growth phase is longer, which often manifests itself as hair that looks and feels thicker than usual. As soon as your oestrogen levels recover–usually after birth or when breastfeeding ends–the extra hair moves quickly through the middle two phases and into the exogen phase, resulting in more hair to be shed–in some cases up to four times as much a day as usual.
If you are going through extreme shedding, it might be a comfort to know that 50 percent women are expected to experience hair loss at some point in their lives. While it can help to know it’s prevalent (and in almost all cases, temporary), there are ways to stimulate growth, slow down the shedding process and rediscover your best hair.
Don’t overlook your scalp
While reducing stress itself is paramount, scalp care is a vital part of getting your hair’s normal cycle back on track. “Your scalp is your hair’s support system and a flaky or inflamed scalp can contribute to hair loss and also impact the quality of hairs as they emerge from the follicle,” adds Kingsley. Just like your skin, a healthy scalp needs a balanced microbiome in order for your strands to thrive. Regularly washing and exfoliating will not only prevent irritation, redness and itching from compromising its health, it will also facilitate and encourage hair growth. “You take your hair and scalp to the same places you take your face and it gets just as dirty,” says Kingsley. “Your scalp is also a living tissue; it sweats, produces oils and sheds skin cells. You wouldn’t leave three days between washing your face, and you likely wouldn’t wear the same outfit more than a few times before washing it. Apply the same thinking to your hair.” Take a preventative approach and ward off issues before they occur by using a scalp serum. Philip Kingsley’s Overnight Scalp Barrier Serum contains exfoliating AHAs and anti-inflammatory witch hazel to keep scalps on an even keel.
Eat to grow
“Hair is a dispensable tissue as it isn’t needed for physical survival. This means nutrients are first used to keep essential cells functioning, with hair receiving them last,” explains Kingsley. While any vitamin or mineral deficiency can worsen hair loss, some, like iron and ferritin, are more crucial than others. Low levels of vitamin D and B12 can also impact hair growth, so if you’re experiencing shedding, include leafy, dark greens, eggs and fatty fish in your diet. “Oily fish is packed with omega 3 fatty acids helping to support growth,” adds trichologist and Viviscal ambassador Hannah Gaboardi. “And eggs are packed with proteins, minerals and B-complex vitamins–helping to fight dryness.” Gaboardi also advocates eating chia seeds, which work to stimulate new hair follicles and induce growth.
Rethink your routine
It ought to go without saying that if you’re trying to counteract shedding and increase growth, heavy heat styling is not advised. “Hair is a robust and impressive tissue, but it has limits, especially because once a strand has emerged from your scalp, it doesn’t regenerate itself like your skin,” says Kingsley. If you can’t bear the idea of ditching your curling tongs altogether, aim to reduce the amount you use them and never skip heat protection. We like Color Wow Dream Coat. When it comes to your wash and care routine, take a pre-emptive approach and use a pre-shampoo conditioner like Olaplex Hair Perfector No 3 once a week to restore strength and elasticity. To combat active shedding, try drops like Philip Kingsley Density Preserving Scalp Drops to induce an optimal environment for growth. A nutrient-packed growth-boosting supplement like Viviscal Healthy Hair Vitamins which contains iron and biotin to support healthy growth can also help.