Image: Zoe’s naturally curly hair B.B. (Before Baby). via Instagram/@zotheysay
Last May, Zoe Foster Blake found herself with one beautiful bouncing baby… and hair that was significantly less bouncy than it once was.
The Go-To Skincare founder says since she had her son Sonny, her naturally curly hair has become “straight (but not the good straight – limp straight), thin, lank.” It’s also not cooperating with the styling products she usually swears by.
“For a while I was in denial. I couldn’t believe that my curly hair had just racked off forever. No more waves. No more bounce. No more texture… babies are completely worth it, but it is annoying,” she writes on her website Zo They Say. (For the record, we think her current bob looks amazing.)
At first, Foster Blake thought the Keratin straightening treatment she had last year was the likely culprit, but during an appointment at Edwards and Co she learned it was actually down to the effect of pregnancy on hormone levels. Ahh, hormones; is there anything they won't put their mark on?
If it's any comfort, she's not alone in this.
"It's very common and normal for females to experience changes in thickness and texture of hair during pregnancy, but as well in puberty and menopause," says Dr Jodie Silleri, Cosmetic Physician and General Practitioner with Melbourne's enRich Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Center.
Each of these life events affects the balance of female hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) and male hormones (generally referred to as androgens) present in all of our bodies. This influences the growth cycle of our hair, and therefore its quality and quantity.
Here's the hairy truth about how it all works:
When a woman is pregnant, her levels of oestrogen and, in particular, progesterone increase. Often the immediate result of this is lusciously thick Blake Lively-esque hair (hurrah!)
"The hair basically stays on the head longer because there's a delay in the normal shedding process. The hormones tend to extend the resting phase of the hair cycle," Dr Silleri explains. In other words, you shift from the normal rate of hair loss, which is roughly 100 strands per day. (Post continues after gallery.)
There can also be dramatic changes to your hair type and texture. You could find it feels oilier or dryer than usual, or like Zoe Foster Blake, your curls could straighten out and vice versa. This depends on the precise hormonal balance
"The exact mechanics of that isn't necessarily clear, but it is obvious that hormones are playing a role. Things like whether you have curly or straight hair comes from our genetics, however, the end result is often a combination of genetics and environmental factors," Dr Silleri says.
If you're concerned about the way pregnancy has changed your hair, fear not: generally, it's not a permanent alteration. (Post continues after video.)