Being pregnant, whilst miraculous, is hard on every single part of your body.
Your hair can face significant changes before, during and after pregnancy, so it’s important to choose pregnancy safe shampoo and hair care products that support and nourish.
How your hair changes during pregnancy
During pregnancy, hormonal shifts are huge, and one of the first places you’ll see the effect is on your hair.
Many women find their hair has thickened, due to reduced ‘fall’ or ‘shedding. Every single strand of hair on your head works in cycles. It grows, then rests for a few months, before being replaced by a new hair coming through your follicles.
During pregnancy, you create more of the hormone oestrogen, which tells the hair to rest for longer and stops new strands coming through, so the hair becomes fuller.
Other women may experience hair loss during or after pregnancy. Reasons may include stress, hormonal imbalance, or stopping oral contraceptives. You will also lose hair immediately following the pregnancy as your oestrogen levels return to normal.
This can look shocking but is perfectly normal. Your hair should return to normal growth cycles within a year of your baby’s birth.
Hair colour results can also become much more unpredictable during pregnancy. For this reason, and because ingredients are absorbed into the bloodstream that could be harmful, hairdressers should always ask about the likelihood you’re expecting, before using any colour or treatment.
Shampoo ingredients to avoid during pregnancy
Most haircare ingredients are largely safe to choose following the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. But, there are some that are more likely to cause reactions or be less safe for mum and baby during the duration of foetal development.
Parabens, which are used as preservatives in shampoos, have a controversial reputation. Many have been banned in Europe since 2014. Clinical studies demonstrated they possibly disrupt the hormonal balance in the body, which can have an adverse impact on fertility in both women and men.
They can also be highly irritant for the scalp and skin, and if you’re already susceptible to reactions, they are more likely during pregnancy to lead to discomfort.
Phthalates are found in skin, nail and hair care products and are used to stabilise the products as well as increase absorption.
Studies have linked phthalates to breast cancer, asthma, neurodevelopmental issues, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues.
Phthalate residues have been found in the urine of babies that had been exposed through skincare, highlighting the high absorption rate of these products.
Preservative such as DMDM hydantoin, quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, bromol and glyoxal can be highly irritating for the respiratory system.
A 2009 review of the literature on occupational exposures and formaldehyde shows a link between formaldehyde and leukaemia, especially when exposed in low doses over a long time.
Look particularly for Imidazolidinyl urea, Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, diazolidinyl urea, and polyoxymethylene urea, which are found in shampoo and conditioner and can be highly allergenic.
Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate (SLS/SLES)
SLS and SLES are effective, but harsh detergents found in shampoo, body wash and baby soap. They can be quite irritating and often lead to dryness, rashes, and itchy skin. Your body is so much more reactive during pregnancy, it’s just best to give them a wide berth.
Additionally, you may find that anything with very strong smells, artificial fragrances and even some natural ones, may be overwhelming during pregnancy, so best avoided.
What to look for in a pregnancy safe shampoo
We advise pregnancy as a key time to switch to a more natural hair care approach, feeding the hair the ingredients it most needs to look its best.
Organic Bhringraj Powder
If you want to protect your newly found hair volume, or you’re losing too much hair, Bhringraj can help. Mix it with water as a treatment to prevent hair fall and shedding.
Aloe Vera is soothing, unlikely to irritate and great for calming a hormonally inflamed scalp. This makes aloe water a perfect ingredient for a pregnancy shampoo to make sure it is as gentle as possible.
The scalp is balanced at a PH of 5.5. Too acidic and it becomes sensitive, too alkali and it can become dry and sore.
Chamomile is naturally soothing and freshly scented, helping balance the hair and scalp without being too harsh.
A tiny percentage of olive oil helps naturally smooth the hair shaft, flattening the cuticle for natural shine without the need for silicones and plastics in traditional conditioners.
Alongside choosing the right shampoo for pregnancy, it is advised that you take it easy on styling the hair with heat daily (it puts stress on the root, increasing breaking and shedding).
Colouring the hair after 12 weeks is considered ok, but we’d strongly advise a natural hair dye and no bleach.
Finally, avoid heavy hair sprays, as we inhale the particles. Switch to a gel spray or natural finish hair styling products.
Learn more about your natural hair care needs in our hair advice centre >