Pregnancy can send our hair on a wild roller coaster ride, with hormonal ups and downs completely upending its normal growth cycle. Soaring estrogen levels coupled with improved blood flow during pregnancy encourages hair follicles to linger in the anagen (or growth) phase longer than normal – which is why “most moms notice that their hair thickens during pregnancy,” says Chicago OB-GYN Dr. Kiarra Roi. But as hormone levels plummet three to six months postpartum and hair follicles go into telogen (or quiescent) mode, we frequently see a disturbing amount of fallout. Fortunately, postpartum shedding tends to resolve on its own within about a year.
While some moms-to-be are looking for products to help them deal with subtle changes in the condition or texture of their hair, others worry about maintaining the color or highlights they’re used to. Dyeing hair, especially in early pregnancy, has long been taboo, but for the record, “use of hair dye during pregnancy has not been shown to cause any problems,” says Dr Anna Karp, dermatologist in New York. However, she adds, many doctors still advise delaying dyeing work until you’re past your first trimester. As added protection, King suggests looking for techniques that minimize color contact with your scalp, to limit potential absorption. (For example, balayage can be a beautiful thing during pregnancy as it paints in the lengths of the hair, skipping the roots, for an effortless sun-kissed effect that camouflages grays.)
Whatever you do, your hair will definitely need attention during this time. Our winning selections – from shampoos and conditioners to styling and fortifying products – can offer that and more.
At Romper, we only include products that have been independently selected by our editors. We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Best Dry Shampoo
This dry shampoo proves that oat milk isn’t just for lattes. Made with gentle, plant-based ingredients like corn and rice starch, which act as cleansing agents, and oat milk, which soothes the scalp – consider oatmeal baths for irritated skin – this dry shampoo extends the time between washes.
“My hair tends to get oilier during pregnancy, so this dry shampoo is a lifesaver,” says Tina Kolokathis, editor at Elite Daily. “It leaves my hair soft and gives it extra volume, and there’s nothing gritty that other dry shampoos tend to have.” Plus, she adds, there’s a version for brown hair that won’t leave that “telling white film” behind. It has a light refreshing scent that isn’t overpowering, even if your pregnancy superpower smells things a mile away.
best hair brush
It’s easy to overlook the humble but hardworking hairbrush – even the most avid beauty enthusiasts can find themselves using the same brush for years. Jessica Richards, the founder of Shen Beauty who came up with this Manta model, explains that it was actually designed for people with cancer who suffer from hair loss (which makes it especially beneficial for anyone dealing with thinning postpartum).
Made from 100% silicone and designed for all hair types (even extensions), the brush massages the scalp to stimulate circulation and gently detangle strands without pulling (a godsend for moms and kids). Richards adds that “by increasing blood flow, it helps to improve scalp and hair health.”
Best shampoo for deep cleansing
This detox shampoo is like a deep cleanse for hair, perfect for hair that’s still oily or weighed down after a shower. It’s made with apple cider vinegar, which is naturally exfoliating and gives that clean feeling without stripping, and keratin, a strengthening ingredient that leaves shine where frizz used to be.
“I didn’t wash my hair much during my pregnancy, just because it was an extra chore. Plus, I have double-processed hair, so when I washed it, I wanted to use a gentle formula that I know would clean it really, really well — and that’s it,” says expert Carly Cardellino. in beauty and contributor to Romper, who named the shampoo. And it has that signature pink, slightly fruity scent of Ouai that smells like a garden in June.
Contains fragrance free of PEG and phthalate*
Best cream for easy styling
There’s a lot of talk about thick pregnancy hair and little advice on how to style all that extra volume. Enter Oribe’s Moisturizing Cream which is everything a leave-in conditioner should be. As the name suggests, the product imparts a ton of shine without making hair feel slick or limp (a little goes a long way) and it’s especially great on long or thick hair. It doubles as a heat protectant, but can be used whether or not blow-drying is on the agenda. It hydrates, fights frizz, and even has UV protection to help shield hair from sun damage (yes, that’s a thing).
The light floral notes of white butterfly jasmine are grounded in lemony bergamot and woody white sandalwood. “When I started my motherhood journey, I did a major overhaul to make sure all the products I used were safe for this stage of life, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this cream was free of harmful chemicals. I love that it tames frizz without adding weight or grease, but still retains my hair’s natural texture,” says Alex Taylor, Founder of Perelel Health .
Best moisturizer for curls
It’s not uncommon for pregnancy to cause hair changes on both sides of the oil spectrum: some women may experience oilier hair and others will notice drier streaks. This moisturizing curl cream – a luxurious blend of cocoa butter and argan, coconut and jojoba oils – is a godsend for thirsty curls. A little molasses (not as sticky as it sounds) acts as a natural humectant, drawing moisture from the environment into the hair.
“Lush Curl Power doesn’t just smell amazing; it’s a clean alternative to hair care when you’re pregnant,” says Romper columnist Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs. She adds that the product absorbs directly into the hair and that the cream “comes in giant containers” so you can stay long without running out.
Best Hair Strengthening Treatment
Unlike other products that hide the signs of damage by temporarily sealing in split ends, this beloved mask actually works to repair damage caused by bleach, color, chemical services, and heat. It applies to wet hair, activates in four minutes and does not need to be rinsed out.
Without going all the way with Bill Nye, this leave-in mask is actually able to molecularly repair the bonds in the hair that, when broken, cause damage in the form of frizz, dullness or dry ends. “You see and feel a difference in a use,” says Cardellino. Plus, she adds, the formula is tested to be safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Best Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner
This lightweight yet hydrating shampoo and conditioner is largely plant-powered. Made without preservatives, parabens, mineral oil and sulfates, they instead incorporate superfoods, like omega-rich coconut and pomegranate oils, to leave hair feeling nourished and smooth, plus mango butter for extra softness .
Beauty editor Janell M. Hickman-Kirby says her stylist, Renée Gadar, put her on this hydrating duo. “Love the way it smells, keeps my hair hydrated and also eliminates any dryness on the scalp,” she says.
Best hair mask
This luxurious hydrating hair mask helps hair look and feel better, soft and shiny. It’s made with vitamin- and antioxidant-rich jojoba seed oil and sea buckthorn, which is packed with omegas that help hair feel silky smooth and easier to detangle. Hickman-Kirby describes it as an “OG classic that does textured hair justice and defines curls, bends, coils – you name it. It’s a weekly hair mask and chilling situation for me. Once the hair mask is applied, it’s the perfect opportunity to relax while it works its magic.
Best Hair Strengthening Product
Like a HIIT workout for hair, this mask strengthens strands from the inside out while delivering the trio of hair health: hydration, body and shine. The mask is applied to clean, damp hair, left on for 10 minutes, then rinsed. It has a light orange blossom scent that isn’t overpowering, but is definitely noticeable in a good way. It works on hair of all types and textures, and its effects are especially evident on damaged hair. “Before baby, my hair was bleached blonde (like white!). This mask would bring my hair back to life every time,” Hickman-Kirby says.
*For a full explanation of all the ingredients we’ve noted, click here.
Photographer: Graydon Herriott
Artistic Director: Shanelle Infante
Set Stylist: Amy Elise Wilson