woman looking at hair in mirror

Dealing with Postpartum Hair Loss and Skin Changes

During pregnancy, you may notice that your hair appears fuller, your skin is flawless, and you really do have that glow that everyone talks about. A surge in estrogen levels and other hormones often causes these changes, meaning they're not permanent. Unfortunately, post-delivery reality will set in, and a few months postpartum, you'll start to notice the changes again. For a lot of new mothers, postpartum hair loss and skin changes can seem quite extreme, but there are ways to handle them and help prevent further issues. Here, we'll provide key information on how to keep your skin healthy and maximize hair care.

What Causes Postpartum Skin and Hair Changes?

During the postpartum period, your pregnancy hormones will begin to level out again. This will be a gradual process and may take longer if you're exclusively breastfeeding, but now that you've gone through childbirth, your body no longer needs the excess progesterone, estrogen, HCG, and more. However, the gradual decline isn't solely responsible—the spike in hormones during pregnancy also plays a role. The pregnancy hormone surge can disrupt the normal hair growth cycle. Skin issues are also due to hormonal changes, such as high levels of progesterone and lower levels of estrogen. When you pair these things with the stress of becoming a new parent, minimal time for self-care, and sleep deprivation, it can make matters worse. Still, it's nothing to worry about, as it's an extremely common part of motherhood.

When to Expect the Onset of Skin and Hair Problems

Your hair and skin aren't going to change for the worse immediately, but as your hormone levels start to change, it's bound to happen. For most new moms, it usually begins around three to six months into postpartum recovery. However, everyone is different, and some women don't experience changes until after they stop breastfeeding. The important thing to remember is that you're not alone, and hair loss a few months after giving birth alongside skin changes are normal. You can talk to your doctor or specialist if you have any concerns. This is especially true if you experience severe skin or hair issues (i.e., excessive hair loss coming out in clumps). Low thyroid levels could cause these issues, but the proper diagnosis is essential for effective treatments.

Stress can also increase the severity of hair loss, so try to do what you can to manage any anxiety. Building a strong support system and incorporating deep relaxation techniques can help. If you feel extreme emotions or experience any symptoms of postpartum depression, it's important to speak with a licensed professional.

Understanding Postpartum Hair Loss

The biggest issue that women face during the postpartum period is hair loss. You will lose hair, but it's not permanent. Hair regrowth will occur, and you'll eventually find your natural balance restored. However, excessive hair shedding bothers many new moms, so it's important to understand why it happens, how long it will last, and how to help make your hair appear fuller.

Hair Growth Phases

To understand why you experience thin hair postpartum, you need to understand how hair grows. Hair growth occurs in a cyclical process that consists of three main phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen.

The anagen phase is the active growth phase. At this time, hair follicles are actively producing new strands of hair. About 90% of your hair is in this phase at any given time, which is why your hair looks pretty consistent from day to day. The anagen phase can last between two and six or seven years and determines the length of your hair.

Next is the catagen phase, a transitional phase during which hair growth slows down and the hair follicle shrinks. It lasts about one to three weeks.

The final phase is the telogen phase, which is the resting and shedding phase. It can last around three to four months and is when hair follicles are dormant. After this phase, the hair follicle releases the strand and grows new hair.

How Pregnancy Affects the Shedding Phase

The hormones you experience during pregnancy can trigger many hair follicles from the anagen to the telogen phase. Once estrogen levels drop, the follicles release hair, and excessive shedding occurs. During this time, many women will lose up to 500 hairs a day, while nonpregnant women only lose about 100 per day.

How Long Does Hair Fall Out?

Many women find that the shedding lasts about six months or less. Hair will start growing back slowly, but don't worry. You should have your pre-pregnancy volume by your baby's first birthday. If you notice any issues with your scalp or excessive hair loss that doesn't stop, it's important to speak with your doctor.

How to Manage Noticeable Hair Loss

Although there's no way to completely stop postpartum hair loss, there are a few tips and tricks to help your hair stay healthy and appear fuller. One option is to find a shampoo and conditioner that adds volume to your hair. Use a volumizing shampoo and a conditioner formulated for postpartum hair loss for the best results. Hairsprays and mousse are also available to help maximize volume, alongside some creative styling techniques.

Common Postpartum Skin Problems

Post-pregnancy skin changes are also common but can vary from woman to woman. Some things that cause skin changes include hormonal swings, glandular changes, vascular changes, and pre-existing conditions.

Dry Skin

One of the most prevalent skin conditions for new moms is dryness. This can occur anywhere on the body—including vaginal dryness. The postpartum drop in estrogen causes it and should get better over time. To help avoid issues, it's important to use a dermatologist-approved moisturizer. If you are experiencing vaginal dryness that results in discomfort, talk to your doctor about a specific cream to help restore moisture without disrupting your pH levels.

Oily Skin

Alternatively, you might notice your skin getting oily after a baby. This is caused by overstimulated oil-producing glands that get ramped up during pregnancy. The best way to combat this is to use oil-free moisturizers or foundation and regularly clean your makeup brushes. Oil blotting papers can also help wick away excess sebum. Otherwise, it can contribute to breakouts.


Postpartum acne occurs due to hormonal fluctuations experienced during pregnancy and the postpartum period. While some women may experience clear skin during pregnancy due to increased levels of estrogen, the sudden drop in estrogen levels postpartum can trigger flare-ups. Stress, lack of sleep, and changes in skincare routines postpartum can also exacerbate acne. Although it can be frustrating, acne typically resolves on its own as hormone levels stabilize. Still, postpartum skincare that uses a gentle cleanser can help. If symptoms persist, talk with a dermatologist to help pinpoint the cause. Benzoyl peroxide in small doses can also help, but certain skincare products should be avoided until you're done breastfeeding.

Loose Skin

Loose skin and some sagging are normal after pregnancy, as your body spends nine months stretching to accommodate your growing baby. Unfortunately, it isn't always a great confidence booster. The best thing to do is give yourself time to heal and be compassionate about your tummy or other areas with loose skin. Eating healthy, getting some exercise, and using a moisturizer can help. If you're still struggling in the years following childbirth, and aren't planning for more children, there are cosmetic procedures available.


Some women may also experience pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP). This presents itself as raised, red, and itchy hives. It's thought to be triggered by hormonal fluctuations and the immune system changes that occur in the body after birth, but it's not yet entirely understood.

Although they typically resolve on their own within a few weeks or months, managing symptoms through antihistamines, topical treatments, and avoiding known triggers can help you find relief from symptoms. However, contact your doctor if you need medical help or notice the hives getting worse.

How to Restore Your Skin

Women who experience pregnancy skin changes should also notice that they start to go away after delivery. This applies to melasma, linea nigra, and stretch marks. The best thing to do is to focus on skin health and give yourself time. If things aren't getting better, contact a dermatologist to help.

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