By Dr Priyanka Reddy
In the beautiful journey of motherhood, mums-to-be are naturally concerned about their skin and hair care. However, very few women know that pregnancy is one of the best phases for their tresses. Hair problems start post-delivery when the hormones are back to normal and there is stress on the mother due to lack of sleep and lactation issues. While the life cycle includes alternate phases of growth and shedding and during pregnancy, the growth phase is prolonged due to several hormonal changes. During this time you may experience thicker, longer and faster growth with minimal hair fall.
So while you are still carrying your baby in the womb, you can go easy with hair care. You can follow these five simple tips to maintain healthy hair during pregnancy.
A good massage with natural oils like coconut, sesame, almond, castor, etc, at regular intervals helps in improving blood circulation in the scalp. Oil massages, twice or thrice a week, keep the scalp healthy and makes hair strong, soft and shiny. Apart from nourishing hair and controlling hairfall caused by several hormonal changes in a pregnant woman, oiling is also a great way of relaxing and busting stress. Regular oil massage strengthens the root which eventually controls hairfall and thinning of hair. Just avoid excessive rubbing and harsh massages.
For better results, warm the oil and gently massage it onto the scalp using your fingertips, wrap your head with a warm towel post-massage, keep it for some time and rinse it off using a natural, chemical-free shampoo.
Being pregnant, you must already be focussing on eating right yet sometimes forget to take a note of the nutrient value in your diet. Eating a healthy and balanced diet, especially during pregnancy, can solve the majority of skin and hair related issues. If the diet is insufficient in providing proper nutrients, hair quality will invariably decline. A diet that includes nuts, flax seeds, fish, eggs, etc, nourishes hair follicles and makes them strong and healthy. You can also take supplements after consulting your doctor.
Just like your skin, the texture of your hair also gets affected during pregnancy. Regular trimming of hair prevents split ends and damaged edges. Hair trims at fixed intervals controls breakage, prevents thinning, and makes hair look healthy and shiny. It prevents hair from damage by shedding rough edges and improves its quality and texture in the long run.
Keep distance from chemicals/colours
Keratin and other heavy treatments can lead to seeping of chemicals through the follicular openings and may cause irritant reactions. It is also advisable to keep away from artificial hair colours as some of them may contain harmful chemicals or have strong aromas, exposure to which may cause contact irritant dermatitis at times. Just in case you are worried about grey hair, opt for henna which is natural and harmless, compared to chemical-laden artificial colours.
Natural hair masks
Applying natural hair masks that contain egg whites, methi paste, amla paste/juice curry leaves, onion juice, hibiscus flower, etc, has proved to be effective in strengthening hair and adding the extra shine. For example, fenugreek/methi seed is an easily available ingredient that can be applied as a paste after soaking the seeds overnight. Fenugreek provides extra strength to hair and also helps in restoring the natural shine. Indian gooseberry/amla is yet another wonder ingredient that can be used as a paste or its juice can be applied directly on the scalp to boost healthy hair.
Stay away from these
Keep away from ingredients like salicylic acid, commonly found in anti-dandruff shampoos. Do not comb your hair when it is wet and avoid hairstyles like tight braids, twisted ponytails, etc, where the hair is tightly pulled. Tight hairstyles cause headaches which are more severe during pregnancy. To be on the safer side, always consult your doctor before buying any hair care product/ supplement. Also, make sure you eat right, sleep well, and do not forget to take the right supplements as advised by your dermatologist post-delivery to keep a check on postpartum hairfall.
(The writer is dermatologist, cosmetologist and trichologist, and founder of DNA Skin Clinic and Wellness Centre, Bangalore.)