Why did my hair type change after pregnancy?


Straight to suddenly curly? Formerly the queen of curls and now left with a limp wave?  Hair texture change can happen during or after pregnancy - and tbh no one is really talking about it so, what gives?

For all of my life I had straight hair. I embraced it, I loved it actually.  When pin straight locks hit the runways when I was in high school I felt right on trend.

Sure I still owned a straightener, and if it rained I would get a slight wave going -but by all accounts my hair was straight.  

Fast forward to my first pregnancy, and my hair thickened.  I was on the pregnancy "good hair ride".  Thick + shiny hair, and I was loving it.  

Then, towards the end - maybe month 8 I noticed my hair was becoming harder to manage. 

Soon after delivery my hair became increasingly dry with a distinct wave to it. I thought it was weird, but honestly didn't give it too much thought as it wasn't too drastic a difference.

When my sister called me this past year asking if straight hair to curly after pregnancy was a thing (not asking for a friend), I started to wonder... was it a thing?

 

Why does hair change from straight to curly?

An interesting piece of information about curly hair, is that the gene for straight hair is recessive- but curly hair isn't completely dominant.

 Meaning: you could have the curly gene, but until its activated your waves and curls would be dormant too. 

Ok.. so my sister could have been living with a curly hair gene and it just hadn't activated for 30+ years... so what activated it?

The most likely reasons why hair changes and a gene suddenly stops being dormant:  Hormones.  Along with hormones: stress and aging are culprits of texture and quality change. 

Hormones can affect not only the strands, but muscles- that includes the scalp (the occipitofrontalis muscle moves up the scalp and eyebrows).

As muscle tone changes it can affect the shape of your hair follicles and their direction of growth. Wild, I know!  Straight hair follicles grow straight out but curly hair follicles have a hook shape.

With hormones as the culprit hair changes often occur in women at several points in their life: puberty, pregnancy/post pregnancy, and menopause. 

 

My hair type changed, so now what?  

So is the change permanent? Yes, possibly.  You may find yourself embracing a new hair type long term. Should you switch out your smoothing shampoo for curl control?  You may want to have a chat with your stylist. 

That said, many of the texture changes that occur postpartum are temporary. 

Oily scalp? Ultra dry, breaking, and thin locks? Those are more likely from nutritional deficiencies, stress,  and sudden drop of estrogen/hormones. 

In fact many moms who reported their curls had relaxed and hair had dried out were able to restore their strands significantly with ensuring they were getting the right vitamins for hair and restoring hydration. 

 

Give it some time:

Postpartum hair loss along with texture changes and new growth can take some time to resolve.

When moms continue taking their baby blues vitamins and make healthy lifestyle choices that reflect maintaining/increasing iron levels in foods and limiting stress as much as possible; many moms experience the regrowth phenomenon where lots of hair grows back at the same time.

In fact with so many hairs sticking up, your hair may appear frizzy. 

As you support your hair growth, this typically resolves itself by a year postpartum; but for plenty of women it can take longer.

If your new hair texture be it curly, wavy, or straight persists beyond a year postpartum, its likely here to stay and embracing the result of dormant genes would be the way to go to keep it at its healthiest. 

We would love to hear in the comments if any hair texture change has occurred with you! 

 


11 comments


  • Melissa

    I thought perhaps I was a bit off my rocker;)). I am Anglo American and my husband African American. We have been together over 20 years and have 5 children together. Threw the years my very fine straight hair has become very wavy and can be quite frizzy. Also my very pale never tanning always burning then back pale again skin, now tans. I thought perhaps my DNA was changing due to
    The interaction with my husband. Thanks to your article I have learned that perhaps my curtly/ tan gene was just activated more each time i became pregnant.
    Thank you


  • Jo

    I used to have beach wave hair but it got curlier with each pregnancy. After 4 pregnancies its an out of control corkscrew curl


  • Amy E

    My hair has always been thick and kinda wavy. I had my first child in 2019, and since then my hair has been super wavy, almost curls and extremely thick. Like to the point idk how to manage it anymore. So it’s been a learning game. Like I’ll treat it for dryness but then my waves just ramp up and it’s difficult to brush and keep knots out, or I’ll get something for the waves to help manage them but then my hair will dry out and look like it’s split badly. I can’t find my happy medium, but I keep reading up on it so hopefully I’ll find something. Yay motherhood


  • Kay

    I had stick straight, wouldn’t hold a curl, kind of hair. After my first kiddo my hair became more course and after my second I have ringlet curls, but only on the back of my head. It’s impossible to style, but I’m almost a year pp so I think it’s going to stay this way.


  • Ks

    After my first I developed beautiful bouncy curls—my second baby was born 15 months ago and my curls went from ringlets to s shaped sloppy curls to now barely wavy.

    Do i need to have a third baby to get my curls back?


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