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! 

 


17 comments


  • Shaunna

    I’m 42 years old and 4 years PP. Ive always had straight STRAIGHT hair and never was able to curl it and keep a curl in it. Ever. I had also always kept my hair longer, but as a result of it being longer, I tended to pull it up A LOT. Yesterday, I went to the salon after 2.5 years of not cutting (I wasn’t taking care of MY needs as a mom) and the hairdresser said “you’ve got some nice curl back here” and I was like “say what?” I got 15” cut off my hair. I guess it was weighing my new curls down. I thought the wave I felt was a result of always pulling my hair up. Like the hair tie bumps. Now it’s time to embrace my new hair, I suppose. I’m pretty excited 😍


  • Natascha

    What’s interesting for me is I’m now 1 year postpartum after my 3rd child (6th pregnancy) I always lost the hair around my having with each child. However this time around I lost a lot more and it all came back at the same time in ringlet curls. They stick up all over the place. I do have the genes for curly hair though as my sister and dad have curly hair. And more interestingly my baby boy has curly hair. The one who caused my hair to go curly. I wonder if there could be a connection there too?


  • Alleyah

    I’ve always had 3b/3c curls. My hair was gorgeous while pregnant.. thick and shiny but I suffered postpartum hair loss which took about 7 months to grow back however, I noticed the hair growing back wasn’t as curly. Some pieces were 2b some were 3a, my hair at the ends was brittle and dry but at the root very healthy. Decided to big chop to a pixie and now my curls are completely different!! It’s been a frustrating journey especially since it took practically my entire life to learn how to manage my hair prior to pregnancy, not I have to learn this.


  • Becky

    I’ve always had long, thick hair that curls / waves naturally and have been lucky enough that I could do whatever I wanted with it with little effort. I could roll it in a tight bun overnight and have an instant ‘blow dry’ effect in the morning. 6 months postpartum and it’s now straight, thin and I can’t do anything with it, and it’s making me a bit miserable. As a self conscious woman, it was always my security blanket, and a huge part of my identity. Now I’m left with not only a new body to love but a new hair texture that I’m unfamiliar with. I LOVE my baby more than words and wouldn’t change a thing, I just need to find a way to love this new hair of mine to feel like me again.


  • Diana

    Seems I may be the opposite! I’ve always had big wavy, often frizzy hair (nickname growing up was “lionhead”). However, after a painful miscarriage last summer (and a diagnosis of PCOS thereafter), my hair is now smooth and straight. Not before losing so much of it after the miscarriage first. It’s causing a bit of an identity crisis because it took me years to learn to love my hair and then I really did love it. I’m hoping maybe after a successful pregnancy, I’ll have my hair back but it’s it may be here to stay.


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