I knew my hair would shed, but I didn’t know the regrowth process would be such an ordeal. Here’s how I got through it.

By Kate Sandoval Box
Chloe and Bennett: worth the hair loss!
Kate Sandoval Box

It happened in the shower. I was raking conditioner through my ends as fast as I could (because my younger child, Chloe, then 3 months, would no doubt start to cry any minute), when my hands were full of hair. Honestly, after all the stuff that had recently come out of my body, hair was on the low end of my internal alarm spectrum. Plus I’d heard that this would happen; hair enters a shedding stage thanks to postbirth hormonal changes. My friends assured me that it grows back.

Thankfully, they were right. (If you’re concerned that your hair isn’t growing, check in with your doctor.) But it’s been 18 months since I shed what seemed like enough hair to fill a life-size stuffed animal and I’m still in the awkward wings-on-the-sides-of-my-head phase. Before that, I had a couple of months of an electrocuted flyaway phase and the initial Chia-Pet buzz phase.

Because it’s my job to talk to dermatologists, hairstylists, trichologists (hair scientists), and chemists who formulate beauty products, I am constantly asking them questions about my regrowth “journey.” What I’ve learned: Frustratingly, there is no magic styling solution. Every single expert says be patient. That’s because your postpartum shedding stage lasts two to three months. Then, once each hair follicle shifts into the anagen (or active-growth) phase, it gains only about a half inch every 28 days.

While you can’t speed up that rate, you can encourage new hair to crop up and strengthen the hair you have so that it doesn’t break off.

1. Eat well.

I make sure to eat eggs for breakfast; they’re full of protein and high in omega-3 fatty acids—both things your body needs to create hair. Nutrient-packed vegetables are important too: Hairstylist Laura Polko, a mom and a T3 ambassador, says that if she doesn’t have a green juice daily, her hair begins to break more easily.

2. Consider a supplement.

Many of the experts I’ve talked to looooove Nutrafol, which is a blend of hair-promoting vitamins, minerals, and extracts such as biotin, zinc, and organic kelp. Based on the research, I fully believe that it works, but I’m just not diligent enough to swallow the four large capsules a day. Sometimes I think about emptying the contents into a smoothie, and maybe one day I will actually do that!

3. Cleanse your scalp.

I’m sorry to report that new hair can’t sprout through a scalp that’s coated in layers of dry shampoo. I wash every other day with Color Wow Color Security Shampoo.

4. Baby your baby hairs.

I know how tempting it is to let your hair air-dry and then use a flat iron to tame all the frizzy strands around your hairline. I’ve done it. But flat irons get so hot that they can easily fry delicate newbies, causing them to break off. Instead, steal Polko’s genius no-heat, no-effort move: Before hair is completely dry, slide a wide cotton headband over your hairline to prevent wispies from springing up.

5. Put hairspray on a toothbrush.

When you aim hairspray at an awkwardly short hair that shoots straight up, you end up shellacking your entire head—and that strand might still defiantly stand up. The fix: Spritz TreSemmé Micro-Mist Hair Spray Level 3: Boost onto an old toothbrush, then use it to smooth down that sucker.

I work Living Proof Style/Lab Prime Style Extender into damp hair to help tame it. For extra hydration, try a mask like OGX Replenishing+ Water Balm Leave-In Mask.

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