Although pregnancy has its pitfalls—morning sickness, heartburn and achy joints to name a few—there are some benefits, too. Most women will agree, your hair during pregnancy is at its best. It’s thick and shiny, thanks to hormones slowing down your daily shedding and those prenatal vitamins.

Unfortunately, this little preggo perk comes to a screeching halt after baby is born. That hair you kept for nine months is shedding all at once and your wacky hormones have created a head full of dry, brittle strands.

Here are a few guidelines to keeping your tresses in tip-top shape post pregnancy.

 1. Stock Your Shower. When you start experiencing post-partum hair loss (usually two or three months after giving birth) you’ll find all that hair falling out creates quite a tangled mess. Get in the habit of thoroughly brushing your hair once or twice a day to sweep the loose strands away. This will help alleviate some of the tangles you’re going to encounter in the shower.

After washing your hair (in particular if you already have thick hair), you may be faced with a snarled mess from the strands you released during the shampoo. Keep a wide-tooth comb and good deep conditioner (try Redken’s All Soft Heavy Cream) in the shower and use every time you shampoo. Saturate your hair with the conditioner, comb it through and leave it sit while you shave your legs and scrub up. Rinse hair and towel dry. Combing and styling your hair post-shower will be much easier. Just remember not to let those handfuls (yep, there will be handfuls) of hair wash down your drain or you’ll be calling the plumber within a week.

2. Get a hair cut. Once you’ve made it past the intense shedding stage, you may find yourself with a head full of split ends. Post partum hormonal changes can lead to dry skin and hair. Getting a few inches of scraggly ends chopped off will immediately improve your hair’s appearance and give you a much-needed pick-me-up. Note—this should not be a one-time occurrence. Getting regular hair cuts will continue to keep your style looking fresh and hair looking healthy. Want more volume? Add some layers for extra bounce.

3. Lose the heat. Nothing is going to dry your hair out more than heat. Are you a tool junky? If you’re using a blow dryer, flatiron or curling iron every day, give your hair a break. Can you get away with washing and styling your hair every other day? Then do it! This will save your strands from added heat stress. Not sure if your sometimes-oily roots will make it two days? Try a dry shampoo like TIGI’s Rockaholic Dirty Secret Shampoo. You spray it through your hair and it absorbs the oil. After a few minutes, you brush it out. Genius.

4. Product, product, product. You’re taking perfect care of your hair, but it still looks dull and lifeless. You need to add a little moisture and shine. Try a dab of Moroccanoil. This little miracle in a bottle adds shine and conditions. If you have finer hair, it even comes in a light version. And if you can’t seem to give up your flatiron, look for a heat-protecting product to apply before you style. Wella Professionals makes a good one: Thermal Image Heat Protection Spray. Spray it on section by section as you style with heat.

5. Color it! If you are still struggling with lifeless strands, visit your colorist. Ask for tiny highlights that will add sparkle and dimension to your hair. Hair color (ask for a semi- or demi-permanent), or a just a clear gloss can also add shine. It will coat your hair and make it more reflective. One caveat to this advice: Don’t color your own hair. If you color from the box, you’ll most likely end up with a flat, one-dimensional shade that’s unevenly placed. And this could be the least of your problems—you may end up with an unwanted shade, streaks or worse!

 

Disclosure: I personally have used these products and was not compensated for writing about them. I am not a professional hair stylist. See your stylist for professional advice.