When I was personally trying to conceive and going through IVF, I was very cautious about all the potentially harmful substances going into and onto my body, as little is known about the effects on IVF success rates. It’s very easy to feel like you’re missing out morale-boosting pampering because you don’t know where to turn for advice or which non-toxin products to use and trust. We recently ran a fabulous give away of products from award-winning hair stylist, Michael Van Clarke, so we felt it would be useful to ask him to write a fertility blog with tips for managing your hair care whilst TTC or pregnant.
Michael speaks from experience of thousands of client pregnancies across a forty-year career, as well as the pregnancies that delivered his own six children into the world. He has helped two generations of women better understand the changes pregnancy brings to their hair and to look their best through and after childbirth.
How will your hair change during the hormone roller-coaster of IVF and then hopefully pregnancy? How can you best look after it without worrying whether it’s having a negative impact? Lots of women who are undergoing fertility treatment wish to treat their body with the same care they might once pregnant.
If you’re putting everything into preparing your body for fertility treatment or trying to conceive naturally, you may be paying special attention to your fertility diet and general well-being also. Spending time being careful about what you eat/don’t eat is beneficial, it is also worth considering the chemicals and products you’re using on your skin and hair. Self-care is high on the list and, when you’re preparing to carry a baby, understanding how some regular habits may be impactful will probably make you more aware of what you’re putting in and on your body.
We live in a modern, toxic world. Pollutants are everywhere, and eliminating them all from our lives is impossible, even based on what we know. The landscape is constantly changing as we understand more about the effects and consequences of the materials and substances around us. Perfection isn’t possible in this ongoing process and living like a nun is no fun. We can only do our best, but more knowledge affords better choices. So, when you want to let rip a little, you can do it consciously from a foundation of healthier habits.
In the cosmetics industry, the EU is the benchmark for product safety and the 3’’’ More Inches hair-care range complies with all EU guidelines, using mostly naturally derived ingredients. We are constantly working to create cleaner, more effective formulae that deliver the very best in Healthcare for Hair® and I don’t believe that process will ever end. We avoid silicones, phthalates, parabens and xenoestrogens. Other jurisdictions have less regulatory control over what you put on your hair and skin. “It’s the economy, stupid!” was a quip used in Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign to win the presidency. In America, manufacturing and economics still seem to come before consumer health.
For example, Europe has banned or restricted the use of over thirteen hundred chemicals used in cosmetics – the more relaxed US has restricted just eleven. In America you can still find formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) in hair straightening treatments and nail polish, parabens (an endocrine disruptor that interferes with fertility) in widespread use.
Even asbestos is still not banned, following manufacturer lobbying, and has actually turned up in make-up. US legislation is a closer match to the EU on new chemicals coming to market but it ignores the thousands of toxins already in use. But there are lots of new companies springing up to offer more considered products. At the moment these are more niche and it’s likely to take some time before mainstream pressure forces bigger companies to change. For now, ‘Caveat emptor!’ (Buyer beware!)
Hair tints are at the stronger end of cosmetic ingredients. They have improved massively over the last few decades and the manufacturers say they are perfectly safe. I have clients in their nineties who have coloured their hair all their lives. However, products applied to the skin are more susceptible to some degree of absorption and no one is 100% sure of what all the consequential effects are. So, if you’re trying to conceive or you’re pregnant, I recommend clients who have full head tinting or overall toners, to change to foil low lights and/or highlights or vegetable colours.
This means the colour doesn’t get to touch the scalp and is held in foil on the dead hair; once out of the scalp, hair is no longer connected to the metabolism. It may be that a vegetable colour alone is enough, or combine with lights. Vegetable colours are mild and do not change the structure of the hair shaft. They don’t last as long or have the same range of coverage but are very easy to reapply.
Most women will notice their hair becoming fuller, shinier and more vibrant. This is thanks to various surges in oestrogen and other pregnancy hormones. Blood volume also rises during pregnancy by as much as 50% which helps keep the scalp nourished. In the normal hair growth cycle, 50-100 hairs are lost every day. If you’re conscious and worried about it, this may seem scary as you hunt through your brushes and shower tray, but it’s normal. Generally, around 80-90% of your hair is in the growth phase (anagen) of its life cycle, but the hormonal changes during pregnancy hold more hairs in the growth or resting phase (catagen) of the cycle. As a result, most women enjoy thicker hair during pregnancy, because the shedding part of the cycle (telogen) is delayed.
Immediately after childbirth, several of your hormone levels drop quickly, including oestrogen and progesterone. Those hormones will be almost back to normal levels within 24 hours after birth. Your blood volume also decreases gradually back to normal within a few weeks.
Postpartum hair loss affects most women to a certain degree, but can be quite alarming for some. Following childbirth, a larger number of hairs than normal enter the resting phase which is followed by hair shedding (and regrowth), so new mothers will experience greater than normal hair loss once the resting phase ends. It’s temporary and isn’t related to breastfeeding. The hair loss usually starts at around three months after birth. This corresponds to the length of the resting phase of hair growth (between one and five months). The hair loss can seem more extreme if your hair grew much thicker during pregnancy, or if you have long hair. The normal hair growth cycle usually returns six to twelve months after birth.
If you feel that your hair loss is more than normal or if persists beyond twelve months, then see your doctor. Excessive hair loss can be caused by common postpartum conditions such as iron-deficiency anaemia, which are easily treated. Hair will fall out from all areas of your head, but many women may only notice the loss around their hairline, particularly above the temples, resulting in the appearance of
very fine hair in the front. The effects can be lessened by following our tips below.
All hair has a life cycle. The three distinct phases are:
Anagen (2 to 8 Years) – This is the active growth phase when the root is dividing rapidly to add to the hairshaft, and hair grows at approximately a half inch each month. This rate is surprisingly consistent across ages and hair types.
Catagen (2 to 3 Weeks) – This is a short transition stage at the end of the anagen phase where the hair is signalled to stop growing. In this stage, the hair shaft grows upward, forms a club hair and detaches itself from the bulb. This cuts the hair off from its blood supply and from the cells that produce new hair. Once completely formed, the follicle moves into the telogen phase.
Telogen (1 to 5 Months) – This is the resting phase of the hair follicle. During telogen, the resting hair stays in place until pushed out by growth of a new hair. When the body is subjected to extreme stress or shock, up to 70% of hair can prematurely enter the telogen phase and begin to fall, causing a noticeable loss of hair.
For eyebrows and lashes, the cycle is completed in around four months, while it takes the scalp two to eight years to finish. Eyebrow hairs will grow much shorter because the cycle repeats more quickly compared to scalp hair.
Include a variety of healthy proteins, fruits and vegetables in your diet to make sure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. Foods that also help healthy hair growth include: fish, eggs, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, beans, asparagus, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and blueberries.
Get a Good Haircut
This will make styling much easier. Adjusting the shape can make up for less hair. If a lot of hair has been lost around the hairline, an A-Line haircut may exaggerate this. Graduation or even a fringe may be a better solution.
Go Easy on the Styling
If your styling routine is a little on the harsh side this may be a good time to go gentle. Speak to your hairdresser about better techniques that use sensitivity with precision. Usually, less is more. Take more care with any heat styling. See blog on Home Blow-dry Tips. Aggressive brushing can also accelerate the thinning and breakage. Use our No.1 Brush by 3’’’More Inches as this is the professionals’ first choice for gentle detangling and styling.
Use the Best Products
Our 3’’’More Inches LifeSaver Pre-wash Treatment is the hero treatment for everyone, at all times. But, especially when hair is thinner and more fragile, this hypoallergenic formula will plump up the volume and give protection, shine and flexibility. 3’’’More Inches Cashmere Protein Shampoos & Conditioners will all boost hair health. The 3’’’More Inches Volumising range will add body to finer softer hair types and the 3’’’More Inches Moisturising range helps smooth and control thicker, coarser or chemically treated hair. 3’’’More Inches UV Protective suits all hair
types and also helps limit colour fade.
Take your Vitamins
Vitamin supplements shouldn’t be a substitute for a varied diet, but can help those with an unbalanced regime. Vitamins and minerals are vital for overall health. Biotin is especially important to keep the hair healthy post pregnancy because it functions in the synthesis of hair proteins like keratin. Lack of biotin has also been associated with hair breakage, hair loss, and brittle nails. 3’’’More Inches PowerShot Nutrients has an award-winning advanced formula of essential vitamins and minerals to support general well-being with an emphasis on brighter, stronger, healthier hair and nails. It’s especially suited to vegans as it also provides significant levels of iron and Vitamin B12.