Pregnancy can send our hair on a wild roller-coaster ride, the hormonal highs and lows utterly upending its normal growth cycle. Soaring estrogen levels coupled with enhanced blood flow during pregnancy encourage hair follicles to linger in the anagen (or growth) phase longer than normal — which is why “most moms notice that their hair thickens during pregnancy,” says Chicago OB-GYN Dr. Kiarra King. But as hormone levels plummet three to six months after delivery, and hair follicles downshift to telogen (or resting) mode, we frequently see an unsettling amount of fallout. Fortunately, postpartum shedding tends to resolve on its own within a year or so.
While some expecting moms are in search of products to help with the subtle changes in their hair condition or texture, others worry about maintaining the hair color or highlights they’ve grown accustomed to. Dyeing hair, particularly in early pregnancy, has long been taboo, but for the record, “the use of hair dye in pregnancy has not been shown to cause any issues,” says Dr. Anna Karp, a dermatologist in New York City. However, she adds, many doctors still advise delaying dye jobs until you’re beyond your first trimester. As an added safeguard, King suggests seeking out techniques that minimize the color’s contact with your scalp, to curb potential absorption. (For example, balayage can be a beautiful thing during pregnancy because it paints the lengths of the hair, skipping the roots, for an effortless, sunkissed effect that camouflages grays.)
Whatever you’ve got going on, your hair is sure to need some TLC during this time. Our winning picks — from shampoos and conditioners to stylers and strengtheners — can deliver that and more.
We at Romper only include products that have been independently selected by our editors. We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Best Dry Shampoo
This dry shampoo proves that oat milk isn't just for lattes. Made with gentle, plant-based ingredients like corn and rice starch, which act as cleansing agents, and oat milk, which is soothing to the scalp — think: oatmeal baths for irritated skin — this dry shampoo extends the time between washes.
“My hair tends to get more greasy during pregnancy, so this dry shampoo is a life-saver,” says Tina Kolokathis, executive editor at Elite Daily. “It leaves my hair soft and gives it extra volume, and there's none of the grittiness other dry shampoos tend to have.” Plus, she adds, there’s a version for brown hair that won’t leave behind that “telltale white film.” It has a light refreshing scent that isn’t overpowering, even if your pregnancy superpower is smelling things from a mile away.
Best Hair Brush
It’s easy to overlook the humble-yet-hardworking hairbrush — even the most devout beauty enthusiasts may find themselves using the same brush for years on end. Jessica Richards, the founder of Shen Beauty who nominated this Manta model, explains that it was actually designed for people with cancer who are experiencing hair loss (which makes it especially beneficial for anyone dealing with postpartum thinning).
Made of 100% silicone and designed with all hair types in mind (even extensions), the brush massages the scalp to boost circulation and gently untangles strands without pulling (a boon to moms and kids alike). Richards adds that “by increasing blood flow, it’s helping to improve scalp health and hair health.”
Best Shampoo For A Thorough Clean
This detox shampoo is like a deep-cleaning for hair, perfect for hair that still feels greasy or weighed-down post-shower. It’s made with apple cider vinegar, which is naturally exfoliating and gives that squeaky-clean feeling without stripping, plus keratin, a strengthening ingredient that leaves behind shine where there used to be frizz.
“I wouldn’t wash my hair a lot while pregnant, just because it was an additional chore. Also, I have double-processed hair, so when I did wash it, I wanted to use a gentle formula that I know would clean it really, really well — and this is it,” says beauty expert and Romper contributor Carly Cardellino, who nominated the shampoo. And it has that signature rosy, slightly fruity Ouai scent that smells like a garden in June.
Contains PEG and phthalate-free parfum*
Best Cream For Easy Styling
There’s a lot of talk about thick pregnancy hair, and not a lot of guidance on how to style all that extra volume. Enter Oribe’s moisturizing cream that’s everything a leave-in conditioner should be. As the name suggests, the product imparts a ton of shine without making hair look slick or lank (a little goes a long way) and it’s especially helpful on long or thick hair. It also doubles as a heat-protectant, but can be used whether or not blow drying is on the agenda. It’s hydrating, frizz-fighting, and even has UV protection to help shield hair from sun damage (yep, that’s a thing).
The light, floral notes of white butterfly jasmine are grounded by citrusy bergamot and woody white sandalwood. “When I started my motherhood journey, I did a major overhaul to ensure all of the products I was using were safe for this life stage, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn this cream was free of harmful chemicals. I love that it tames frizz without adding weight or grease, but keeps the natural texture of my hair,” says Alex Taylor, founder of Perelel Health.
Best Hydrating Curl Cream
It’s not unusual for pregnancy to cause hair changes on both sides of the oil spectrum: Some women may experience greasier hair, and others will notice drier strands. This hydrating curl cream — a luxe blend of cocoa butter and argan, coconut, and jojoba oils — is a godsend for thirsty curls. A bit of molasses (not as sticky as it sounds) works as a natural humectant, drawing moisture from the environment into hair.
“Lush Curl Power not only smells incredible; it's a clean alternative to hair care for when you’re pregnant,” says Romper columnist Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs. She adds the product absorbs right into hair, and the cream “comes in jumbo containers” so you can go a long time without running out.
Best Hair Strengthening Treatment
Unlike other products that disguise signs of damage by temporarily sealing split ends, this beloved mask actually works to repair damage from bleach, color, chemical services, and heat. It goes on wet hair, activates in four minutes, and doesn’t need to be rinsed out.
Without going full Bill Nye, this leave-in mask is actually able to molecularly repair bonds in the hair that, when broken, cause damage in the form of frizz, dullness, or dry ends. “You see and feel a difference in one use,” says Cardellino. Plus, she adds, the formula is tested to be pregnancy- and breastfeeding-safe.
Best Moisturizing Shampoo And Conditioner
This lightweight yet moisturizing shampoo and conditioner are largely powered by plants. Made without paraben preservatives, mineral oil, and sulfates, these instead incorporate superfoods, like coconut and omega-packed pomegranate oils, to leave hair feeling nourished and smooth, plus mango butter for softness.
Beauty editor Janell M. Hickman-Kirby says her stylist, Renée Gadar, put her onto this moisturizing duo. “Love the way it smells, keeps my hair hydrated, and gets rid of any scalp dryness too,” she says.
Best Hair Mask
This luxe, hydrating hair mask helps hair look and feel its soft, shiny best. It’s made with antioxidant and vitamin-rich jojoba seed oil and sea buckthorn, which is filled with omegas that help hair feel silky and easier to detangle. Hickman-Kirby describes it as an “OG classic that does textured hair justice and defines curls, kinks, coils — you name it. It’s a weekly hair mask and chill situation for me.” Once the hair mask is on, it’s the perfect opportunity to relax while it works its magic.
Best Hair Strengthening Product
Like a HIIT workout for hair, this mask works to strengthen strands from the inside out while delivering the trifecta of hair health: moisture, body, and shine. The mask is applied to clean, damp hair, left on for 10 minutes, then rinsed. It has a light, orange blossom scent that’s not overpowering, but is definitely noticeable in a good way. It works on hair of all types and textures, and its effects are especially obvious on damaged hair. “Pre-baby, my hair used to be bleached blond (like white!). This mask would bring my hair back to life every single time,” Hickman-Kirby says.
*For a full explanation of any ingredients we've noted, click here.
Photographer: Graydon Herriott
Art Director: Shanelle Infante
Set Stylist: Amy Elise Wilson