How To Pick A Safe Shampoo For Pregnancy
So, you’re expecting! First of all, congrats!
By now, you should’ve known what things you need to avoid in your diet and lifestyle to protect your precious baby. But does your list contain shampoos?
Yes, you read that right. Some shampoos include certain chemicals that can negatively affect a growing baby and even cause miscarriage.
Worst of all, it’s unlikely to see a label that says “safe shampoo for pregnancy” in stores. You’ll have to dig deep in the ingredients to pick for yourself.
No worries, though. In this article, I’ll share my full experience and review my 5 favorite shampoos.
What Happens to Your Hair During Pregnancy?
Back when I was pregnant with my first child, people kept praising me for my “pregnancy glow” and thick hair. I guess that was one of the things that helped me overcome those awful mood swings.
However, some women experience the complete opposite. They usually complain from dull skin and scanty hair. Some even say that they experienced both appearances during the same pregnancy.
So, how is your body capable of showing both signs? In this section, we’ll take a deep look at the physiology behind your hair change. Don’t worry, though. I promise I won’t dive too deep into complex concepts.
How Does Your Hair Grow Before Pregnancy
To be able to understand how pregnancy changes your hair, we need to know how hair grows while everything is normal. Every hair strand passes by the following 3 phases of growth.
Active Growth Phase (Anagen)
During this stage, the hair follicle is nourished by the blood supply beneath it. This leads to an active cell division at the hair base, which makes the strand grow in length.
The amount of growth varies a lot between women. It depends on things like genetics and hormones. That’s why it could last between 2-7 years.
Transitional Phase (Catagen)
After the growth phase is finished, the multiplying cells start shrinking in size until they completely detach from the blood supply. At this period, the hair follicle is called “club hair”.
This is the shortest phase in the whole cycle, taking only 2 weeks at most.
Resting Phase (Telogen)
As the name implies, the hair strand typically does nothing at this stage. It just hangs out in your scalp for 3-4 months.
Meanwhile, a new hair follicle starts its active growth phase underneath it. That’s why the old hair falls on its own when the new follicle is big enough to fill its shoes.
Fun fact, your body normally sheds 100-150 strands each day! You don’t feel this because each strand goes through its own independent cycle. So as one strand is shedding, another is resting, and another is growing big and strong.
Your Hair Might Get Thicker and Shinier
What’s behind that thick, lavish look? It’s all about your blood and hormones.
During pregnancy, your body shifts most of your resources to produce more blood. While this excess blood mainly functions in the nourishment of your growing baby and uterus, it also nurtures many body parts on the side.
That’s the reason behind those full, gorgeous lips and the long, strong nails, in case you’re wondering.
Remember the growth phases? This increase in blood supply only reaches your actively growing strands, as they’re the only ones connected to your capillaries.
Between the nutrients the blood is carrying, the most important is pregnancy hormones. Estrogen, for instance, typically prolongs the anagen phase, causing your hair to grow for a longer period before proceeding to the telogen phase.
The bad news is, these changes aren’t limited to your scalp. You might find hair growing on areas you’ve never seen before, like your face, nipples, back, and even your belly!
Or It Might Get Thinner and Drier
If everything goes according to plan, hormones and blood should prolong the anagen phase, as we established.
The longer your hair remains on your head, the more that will shed later. That’s why almost every woman experiences frightening levels of hair loss postpartum. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry, everything should be back to normal after a maximum of 6 months.
However, nobody can fully predict what that hormonal roller coaster is up to!
Maybe It’s Stress
Stress, mainly from frequent mood swings, can cut the blood supply off your hair follicles, turning them prematurely into the telogen phase. This will cause you to shed up to 300 strands/day, compared to the normal of 100/day.
In fact, this is a well-known condition named telogen effluvium (TE). That’s why it’s super important to manage your pregnancy stress, especially during the first trimester.
Or Bad Diet
Stress isn’t the only primer for TE. Iron deficiency can also embark on the same condition.
As I said before, your body normally produces more blood to support your baby. If you don’t balance this with sufficient nutrients, however, the opposite will happen. Your body, hair, and your baby would be improperly nurtured.
You might be sad and frightened by these facts, and I totally agree. No woman would like her hair to look even the slightest bit scanty.
But I think it’s beneficial to have that sort of an alarm that points out problems you might not notice otherwise. In the end, a mother cares for the well-being of her baby above all, right?
What Ingredients Should You Avoid During Pregnancy?
Alright, now that you understand the science behind pregnant hair, we’re off to the shopping.
When you’re choosing a shampoo, the first thing you should look at is the chemical ingredients. In this section, we’ll discuss what should instantly deter you off in a shampoo bottle.
First Things First, Does It Really Matter?
You might hear some people, especially those working in the personal care industry, arguing that shampoos can’t harm your baby since they’re only meant for topical use.
But they overlooked an important part of the skin, hair follicles. As we established, every strand is supplied with blood in order to grow.
Shampoos typically dive deep into the follicle in order to get rid of dirt, oil, build-up, etc. During this process, a fraction of their chemicals might actually enter your bloodstream.
Researchers at Stanford University were able to vaccinate rats by rubbing a simple solution of DNA and water on their skin. When they did the same to nude mice, those without hair, nothing happened.
To be frank, we can’t know for sure whether humans would react similarly since we can’t test these vaccines on individuals right now. But I, for one, didn’t and won’t take the risk, however small, with my babies.
Methylisothiazolinone: A Questionable Preservative
Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) is an antibacterial substance. It’s added in shampoos, lotion, and other cosmetics to inhibit bacterial growth, making it possible to store these products for longer periods.
Elias Aizenman, a neurobiologist at the University of Pittsburgh says, “I would advise a pregnant woman not to work in a factory using this compound (MIT) because it might result in some abnormality in the development of the neural system of the fetus.”
Parabens and Formaldehyde: A Couple of Harmful Preservatives
Just like MIT, Parabens are used to fight possible bacterial growth.
“If pregnant women absorb Parabens through the skin, this can lead to overweight in their children,” says Dr. Tobias Polte, an immunologist at Helmholtz University.
We can overlook any chemical but Formaldehyde. They’re directly linked to cancers, decreased fertility, and worst of all, miscarriages.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate: An Unnecessary Lather
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is one of the materials added to shampoos and soap to give that foamy lather we enjoy.
Cutting it during pregnancy is a wise decision. The research found that it might cause some serious conditions to fetuses like birth defects, cancer, and poor eye development.
Phthalates: Dangerous Plasticisers
Phthalates are a collection of chemicals that can be found almost anywhere around us. They’re used to make the shampoo liquid enough to easily flow on your hair.
Using them during pregnancy exposes babies to a higher risk of motor and language difficulties. It can also affect genital development, especially in baby boys.
How to Choose a Safe Shampoo for Pregnancy?
Aside from the list of harmful chemicals discussed in the previous sections, here are some additional points you should consider before buying shampoo.
Choose the Right Shampoo for Your Scalp Type
Some women don’t know the nature of their scalps. This is totally wrong as it makes you try a bunch of different shampoos that won’t make much of a difference. This way, you’re exposing yourself and your baby to more and more substances. Let alone the financial burden.
To avoid this, start by analyzing your hair and scalp before actually purchasing a shampoo. I’d suggest consulting a dermatologist if you’re not sure about your type.
For Oily Scalps
Oily scalps shouldn’t be burdened more with hydrating or moisturizing shampoos. In this case, dry shampoo could alleviate your problem to a large extent. Additionally, it will save you the time and effort of frequent hair washes.
Products labeled as volumizing, strengthening, or balancing should also work for you. Their formulas typically remove excess oil.
If your hair is also thick and you don’t mind some drying at the tips, then clarifying shampoos should do the trick.
Whatever option you choose, make sure to keep the shampoo long enough on your scalp until it completely breaks up the oil. Thorough rinsing afterward is essential to get rid of any residues.
If you’d like to use a conditioner, limit it to the ends only. This way, it will make your hair look moisturized without messing up with your scalp.
For Dry Scalps
Unlike oily scalps, using volumizing, strengthening, or balancing shampoos will strip your hair from any remaining moisture. This will increase the likelihood of uncomfortable itching and embarrassing flakes.
As you might expect, hydrating or moisturizing shampoos will serve you just right. If you can’t find those, curly hair shampoos can also be suitable.
Conditioning your scalp together with your hair strands will drastically improve the issue.
Stay Away from “Fragrances”
If you take a quick look at your personal care products, you’ll find that most of them contain a percentage of fragrances.
It may sound like a harmful ingredient that gives a nice smell. But in fact, brands use this as a cloak to hide a bunch of chemicals like Phthalates and Sodium Laureth Sulfate.
Worst of all, the US labeling regulations don’t require breaking down this word to the actual ingredients!
Therefore, I prefer to instantly drop any product using this term. If it’s healthy enough, it shouldn’t have anything to hide, right?
Avoid Sodium Chloride If You Have Dry Hair
Some brands use sodium chloride, the regular kitchen salt, to make their shampoos thicker. It surely wouldn’t affect your baby. However, it can make your scalp feel a bit itchy, especially if pregnancy is already drying your hair.
My Recommended Safe Shampoo for Pregnancy
I selected these products after thoroughly researching the market. For each product, we’ll see the chemical composition, the proper use, and possible downsides that you might want to consider.
1. Daily Hair Cleanser Shampoo by Seed Phytonutrients – Best Overall
This shampoo is my favorite because it can fit different hair types. It’s composed of camelina seed oil, sunflower seed oil, coconut, and turmeric. These ingredients will give the naturally wet and smooth hair that you’ve always wanted.
One of the customers says that she stopped using an additional conditioner because her hair was already soft after using it.
Using this shampoo won’t only keep your baby safe, it’ll also help the environment. The bottle is made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper instead of plastic.
After you finish using it, tear the paper bottle and you’ll find a packet of the ingredient seeds inside. You can use them in taking care of your skin or in your garden.
As a side note, Seed Phytonutrients supports local, independent farmers by commissioning them to grow their seeds.
Furthermore, they prefer extracting the seed oil by mechanical pressure instead of chemical solutions. Although this yields less oil amount, it makes sure the final product is 100% natural.
It comes with one scent only, the citrus bergamot. I personally liked how it made me feel fresh, but some of my friends were deterred by how strong it smelled.
- The bottle is made from recycled paper
- Gives soft, wet hair
- Comes with packed seeds inside
- Doesn’t have a variety of scents
- Somewhat expensive
2. Nourishing Shampoo & Conditioner by True Botanicals – Best Value
I know the struggle. As you get closer to delivery, you try to save every penny for the baby supplies. If this applies to you, consider this package from True Botanicals.
They ship their best selling shampoo and conditioner together. I like their shampoo because it contains natural antioxidants like green tea oil. This substance cleanses your scalp by removing dead cells and dandruff.
However, using the shampoo alone will likely leave your hair a bit dry. That’s why they made their conditioner with meadowfoam oil that provides a soft and silky finish without weighing your hair down.
Both products are scented with a mixture of citrus and floral smells to balance each other and give a captivating sense.
It’s worth noting that all True Botanicals’ products are certified by Made Safe, a non-profit organization for baby and personal care products.
- The package contains shampoo and conditioner
- Equipped with citrus and floral smells.
- Certified by Made Safe
- The shampoo might dry your hair
- Slightly expensive
3. PURA D’OR Original Gold Label Anti-Thinning Shampoo – Best for Thin Hair
If your hormones are giving you a hard time and making your hair thinner than ever, this shampoo might be your best bet. Its formula contains two main ingredients promoting hair thickness: Biotin and herbal DHT.
Biotin, a type of vitamin B, is a crucial substance for proper keratin development. It’s naturally found in many foods like eggs, bananas, nuts, and soybeans. There’s nothing more natural to use over your head.
As for the di-hydro-testosterone (DHT), it’s one of the androgens naturally secreted by your body. In fact, this hormone is directly responsible for prolonging the follicle growth phase and the increasing sebaceous glands secretions.
To make this product even better, its formula includes nettle extract, pumpkin, and black cumin seed oil. These ingredients hydrate your scalp, remove dead cells, and improve the overall manageability of your hair.
The lather is absolutely thick and soft. One of the customers says that she used only one bottle 5-6 times a week and it lasted from 2015 to 2018! This fact, alongside its notably affordable price, means that you’d be getting the best bang for your buck.
- Specifically made for thin hair
- Contains natural biotin and DHT
- Includes various oils that reduce the hair dryness
- Some customers complained from the shipping of a different product
4. Christina Moss Naturals Hair Shampoo – Best for Sensitive Scalp
If your scalp gets irritated from even the slightest rubbing, you might find this shampoo beneficial. The secret lies in its unique formula that’s packed with shea butter, olive fruit oil, aloe vera, and coconut oil.
Though it’s not typically used for shampoos, shea butter penetrates deep into your scalp follicles to remove the accumulated build-up with the least rubbing. It also nurtures broken hair to reverse damage from chemical agents and styling tools.
Aloe vera and coconut oil are both responsible for hydrating and maintaining a healthy hair texture.
Last but not least, the antibacterial property of olive oil makes sure your hair is clean and immune against bacteria that thrive in thick, oily hair.
Christina Moss preferred to keep this shampoo as natural as possible by making it unscented.
While this is the best option for your baby’s health, some people might not like how dull and herbal it smells. One of the customers says that a few drops of essential oils drastically improves this issue, though.
- It contains shea butter, olive fruit oil, aloe vera, and coconut oil.
- It doesn’t contain any fragrances
- Some people may not appreciate its herbal scent
5. Pureology Hydrate Moisturizing Shampoo – Best for Dyed Hair
You certainly wouldn’t want your dyed hair to lose its color or become dry and brittle. For such an issue, Pureology’s shampoo might be your best option.
With a slogan that says “serious color care”, most of Pureology’s products are crafted with the dyed hair in mind.
The micro-emulsion formula of this shampoo uses significantly small molecules to make sure it deeply hydrates every bit of your scalp.
To give your hair a soft, silky feel, Pureology incorporated natural jojoba and green tea into the formula. This way, you may not need to purchase a separate conditioner.
As dyed hair is more prone to dryness and breakage, the formula also contains multi-weight proteins of soy, oat, and wheat. Those should rebuild any defect your hair might have.
What makes it really special for dyed hair is a collection of UV-resistant substances that Pureology calls AntiFade Complex. This is supposed to preserve the exact tone over a long period of time.
- Made with micro-emulsion technology
- Preserves the dye and maintain hair moisture
- Contains proteins that rebuild damaged hair.
- Some customers complained from the shipping of a different product
The Verdict – The Best Safe Shampoo for Pregnancy
I hope this roundup was elaborate enough to answer all of your questions!
As a rule of thumb, a safe shampoo for pregnancy should be void of all synthetic chemicals. My favorite one is the Daily Hair Shampoo by Seed Phytonutrients. The recycled-paper bottle contains camelina, sunflower, coconut, and turmeric which smoothen and moisturize your hair.
If your hormones made your scalp look scanty, don’t worry, it’ll return to normal after delivery. If you want a quick solution, then PURA D’OR Original Gold Label Shampoo should do the trick.
If your hair is dyed, Pureology Hydrate Moisturizing Shampoo is guaranteed to protect the color with its UV-resistant substances.
Lastly, I hope you have an easy, breezy, and quick delivery!