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Emma Willis has revealed the reason she keeps her hair short, admitting she suffered from postpartum hair loss following each of her three pregnancies.
The TV presenter, 44, guest-hosted Loose Women on Thursday 28 January, and during a discussion about pregnancy side effects opened up about her personal experience.
The mum-of-three, who is famous for her cute pixie cuts, revealed she keeps her hair short not for fashion reasons, but because she lost a huge amount of hair after giving birth to each of her kids: Trixie, four, Ace, nine, and Isabelle, 11.
“I noticed my hair was really thinning. [What] I didn't know with my first pregnancy was how much hair you can lose afterwards,” she told the panel.
“I lost so much of it, which is why I always cut my hair short, because it was really non-existent, it wasn’t worth growing, so I cut it off.”
Willis said she also suffered problems with her gag reflex during pregnancy, meaning even every day tasks like brushing her teeth were made difficult.
“I had never heard of it, and I did a lot of research, and I've never heard of anyone else having it, it was shocking,” she said.
“When I brushed my teeth and I went near my back teeth, I would convulse, my eyes would water, and I would be sick, but it wasn't morning sickness, it was because my gag reflex was totally heightened.”
The Voice presenter isn’t the only celebrity to open up about postpartum hair loss.
Lea Michele, who gave birth to her son Ever Leo in August 2020, has also revealed she's struggling with hair loss after pregnancy.
And model Abbey Clancy previously revealed she’d suffered from hair loss during and after her third pregnancy.
Watch: Lea Michele opens up about postpartum hair loss.
What causes postpartum hair loss?
“During pregnancy, oestrogen levels rise,” explains Anabel Kingsley, consultant trichologist at Philip Kingsley.
“This keeps hairs in the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle for longer than usual – fewer hairs are shed and by the end of pregnancy the hair often feels thicker and more voluminous.”
However, once the baby is born, or breastfeeding is stopped, oestrogen levels drop and return to normal.
“In approximately 50% of women this causes a type of hair loss known as ‘postpartum shedding’ six to 12 weeks later,” Kingsley continues.
“Here, hairs that were kept in the growth phase move all at once into the telogen (shedding) phase of the growth cycle creating substantial hair fall.”
Experts aren’t entirely sure why hair loss occurs in some women and not others, and why it may happen in one pregnancy and not the next.
Can postpartum hair loss be prevented?
Unfortunately nothing can be done to prevent postpartum shedding, but Kingsley has some reassuring information for women battling excess hair loss after having a baby.
“While the loss can be extremely distressing, it is temporary,” she explains. “The shedding should stop on its own and all hairs lost will grow back.”
Certain factors can cause hair loss after pregnancy to continue for longer, according to Kingsley.
“The most common of these are an improper diet, nutritional deficiencies and stress – all of which are more likely with the responsibility of looking after a baby,” she explains.
“To encourage new growth, try to eat a diet rich in protein and iron. If you leave longer than four hours between meals, snack on a complex carbohydrate. Energy to form hair cells drops after this amount of time.
“Supplements can also be extremely helpful as they provide the body with additional nutrients to produce hair cells.”
In terms of products, Kingsley suggests applying stimulating anti-androgenic scalp drops daily and using a stimulating scalp mask once a week.
“Stimulating ingredients include menthol and methyl nicotinate,” she explains. “These will help to optimise the scalp environment and create a good foundation for healthy hair growth.”
Breakage can also thin the appearance of the hair.
“To strengthen and add elasticity to strands, use a pre-shampoo conditioning treatment once a week,” Kingsley suggests.
“This can be applied to your hair at the same time your scalp mask is applied to your scalp.”