Forget 'mom jeans', here comes 'mom hair'

Ms Michelle Ehrhardt had her hair cut into a choppy bob with an undercut in the back at the Kennaland salon in New York.
Ms Michelle Ehrhardt had her hair cut into a choppy bob with an undercut in the back at the Kennaland salon in New York. PHOTO: NEW YORK TIMES

NEW YORK • In fashion there are "mom jeans". So, too, there is a counterpart in beauty: "mom hair".

You have likely seen it: the longer-in-back, slightly-shorter-in- front bob that should read sleek but is inescapably frumpy. Perhaps she has added her own twists like blunt bangs or extra layering, but the hairdo still falls short of flattering.

"I see it all the time," said Mr Juan Carlos Maciques, a stylist at the Rita Hazan salon in Manhattan.

"The first thing new moms want to do is cut their hair off. They're feeling lousy about their bodies, and they just want to get some sense of self again. But, usually, to cut off your hair is a big mistake."

It is not simply want of a new look that spurs many new mothers to the salon. Rather, they are experiencing real physical changes that can be terrifying. Often the mom bob starts as a convenient solution to hair loss after pregnancy.

"Anywhere from four to six months postpartum, women can start to experience shedding," said Ms Francesca Fusco, a dermatologist in Manhattan, adding that it's because of a change in hormone levels.

"It can be really scary because it may feel like it'll never stop. But for the most part, the situation will correct itself. You just have to stick with it."

Indeed, Mr Maciques recommends that new mothers wait about a year before they make any drastic changes.

"By then, you'll know what you've got," he said. "It's not just your hair that's changing. Your body is, too. You might not be at the weight you really want to be yet.

"And the truth is, long hair can be a little bit of a distraction. When you go short, you are more exposed. There's less, literally, to hide behind."

That is partly why Ms Katie Hintz-Zambrano, a co-founder of the website based in San Francisco, maintained her long locks.

Despite a hairline that receded for an entire year after giving birth ("I looked like a vampire," she said), she steered clear of the salon. "For me, it was also about maintaining my identity," she said, adding that she has always had long hair and felt most comfortable with that style.

Ms Hintz-Zambrano did pick up a few styling tricks to cope with those more-difficult hair months. Through fellow mom friends, she learnt the benefits of dry shampoo.

"It offers a little bit of plumping," she said. (Mr Maciques recommends Alterna Bamboo mousse as a volume- enhancing alternative.)

When fine new growth started to sprout, Ms Hintz-Zambrano used a Bumble and Bumble cream to tame the "stick-ups, so I wouldn't look totally crazy".

There is also the Kate Middleton path: Keep the overall length but cut bangs to help camouflage fuzzy hairline regrowth. (The Duchess of Cambridge debuted a flop of long bangs after Princess Charlotte turned four months old.) Ms Fusco also encourages good nutrition, plenty of protein and a hair-nail- skin vitamin during the regrowth process. Otherwise, "stick to your usual routine", she said.

"You may not want to shampoo as much because you're seeing so much hair in the drain, but it's going to come out anyway."

Mr Maciques stressed that strategies can be plotted well ahead, regardless of the method. Here is when a stylist or colourist who knows your hair well can help you through the speed bumps.

"Ideally, you'd start planning while you're still pregnant," he said. "For hair colour, you'll want to go more natural by the third trimester. An ombre is a really nice way to address the fact you're going to be having fewer hair appointments."

Moreover, not all mom bobs deserve a bad rap. The above-the- shoulder cut can be a chic solution for certain hair types.

Mr Kenna Kennor, the founder of the Kennaland salon in Greenpoint, said: "There's quite a lot you can do with the jaw-length bob. We're encouraging moms to embrace their natural texture and get that wild, youthful feeling back again."

Another trick that has resonated with some of Mr Kenna's clientele is cutting the bangs slightly too short. "It gives off this teenage feeling of irresponsibility and youthfulness," he said.

And do not minimise the impact of colour. Mr Kenna recalled a regular client who had always been a blonde.

"She had a baby 11 months ago and felt she was looking washed out," he said. One "very vibrant copper" hue later and "she was wearing her red lips again and feeling good", he said. "It's just about getting the mom the little kick she needs."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2016, with the headline 'Forget 'mom jeans', here comes 'mom hair''. Print Edition | Subscribe