Christina Milian Says Postpartum Hair Loss Was 'Disheartening': 'There Were Times I Wanted to Cry'
"I have always taken pride in not being the girl that leaves hair in the shower. Like, you're not going to find my hair all over the soap," she tells PEOPLE, laughing. "Well, I became that girl."
Milian says that at first, she tried to keep it from boyfriend Matt Pokora. "I'm cleaning up before he gets in the shower because I just didn't want him to see it," she admits. "Eventually I had to tell him: I'm losing my hair. I was so embarrassed by it. There was hair everywhere."
The "Dip It Low" singer, 39, is speaking out about dealing with the common condition, which can affect a new mom's self-esteem. "Emotionally, there is a huge drop in confidence," she says, recalling how it felt to experience hair loss while also being overwhelmed with a newborn and dealing with postpartum hormones.
Milian started noticing her hair thinning and falling out around 3 to 6 months postpartum with Isaiah, as well as with her 11-year-old daughter Violet Madison, whom she shares with ex-husband The Dream. "It's a really disheartening experience," she says. "I had times where I wanted to cry because I wasn't sure if I'd ever have my hair grow back again."
She recalls feeling desperate for a solution. "I would drive and actually look for billboards about hair loss. I'd look for doctor billboards and infomercials. I was checking everything out. It was a panic within me."
In April Milian gave birth to Kenna, her third child and her second with Pokora.
Although she hasn't yet experienced hair loss with Kenna yet, she's trying to stay ahead of it by partnering with hair care brand Nioxin.
Postpartum hair loss is normal, and shouldn't be a taboo topic, says dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara. "Postpartum hair loss is our body's response to the physiological and emotional stress of giving birth," says Gohara. "Our hair typically goes through a growth and shedding cycle, but after you have a baby, the hair shedding phase out-paces the growing phase, so we experience excessive hair shedding."
That's why preventative measures are so important, she says. "Using the right products to help treat is key."
Milian is loving the Nioxin System Kit 5. "Nioxin nourishes the scalp first, taking a skincare-inspired approach to hair health with product ingredients I already love like niacinamide and peppermint oil."
In addition to using products to strengthen and thicken hair, there are additional steps new moms can take to boost hair health.
"Knowing that you are not alone, going to the doctor to try and find solutions is critical," advises Dr. Gohara. "Keeping a healthy lifestyle postpartum is easier said than done with a newborn at home, but nourishing your body by eating foods rich in protein, biotin and vitamins and getting enough sleep and exercise are crucial in the long run to treat your hair loss from the inside and outside."
For Milian, that means increasing the servings of fruits and vegetables on her plate, getting enough sleep and making time for exercise, which isn't always easy for the busy mom.
"I try to go to bed early, around 10 or 10:30," she says, adding that she still wakes up at least once a night to feed Kenna. "After the morning routine, we do breakfast. And then I slip away, quietly, while my husband's still upstairs, and tippy toe down to the treadmill. I get down there and I do my thing. I do me. Thirty minutes a day, three times a week, is just enough that I know I can commit."