Is It Safe to Dye Your Hair While Pregnant?

By colored hair expert

Questions related to hair dying during pregnancy are common. Due to the high amounts of chemicals contained in most hair dyes and hair treatment products, most pregnant women wonder if they are safe to use, and whether or not they put their pregnancy at a risk. Due to the minimal contact between the dye and the scalp, hair coloring is considered generally safe during pregnancy. But the level of safety largely depends on the type of hair treatment that you choose.

Is It Harmful to Dye Your Hair While Pregnant?

Although fairly limited, research has shown that most hair dying methods, including permanent and semi-permanent dying, are not highly toxic and can be safely utilized during pregnancy. The Organization of Teratology Information Services, which offers information on potential reproductive risks, has stated that there are no reported of hair dye causing changes in human pregnancies. Since very little of the chemicals in hair treatments are absorbed into your system, there is very little that would be able to reach the fetus. This small amount is not considered harmful to the baby.

One study has shown that hair dye may cause babies to develop the cancer neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer that affects the nervous system and other tissues. However, there have been no other studies to back up this finding.

Some chemical compounds contained in your hair dye may also cause birth defects. Nonetheless, you would need to use them in very high amounts for them to have this effect, and the quantities would have to be far greater than the amount you would use every month or two. As such, you can safely color your hair during pregnancy up to two or three times.

How to Dye Your Hair While Pregnant?

There are a couple of things you must know before dying your hair while pregnant. Although they are not deemed as unsafe, it’s best to exercise a little caution and common sense to ensure that your pregnancy will not be at risk.

The first trimester of pregnancy is a time of major development for your baby: organs are taking shape, muscles and vocal chords are forming, and hair follicles and nail beds are starting to develop. Even though your scalp will not absorb much of the chemicals in hair dye, the amount that enters your system may put the development of the fetus at risk. As such, it’s safer to use an all-natural hair color like henna, a semi-permanent (temporary) vegetable dye that doesn’t pose any risk to the baby. Henna has its downsides as well: it’s quite messy to use, needs to be left on for a long time, and may give your hair a red-orange hue that you may not like.

It’s important that you make sure to use specifically all-natural henna when dying your hair. Natural henna is pure brown, takes up to seven hours to work, and lasts just a couple of weeks, usually three or four. Keep in mind that henna products that come in other colors or are fast-acting are not pure henna, thus they may contain synthetic chemicals or risky metallic compounds that might threaten your baby’s development.

Once you reach the second or third trimester of pregnancy, you can cut back on chemicals by looking for dye with little or no ammonia or peroxide.

What Are the Best Hair Coloring Options for Pregnant Women?

As mentioned above, there are several types of hair coloring treatments. You can put color all over your hair and opt for either permanent or semi-permanent dye, or you can put color only in specific areas of the hair. Highlighting and lowlighting, streaking, painting, and frosting are all safer options that permanent or semi-permanent dye. These hair coloring processes involve little or no contact with your scalp, meaning they will not be absorbed in your system, and thus they will not be risky.

Another alternative would be using a cap, which protects the scalp against chemicals by allowing only your locks to get in contact with them.

What Precautions Should I Take When Dying My Hair?

There are a number of aspects to keep in mind in order to minimize the effects of chemicals in hair dyes and make the coloring process as safe as possible for both you and your baby.

Wait Until the Second Trimester

Since the first trimester is such an important time in your baby’s development, it’s best not to take the chance to do any harm by using any kind of hair dye. With all those pregnancy hormones racing through your body, your hair may be growing very fast during the first trimester, and even have a different texture and slightly different color as well. Meaning, your hair may react differently to hair dye than normally, resulting in potentially unwanted consequences. Consider testing just a strand first before putting color all over your head to see how it turns out.


Keep Ventilated and Covered

Another safety precaution to take is staying ventilated during the whole coloring process. If you are in a salon, ask to be seated in a well-ventilated area – if possible, close to the window. If you’re at home, open up the windows so you breathe fresh air. If you have a patio, you can color your hair outside, as this will also prevent chemicals in the dye from getting absorbed in your scalp.

Always wear plastic gloves if you are coloring your hair all by yourself. You will also want to slip into a long-sleeved shirt for extra coverage. When the job is done, make sure to wash your scalp thoroughly to get rid of any chemicals.


Wait Until After Pregnancy

If you are concerned about the effects of hair dye on your hair, or if hormonal changes have caused the texture and color of your hair to change, you may want to wait until after pregnancy. In addition to ensuring that your baby will be safe, this will also help you achieve the desired results with minimal effort and struggle.

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