Two women dyeing their hair at homeMany women wonder, “Can I dye my hair while pregnant?” It’s not uncommon for women to have concerns about the safety of hair treatments during pregnancy, especially those involving chemicals and dyes. With the health and well-being of both mother and child at stake, it’s understandable why many women may feel hesitant about undergoing such treatments.
As part of our blog series on pregnancy-safe beauty products, we’ve shared which shampoos and foundations are safe to use. We’ve also shared about dermatologist-recommended skincare products. Today, we’ll answer the often-asked question, “Is hair coloring safe during pregnancy?”

Is Hair Coloring Safe During Pregnancy?

Some extra-cautious healthcare practitioners still recommend that their patients avoid hair dyes when they’re pregnant, but studies have not linked these products to birth defects. Many studies have excluded pregnant participants because of the ethical concern of studying drug and cosmetic effects on pregnant women. Studies about the effects of using hair dye during pregnancy are mostly incidental, so their overall safety is something to be cautious about.
It seems that so few of the chemicals in the dyes are absorbed by the skin, leaving little that can reach the baby. As such, this tiny amount is not considered harmful to the baby.
In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has stated that these treatments are “generally considered safe” for pregnant women. While limited research exists on the effects of hair treatments on fetuses, the current evidence suggests that most types of hair treatments are relatively safe to use during pregnancy. However, it is always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider before using any hair treatments during pregnancy to ensure they are appropriate for you and your baby.

Changes in Your Hair’s Texture

While you may not have to worry about the effects on your baby when you color your hair, you may have to worry about the impact on your appearance. Due to the hormones you have when pregnant, your hair may react differently – leaving you with a color you may not have expected.
Pregnancy can naturally change your hair’s texture. It may also cause your hair to react differently to coloring. If you perform a patch test and find this to be the true, consider waiting until after pregnancy to color your hair.

Safer Alternatives

If you are reluctant to use regular hair dyes during pregnancy, there are some safer options to consider:

Get Highlights

If you’re worried about the potential risks of hair dye during pregnancy, there are some alternatives that you may consider. For instance, you could opt for hair highlights instead of a complete color change, as this process uses fewer chemicals.
Getting highlights in your hair reduces any risk as the dye doesn’t touch your scalp. It’s only placed on strands of your hair. So, your skin won’t absorb the chemicals into your bloodstream.

Wait It Out

Some pregnant women decide to wait until after the first trimester (when the baby’s organs are forming) to color their hair, just to be extra cautious.

Use Natural Hair Dye

You might also consider using pure vegetable dyes to color your hair, including henna. Henna hair dyes don’t contain ammonia, metallic salts, paraphenylenediamine (PPD), or other harsh burning and blistering chemicals.

What Safeguards Should I Take When Coloring My Hair?

  • Ensure the room you’re coloring your hair in is well-ventilated.
  • Think about waiting until the second trimester to color your hair.
  • Wear gloves when applying the color.
  • Thoroughly rinse your scalp with water after treatment.
  • Avoid leaving the dye on your hair any longer than the directions say.
  • Follow the directions on the package carefully.
  • Do a patch test before you color to check for a potential allergic reaction.

Ultimately, the decision to use hair treatments during pregnancy is a personal one, and it’s always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that you make the right choice for you and your baby.
If you’re wondering how your baby is growing, make sure to check out this realistic video, “Life Before Birth.” This six-minute video is a great way to learn how a baby develops during pregnancy.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on September 20, 2013, and has since been updated.