Can You Dye Your Hair When Pregnant? Risks And Precautions

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Pregnancy can make you cautious of even the simplest things that you would otherwise do regularly. An example of such activity is dyeing your hair. Many women may become wary of dyeing their hair since they may have concerns about the hair dye’s chemicals affecting the developing fetus. Can you dye your hair while pregnant, and will it affect your fetus?
Read this post to know the safety, precautions, and tips for dyeing hair during pregnancy.

Is It Safe To Dye Your Hair During Pregnancy?

Yes, it is usually safe to dye your hair during pregnancy. Experts say that the chemicals in hair dyes (both temporary and permanent) are absorbed in small quantities by the scalp unless there is an abscess or burn on the scalp (1). The compounds absorbed are unlikely to make it to the placenta in significant amounts (2). Therefore, dyeing your hair is quite unlikely to have any harmful effects on your fetus.

What Are The Risks Of Dyeing Hair For Pregnant Women?

The use of hair dyes may pose the following risks in some pregnant women (3) (4).

  • If you dye your hair regularly, your scalp may absorb more hair dye chemicals. It may cause a substantial quantity of chemicals to reach the placenta and fetus, increasing the risk of potential harm. However, it is not known what quantity of absorbed hair dye chemicals may harm the fetus.
  • Allergies may worsen in some women during pregnancy (5). If you were slightly allergic to a hair dye, the allergy might worsen during pregnancy, causing significant discomfort.
  • A study noted that maternal exposure to hair dyes and hair cosmetics might be a risk factor for leukemia in children younger than two years. However, large-scale research on various aspects of hair dye products and stages of pregnancy is needed to evaluate this association.

What Precautions Should You Take While Coloring Your Hair?

You may observe the following precautions to minimize the risk of any potential harm from hair dyes to you and your baby (3) (6).

  • You may consider waiting until the end of the first trimester as this is the phase of rapid fetal development. The risk of hair dye chemicals affecting the fetus after the first trimester could be lower.
  • Avoid dyeing your hair if you have a burn, abscess, or an open wound on the scalp. It may cause more quantities of hair dye chemicals to be absorbed by the skin.
  • Check the hair dye’s package for any mention of whether the dye is pregnancy-safe or not recommended for pregnant women. Choose hair dyes free from ammonia and bleach.
  • Give preference to semi-permanent hair dyes since they may have less concentration of chemical compounds than permanent hair dyes. You may also prefer plant color-based hair dyes.
  • You may consider adding highlights or streaks to your hair strands. In such cases, the dye stays on the hair and not the scalp.
  • Wear gloves while dyeing your hair to minimize the number of chemicals absorbed by the skin. The chemicals may leave residues on your hands if you do not wear gloves, increasing the chances of accidental ingestion.
  • Perform a patch test on a small section of the scalp, such as behind your ears, to check for any allergic reactions (7).
  • Apply the dye in a well-ventilated room so that any volatile chemicals do not accumulate in the surrounding air.
  • Leave the dye for minimal time and rinse your scalp thoroughly.

Are There Natural Ways To Dye Your Hair During Pregnancy?

You may consider the following natural coloring agents, which may not be long-lasting but can be significantly safer than chemical-based hair dyes (8) (9).

  • Henna: Henna is a widely used ingredient in natural hair dyes. The leaves of the henna plant are powdered and applied as a paste. Henna imparts a brown to red shade to your hair. Choose natural and pure henna without any additives, artificial colors, and color enhancers.
  • Coffee and black tea: Coffee and tea powder may darken the hair. You may use the decoctions directly or along with hair conditioners.
  • Hibiscus flowers: Hibiscus flower extracts can be used for hair coloring along with henna paste or decoctions. It may impart a crimson tinge to your hair.
  • Lemon: Lemon juice may lighten your natural hair color temporarily. You may use lemon juice with hair oils or a conditioner.
  • Chamomile: Chamomile paste is often used with honey, lemon, or henna. It may provide a shade of blond to your hair.

Coloring your hair during pregnancy is usually safe and seldom affects the mother or the baby. However, there is limited research on the safety of hair dyes during pregnancy. You may stay on the safe side by postponing the dyeing of your hair to the second trimester. You may also consider natural hair dyes, which may not last very long, but are safe for your pregnancy.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Is it safe to dye my hair during pregnancy?
    https://www.acog.org/womens-health/experts-and-stories/ask-acog/is-it-safe-to-dye-my-hair-during-pregnancy
  2. Angela Chua-Gocheco et al.; (2008); Safety of hair products during pregnancy.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2567273/
  3. Is it safe to use hair dye when I\’m pregnant or breastfeeding?
    https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/is-it-safe-to-use-hair-dye-when-i-am-pregnant-or-breastfeeding/
  4. Arnaldo C. Couto et al.; (2013); Pregnancy, maternal exposure to hair dyes and hair straightening cosmetics, and early age leukemia.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23747844/
  5. Jamie Morgan; (2018); Itchy eyes, sore throat: How to manage allergies and asthma during pregnancy.
    https://utswmed.org/medblog/allergies-asthma-during-pregnancy/
  6. Hair Treatment During Pregnancy.
    https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/is-it-safe/hair-treatments-during-pregnancy/
  7. Hair dye reactions.
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hair-dye-reactions/
  8. Vijender Singh et al.; (2015); Study of colouring effect of herbal hair formulations on graying hair.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4471652/
  9. Abdel Naser Zaid et al.; (2017); Ethnopharmacological survey of home remedies used for treatment of hair and scalp and their methods of preparation in the West Bank-Palestine.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5499037/
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Vidya Tadapatri

Vidya did her post-graduation in Biotechnology from Osmania University, Hyderabad. Her interest in scientific research and writing made her pursue a career in writing, in which she now has over four years of experience. She has done certified biotechnology-related training programs under renowned organizations such as Centre For Cellular & Molecular Biology and Department of Biotechnology. Vidya writes health-based articles... more