Is it safe to dye your hair during pregnancy?

Is it safe to dye your hair during pregnancy

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There are certain beauty practices you would want to continue even when you are pregnant. Hair dye is one such thing, which you do not want to miss if it has always been your style statement or you have been too used to discontinue it now.

But is it safe to use a hair color during pregnancy or would the chemicals used in the dyes and bleaches affect the developing baby? MomJunction answers that question and gives you some natural alternatives that you can try.

Is It Safe To Dye Your Hair When Pregnant?

The limited research available on this has found that dyes are safe to use during pregnancy. The chemicals in both the permanent and semi-permanent dyes are not toxic. Also, the amount of hair dye absorbed by the skin is too less to reach the fetus (1).

What Do Experts Say About Hair Dye And Pregnancy?

As there is not enough evidence, experts recommend just being safe with hair dyes. The dye may come in contact with the scalp or forehead. As your skin becomes more sensitive during pregnancy, the dye might make it itchy.

Most experts suggest using natural hair dyes during this time.

Natural Ways To Dye Your Hair During Pregnancy

There are several natural dye alternatives you may try not just during pregnancy but also post delivery. Choose one from our list below:

  • Henna: Mix henna powder, tea decoction, and lemon juice. Apply it evenly all over the hair, let it dry and rinse it off using a mild shampoo. It gives your hair auburn or red-orange shade.
  • Coffee: Prepare a cup of dark-roast coffee by brewing half a cup of espresso. Mix it thoroughly with half a cup of leave-in conditioner. Apply to clean and wet hair, leave for an hour and wash it off. It darkens your hair and also adds color to the gray hair.
  • Chamomile tea: Concentrated tea decoction lightens your hair and also covers the gray hair. Dampen the hair with water, and apply the chamomile tea, let it sit for an hour and then wash it. It gives a beautiful bright color to the hair.
  • Carrot juice: It gives your hair a reddish-orange shade that lasts for a couple of weeks. Mix carrot juice with olive or coconut oil, and apply to the hair. Let it sit for an hour, and wash off with apple cider vinegar. If you want a deeper red shade, use beet juice instead of carrot juice.
  • Lemon juice: It gives permanent hair color, which could only get lightened with time. Apply freshly squeezed juice evenly on the hair and leave it for an hour. Sit under the sun for optimal results. You could get sun-kissed (brown) highlights that you will love.

If you are happy to use the natural dyes, then go ahead. However, if you would want to continue with your regular dye, then read on as we share a guide on it.

How To Dye Your Hair Safely?

Follow these steps to dye your hair safely (2).

  1. Wait until you reach the second trimester: In the initial 12 weeks of pregnancy, your baby is in a vulnerable stage, and experts advise against using any harmful chemicals. Although there are no studies to show a relation between the hair dye and fetal risks, it is safe to avoid them in the first 12 weeks.
  1. Opt for alternative hair services: Choose alternative treatments that are gentle on your hair and minimize the exposure to chemicals. Go with highlights, lowlights, streaking, and frosting where the color is only applied to the hair shaft.
  1. Choose safer colors: Ask your hair stylist to choose ammonia-free or bleach-free hair dyes. If you want to do it yourself, go for semi-permanent colors as they do not contain bleach, and limit your exposure to toxins and chemicals.
  1. Keep the work-area ventilated: If you are at a salon, sit at a well-ventilated space. If you are at home, color your hair in an open area where you can breathe fresh air, and not the toxic gases.
  1. Cover your hands: If you are dying it by yourself, wear gloves as they minimize skin exposure to chemicals. Follow the steps in the manual, and wash your scalp and hands thoroughly after the procedure.
  1. Do a strand test: Sometimes, hormonal changes may make your skin sensitive to the hair dye. Therefore, before applying it on the entire hair, do a test by coloring a couple of strands. Wait for 24 hours to see if there is any reaction on your skin.

If you are going for a non-natural hair dye, then go for the one which is safe.

Which Hair Dye Is Best To Use During Pregnancy?

Any hair color that does not contain ammonia, parabens, peroxide, resorcinol, and para-phenylenediamine is safe to use during pregnancy. Do test the dye for its compatibility with your skin, even if you are buying a safe product.

How To Test A Hair Dye?

Irrespective of the brand you use, try a patch test before you apply the dye on your hair. Apply the dye to the inner elbow, and let it dry. If you experience itchiness, redness, pain or swelling, wash it off and do not use the dye (3).

Precautions To Take While Using Hair Dyes

Here are some measures you can take to minimize the chance of side effects while coloring your hair (4).

  • Follow the instructions given in the manual.
  • Always conduct a patch test before the procedure.
  • Take care not to bring the dye in contact with your eyes and skin.
  • Buy trusted brands as cheaper dyes might harm your hair.
  • Do not eat or drink while coloring your hair to avoid the risk of ingesting the color.
  • Use good quality shampoos and conditioners for rinsing the dye.
  • Rinse your scalp thoroughly to avoid the absorbance of the dye.

It is rare to have a reaction to the hair dye after taking all the precautions.

When To See A Doctor?

If you carefully select the hair dye that is free of harmful chemicals, do the patch test, and follow the precautions, you do not have to worry about any adverse effects. However, see a doctor if you have itchy skin, swelling, rashes, severe itchiness on the scalp, or dizziness.

During pregnancy, it is important to feel happy inside out. And if coloring your hair makes you happy, then do it by all means. But follow all the safety precautions, and do not overdo it. Restrict the use to three to four times through the pregnancy.

Did you try a hair dye during pregnancy? Share your experience with us in the comments section below.


MomJunction's health articles are written after analyzing various scientific reports and assertions from expert authors and institutions. Our references (citations) 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. Angela Chua-Gocheco et al.; Safety of hair products during pregnancy; Can Fam Physician (2008)
2. Chemical hair treatments — Bad for baby-on-the-way; Go Ask Alice! – Columbia University
3. Hair dye reactions; NIH (2018)
4. Hair coloring during pregnancy: No-No or No Big Deal; Wake Forest Baptist Health (2013)