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Can You Dye Your Hair While Pregnant?

If you're wondering whether you should bleach, dye, or highlight your hair during pregnancy, we've gathered specific recommendations from the American Pregnancy Association to help answer your question.
Dyeing Hair While Pregnant
Updated: September 8, 2023
Medically reviewed by  Metta Weaver, DNP, APRN, CNM

If you're wondering whether you should bleach, dye, or highlight your hair during pregnancy, we've gathered specific recommendations from the American Pregnancy Association to help answer your question.

Pregnancy is such an exciting time of life. There are so many choices to make in preparation of the baby’s arrival. There is also the new responsibility for women to think carefully about decisions that they make for their own bodies as their circumstances change when they have a growing little one in utero.

Related: Can You Drink Coffee While Pregnant?

With every decision that women make while pregnant, they now need to consider not only whether it is a good choice for themselves, but also if it is a healthy choice for their growing baby. One of these choices that may give many pregnant women a reason to pause is whether or not to dye their hair while pregnant

Bleaching, dyeing, or highlighting their hair is a regular aspect of life for some women, but just like with many choices during pregnancy, it is important to research and understand the factors of how it may impact your pregnancy.

Can You Dye Your Hair While Pregnant?

Although it’s not a black-and-white answer, most experts say it is safe to color hair in pregnancy, but it is a conditional yes that comes along with specific recommendations. According to the American Pregnancy Association:>/p>

“Although fairly limited, most research indicates the chemicals found in both semi-permanent and permanent dyes are not highly toxic and are safe to use during pregnancy. In addition, only small amounts of hair dye may be absorbed by the skin, leaving little that would be able to reach the fetus.”

The question “Is it safe to dye my hair during pregnancy?” The good news is that there is no evidence that the small amount of dye that comes in contact with the skin causes birth defects or other health problems for the pregnant person, or the developing fetuses.

Recommendations for Safely Dyeing Your Hair While Pregnant

1. Check With Your Healthcare Provider First

Although it’s important to do your research, it is always most important to get the opinions of your OB-GYN, midwife, gynecologist or trusted healthcare provider. They are the experts who will know the details of your personal healthcare situation the best, so you should defer to their opinions and recommendations.

2. Wait Until the Second Trimester

Although it is safe to dye hair while pregnant since the dyes are not highly toxic, some experts recommend that pregnant women wait to dye their hair or use chemical hair treatments until the second or third trimester. The thought behind this is to avoid using chemical treatments on the hair during the first trimester of pregnancy to minimize any potential harm to the rapidly developing baby.

getting hair highlighted while pregnant

3. Do a Patch Test 

Before you apply a treatment to your entire head of hair, be sure to do a patch test. Pregnancy hormones can change your body in many ways. Make sure that you don’t have an allergic reaction by testing a small area first. This is also helpful because hair can change throughout pregnancy, including the way it takes and holds color.

4. Consider Different Options for the Kind of Hair Color Treatment You Might Use

If you are looking for the safest ways to dye your hair and minimize any potential risks to your pregnancy, consider all of the different options for coloring hair available to you. Instead of dyeing all of your hair, you might choose a treatment like highlights or balayage. These treatments generally keep the hair color off of your scalp and skin which is where chemicals can be absorbed into the body, even in very small doses.

Another option is to choose an alternative to permanent hair dyes which can be more laden with chemicals. Semi-permanent, bleach-free, and ammonia-free options are gentler options. 

You can also choose a more natural approach to hair color by using henna or vegetable dyes. Many women decide to continue to use these gentler practices throughout their breastfeeding journeys as well to minimize any breast milk exposure to chemicals. Reducing the amount of chemicals in hair coloring is never a bad choice.

Best Practices for Coloring Hair While Pregnant

If you are coloring your own hair, make sure to wear gloves to minimize chemical exposure to your skin. Also, be sure to wash any skin that may have been touched by color treatments well afterward. 

Whether you are coloring your hair yourself or getting it done at a salon, be aware of the ventilation in the room. Keeping windows or doors open is helpful. Even if you are only visiting a salon for a haircut or blowout, you might consider asking the colorist there to do what they can to ventilate the room well during their treatments of others in the same space.

In general, you do not need to lose sleep over the decision to color your hair in pregnancy. By making simple choices like waiting until after the first trimester, choosing gentler color treatment options, and minimizing the inhalation of color treatments, you are minimizing risk and can feel good about doing something to help you feel your best during this special time of your life.

Sources +
Lockwood MD, MHCM, C., & Magriples, MD, U. (2023, January 30). Prenatal care: Patient education, health promotion, and safety of commonly used drugs (V. Berghella, MD & V. Barss, MD, FACOG, Eds.) [Review of Prenatal care: Patient education, health promotion, and safety of commonly used drugs]. UpToDate.

Charise Rohm Nulsen

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