Can You Dye Your Hair While Pregnant? Is It Safe?

Last Updated On: 

May 26, 2018

You’ve heard it all before. Your mother might have admonished you for even thinking about dyeing your hair while you’re pregnant. You may have heard about your older relatives and even some friends advising you against changing the color of your hair because it’s bad for the baby.

pregnant woman dyeing her hair at the salon

All these with the shaking of heads like you have no right to look beautiful while expecting.

While we’re sure everyone around us is well-meaning, but is what they’re saying really true? Is dyeing your hair bad for the baby? Or is this one of those urban legends that’s gained traction over the years but nobody really knew where it started?

We get it. For some women, pregnancy is not some magical moment. You look bloated all over, you don’t feel like getting out of bed each morning, and you get aches from muscles you didn’t even know existed. And you feel ugly.

So why should you cancel that date with the salon for a change in hair color? Why can’t you, at least, feel pretty?

This article aims to debunk all the myths surrounding hair color and pregnancy, and set the record straight so you know what’s safe for you and what’s not.

We will also present several at-home hair dyes that are totally safe for your baby. We’re not here to make any specific recommendation, but rather want to provide you with all the information necessary so you can make an informed decision.

A Colorful Past

Hair dyeing has a colorful history, no pun intended.

In ancient Egypt, about 1,500 B.C., using henna to dye the gray hair black was commonplace. Generations since have experimented with different hues but it wasn’t until 300 B.C. when even women of the streets used yellow dye to announce their profession.

In the late 19th Century, English chemist William Henry Perkin discovered the synthesized dye called Mauveine, which became the foundation of most hair color products today.

In case you’re wondering, the oldest commercial manufacturer of hair dye was Aureole. You would recognize it by the modern name of L’Oréal.

From announcing profession or showing rank, hiding what was then considered the devil’s work (e.g. red hair) or intimidating opponents at the battlefield, hair dye was nothing like it is today: a purely aesthetic venture.

And business is good with the hair color industry expected to continue to expand until 2024, particularly on natural products due to fear of harsh chemicals doing damage to the body.

In fact, people are willing to pay more for premium products that use natural ingredients.

A Study On The Direct Link Between Hair Dye and Pregnancy

Few studies have a direct link between the use of hair dye by pregnant women and children’s disabilities that (presumably) result from this practice.

A 2010 study titled, “Disabilities of Children in Correlation to the usage of Hair Dye among Pregnant Women,” surveyed 205 women with disabled kids in Amman, Jordan and found a high number of them have used a hair dye application that was commonly adopted at that time.

While henna was the main ingredient, paraphrenylene was also used so the dye will glue to the hair on a single application. Unfortunately, scientists also found traces of mercury and lead in the local brew, which explains the toxicity.

For comparison, women who went to the salon to get their hair colored using natural hair dye were not affected.

A 2008 study titled “Safety of hair products during pregnancy” was for far-reaching considering that the research scrutinized commercial hair products used by professionals.

The study found no direct evidence that would raise alarm over hair dye during pregnancy.

In fact, it concluded that women may change the color of their hair three or four times while expecting and still have a safe pregnancy.

Does Hair Dye Hurt My Unborn Child?

And this brings us to the million dollar question at hand.

With the advances of R&D, the hair dyes of today are generally safe for use even for pregnant women. The fact is that the amount of chemicals absorbed on the skin during the hair treatment is just not enough to cause harm to your baby.

Let Dr. Lynn Friedman, a New York obstetrics and gynecologist, explain it to you.

However, a cut or scrape on the scalp, forehead or skin may increase the absorption of the chemicals so make sure you have no wound before visiting the salon.

But we don’t recommend you going to the hair expert on impulse just because you want to feel pretty during your pregnancy.

This is especially true if you haven’t tried dyeing your hair before.

The main reason is that you may have some allergic reaction to the chemicals and that will definitely be harmful to the baby.

Read The Fine Print (Or List Of Ingredients)

Not all hair products are created equal. That much is certain. Some are more dangerous than others. These are already banned ingredients after the European Commission warning about their carcinogenic effects.

  • 6-Methoxy-2,3-Pyridinediamine
  • 2,4-Diaminodiphenylamine
  • 2,6(2-Hydroxyl)-3,5-Pyridinediamine
  • N,N-Dimethyl-2,6-Pyridinediamine
  • 2,3-Naphthalene
  • 2-Methoxymethyl-p-Aminophenol
  • N-Cyclopentyl-m-Aminophenol
  • Acid Orange 24 (CI 20170)
  • Acid Red 73 (CI 27290
  • 4,5-Diamino-1-Methylpyrazole
  • 4,5-Diamino-1-((4-Chlorophenyl)Methyl)-1H-Pyrazole Sulphate
  • 4-Methoxytoluene-2,5-Diamine
  • 4-Chloro-2-Aminophenol
  • 4-Hyrdoxyindole
  • N,N-Diethyl-m-Aminophenol
  • 5-Amino-4-Fluoro-2-Methylphenol Sulphate
  • N-(2-Methoxyethyl)-p-phenylenadiamine
  • 1,7-Naphthalenedediol
  • 2,4-Diamino-5-methylphenetol
  • 3,4-Diamino Acid
  • Solvent Red 1 (CI 12150)
  • 2-Aminomethyl-p-aminophenol

Insist on getting used to reading the label of the hair product that will be applied to your hair before actually using it.

The more well-known and popular brands are generally safe because they undergo a strict screening process before getting a license for commercial distribution.

Always be on the lookout for the FDA seal on any hair dye product you get.

Tips for Coloring Your Hair at Home

If you’re tired from going to the salon to get your hair done by a professional, you can change your appearance quickly in the convenience of your home.

We’ve been talking about natural or organic a lot but that’s actually a misnomer. With hair dyes, it’s almost impossible to be 100% natural, but a combination of both organic and synthetic doesn’t always mean it’s going to be harmful.

Below are just some of the tips to make sure you are safe while dyeing your hair at home:

  • Don’t treat your hair while you are in your first trimester. Wait till you’re at least in your second trimester.
  • Wear safety gloves
  • Follow the directions to the letter
  • Don’t leave the chemicals on your hair and scalp a second longer than what’s stated on the label
  • Afterward, rinse your hair with water carefully and systematically to get rid of excess chemicals
  • Limit bleach or dye on the hair
  • Skip the eyebrows

Again, do not self-dye if you haven’t tried hair color before. Alternatively, you can conduct the patch test first to make sure you won’t suffer allergic reactions from the procedure.

Hair Dye Products for Pregnant Women

Everybody reacts differently to different hair products – but for the most part, there are some basic steps to follow when choosing a brand.

  • Buy products that are all-natural and use henna, indigo, and senna as the main ingredients.
  • Choose products that are chemical-free (these are the safest that money can buy)
  • Steer clear of ammonia-based hair dye products. Most of these ammonia-free, permanent hair products fade naturally after 24-28 shampoos.
  • All-natural products should have no PPD and PTD, peroxide, sulfates and parabens, gluten, dioxanes, resorcinol, phthalates, and petroleum.

SemiPermanent Vs. Permanent

Instead of permanent dye, which stays on your hair for a long time, you can opt for a temporary color because it’s less harsh compared to your regular dye.

They are easier to apply anyway, because you don’t have to mix them.

These semi-permanent products contain no harsh chemicals, so you can leave them on your hair beyond the recommended time during application with no consequences.

As an added bonus, they feature bolder and wilder colors compared to the more traditional hues from permanent hair dyes.

All these are not necessary, of course – but pregnant women, especially if it’s their first time, want everything to be perfect. And who are we to judge?

Home Remedies for Hair Color

You have a myriad of choices to tint or bleach your hair from coffee, cocoa, blackberries, honey and vinegar, chamomile, lemon, henna, and cinnamon. These are all natural ingredients that are 100% safe for your baby.

In fact, you will be surprised to know how effective they are in dyeing your hair.

The only drawback is that some of them are labor intensive and most wash away after shampoo.

But these home remedies are a good way to change your appearance in an instant.

Plus, the process of mixing and finding the right color proves to be comforting to some women. The simple fact is it gives them an excuse to do something different at home.

Here’s a quick briefer about how to use these ingredients. There are a lot of DIY videos on YouTube that will allow you to experiment with different colors without visiting the salon.

Wrapping It Up

As you can see, you don’t need to make a lot of sacrifices to change your looks.

When it comes to dyeing your hair during pregnancy, it’s not an either/or situation.

The good news is that you don’t have to feel guilty about it.

Among the takeaways to get from this article are:

  • Hair dyes are not absorbed by the skin in quantities that can cause harm to the baby
  • The link between modern hair products and pregnancy risk has been debunked several times
  • There are many home remedies you can make use of to change the color of your hair the safest way possible when expecting

It’s a weird kink of society to judge a woman who wants to be pretty during pregnancy as being a bad mother in the future, as if the two are mutually exclusive.

Your raging hormones are already all over the place, which unfortunately makes you look at yourself in the worst manner possible when coming across your reflection on the mirror.

Go pamper yourself and do not be bothered by self-reproach afterwards, momma!

Of course, when in doubt, it’s still best to talk to your obstetrician before deciding on dyeing your hair.

They’re the most competent person out there that’s able to tell you right from wrong practices during pregnancy, and safe approaches from ones that could get both you and your unborn baby in trouble.

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