Is Hair Dye Safe During Pregnancy?

Congratulations, if you’re pregnant! While you’re looking forward to your little bundle of joy, your hair will certainly look its best ever during this period–it will be full and lush. But if you’re feeling that your hair is lifeless, you might be thinking of giving yourself a brand new hair look by changing your hair color entirely. But is this safe for your growing baby?

In general, it is thought that your skin only absorbs a small amount of hair dye and other hair treatments.  However, your skin may absorb a greater quantity of the chemicals if it’s infected, irritated, or broken. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough data on the use of hair dye during pregnancy to determine whether hair dyes might be harmful to the growing baby.

Hair Dyes During the First Trimester 

There is very little evidence that hair dyes and other hair chemicals are harmful during the first trimester. Given the lack of evidence and the possibility that harsh chemicals contained in hair dyes may be absorbed through your scalp and passed along to your growing baby, some doctors recommend avoiding their use until after the first trimester when your baby’s organs have been formed.

At least one study supports the hypothesis that maternal exposure to hair dyes and hair straightening cosmetics may be linked to blood cancers (leukemia) in children younger than two. However, the results of that study should be interpreted with caution since the authors did not collect information concerning the women’s lifetime use of hair dyes, when they started using hair dyes, or whether they used them regularly or temporarily.

Hair Dyes During the Second and Third Trimesters

Certain hair dye use characteristics have been linked to an increased risk of leukemia; however, some researchers suggest that further studies should be conducted to determine whether hair dyes truly increase the risk of leukemia. In addition, studies examining the risk of cancer in babies born to mothers exposed to hair dyes are very limited. 

So what do doctors have to say about using hair dyes during the second and third trimesters? 

They have differing opinions. While some say that hair dyes should be okay after the first trimester of pregnancy, some say it’s better to avoid them until after delivery.

Precautions to Take When Dying Your Hair

If you’re still planning to give your hair that new flair, you should consider taking some precautions when using hair treatments during pregnancy.

  1. If you can wait until the second trimester to dye your hair. Hey, it’s only a three-month wait, right?
  2. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully: do not leave the product longer than required and rinse your scalp thoroughly after dying. 
  3. Always handle the product carefully, i.e., wear gloves when applying the product to your hair.
  4. Make sure you apply the product in a well-ventilated area.
  5. Perform a patch test to make sure that you’re not allergic to any of the components in the product before applying it.
  6. Do not use hair dye on your eyebrows or eyelashes. This could cause your face to swell or increase your chances of getting an eye infection.

Alternatives to Chemical Hair Dyes

Is It Safe to Dye Your Hair During Pregnancy?

If you’re worried about using regular hair dyes during pregnancy, there are some safer alternatives that you can consider. You can put highlights in your hair to decrease the risk of the dye touching your scalp. Since the dye is only applied on strands of your hair, there’s little risk of your skin absorbing the product.  

Another alternative is to use plant-based hair dyes. Below are a few examples that you can consider.

Henna 

This is a plant-based dye that can be used to give hair a reddish-brown color. Pure organic henna is safe for hair coloring, but you should watch out for the so-called ready-to-use premixed henna paste’ that is sold in tubes and containers, which can cause hair damage. 

Although the ingredients in pure organic henna are safe, women with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (a condition that almost exclusively occurs in males) should avoid using the product since its use can be life-threatening in these patients. 

The video below shows you how to apply henna to your hair.  

Lemon Juice

For several years, women have used lemon juice as a natural and effective method to lighten their hair. For a tutorial on how to use lemon juice to lighten your hair, watch the video below. 

Conclusion

Hair dyes aren’t generally thought to pose a health hazard to the developing baby. Nevertheless, given the lack of scientific evidence, you might want to postpone chemical hair treatments until after you have your baby. But if you wish to dye your hair when you’re pregnant, you should consider taking general safety precautions for your own welfare and perhaps that of your unborn child. Also, you should consider talking to your doctor for guidance if you’re concerned about the safety hair dye during pregnancy.

Further Reading

  1. Guerra-Tapia A, Gonzalez-Guerra E. Hair cosmetics: dyes. Actas Dermosifiliogr. 2014 Nov;105(9):833-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ad.2014.02.004. Epub 2014 Mar 20. English, Spanish. PubMed PMID: 24656996.
  2. Towle KM, Grespin ME, Monnot AD. Personal use of hair dyes and risk of leukemia: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. Cancer Med. 2017 Oct;6(10):2471-2486. doi: 10.1002/cam4.1162. Epub 2017 Sep 18. Review. PubMed PMID: 28925101.
  3. Raupp P, Hassan JA, Varughese M, Kristiansson B. Henna causes life threatening haemolysis in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. Arch Dis Child. 2001 Nov;85(5):411-2. PubMed PMID: 11668106; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1718961.

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Princila
 

I’m Princila, founder of Check Ovulation and a proud mom of two. I’m an alumna of James Lind Institute. After working in clinical jobs, my passion for writing took its toll, and I ended up switching careers to work in the medical publishing industry. I also have a passion for healthy food, which prompted me to take several online courses in nutrition and health offered by Wageningen University. (I still haven’t completed the courses thanks to my busy mommy schedule!). When I’m not writing/editing scientific and medical manuscripts or taking care of my family, I use my free time to research, learn, and write about healthy living. I have also authored a few books in the self-help niche using the pen names Princila Murrell or PN Murray.

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