Expectant mothers often have many questions about what is safe and what is not during pregnancy. One common concern is whether it's ok to dye your hair. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer, as the research is inconclusive. Some studies suggest that hair dye may be absorbed through the skin and affect the developing fetus, while other studies find no evidence of this.

Until more research is conducted, many experts suggest erring on the side of caution and avoiding hair dye during pregnancy. If a pregnant woman does choose to dye her hair, she should take care to avoid contact with the skin, use gentle products, and ventilate the area well to minimize exposure.

What Does the Research Say About It?

While research into the topic is limited, there is currently no evidence that dyeing your hair during pregnancy harms your unborn baby. One 2013 study found an association between mothers dyeing hair during pregnancy and the development of early-age leukemia. However, this study does not imply that hair dye causes leukemia, only that there was a correlation.

Hair dye uses strong chemicals, but there's no evidence that these chemicals can pass through your skin barrier and enter your bloodstream at significant levels. If you have scalp issues, consult your doctor before dyeing your hair during pregnancy.

woman looking at her roots from grown out blonde hair dye


Is Hair Dye Toxic?

The ingredients in hair dye can have moderate toxicity. Since they're intended for topical use only, ingesting hair dye can be a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention.

While there have been some cases of allergic reactions from exposure to skin, using hair dye is generally considered safe. It's a common practice and people rarely encounter issues with it.

woman getting her hair dyed in a salon


Which Types of Hair Dye Are Gentle?

If you are looking for a gentle hair dye, your best bet is to choose one that is made with natural ingredients. Some of the most popular gentle hair dyes include henna and indigo. These dyes are made from plant materials, and they're less likely to cause irritation or damage to your scalp.

If you're unsure about whether a particular hair dye is gentle, you can always ask your stylist for advice.

woman getting her hair dyed with henna


What Chemicals Should I Avoid?

While there's currently no evidence that dyeing your hair during pregnancy is harmful to your baby, you may wish to avoid certain chemicals. Peroxide and ammonia are some of the harsher chemicals in hair dye. You may also want to steer clear of lead acetate, which can be found in darker hair dyes.

woman having her hair bleached blonde


When Is the Safest Time to Dye Hair When Pregnant?

To avoid potential risk, doctors recommend waiting until your second trimester before dyeing your hair. This is because your unborn baby is particularly sensitive to chemical exposure during the first trimester.

That will mean waiting until your fetus is 12 weeks old before putting that new color in your hair.

pregnant woman looking at her hair


Can Dyeing Hair Spoil Breast Milk?

Many new mothers decide to go for a new look after giving birth, but could dyeing your hair affect your breast milk? The simple answer is that your salon visit shouldn't have any effect on breastfeeding. However, there are a few things to keep in mind if you're planning on coloring your hair when your baby is still nursing:

  • Wear a mask while dyeing to avoid inhaling chemicals
  • Leave the dye in for the minimal time
  • Consider natural hair dye alternatives if you're concerned

mother nursing her new baby


How to Use Hair Dye When Pregnant

When dyeing your hair, make sure to carefully read the instructions that come with the product. Open the windows or dye your hair in a well-ventilated area. Wear gloves for mixing and applying the product to avoid exposure to skin, leave the product in your hair for the amount of time suggested, and wash out thoroughly when finished.

woman dyeing her hair in a well-ventilated room


Safety Tips for Dyeing Hair During Pregnancy

While generally considered safe, you may wish to take extra precautions if dyeing your hair during pregnancy. Here are some general safety tips to follow:

  • Always wear the gloves provided with the product
  • Open doors and windows to improve room ventilation when dyeing your hair
  • Avoid leaving the dye in for longer than that recommended amount of time

woman dyeing her hair with gloves


Reducing Chemical Exposure

To further avoid exposure to the chemicals in hair dyes, your may wish to take some of the following precautions:

  • Don't eat in the area where you dyed your hair
  • Wear a hygienic face mask when dyeing to avoid inhaling chemicals
  • Thoroughly wash traces of dye from your skin after dyeing your hair

woman having her hair dyed washing off


Alternatives to Regular Hair Dye

While it's not evident that the chemicals used in hair dye can pass through your scalp and harm your baby, some people may not want to take the risk. The most common harmful chemicals found in hair dye include ammonia and hydrogen peroxide. Fortunately, there are several alternative hair dyes on the market made from natural ingredients safer for pregnant women.

Henna is one popular alternative that can add color and shine to hair without the risks associated with regular hair dye. Other options include vegetable-based dyes and semi-permanent color treatments.

mixed and unmixed natural hair dye


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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.