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Is it safe to use hair dye when pregnant? Here’s the truth

Pregnancy is a complete minefield: “you can’t do this, you can’t do that.” The list is never-ending. So when it comes to keeping your beautiful locks looking tip top whilst also growing a tiny human, we’ve got you covered. This is everything you need to know about using hair dye when pregnant…

Is it OK to dye my hair when pregnant?

While there is limited research specifically focused on the effects of hair dye on pregnant women, most experts believe that using hair dye in moderation is generally safe during pregnancy.

When is the best time to use hair dye when pregnant?

During the second trimester, the risks associated with hair dye are generally considered to be lower. By this time, the major organ systems of the baby have already formed, reducing the potential for harm. Additionally, many women experience a decrease in pregnancy-related symptoms during the second trimester, making it a more comfortable time to undergo hair dyeing.

What are the risks?

The risks associated with hair dye in the first trimester of pregnancy are not that well-known as there isn’t a huge amount of research out there on this topic. However, it’s generally recommended to be cautious during the first trimester, as this is a critical period of baby development.

Hair dyes contain chemicals, such as ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, and various colourants, which have the potential to be absorbed through the scalp and enter the bloodstream. Although the amount of chemicals absorbed is typically minimal, the concern arises from the fact that some of these chemicals could potentially be harmful to the developing baby.

How can I reduce the risks to my baby?

If you’re really worried and want to minimise any potential risks to baby, consider these options when deciding when and whether to dye your hair:

  • Don’t dye your hair: We know it’s an obvious one but going ‘au naturel’ is always an option to completely remove any risks.
  • Ensure proper ventilation: Make sure the room where you’re dyeing your hair is well-ventilated to minimise exposure to fumes.
  • Perform a patch test: Before applying the hair dye, do a patch test to check for any adverse reactions or allergies.
  • Limit contact time: Avoid leaving the dye on your scalp for longer than necessary and rinse thoroughly afterwards.

What types of hair dye are best in pregnancy?

When choosing hair dye products during pregnancy, it’s generally recommended to opt for safer alternatives that have fewer potentially harmful chemicals. Here are some options to consider:

  • Ammonia-free hair dye: Look for hair dyes that are labeled as “ammonia-free” or “low ammonia.” Ammonia is a common ingredient in hair dyes that helps open the hair cuticle to allow colour to penetrate, but it can also be irritating.
  • Vegetable-based or natural hair dyes: Some brands offer hair dyes made from natural ingredients, such as plant extracts, henna, or vegetable dyes. These dyes may have fewer chemicals and be a gentler option.
  • Semi-permanent hair dyes: These types of dyes do not contain strong developers or ammonia, making them generally milder. They don’t penetrate the hair as deeply as permanent dyes and gradually fade over time.
  • Hair chalk or temporary hair colour sprays: Hair chalk or temporary hair colour sprays are temporary colour options that can be easily applied and washed out. They come in various shades and allow you to experiment with different colours without making a permanent change.
  • Highlights or lowlights: Instead of applying an all-over hair dye, you can opt for highlights or lowlights, which involve applying the dye to specific sections of hair rather than the entire scalp. This can reduce potential chemical exposure.
  • Hair extensions or wigs: Hair extensions or wigs can provide a temporary change in hairstyle or colour without the need for chemical treatments. This option allows you to switch up your look and avoid any potential risks associated with hair dye during pregnancy.
  • Consult a hairdresser: If you prefer to have your hair dyed by a professional, inform your stylist about your pregnancy. They can recommend or use products that are considered safer for pregnant women.

Always read the product labels carefully, as formulations may vary among brands. If you’re unsure about a particular hair dye product, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider before using it during pregnancy.

Is a patch test necessary when pregnant?

A patch test is essential when dyeing your hair during pregnancy (and even when not pregnant) to check for any potential allergic reactions or sensitivities to the hair dye product. During pregnancy, your body may be more sensitive to certain substances due to hormonal changes, making it even more crucial to perform a patch test.

A patch test involves applying a small amount of the hair dye product to a small area of your skin, typically behind your ear or on your inner arm. You then wait for 24-48 hours to see if any adverse reactions occur. These reactions could include redness, itching, swelling, or a rash.

The purpose of the patch test is to identify any allergic reactions or skin sensitivities before applying the hair dye to your entire scalp. Allergic reactions to hair dye can be uncomfortable and even potentially harmful, so it’s crucial to assess your tolerance to the product before proceeding with a full application.

If you experience any adverse reactions during the patch test, it’s essential to avoid using that particular hair dye product during pregnancy. Instead, consider exploring alternative hair dye options that are less likely to cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.

Can a hairdresser tell if you’re pregnant from looking at your hair?

This is one of those fake news things that has kind of become a bit of an urban myth. The truth is thought that hairdressers typically cannot tell if you’re pregnant just by looking at your hair or scalp. This is because pregnancy does not cause any specific changes to the hair or scalp that would be visible to a hairdresser.

However, if you inform your hairdresser that you are pregnant, it can help them take any necessary precautions or make appropriate recommendations for hair treatments. It’s always a good idea to communicate openly with your hairdresser about your pregnancy, as they can provide guidance on the best options for you during this time.

Additionally, informing your hairdresser about your pregnancy allows them to be aware of any potential sensitivities or concerns you may have, such as sensitivity to certain smells or ingredients. They can work with you to ensure your comfort and safety during the hairdressing process.

Can I dye my hair if I’m also breastfeeding?

Dyeing your hair while breastfeeding is generally considered safe. The chemicals in hair dye are usually not absorbed in significant amounts through the scalp and are unlikely to pass into breast milk in concentrations that would be harmful to the baby.

As always, consider consulting with your midwife or GP before making any decisions regarding hair dye or any other hair treatments during pregnancy. They can provide personalised advice based on your individual health and pregnancy circumstances.


Birthbabe does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The resources on our website are provided for informational purposes only. You should always consult with a healthcare professional regarding any medical diagnoses or treatment options.

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