Mailbag: Can I Colour My Hair While I’m Pregnant?

by in Mailbag, Pregnancy Health

I received this question by e-mail over the weekend and thought I would post the response in case other mothers had the same question.

I am currently 3 months pregnant and have read many conflicting reports about colouring your hair during pregnancy. Have you come across any research that confirms that the chemicals in hair dye are bad for your unborn child?

Sam Jacksonville, FL

Dear Sam,

Like you, I have read lots of back and forth reports about colouring your hair while pregnant. I did a post on pregnancy myths and both OB’s said that:

There’s very little research on the effects of hair dye on the fetus. The Food and Drug Administration recommends minimizing the amount of time dye is on your scalp. But hair dye doesn’t concern Wise and Gianopolous. They only recommend doing it in a well-ventilated area so you’re not breathing the fumes.”

Baby Centre UK posted this on the subject:

Over the years, people have conducted animal studies trying to shed light on this matter. Some, but not all, studies have shown a few of the chemical compounds in hair dyes to be teratogenic (causing birth defects). However, in many cases the animals were exposed to extremely high doses of these chemicals, doses in no way equivalent to the exposure of the woman who colours her hair every month or two.

Clearly, the chemicals in both permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes are not highly toxic. These chemicals have been around a long time, and no research shows they cause defects in newborns, so colouring your hair during pregnancy is probably safe. Plus, if you apply the dyes safely (using gloves in a well-ventilated room, and not leaving solutions on for excessive periods of time), you don’t really absorb much of the chemicals into your system.

One alternative you might consider is highlighting, painting, or frosting your hair. You absorb hair colouring agents into your system through your skin (scalp), not through your hair shaft. So, any process – such as streaking – that puts less of the chemical in contact with your scalp reduces your exposure to the compounds in dyes.

Some experts recommend vegetable dyes as a good alternative to synthetic chemical agents during pregnancy. Many of these dyes also contain some of the same synthetic chemical compounds that the major cosmetic companies put in their permanent and semi-permanent dyes. Pure henna, which comes in a number of colours, is the exception. Henna is a semi-permanent vegetable dye considered to be very safe, though not everyone loves the hues it may impart!

Henna is a great product that gives you strong, natural colour. For the few months you are pregnant, it is better to be safe than sorry.

The application and removal of the product is a bit of work, but the results are nice and surprisingly fresh looking. The fact that not enough research has been done for a SOLID yes or no worries me.

Good Luck with your pregnancy, let us know how everything goes.

About the Author

SAHM of 2 boys and founder of, World Traveled Family and The World We Share. When I'm not running around after my boys, I'm looking for our next vacation spot!

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