So you got the news. You’re pregnant. This is a time of both excitement and change. But one change you may or may not have considered is your hair color. Sure you’ve been coloring your tresses since high school. But is that necessarily wise now that you’re with child? Because what might the chemicals involved do to your unborn? Hmmm. Maybe it’s a good time to take a second look at pregnancy and hair color.
Is Hair Color Safe During Pregnancy?
It’s true that coloring agents can penetrate your scalp and get into your bloodstream. But the amounts are so minute they are generally considered by the medical community to be harmless.
Still truth is there are no concrete studies that point to specific risks from hair dye to a developing fetus. Reason being that there are no pregnant women willing to volunteer as guinea pigs so proper testing can be done. Well, who in her right mind would? It’s human nature for mothers to protect both themselves and their unborn babies.
However, there have been studies done involving babies with birth defects but there was nothing that could target hair dye as the main culprit.
So scientists instead tested the effect of hair dye on animals and the studies suggest that there is an increased risk of birth defects in the fetuses of these test animals. However, this evidence is not conclusive enough for them to warn that it has the same effects on humans. For one, these test subjects were exposed to chemical concentrations many times higher than those used in hair coloring products for humans.
Although there are no identified risks directly associated with hair coloring during pregnancy, experts still advise pregnant women to wait until after their first trimester or better yet to just hold it off until after nursing the child. Mainly because there are certain things to consider when it comes to getting hair color during pregnancy.
First, the scalp and skin easily absorb chemicals. Several hair coloring products contain a chemical called para-phenylenediamine (PPD) which is considered as a contact allergen and a mild cancer-causing agent. PPD is a darkening agent so the darker the color you use, the more chemicals you will be absorbing. But again these are tiny amounts.
Second, the fumes coming from the hair color can make some pregnant women nauseated when inhaled. Especially, if the room you’re in isn’t all that well ventilated – like your bathroom perhaps? And if the salon is not well ventilated, you may ask them if they could cover your hair with plastic bag. Or you could always take short breaks and go outside to get some fresh air?
Third, you’re going through some serious hormonal changes when you’re pregnant so the coloring results you might be getting now could be a lot different from the results you got before you were pregnant. It’s either the dye may not lock into your hair as easily or the hair may have become more receptive to the color. Either way the end result may not be what you were expecting.
Points to Ponder
Still if you’re deep-dyed about getting your hair dyed, then you must at least be aware of these points:
- Be sure to consult your obstetrician first before anything else. If they give you the all clear signal then by all means go book an appointment with your favorite salon.
- Don’t ask your colorist. You’re putting her on the spot. She should tell you to check with your doc before doing anything. Because it’s not her call actually. There may be extenuating circumstances only your doctor is aware of. So don’t look to your colorist to give you a thumbs up or down.
- It’s best to pass on coloring your hair at home for the next nine months. We’re talking chemicals here and it would be absurd to apply chemicals on your scalp when you don’t have any clue about what they might do – even if the odds of them doing anything is remote.
- Before you let the stylist touch your hair, tell him/her that you’re expecting. This way they would know what precautions they should take and what safer alternatives to consider that are available but might not be their first choice for typical clients.
- For example this is the time to minimize how much dye comes in contact with your scalp or to just add highlights or lowlights in foils to prevent the dye from even getting anywhere near your skin.
- Another idea? Instead of a permanent hair color, a demi permanent hair color may be your best option since it doesn’t contain ammonia or harsh chemicals.
- Also, your stylist may choose to use a silicone highlighting cap. Basically the stylist here would simply have to pull the specific strands to be colored through the holes so the dye doesn’t even reach your scalp.
- Be proactive. Research the different hair color ingredients used. Find out which of them have been banned not just in the United States but in other countries as well – if you want to play it super safe. You might want to check on the list of banned chemicals identified by the European Union since they tend to follow stricter guidelines in terms of safety of chemicals.
- Check your scalp for any cuts or abrasions. Make sure there are no open wounds otherwise you’d have to wait until they get healed.
- Go for natural products. You may actually add color to your hair temporarily without resorting to chemicals. Lemon juice for instance can produce amazing highlights when heat activated by the sun. So you just have to expose your hair to the sunlight to let it do its magic. Then too rinsing your hair with chamomile tea can help brighten and lighten your hair. If you’re a brunette, soak your hair in strong black tea or coffee. And if your hair is red, try using beet juice to brighten your color. Those are just different ways to approach the problem that are chemical free.
- Beware of natural dyes. Even henna, which is considered to be a natural dye, may still contain high levels of metals that could pose potential danger. So they are not highly recommended either. Unless the product really is as 100% natural as it claims to be. Here again research can help you decide.
- Hold off on coloring if possible. Again, most doctors would recommend holding off the hair coloring, even special effects hair dye applications like ombre, until you’re done nursing your child. But if you’re really insistent on coloring, then wait until the end of your first trimester. At least at this stage, the fetus will have already developed enough to be be less fragile. Your doctor can explain this better than me, however.
- Now may be the perfect time to try out color depositing shampoos and conditioners. These would help preserve your current hair color until you’re able to do a color touch up by the 2nd or 3rd trimester.
Actually changing hormones may be a bigger issue for some than the coloring itself. That’s because they can, but don’t always, affect how the color turns out.
Also, as you’d expect, the FDA has weighed in on this as well with some common sense guidelines. The Mayo Clinic has summed things up nicely if you care to check.
Nothing we do is without risk. Yet hopefully the ideas shared here helped address some of your concerns and gave you alternative ways to approach hair coloring for the next seven or eight months. The best one being to check with your OBGYN first. Because I’m not a doctor. And this site shouldn’t be used for medical advice. Coloring aside, a style featuring cute long side bangs, or one of the messy bob hairstyles might have to do you for now.