Unfortunately, there are very few studies to provide a clear answer on the safety of colouring your hair during pregnancy. The general consensus is that only a small amount of hair colouring products are absorbed into your skin, making it unlikely that it could harm your baby. Aside from the research, women have been colouring their hair during pregnancy for a long time with no reported adverse outcomes.
According to OTIS (Organisation of Teratology Information Specialists), there have been animal studies at doses 100 times higher than what would normally be used in human application, with no significant changes seen in fetal development. This and other factors, including minimal contact on the skin, points to hair colouring being safe.
If you get streaks, highlights/lowlights (foils) or frosting rather than an all over colour, this will further reduce the amount of product that makes contact with your skin.
What About Fumes From Hair Colouring Products?
Pregnant or not pregnant, fumes from hair colouring products are not pleasant to breathe in, making some women feel ill. This is due to the use of ammonia in the hair colour. If you can, choose a well ventilated salon or ask for a seat in the most ventilated area of the salon. You can also ask about any ammonia-free colours they may be able to use or locate for you.
What About Hair Straightening Products?
If you have your hair chemically straightened, OTIS cited a study in pregnant women which examined the use of hair straighteners. The results showed no increased risk of low birth weight or preterm delivery, however the study did not address the chance of other abnormal outcomes or birth defects. However as above, only a small amount of product may be absorbed by the skin.
What About Henna or Vegetable Hair Colours During Pregnancy?
Vegetable dyes and henna are often touted as a good alternative to chemical hair colour treatments during pregnancy. If you go down this path, make sure you read the ingredients on the box, as sometimes there can be synthetic additives, despite the packaging mentioning ‘natural’.
Some women happily use henna, but there are some downsides to this. Many women find henna to be very messy – and it contains metallic salts which make it difficult to remove. Not great if you don’t like the colour or have accidental spillages. They can also take much longer to apply than chemical hair colours. If they claim to be fast acting, check the ingredients as it may not be pure henna and may contain metallic compounds.
Some hair salons now offer henna hair colouring so you could do some research and see if there is one in your area.
Tips For Colouring Your Hair During Pregnancy
- If you can, wait until the second trimester before colouring your hair. By then, all the important initial fetal development stages will be complete. Its also much better to wait if you’re only going to feel stressed as a result
- If you want to have your hair coloured in a salon, choose a well ventilated salon, or have your hair done in the most ventilated area of the salon
- Choose a hair colouring product which is ammonia-free. You may need to do some research and/or ask your salon stylist
- Choose a pure henna hair colouring product
- For home colour kits, make sure you follow the instructions as they are on the box, removing the colour at the specified time and not after
- Do a test patch first to check for any reactions
- Be sure to thoroughly rinse out the colour and your scalp
- Make sure you wear gloves when putting the colour in your hair
- Stretch out time between treatments if you can
When you’re pregnant, you can go through stages of feeling gorgeous and radiant… and you can also go through stages of feeling yucky and unattractive. Feeling great about your hair can be a real buzz, but at the end of the day, you need to decide what is going to be worse for you – 8 months of having regrowth or 8 months of worrying about ‘what if’. This is a personal decision to make, and yours only.
© Copyright 2011 by Kelly Winder, All Rights Reserved. Article or images may not be copied in part or full without written permission.