For many women, hair coloring, dying, or highlighting is part of their regular beauty routine. When you’re pregnant, you have to be more careful about your beauty treatments and the chemicals and dyes that you normally expose yourself to. A developing baby’s system is sensitive, so you want to ask, “Is it safe?” before you expose yourself to anything that could be potentially dangerous.
How Safe is Hair Dye in Pregnancy?
There’s no evidence that hair coloring in pregnancy is dangerous. In general, dying your hair while pregnant is most likely safe, since there have been no scientific studies that have linked hair dye to causing any birth defects. According to the Organization of Teratology Information Services (OTIS), very few chemicals in hair dye are absorbed into your body, which means that the risk to your unborn baby is minimal.
Hair dye still does contain chemicals, however, so you need to still be cautious. To minimize the risk to your pregnancy, you should consider highlighting or frosting your hair, rather than coloring your hair, since these treatments don’t involve the chemicals having any contact with your scalp at all.
If you want to color your hair, you should wait until the second trimester – when all of your baby’s major organs have developed. The first trimester is a crucial time for fetal development, so you should play it safe and avoid coloring or dying your hair in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy.
The Danger of Hair Dye and Pregnancy: Neuroblastoma and Cancer Risk
Using hair dye in pregnancy may not be associated with any birth defects, but it can cause childhood cancer down the road. According to the American Cancer Society, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the American Journal of Epidemiology, there is an association between using synthetic chemical hair dye and certain types of cancer.
Hair dyes contain chemicals, some of which can be carcinogenic (cancer causing). According to a 2005 study, using hair dye in pregnancy can increase your baby’s risk of having neuroblastoma in the future. Neuroblastoma is a deadly childhood cancer that affects infants and children. Sadly, for most children, neuroblastoma has already spread by the time it’s diagnosed. It can be difficult to cure in advanced stages.
Other studies haven’t reached the same conclusion, and many researchers argue that it’s unlikely that a pregnant woman’s use of hair products before or during pregnancy increases her child’s risk of childhood cancer. However, the cause of neuroblastoma and other childhood cancers are unknown. So, the hair dye and future cancer risk is something that you may want to think about. If there is a family history of cancer, you may want to avoid using hair dye in pregnancy at all. The decision is up to you.
Vegetable Dyes May Be a Good Alternative in Pregnancy
If commercial dyes aren’t for you, but you still want to color your hair, you may want to consider using vegetable-based dyes – such as Henna.
Henna is a semi permanent vegetable dye that’s been used worldwide for 6,000 years. It is considered safe for pregnant women due to its nontoxic and natural nature. However, henna can be messy to use, and it has to be left on for a longer length of time. Using henna as a dye isn’t for every woman. When buying henna dye, make sure that you buy pure henna, not henna products – since they can contain synthetic chemicals and risky metallic ingredients. Always read the product labels before you buy anything.
Another warning about vegetable dyes – always read the ingredients list before you buy. Some of the so-called “natural” dyes on the market use synthetic chemicals – such as aminophenol, p-phenylenediamine, and dihydroxybenzene – that you will find in commercial dyes.
Safety Tips when Coloring Your Hair while Pregnant
If you choose to color your hair in pregnancy, you should keep the following safety precautions in mind. They will reduce any potential risk of harm:
- Do not color your hair in the first trimester. Wait until the second trimester.
- When choosing a hair dye, find one that will stay on your scalp for the least amount of time.
- Always wear gloves when you’re dying your hair yourself.
- After you color your hair, rinse thoroughly.
- Consider using natural hair dyes instead. Henna is a good option; this vegetable dye is considered safe for pregnant women.
Because pregnancy can come with an emotional rollercoaster, you definitely want to look and feel beautiful. Only you can decide if hair coloring is a good idea or not. For some women, they want to err on the side of safety. For other pregnant women, dying their hair is part of their routine and they don’t want to give it up. Do what’s right for you and your individual case.
Contact your doctor if you have any questions about hair dye and pregnancy.