Pregnancy can feel like an out-of-body experience. Your body will go through many changes as your baby develops. You’ll gain weight and might have random food cravings. You may also experience heartburn, swollen ankles, and exhaustion.

You may not always feel good about yourself as your body goes through these changes. You won’t have control over all of the physical changes taking place. But one thing you do have control over is your hair color.

A fresh, new hair color can brighten your mood. But you may be afraid to use hair dye while pregnant. Many hair dyes contain chemicals, so you might be worried you’ll expose your baby to toxins. Your concerns are valid.

Fortunately, there's plenty of information available to help you decide whether it’s safe to use hair dye while pregnant.

Hair Dye and Pregnancy

As an expectant mother, you're bombarded with information on how to have a safe and healthy pregnancy. Everything you do and eat can have an effect on your baby-to-be.

For example, exposure to high levels of lead while pregnant can cause problems like preterm delivery, low birth weight, and miscarriage. And if you eat a lot of fish with high mercury levels while pregnant, your baby could have problems with their nervous system.

Even if you already know the importance of limiting your exposure to these types of toxins while pregnant, you may wonder whether this advice applies to hair dyes.

The good news is that hair dyes aren’t dangerously toxic, so it’s safe to apply color to your hair while pregnant. This is true whether you choose a semi-permanent or a permanent dye.

Small amounts of hair dye can get on your skin during a treatment. Although dye may come into contact with your forehead or scalp, only a small amount of the chemical is actually absorbed into your skin. It’s a small amount, so the chemical is unlikely to have any harmful effect on your baby’s developing body.

How to Color Your Hair Safely

In general, it’s safe to dye your hair while pregnant. But you should still take precautions to minimize the risk of causing harm to your baby.

1. Wait Until Your Second Trimester

Hair can grow at a faster pace while pregnant, so you may need more root touchups during these nine months. To minimize potential harm to a developing fetus, some experts advise against coloring hair in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

You should wait until your second trimester to color your hair. Rapid growth and development takes place during the first trimester. It's important to provide a protective environment for your baby during this time.

2. Select Alternative Hair Treatments

Hair dye is generally safe during pregnancy, but there’s no harm in being cautious. If you’re concerned about potential harmful effects, choose gentler hair treatments to minimize your exposure to chemicals.

Rather than dye your entire hair, ask your stylist about highlights, frosting, or streaking to avoid applying dye directly to your scalp or skin.

3. Choose a Safer Hair Color

Permanent hair color may provide the best results, but it’s not the only option for color. For a safer treatment during pregnancy, choose an ammonia-free, or bleach-free, semi-permanent hair color.

A semi-permanent color may not last as long as a permanent hair color, but it can reduce your exposure to chemicals and toxins. This can provide peace of mind while you're pregnant.

Other safer options include natural vegetable and henna hair dyes.

Other Ways to Reduce Chemical Exposure

Choosing a safe, gentle hair dye is one way to protect your baby from chemical exposure. You should also take precautions when applying the color.

Hair dye can create toxic fumes. Make sure you apply color in a well-ventilated area, and keep a window cracked open to limit the amount of fumes you breathe in. It’s also important to wear gloves when applying hair dye. This measure reduces the amount of chemicals that touch and absorb into your skin.

Read the instructions carefully, and don’t leave chemicals on your hair for longer than necessary. After completing a hair treatment, rinse your scalp and forehead to remove any traces of the dye from your skin.

If you’re a hair stylist, it’s difficult to limit chemical exposure. But since too much exposure to bleach and toxic hair treatments can increase your risk for a miscarriage, you must use extra care when applying hair chemicals.

Hair stylists should take the following precautions when pregnant:

  • frequently replace protective gloves
  • don’t eat around your work station
  • wear a face mask while applying chemical treatments
  • wash any traces of hair dye from your skin

The Takeaway

If changing your hair color helps you feel better, go for it. Getting a hair treatment while pregnant isn’t likely going to harm your baby. But as a warning, don’t immediately apply hair color throughout your entire head.

Test the dye on a few strands first to make sure you get the color you want. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect the way your hair reacts to dye.