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Is it Safe to Colour Hair When Pregnant?

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 25 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Safety Colour Colouring Dye Dyeing Hair

When you're pregnant, there's a whole list of things that you suddenly find you have to take care with. Dyeing and colouring your hair has been highlighted in the past as a potential danger, but is there any evidence of risk and can you safely colour your hair whilst pregnant?

As pregnant women are advised to avoid some other chemicals and fumes, there have been a few studies into the safety of hair dye. Some substances in dyes have been found to penetrate the scalp and, in one study, a small amount of the dye paraphenylenediamine was detected in the urine of the hair dye user only 30 minutes after it had been applied.

Another study found a small - 3% - risk that hair dye may be associated with a type of heart defect. However, the results were inconclusive and other factors, such as exposure to pesticides, cleaning solvents, paints and medications may have been involved too. There have also been questions asked as to whether hair dye use in pregnancy may be linked to women having babies with a rare kidney tumour but, again, no definite link to the hair dye was found.

Hair stylists, who've spent many years being in daily contact with hair dye chemicals, do appear to have a slightly higher risk of having a miscarriage. This is thought to be due to regular contact with chemicals in dyes called teratogens, which can cause birth defects and increase the risk of miscarriage.

However despite the concerns, experts say that neither permanent nor semi-permanent hair dyes are highly toxic. The few studies that have been done found that very high doses of the chemicals could cause problems, but most women who colour their hair are only exposed to low amounts of chemicals. The risk is also minimised if you wait until you're at least 12 weeks pregnant.

Safely Colouring Your Hair

If you want to carry on your usual routine and have your hair coloured during pregnancy, or colour it yourself, it's best to wait until after the first 12 weeks, as the risk of the chemicals harming the baby is much lower then. Going to a hairdresser and having your hair coloured by professional is a good move if you're wary of using chemicals yourself and takes some of the worry away.

If you decide to colour your hair yourself at home, you can take a few simple steps to make the process safer:

  • Do a strand test first, even if you've used the product many times before. When you're pregnant, you experience all sorts of changes to your hair and it can react very differently to colouring.
  • Make sure you don't breathe in too many of the fumes, which can be toxic, by keeping a window open and the room ventilated.
  • Wear plastic gloves to avoid the chemicals coming into contact with the skin on your hands.
  • Apply the hair dye with a brush or implement provided and try and avoid getting too much of it on your scalp. To help this, you can put olive oil around your hairline and ears to act as a barrier and stop dye from penetrating your skin.
  • Leave the hair dye on for the minimum time and then rinse it off thoroughly with water.
It's worth bearing in mind that highlighting your hair, rather than dyeing it completely, is a good option, as the chemicals are only absorbed by your hair and don't come into contact with your scalp. There are also safe alternatives to chemical dyes, such as henna, which are worth exploring.

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I have a wedding to go to coming up and was really worried I was going to have to look like an idiot with massive roots. Now im happy that I won't harm my baby.
sam - 7-Apr-11 @ 11:13 PM
I'm so glad I found this put my mind at ease, hightlights here I come!
Shaunna-Tara - 7-Apr-11 @ 1:12 PM
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