Is it safe to dye or colour hair during pregnancy or not?

Colouring your hair in pregnancy is generally considered safe, however, a few things need to be kept in mind.
Colouring hair in pregnancy is generally considered safe as small amounts of chemicals are used. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Anjuri Nayar Singh Published: 22 Jun 2024, 03:00 pm IST

Pregnancy is a sensitive phase in a woman’s life and requires extra caution when it comes to use or consumption of any products – be it food or for your skin or hair! A pregnant woman must be wary about using chemical-laden products that may not be suitable. This is one reason why may women wonder whether use hair dye or colouring hair during pregnancy is safe or not.

While colouring hair during pregnancy can uplift your mood and looks, the chemicals present in hair dyes might make you rethink your decision. It all depends on the products that you are going to use and whether they are toxic or not. Read on to know if it is safe to colour your hair during pregnancy, and how to do it safely.

Hair dye and pregnancy

It is common to believe that colouring hair during pregnancy is not recommended due to the chemicals present in hair dyes. However, if one goes in for ammonia-free dyes, then this can be a safe option, says obstetrician and gynecologist Dr Gayatri Deshpande.

There is some evidence that suggests that hair colour might be safe for pregnant women. A study, published in Chemical Research in Toxicology, looks at the potential risks from the exposure of hair dyeing, and states that many compounds, which are present in the concentrations in hair dyes are considered safe for users. However, more research is needed on this.

Is it safe to colour your hair during pregnancy?

Yes, it is. It is safe to apply colour to your hair when you are pregnant, states the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It is possible that while applying the colour, it may come in contact with your scalp or your forehead, and your body may absorb a small amount. However, since the amount is small, it won’t be an issue, states the study. However, using an ammonia-free dye is the safest option, says Dr Deshpande. “If it is essential for you to dye your hair, please use an ammonia-free dye,” she says.

How to safely colour your hair during pregnancy

If you are thinking of colouring hair during pregnancy, then there are some safety tips you must implement.

1. Wait till you are in your second trimester

The first trimester is very important in terms of your pregnancy. It is a time when there is rapid growth of your baby, and major development of body parts and organs happens. Therefore, it is very important to wait for this period to be over. According to this study, published in the International Journal of Women’s Health and Reproductive Sciences, the preconception period as well as the third trimester might not be the right time as well. It was seen that there were higher rates of low birth weight (LBW) in women who dyed their hair during the preconception period as well as the third trimester.

Colouring your hair in pregnancy is safest in the second trimester. Image courtesy: Freepik

2. Highlights are a better option

While it is considered safe to dye your hair during pregnancy, the less you expose yourself to these dyes, the safer you will be. Opting for a hairstyle where you don’t have to dye your hair completely might be better. You can try to add a pop of colour to the lower part of your hair strands, and avoid your scalp completely. The chemicals are only absorbed by your hair, and not by your scalp, and that is safer for the baby, states the NHS.

3. Go in for a gentle dye

You need to find out about the dye that you are using to colour your hair during pregnancy. Make sure that the dye is ammonia-free and peroxide-free. It might be a good idea to use a hair colour which is made for sensitive skin. A henna or vegetable-based hair dye would be ideal, states the NHS. The American Cancer Society also says that semi-permanent or permanent dyes have larger quantities of chemicals that carry a risk of cancer.

4. Check your frequency

While you can colour your hair while pregnant, make sure to not do it more than three to four times during your pregnancy, states this study, published in the official publication of the College of Family Physicians in Canada. It adds that a six to eight-week gap should be ensured for extra safety. It also states that gloves must be worn at the time of applying colour.

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5. Minimise exposure

Fumes from hair dyes can often be toxic as well. Therefore, you must sit in a room that has enough ventilation. Make sure to read the instructions on the dye, and keep it for the time frame that has been written. Make sure to rinse your scalp and forehead well once you are done. Also, do a patch test before you start.

It is safe to colour your hair if you are breastfeeding. Image courtesy: Pexels

Can you colour your hair if you are breastfeeding?

While we have determined that colouring hair during pregnancy might be safe, keeping the above-mentioned tips in mind; it is highly unlikely that hair dye can enter your breast milk in any way. The chemicals are not entering your bloodstream in any way, and that is what makes this safe, states the NIH. However, it is important to make sure that your baby is not in the room when you are dying your hair, due to toxic fumes.

Alternatives to hair colour and dye

While it is safe to use hair colour during pregnancy, there are also some ways to spruce up the way your hair looks without any sort of hair dye. Lemon juice is a great way to slightly change the colour of your hair. Lemon juice contains citric acid which is a natural bleaching agent. However, only applying lemon juice might not work. You need to expose your hair to sunlight after application.

Besides this, chamomile tea is another way lighten your hair colour. You may combine this with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, and spray this over your hair.

Using honey might be effective as well, however, try to use raw honey. Mix this with distilled water, cinnamon as well as some olive oil. Apply this mixture for an hour before your wash.

You can also try adding hair accessories to change the way your hair looks. Scarves, headbands or clips are great to hide your roots or parts of your hair you don’t want seen.

Also, a balanced diet might be a long term solution. “Due to the increased levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy, it is observed that the natural glow of the skin is enhanced. Focusing on a healthy diet, as opposed to a sedentary lifestyle, can further improve the glow and luster of both skin and hair,” says Dr Deshpande.


Colouring hair during pregnancy, as well as breastfeeding, is generally considered safe. This is because the quantity of chemicals present in hair dyes that are absorbed by the body is minimal. However, it is important to go for natural dyes, wear gloves and sit in a ventilated room while colouring your hair. Also, make sure to rinse your scalp and forehead well once you are done. You may also consult your doctor regarding further clarifications.

Anjuri Nayar Singh

Anjuri Nayar Singh has over 12 years of experience in writing for various topics including lifestyle, films, television and OTT. She also writes on art and culture, education and human interest stories. ...Read More

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