For many women, pregnancy transforms them into beautiful, glowing goddesses. For others, however, they’re left clinging to any semblance of their normal selves as pregnancy hormones quickly alter their physical appearance. Highlighting hair can provide a relatively low-cost transformation and much-needed boost to a woman’s self-esteem, but many wonder if the chemicals and fumes present in hair dye are safe during pregnancy.
Not a lot is known about how the chemicals used in hair treatments affect an unborn baby. The types of chemicals used can vary from one manufacturer to another, and manufacturers often change the formula of any given product. For safety and ethical reasons, these products are not tested on pregnant women. However, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology believes that only a small amount of chemical is absorbed through the skin during the application process and is generally safe for the baby. Highlighting is actually considered safer than an overall color because the dye is not applied to the roots of the hair. Therefore, it does not absorb into the scalp.
Aside from the chemicals used in hair treatments, the noxious odors they emit can be potentially hazardous. Many hair treatments contain ammonia, which has a potent odor. Highlighting eliminates most of the ammonia fumes because the hair is enclosed in foil wrap. Many hair treatment products are now made with vegetable dyes, such as henna, that do not contain any ammonia at all. You can also reduce your exposure by choosing semi-permanent dyes, which contain less ammonia.
Many physicians recommend waiting until at least the second trimester before highlighting your hair. Regardless, you should always check with your health care provider before proceeding. If you use an ammonia-based product to highlight your hair, make sure to apply it in a well-ventilated area and wear a pair of disposable gloves. Follow the manufacturer’s directions and leave the dye on your hair only for the specified length of time. When the treatment is finished, rinse your hair completely until there is no residual dye.
If you want to reduce chemical exposure during your pregnancy, use a color-enhancing shampoo to extend the time between treatments. These shampoos temporarily add a small amount of color to your hair. Likewise, “hair mascara” is an easy-to-use wand applicator that coats the hair shaft with color. Hair mascara also eliminates exposure to toxic fumes.
Even though your doctor may have given you the go-ahead to highlight your hair and you feel it’s safe as well, you might want to hold off until well after your pregnancy anyway. Raging hormones, during your pregnancy as well as after, can actually alter the texture and make-up of your hair. As a result, hair dye might not affix to the hair shaft as you anticipate and can even produce a different color altogether.
Can I Dye my Hair While Pregnant?