Pregnancy can leave many women feeling less than glamorous, so it’s not uncommon for them to want to pay special attention to their overall beauty regime. Although some women might not otherwise think twice about visiting the salon for a new look, others might question the effects of chemical hair relaxers on their developing babies while pregnant. Although there is not a lot of research to indicate chemical hair relaxers are explicitly dangerous, most health-care providers exercise caution when advising pregnant patients as to whether the process is completely safe.
Chemicals and Fumes
One of the concerns of using a chemical hair relaxer during pregnancy is that it can be absorbed through the skin on the scalp and cause potential harm to the fetus. Likewise, the chemical fumes from hair relaxers are extremely noxious. Even if your health-care provider gives you the go-ahead to proceed with the process, you might have a difficult time finding a hairdresser willing to apply the chemicals to your hair. Some might refuse treatment based solely on their own beliefs that any chemical exposure during pregnancy is bad.
Even if you are able to locate a hairdresser who agrees to chemically relax your hair during pregnancy, she still might advise against the treatment. Because of pregnancy hormones, the texture of your hair might be slightly different, causing it to react unpredictably to the chemicals. For example, instead of ending up sleek and straight hair, your hair might be coarse and frizzy.
If you are unsure about the use of chemical relaxers on your hair during pregnancy, there are alternatives. Although time-consuming, one option is to blow out and straighten your hair with a dryer and ceramic straightening iron. African-American women can wear braids or weave natural extensions into their hair. You can also safely soften curls with a botanical relaxer system every 3 to 4 months.
Although there is no hard evidence to suggest that chemically relaxing your hair is bad for a developing fetus, many midwives and obstetricians will err on the side of caution and advise pregnant women to avoid all hair treatments until after the first trimester. The first trimester is a time of rapid cell division and organ development, and it is when a fetus is most susceptible to chemical exposure.
If you do plan to have your hair chemically relaxed while you are pregnant, wait until at least the second trimester to do so. Also, make sure the work space is well ventilated. If you are applying the chemicals yourself, wear plastic disposable gloves. Finally, do not leave the chemicals on your hair for longer than what’s necessary, and be sure to rinse your hair and scalp thoroughly.