Dying For A Change: Hair Color and Your Pregnancy

by Colette Bouchez

hair blowing in windIf you're like many women, bleaching, dying, or highlighting your hair may be a regular part of your beauty regime. And if you're like most pregnant women, you probably have some hesitation or even a fear about continuing to color your hair while baby is in tow. Although research into the effects of hair coloring on baby's health are still somewhat limited,many experts now contend the dyes are most likely safe and that women needn't be afraid to color their world during pregnancy.

That said, don't be surprised if your doctor still suggests you approach hair coloring with caution. Because the dye is absorbed through the scalp and into the body (it can be identified in urine) some medical experts are hesitant to give carte blanche to hair coloring during all three trimesters. Often, many physicians advise holding off coloring hair with permanent dyes during the first trimester when your baby is undergoing important neurological developments. Coloring can then be resumed in the second or third trimester.

If you color your hair at home, look for products with the fewest number of chemicals and always work in a well-ventilated room, wearing gloves while handling the mixture. If you have your hair done in a salon, request the first appointment in the morning on their least busy day -- when you are least likely to suffer excessive chemical exposure.

Hair Coloring Alternatives

If you don't want to take a chance on coloring your whole head of hair, you may want to consider adding highlights - a great way of accenting your color and bringing light to the face, not to mention a little pregnancy glow! Because this process involves applying the chemicals one-half to one-inch from your roots, they don't ever touch your scalp. So, they can't get into your blood stream - which is safe for you and baby. You can also easily allow 8 weeks or more between appointments - minimizing salon exposure.

If you colored your hair before pregnancy, and want to ease up on treatments until after baby is born, look for a semi-permanent dye, containing low or no ammonia, and low or no peroxide. These generally contain fewer harmful chemicals, and work well to blend the different colors of your hair, making "roots" appear less obvious. What can also help: Color enhancing shampoos, designed to deposit temporary color so they can significantly extend the time between hair colorings.

Finally, you can also try a "hair mascara" - tubes filled with temporary color and topped off with a thick mascara-like wand. Because they only coat the outside layer of your hair and don't get anywhere near your scalp, they are very safe to use. The wands are also faster, easier and safer than spray on temporary color -with no fumes to inhale - so they can work great to touch up roots.

Mother Nature Knows Best: Natural Hair Coloring

To make your own ultra safe, all natural hair tints, try these recipes:

  • For red highlights or to enhance red hair: ½ cup of beet juice mixed with ½ cup of carrot juice. Mix together, pour on damp hair, and let sit for one hour before washing out. If you spend that hour sitting in direct sunlight, the effects will be even more dramatic.
  • For blonde highlights mix 1 cup of lemon juice with 3 cups of chamomile tea that has been brewed, cooled, and strained. Pour over damp hair and let sit for one hour - again sunlight will enhance the properties of the color. Wash out and follow with a conditioner. For significant blonde color use daily for up to three weeks.
  • For brunette hair prepare strong black coffee or tea. After washing hair, pour the mixture through hair 15 times, re-rinsing using the same liquid. ( You can do this by placing a large pasta or soup pot in the sink to catch the rinse, then pour into a large jar for the next rinse). On the final rinse through, leave on hair for 15 minutes, then rinse with clear water.

A word about perming and straightening your pregnant hair

While there is little in the way of scientific information on the safety of perming or relaxing your hair during pregnancy, perhaps the most convincing evidence against the their use comes directly from hairdressers. Most say that because pregnancy hormones frequently interfere with, or even change, the way your hair reacts to perm or relaxing solutions, you could easily end up with a look that is quite opposite of what you expected. Hair can get frizzy or straight instead of curly, or kinky and frizzy instead of straight. So forgo the perm or straightening for now - and opt for a style that's easy to manage without the extra chemical treatments.

Learn More About Safe Choices for Your Baby• Things You Can and Can't (or Shouldn't) Do During Pregnancy
• Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid in Beauty Products
• Ten Tips for Avoiding Excess Pregnancy Weight Gain

Colette Bouchez is an award winning medical journalist with more than twenty years experience. She is the former medical writer for the New York Daily News, and the top selling author of The V Zone, co-author of Getting Pregnant and upcoming book, Your Perfectly Pampered Pregnancy. Currently a daily medical correspondent for HealthDay News Service/The New York Times Syndicate, and WebMD, her popular consumer health articles appear daily online, as well as in newspapers nationwide and in Europe and Japan. She is a regular contributor to USAToday.com, ABCNews.com, MSNBC.com and more than two dozen radio and television news stations nationwide. She lives in New York City.

Excerpted from Your Perfectly Pampered Pregnancy

Copyright © Colette Bouchez. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.