Can You Dye Your Hair While Pregnant?

A pregnant woman

Pregnancy is a time of joy and anticipation, yet it raises numerous concerns about what is safe for you and your baby.

A common question that often arises is whether it’s safe to dye your hair during pregnancy.

And with many medical resources offering contradictory advice, it can be difficult to know what to believe. Luckily, this article provides clear and reliable guidance.

Read on to learn why hair dye might be unsafe during pregnancy, when you can color your hair, and alternative methods that can help keep you and your baby safe and healthy.

Understanding Pregnancy and Hair Dye

The primary concern about dying your hair while pregnant is the absorption of chemicals through the scalp and their potential effects on the developing baby.

Most hair dye formulas contain chemicals — like ammonia and peroxide — which could impair development and contribute to fetal brain and spinal cord abnormalities.

However, this typically occurs only when the chemicals are used frequently and in large doses during pregnancy.

More research is needed to determine the extent to which hair dye can directly impact a developing fetus.

How do pregnancy hormones and immunity affect hair dye?

Hormonal changes during pregnancy are significant and may affect how your hair reacts to chemical substances found in most hair dyes.

These fluctuations can alter texture and growth, often causing the hair shaft to appear thicker and more voluminous.

This can impact how evenly hair dye is absorbed and may increase the need for repeated use or larger doses.

Similar to hormonal changes, the body also undergoes significant immune system changes that can affect hair dye results.

For example, pregnant women may be more susceptible to a condition called alopecia areata, which occurs when the immune system attacks hair follicles and causes hair loss.

This can result in uneven color and extensive hair damage due to an unhealthy scalp.

Consult your doctor about these potential changes and your individual risk factors to help you make an informed decision about dyeing your hair during pregnancy.

Myths About Dyeing Your Hair During Pregnancy

Myth 1: Dyeing your hair can harm the baby

Although there are risks involved with dyeing your hair while pregnant, there is currently no scientific evidence that proves it poses a risk to a developing baby.

However, you should always dye your hair according to product guidelines and in a well-ventilated area to prevent chemicals from being inhaled and absorbed into the bloodstream.

Myth 2: You must wait until the second or third trimester to dye your hair

There is no substantial evidence that supports the claim that you can only safely dye your hair during your second or third trimester.

It’s normally only advised to wait because the major organs of the fetus develop in the first trimester, and limiting exposure to any chemicals is merely a precautionary measure.

Myth 3: Natural or organic hair dyes are completely safe

Although there is a lower risk of natural or organic hair dyes — like pure vegetable dyes — irritating the skin, these products still contain potential allergens that could trigger adverse reactions.

Before using organic products, examine the ingredients list and perform a patch test before applying it to your scalp.

How Can You Dye Your Hair Safely While Pregnant?

Dying your hair while pregnant can be safe if you take the right precautions and make informed choices about the products you use.

In this section, we’ll look at some guidelines to help minimize any risks.

Do a patch test

Even if you've used a hair dye before without any issues, pregnancy can change how your body reacts to various substances.

Before applying hair dye, do a patch test using these steps:

  • Apply a small amount of dye to a patch of skin, typically on the inside of your elbow or behind your ear. Wear gloves when applying to avoid extensive contact with the skin.

  • Leave it on for the recommended time that it would stay on your hair, then wash it off.

  • Watch the test spot for any signs of reaction — such as redness, itching, or swelling — over the next 48 hours.

A patch test can help you rule out allergies, ensuring that you won’t have an allergic reaction — something that may be more common during pregnancy due to changes in your immune system.

Consider getting highlights

Opting for highlights instead of a full head of color can be a safer option during pregnancy.

Highlights are usually applied in such a way that the dye does not touch the scalp, minimizing skin exposure and reducing the risk of chemical absorption into the bloodstream.

This method can also reduce the inhalation of fumes, as the amount of dye used is generally less than an all-over color application.

Use semi-permanent color

Semi-permanent hair dyes are often a safer choice than permanent dyes during pregnancy because they typically have fewer and less harsh chemicals.

They also don't contain ammonia, which is one of the more harmful chemicals in permanent dyes that often cause adverse reactions.

This means that using semi-permanent dyes can be a good compromise, offering a change while reducing potential risks.

Choose ammonia-free hair dyes

As we’ve mentioned before, ammonia is a common hair dye ingredient known for causing skin irritation and other adverse reactions when fumes are inhaled.

So we recommend choosing ammonia-free dyes, especially during pregnancy.

Ammonia-free hair dyes are not only gentler on the hair and scalp but also tend to have a milder scent, making them more suitable for individuals who are sensitive to strong odors.

Alternative Options for Dyeing Your Hair During Pregnancy

For women looking to avoid traditional chemical dyes during pregnancy, there are several alternative options that allow you to change your hair color with less risk.


Henna is a natural plant-based dye known for its ability to color hair without harsh chemicals.

It’s made from the powdered leaves of the henna plant (Lawsonia inermis) and can range in color from red to brown, depending on the product and its formulation.

Benefits of using henna include:

  • Safety: Henna is generally considered safe as it is natural and does not contain ammonia, peroxide, or other chemicals used in commercial hair dyes.

  • Result: The color from henna is semi-permanent but can be quite vibrant and may last as long as conventional dyes.

Although henna can be a good alternative, the application can be messier and more time-consuming than traditional dyes.

It also requires longer sitting times, so take this into consideration.

Before using henna, you should make sure it is pure henna and not a compound product that might contain other additives that can cause scalp irritation.

Colored hair sprays

Colored hair sprays are a fun and temporary way to change your hair color.

They are especially suitable for special occasions or when you want a color change that lasts only until the next wash.

These sprays are easy to apply and remove, offering a hassle-free way to experiment with different colors.

They are also available in a wide range of shades and won’t penetrate the scalp when applied, reducing your risk of adverse reactions.


Hair extensions are another excellent option for altering your hairstyle without exposing your hair to chemicals.

Extensions come in various colors, lengths, and styles, allowing for significant changes without any commitment or risk to your own hair.

They can be attached to the hair using methods such as weaving, clip-ins, or professional gluing.

Only a qualified hair stylist should insert your extensions to ensure that the process is safe and doesn’t damage your natural hair.

As the color and chemicals from the hair treatments are confined to the extensions and not your scalp, they pose no risk to your pregnancy.

Should You Consult a Doctor About Dyeing Your Hair While Pregnant?

If you’re considering dyeing your hair during pregnancy, it’s essential to consult your doctor first.

They can provide advice based on your specific health status and pregnancy to help you make the safest choice for you and your baby.

Your doctor can also provide information on how hair dye chemicals may affect your pregnancy and recommend appropriate alternatives to help keep you safe.

Where Can You Learn More About Pregnancy Safety?

While it’s generally recommended to consult your hair care professional about hair concerns, LifeMD can help if you are concerned about your pregnancy.

Make an appointment with LifeMD today to learn more about staying safe during your pregnancy and ensuring the healthy development of your baby — all from the comfort of your home.

LifeMD makes it easy to stay on top of your health because talking to a doctor, filling your prescriptions, getting your labs done—and more—are all easy and cost-effective. Come discover a healthcare solution built around you and your life.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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