Most experts agree that bleaching your hair while pregnant is generally safe. However, there’s a growing consensus that it’s best to wait until your second or third trimester.
Before becoming pregnant, I was dying my hair on the regular. While my natural color is a dark brown, I would regular switch to blonde if the mood would strike. I had already scheduled my next hair appointment when I found out that I was expecting.
“Should I still go?” I asked my husband. While I knew I was being vain, my dark roots did my bleach blonde strands no favors. To stay on the safe side, I decided to cancel my hair appointment and deal with the unsightly consequences.
At my next OB visit, I asked my doctor if it was safe to bleach my hair while pregnant. His response was yes, but I should wait until I was in my second trimester before doing so – just to be safe.
Most research indicates that chemicals found in semi-permanent and permanent hair dyes are not highly toxic and are generally safe to use during pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
What the Experts Say
Being pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t continue looking your best. In fact, you may be tempted to dye your hair now more than ever. During pregnancy, your hair will often get thicker and more lustrous. Hormones secreted during pregnancy cause hair to grow faster and fall out less. While bleaching your hair is generally safe, it’s important to take some precautions.
Here’s what some experts have to say about bleaching your hair while pregnant:
“Before you reach for that peroxide bottle, there are a couple things you should know. First, because your hair will be growing so much faster now, you will need to color your roots more often than before. Second, the smell of ammonia and bleach will be unbearable early in your pregnancy.”
– The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy, Vicki Iovine
“Consider waiting until the second trimester for hair dye, bleaching, permanents, or straightening. Don’t dye or bleach eyebrows or eyelashes while pregnant. This could cause swelling or increase risk of infection in the eye area.”
– Healthy Pregnancy from A to Z, Dr. Irina Webster
“During the first trimester, it is good to avoid performing chemical alterations. During this period the fetus is very sensitive and the chemicals that are used in the hair chemical alterations, although not very toxic, may affect it. In the second and third trimester, it is okay if you use the hair chemicals.”
– Dazzling Hair Secrets, Bella Darby
“If you can’t live nine months with your present hair color, use a temporary color rather than a permanent one, and have your hair colored with applications of bleach or dye along the shaft of the hair so it’s painted on rather than washed on.”
– The Healthy Pregnancy Book, Martha Sears, William Sears
“The only caution is making sure that the salon is well ventilated. There are many chemicals that are used in your hairdo: without adequate air flow and air conditioning these chemical vapors can be inhaled and theoretically be exposed to your baby.”
– Pregnancy is a “Real Mother!”, Jeffrey L. Zweig, MD
Alternatives to Bleach
While hair bleach has been deemed relatively safe for use during pregnancy, many mothers-to-be remain hesitant. If you prefer not to use traditional hair dyes, there are some safer alternatives to consider.
Root touch-ups and root-to-tip color changes are single-process color, meaning the dye is applied to both the hair and scalp. During this process, the skin can absorb the dye and the chemicals can enter the bloodstream. Safer alternatives include highlights, lowlights, streaking, and frosting, which involve painting the color directly onto the hair shaft without touching the scalp.
Another alternative are pure vegetable dyes, such as henna. While these natural options won’t give you the extreme results of bleach, they can give noticeable results. For example, chamomile tea can lighten hair, especially if you sit in the sun while it sits in your hair. The longer that the tea sits in the hair, the more noticeable the color will be.
If you make the decision to bleach your hair while pregnant, follow some simple tips to limit your exposure to chemicals. Whether at home or in a salon, work in a well-ventilated area and leave the color on your hair only as long as the instructions suggest.
When coloring your hair at home, always wear gloves and avoid applying the color directly to your scalp. If possible, wait until your second or third trimester.
Prefer to labor with beautiful bleach blonde strands? Go for it. Just remember to err on the side of caution.