Yes, You Can Color Your Hair While Pregnant—Here’s What to Know

Yes, You Can Color Your Hair While Pregnant—Here’s What to Know featured image
Photo by Neal E. Johnson on Unsplash

Pregnant people have to give up a few go-to beauty treatments and ingredients. Retinol? On hold for now. Ditto salicylic acid. But the one habit that can stay? Coloring your hair. It may seem surprising, but it’s true—that being said, there are several things to keep in mind before you prepare for a drastic color change. 

First up? A salon appointment is the way to go. “If possible, have your hair professionally colored to ensure minimal scalp contact and proper ventilation,” says Stephanie Hack, MD, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist and founder of the Lady Parts Doctor holistic women’s health platform.

Ahead, get the full primer on what to know before coloring your hair while pregnant.

Featured experts

  • Stephanie Hack, MD is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist and founder of the Lady Parts Doctor holistic women’s health platform
  • Valery Joseph is a celebrity hairstylist and the owner of Valery Joseph Salons 
  • Rogerio Cavalcante is a hairstylist at The Second Floor Salon in New York

Is it OK to color your hair when pregnant?

The short answer is yes. “You can color your hair when you are pregnant, but it’s always best to speak to your doctor first before you book an appointment,” says hairstylist at The Second Floor Salon in New York Rogerio Cavalcante. This rule should be followed even if you’re just trying to get pregnant or are breast feeding at the moment.

Highlights are fair game, notes celebrity hairstylist and the owner of Valery Joseph Salons Valery Joseph, as the color usually “does not directly come in contact with your scalp.” (That being said, always make sure to remind your colorist to take extra care.) “Professional colorists know how to stay away from the scalp with dyes, so it is probably best to go into a salon for your color rather than do it at home.”

Bleach, you might be surprised to learn, is OK to use too. However, Dr. Hack recommends having more precautions in place. 

“Bleaching your hair involves stronger chemicals than typical hair dye. While there is limited evidence showing that the chemicals in hair dye and bleach can cause harm to a developing baby, it’s wise to err on the side of caution,” she explains. “If you decide to bleach your hair, ensure the area is well-ventilated to minimize inhalation of fumes and consider avoiding scalp contact if possible.”

When is it safe to color your hair when pregnant?

All three experts are in agreement that it’s best to wait until after the first trimester. “This is because the first trimester is a crucial period for the baby’s development, and limiting exposure to potential chemicals is a cautious approach many healthcare providers recommend,” explains Dr. Hack. 

Cavalcante adds that some doctors are more conservative than others. “I personally always ask my clients to obtain their doctor’s sign off before coloring their hair. It makes them—and us—feel most comfortable,” says the stylist.

What should you ask your stylist for if you’re coloring your hair when pregnant? 

One thing all the experts agree on is choosing ammonia-free color, such as those by Goldwell. Another option is a semi-permanent hair color, which doesn’t open the hair cuticle like a standard permanent color. However, “Keep in mind that semi-permanent color will rinse out a bit quicker than permanent, so try not to wash your hair too often,” says Joseph. You should also steer clear of dying your hair red, as it’s known to be the most carcinogenic color.

That said, you can incorporate other products into your hair-care routine to keep your color looking fresh and vibrant as long as possible. “You can also use color-depositing shampoos or conditioners that will help prolong color so you can space appointments farther apart than usual,” like IGK Color Depositing Conditioning Hair Mask ($27) says Cavalcante. She also recommends having root touch-up sprays on hand like L’Oreal Paris Magic Root Cover Up ($12).

Also, don’t be surprised if your hair seems drier than normal—and consider asking for a recommendation on a color-safe deep conditioner. “Pregnancy can change your hair texture. Keep your hair well hydrated and conditioned, especially if you use dyes or bleaches,” says Dr. Hack.

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