Is it safe to colour my hair when I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

Pregnant mum in white clothes with blonde hair colour enjoying the sun by a pond with ducks.

One of the most common questions that we hear from mums to be and from young mums is whether colouring their hair has any adverse effects to pregnancy or to breastfeeding. It is a fair question as a mum’s top priority is the safety of her children. Since Hair Ever After’s priority is also the safety of our clients and their babies we have prepared this post so that you can be more informed when choosing one of our colouring services.


Are the chemicals in hair colour safe enough for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

In the past, the chemical products used to create hair colouring products were more aggressive to human skin but during the last decades colour manufacturers have made leaps of improvement in their formulas. The result is that these days hair colours are comprised of much milder chemical mixtures which are less irritating to the skin and are comprised of much lower quantities of potential toxic agents. It’s always a good idea to trust the products manufactured by top professional brands such as L’Oreal rather than cheap imported tubes of uknown origin. Because research has shown that only extremely low quantities of these substances actually make it through your scalp’s skin, the risk of these products to affect a pregnancy is also extremely low.


So there is no risk at all for pregnant mums and their babies?

Pregnant mum with her partner and toddler playing in the outdoors.

It is wrong to claim that colouring the hair is completely safe during a pregnancy. The existing research on this area points out to extremely low risk but at the same time this field hasn’t been researched as thoroughly as other fields. Indications of potential adverse effects are very rare still, they exist. This is why we want young mums to be aware and not completely ignore this fact because it may not get sufficient publicity.


What can I do if I am pregnant or breastfeeding and wish to colour my hair?

  • The first one to help you with this question is obviously your healthcare provider. This is particularly important if you haven’t been colouring your hair regularly in the past and your body isn’t used to the exposure on hair colour products. If you also had any allergic reactions in the past you should also mention that to your doctor.
  • Before arranging an appointment for hair colouring you should always inform the hairdresser about your pregnancy. Then the hairdresser will discuss with you about your options and may also arrange for a skin patch test. This is to ensure your body will not react to the colour mixture.
  • Avoid dyeing your hair during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This is when the vital organs of your baby are being formed and when it is more susceptible to toxic agents.
  • Minimise the time you get your skin exposed to hair colour. Having a professional hair dresser to colour your hair instead of you doing it on your own means that you will get less contact with chemicals on your hands and the application of the colour will be must faster, leaving the chemicals for a shorter period on your skin.
  • Avoid colouring your hair many times during a pregnancy. Some health guidelines point out to colouring your hair 4 times on average during a pregnancy.
  • Use a colouring method that requires less contact with skin. These methods include foil application highlights/lowlights which are applied by hand on hair strands leaving very small quantities of hair colourants in contact with your scalp. Or why not consider going for an ombre style which doesn’t require frequent dyeing of the roots.
  • Use a professional colourist if you can. Pregnancy alters the texture of your hair which affects the appearance of colour on your hair. Even mums experienced in dyeing their hair may find it difficult to get the colour they want, which puts them at risk of exposing themselves to multiple applications. That’s why it’s probably best to opt for an experienced colourist who should know how to adjust the process to achieve the intended colour using fewer applications. Also, mums who just had their babies get new hair growth around their hairline which makes it more difficult to do highlights on your hair when you are not experienced.
  • You can consider using more skin friendly products such as L’Oreal’s Kolest Perfect Innosense which have a much lower probability to trigger a reaction from your skin and upset your system. However, there has been no published research pointing out to safer pregnancies when using these products.
  • If you prefer to use natural hair colours that could also be an option but you must manage your expectations with regards to the range of shades that can be achieved. Also bear in mind that natural hair colours require more frequent applications so you may have to dedicate more time to maintain a specific shade over the same period.


In a nutshell, there is really very low risk for pregnant mums and their babies when colouring their hair. However, there are some indications pointing to adverse effects especially when exposure to colour chemicals is substantial. So it’s better to keep yourself and your baby safe by following the above guidelines in conjunction with your doctor’s advice.

Hair Ever After

Pregnant mum in white clothes with blonde hair colour caressing belly in the outdoors.

Read more about this topic

NHS Choices link: Is it safe to use hair dye when I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

OTIS Link: Hair Treatments and Pregnancy

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