It’s estimated that 75% of women over 18 have colored their hair at some point in their life. While our hair often gets thicker and more lustrous, can you dye your hair when pregnant?

Many OB’s and midwives will recommend avoiding hair dye for at least the first trimester of your pregnancy so that begs the question:

Is it safe to dye your hair when pregnant?

There are no studies showing that hair dye use during pregnancy causes birth defects or miscarriages. However, there is not a lot of data on hair dye use during pregnancy and the data we do have doesn’t prove hair dye to be safe during pregnancy either.

Over 5,000 chemicals are used in hair dyes (!) and some of them have been deemed carcinogenic which may be a good reason to avoid chemical hair dyes during pregnancy and after.

A 1994 National Cancer Institute report found that women who used dark hair dyes for 20 years or more were at higher risk of cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

A 2001 International Journal of Cancer study found people who use permanent hair dye are twice as likely to develop bladder cancer as those who don’t use hair dye. It also found that hairdressers are 5 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than those not exposed to hair dye.

Of course, there were a number of other studies that did not find a connection between hair dyes and cancer. The National Cancer Institute states that the evidence correlating hair dye and cancer is “limited and conflicting”.

So there you go. The definitive answer is… maybe.

However, if a product possibly being dangerous during pregnancy is enough to convince you to go a more natural route with your hair color, there are natural alternatives.

Natural ways to dye your hair when pregnant

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Darkening…

Henna. Yep, the same stuff that is used for those reddish brown hand tattoos can be used for dying your hair. Of course, the limitations of henna are that it can only be used as brown to red hair dye (depending on your starting color) since that is the color of the dye that comes from the henna plant.

If you’re looking for a very dark to black hair color you can follow a henna dye with Indigo. Indigo, derived from the Indigo plant, is a dark blue dye that has been used to dye hair and textiles for thousands of years. Used after the reddish brown color of henna, the blue tint of indigo makes hair very dark to black in color.

However, Morocco Method brand does a lot of work for you. It combines henna, indigo, chamomile and calendula to create a range of shades including blonde.

Black walnut hull powder steeped in hot water can be used as a dark hair dye. The more powder you use the darker the color. This will dye anything it touches so be careful.

A strong black tea or coffee hair rinse can be used to darken most medium hair colors.

Lightening…


If you aren’t interested in Morocco Method’s light blonde hair dye, there are a number of other ways to lighten your hair.

Lemon juice sprayed or poured over hair and dried in the sun can act as a lightener. (If you’re out in the midday sun, be sure to use the best natural sunscreen you can find.)

Chamomile, calendula, or rhubarb root tea rinse can add honey tones for a darker blonde color. Both can be used often for a cumulative lightening effect.

How can I get a shade of red?

Henna is a great choice for a rich auburn color on dark hair but may be too red if you are starting from blonde.

Tomato juice can be used like a dye (soak through hair, leave on for 30 minutes and then rinse.

Hibiscus flower and calendula flowers mixed in a tea can also add red tones to hair.

Beets or beet root powder can be used for a more purple red color.

How can I deal with roots or greys naturally?

The great thing about natural hair dye options is that they don’t damage your hair so you can use them often to cover greys. Dry shampoo for dark hair can camouflage light roots and using a daily chamomile or calendula rinse in the shower can lighten dark roots gradually.

Though natural hair dye treatments are great in many ways the drawback is that some are not as permanent as chemical hair dyes. Other than henna (which is permanent) and indigo (which is permanent-ish as it varies from person to person), natural hair dye options are on the temporary to semi-permanent side of the spectrum.

If you want a hair color that is free of potentially toxic chemical and doesn’t require a lot of upkeep, then maybe it’s time to embrace your naturally beautiful hair color, greys and all.

Here’s how other natural mamas dye their hair when pregnant

I asked the moms on my Facebook page if (and how) they dyed their hair during pregnancy. Here are some of their responses.

  • I have used henna hair dye twice during this pregnancy. Completely natural, no chemicals, great for your hair. You can add essential oils to it. Or wine, coffee to change the outcome a bit. It takes longer to set and is a bit messy and involved, but totally worth it when it comes to my health! – Jennifer F.
  • I chose to for go dyeing my hair during pregnancy and while nursing. The only truly “natural” way is henna, herbs, lemon juice and sunlight and that just didn’t turn my brown locks to blonde like before. Bladder cancer vs. brown hair.., really wasn’t a fair contest. – Danielle B.
  • I didn’t first time around. But this time I realised that there are ways of being natural but still looking after yourself and giving yourself pamper time is just as important. I used keunes natural products and went with a few blonde foils so it never touched my scalp and then just an all over toner. – Kimberly B.
  • The first time around I didn’t not color my hair at all. Then after that pregnancy I found an amazing stylist who uses only organic natural hair color. No smell or anything unsafe for pregnancy. – Resi K.
  • No I just avoided dying it when pregnant. However I didn’t have any grey then. If I got pregnant now I might have to rethink that! – LunchboxDoctor
  • I found a ” natural” salon that supposedly used clean and natural and ammonia-free dye. In all my pregnancies I had avoided coloring altogether, but the gray was overwhelming! There was no smell, but I still second guess whether or not that was the safest decision for my baby. – Nicole C.G.
  • I personally did not color my hair while pregnant because I’ve been embracing my natural color over the past few years. That being said I worked in a salon for five years and colored many expecting mama’s hair in that time. My salon did use a more natural line of coloring products but the reality is that commercial hair color all has some chemicals in it even if you choose an ammonia or peroxide free product. Foiling, balayage, hair painting and ombre are great options for those that want to keep the products off of their scalp. Lets also keep in mind that there are countless hair stylists whom have perfectly healthy children despite being in contact with those chemicals on a near daily basis. – Aza H.
  • I was assured that dying is safe, but my midwife said best to avoid and I agree. I am considering henna before the birth, though. Might give me something to do in the last week if the baby is overdue. – Samantha N.
  • I didn’t dye my hair during pregnancy, because I wasn’t aware of the natural ways to do it back then. I have been dying my hair with henna for a while now, so if I get pregnant again, I would probably just keep using the henna. – Allanah B.

How about you?

Did you dye your hair during pregnancy? How did you do it? Share with us in the comments below!

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