Natural Ways To Dye Your Hair When Pregnant

Is it safe to dye your hair when pregnant? What are the natural ways to dye your hair when pregnant? Blondes, brunettes, and redheads – learn how here!

Is it safe to dye your hair when pregnant? What are the natural ways to dye your hair when pregnant? Blondes, brunettes, and redheads - learn how here!

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!

References

Genevieve Howland

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 85,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

30 Comments

  1. To add, it is also easy to get sucked into the natural and organic lines thinking they are 100% safe when they still contain chemicals like hydrogen peroxide waaaaay down in the small print. I am sure they are also way safer than store box colors, but something to keep in mind.

  2. This is great info. I have been reading conflicting information on hair dye. Although gray is gorgeous, I am about 50% gray and I am only 36. I have been going gray for 15 years and I have used a lot of black dye (natural hair color). I am trying to use as few harsh chemicals as possible. I am 21 weeks pregnant with #2. With #1, I dyed my hair once. We are on a tight budget so getting pampered and feeling great about myself is really hard and a little gray coverage usually does the trick. I would like to try henna, but I have long hair that has been dyed previously with box color.

  3. The Light Mountain brand of henna hair dye has served me well!

    • Me too! I’ve been using it for years! I decided years ago I didn’t want to use chemical hair dyes, and to just stay away from harmful chemicals in general.

  4. I think natural hair color is almost always more beautiful than most of our best attempts at enhancements. I love the way natural hair shines, and has so many different ways to catch the light. And now that I’m getting grays, I have these awesome cool highlights! I love natural hair!

  5. I am pregnant unexpectedly at 40 years old. I am about 75% grey at this point and, for my own self confidence, must dye my hair. It’s not negotiable! I don’t want to look like my baby’s grandma or my husband’s mother! With the MIDWIFE’s blessing I have been using Naturtint hair color and am very happy with it. It still has some chemicals in it, but it is much healthier than the Revlon I was using!

  6. I read that mixing honey with water creates a natural peroxide that can lighten hair, but it has to at on your head for hours…. would this be safe even though there is a change in the chemical composition in these two very safe ingredients?

    • I used hair print while pregnant and going to use it afterwards too! The only reason I dye my hair is because of the grey, I like my natural colour so it’s a shame I have to dye it! I’m young too and prematurely grey. Hair print worked great!! So natural looking, back to my normal colour, no dye stains on my scalp, forehead, ears, neck etc. and it doesn’t stain clothing!! I got it all over my white dressing gown, and left it overnight. I washed it the next morning normally (didn’t even soak it) and it came right out. It’s even edible, that’s how natural this product it, and doesn’t smell AT ALL! Great stuff

  7. Great Article! I’m 24 weeks pregnant and feeling in the mood of Changing my hair lol! Speaking of changing hair, does anyone have the problem of hair falling out DURING pregnancy, not after. This kinda thing has happened to me twice, I take a prenatal and eat 43 grams of protein or more a day. Any suggestions? Thank you!

    • my hair fell out when I was pregnant with my first. I believe it’s a combination of hormones and new hair coming in. I wouldn’t worry about it. I still had a head full of hair.

    • I had the same thing happen to me, I am to believe it was because i had a boy, so the testosterone? I was also 36. I had 3 girls between the age of 20 – 27. I had thick, dense hair.. I am not a scientist but I have no other explanation, talk to your doctor. I didn’t worry as I knew that is would be grow.

  8. Thoughts on highlights? Is it ok if the dye is not so much on your scalp? I have dark hair and a lot of grey’s and like to camouflage them every once in a while (I look forward to embracing “wisdom highlights” later on but I’m only 28!).

    • Highlights would probably be less problematic since they are usually not applied to the roots/scalp, like you said. However, I’d still be concerned about breathing in the chemicals during application.

  9. I only use Henna for my hair coloring anymore. In fact I just used my last batch on my hair last night. As a warning!!! This can be horribly messy, so wear gloves, and remember to wipe skin clean of any henna because even contact with your skin leaves what looks like an orange birthmark for a couple days. But take heart; if it colors your skin instantly, you bought the good stuff, and you won’t have to worry about it fading out of your hair. I use, and highly recommend, Ancient Sunrise henna. Along with coloring, it leaves the hair with lots of body (perfect for me with very limp hair), it naturally cleans and clears the scalp of dandruff, and leaves a nice luster. Don’t be afraid to try it, because there are natural dyes to cover it if you don’t like it, and there are also natural dyes you can mix with it safely for different results. And 2 hours of dying is more than enough time for me, some recommend 18 hours, which is totally unnecessary if you bought good henna. Good luck to anyone who tries it 🙂

  10. While all the available research suggests that coloring your hair during pregnancy is safe (there’s no data suggesting that it increases the risk of birth defects or miscarriage), it’s a good idea to schedule appointments after your first trimester just to be on the extra-safe side.

  11. Aveda products! They use all natural ingredients (plants & herbs!)

    • Used to, they were bought out by Est’ee Lauder around 2011.
      Aveda, the face of natural hair color, seems to be the best of the traditional brands. Their plant-based dyes are “97% natural.” But to do the trick of covering your grays and sticking around after you shampoo, Aveda hair color also contains PPD and ammonia. … Henna-based and vegetable hair dyes are a growing market

  12. I never dare to try dying my hair when I am pregnant. After reading your article it might change my mind. My husband always tell me that I look beautiful when I am pregnant.

  13. What dangers are associated with hair dye when nursing?

    • I would compare it to caffeine and/or alcohol… Anything that enters your blood stream will potentially be passed on to baby through your breast milk…IMHO if you wouldn’t do it while pregnant don’t do it while breast feeding just to be safe!

  14. Thanks for the post! Love it! I too feel that gray is natural and beautiful, but I am only just 30 and with a few gray hairs popping up here and there, I don’t want to look 50 before my time. 😉 I would love to try these natural options, especially the henna since I have dark brown hair and would love more red tones. Do you know of any good links for these options? I wouldn’t know where to start!

    Hugs,
    Gail

    • Henna is a great choice for adding red highlights. Moroccan Method has some hennas for this.

      Also, 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.

    • Hi! I have dyed my hair for a few years using henna and indigo including during my last pregnancy. Henna hut sells awesome product, and it covers gets! You can get different shades of henna, but you can’t make dark hair lighter. They don’t mix any metals or other crap into their products and I highly suggest it! The red will bleed out a LOT for a long time, so just use an old pillow case if you shower before bed to protect your sheets:-)
      I’m currently growing my indigo out, word of caution, it CANNOT be bleached, that will only lift henna leaving you with bright blue locks that CANNOT be dyed! (Thank goodness my hairdresser did research before trying more than a test!). I’m naturally dark blonde but greying quite a bit 🙁 eager to try lemon and chamomile this summer to see if it will bleach greys!
      Good luck!

  15. I felt to add this comment!

    I feel grey hair is beautiful, as well as part of our inner evolution. I do not feel it is something to hide! It is also completely natural 😉

    Why hide ourselves or change the natural shades of who we are?

    I hope I do not offend anyone here! Not my intention to do so!

    Just my opinion/feeling on the matter or dying hair.

    • …”on the matter of…..”

      By the way love the last paragraph in this post! Yeah!!!!

    • I think all the colors are beautiful! I wanted to share the options out there. What’s most important is what mama feels best in 🙂

      • That is very very true! 😉

  16. Ok, I have been wanting to try Morocco Method to lighten my hair but I’m wondering if it really works. Are there any testimonials?

  17. This is great! I will have to try the lemon this summer. Thanks! Could you do a video on how to make natural sunscreen using natural products + essential oils?


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