Should you color your hair when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding? It’s a question many women have with their first baby… or second and third (by the time you get to three, who can remember??) Good news! You don’t have to forego your hair treatments for the sake of motherhood - there’s no evidence that hair color affects your developing baby or your breast milk. If you’re still anxious, here are some handy tips to keep you feeling both beautiful and reassured.
The fluctuation of hormones during pregnancy and postpartum cause changes to your skin and hair. As a result, your usual color might not take to your hair the same way. It may even cause scalp irritation you’ve never experienced before. Patch test a swatch of hair and scalp before you go for the whole head, and keep the mistakes at bay.
Permanent hair color is required to soak your hair and touch your scalp for a length of time – so, although you can still use this method, the chemicals have a higher chance of passing into your system. Highlights and lowlights are painted on the hair but kept off the scalp. Semi-permanent color is also safer: while it does sit on the scalp, it’s made of milder chemical formulas.
Perms and relaxers contain extremely aggressive chemicals with very strong fumes. While there’s no evidence that these cause damage to your baby’s health, they can have harsh reactions on your hair and scalp while pregnant (think breakages and burns). Keratin treatments (a.k.a. Brazilian-style blowouts) contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, and the treatment hasn’t been around long enough to judge if it’s fully safe or not. Better bet: stick to a ceramic hot iron to curl or straighten for the time being.
Sulfate shampoos open up the cuticle of your hair and can leach out any color or treatment you’ve done to it. Switch to sulfate-free, and you’ll get a lot more mileage out of whatever treatment you do decide to get, keeping your exposure to chemicals at a minimum. (Just make sure product is both sulfate-free and sul-fake free – see our list here.)
Your biome (the ecosystem of your hair and scalp) functions as a self-defense system. Switch to a cleansing method that nurtures this ecosystem, instead of destroying it. When your biome is healthy and intact, you’ll help keep environmental toxins out and your hair will hold its look longer - regardless of what salon treatment you choose.
Your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy and afterwards, many of which are emotionally challenging. If you’re in the habit of coloring your hair, a simple touch up can do wonders for your spirits. Don’t feel bad about coloring – just try and stay away from especially toxic or harsh treatments. Remember, happy moms equal happy babies. There’s nothing more beautiful than that!