Hair Color and the Pregnant Client

Elements pregnant womanRarely do I get the question asked, “Should I color my hair when I’m pregnant?” but it’s something we need to be educated on, none-the-less. So here are a few guidelines you might want to consider, should the occasion demand a response.

There are various conflicting (inconclusive studies) about hair dye and associations with risk. The final analysis: When it comes to pregnancy specifically, hair color has not been proven harmful, nor has it been proven safe.

There are a few primary points we should all know about.

1. The safest is not to advise one way or the other.

Let the mother-to-be ask her physician. Every pregnancy is different and carries different risks. Suggest the client speak to her health care professional, since this is an individual, personal decision. And then follow what the physician says.

2. Know what the medical professionals are saying.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “When you use hair color, a small amount can penetrate your skin. Generally, however, the dye isn’t thought to pose harm to a developing baby.” According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG), “Hair color is probably safe to use during pregnancy because so little dye is absorbed through the skin. However, it is still important to be cautious.”

3. Let your client know that this decision is not just about color.

Pregnancy can cause sensitivity to smells. Always service clients who are expecting in well-ventilated areas, and
encourage them to alert you if smells bother them in any way.

4. Know what your supplier says, and stay abreast of the latest studies.

According to Procter & Gamble: “If a woman normally colors her hair and has safely used hair colorants before, there
is no scientifically established reason for her to stop coloring her hair during pregnancy. However, if she is
worried about using a hair colorant during pregnancy, do not convince her to continue coloring her hair if she is
still worried, for whatever reason.”

5. If the client decides to color her hair, we should always…

A) Err on the side of caution. Because the first trimester is the most critical time for chemical exposure of any kind,
most physicians advise against using hair color during the first trimester. We, as hair stylists should do likewise.

B) Recognize that the body changes in many ways during pregnancy, so always do a patch test, even if you’ve been coloring the client’s hair for years.

C)  Avoid touching the scalp with color. Use barrier creams and let your client know you are doing so. This is another reason your client should be cautioned against coloring her hair at home. There’s no way they can avoid touching the scalp while applying product themselves.

D) Offer alternatives, such as semi-permanent colorants,  or off-the-scalp highlights.

Memo: Never in my 39 years of working with hair, and 25 years of working with skin; have any of my clients had issues with hair color. No one has had adverse reactions to the color, nor the smell. However, as stated earlier…always err on the side of caution. You may have a very special situation that you, nor your client, is aware of.