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.


Here’s What We Need to Know About Home Hair Color

Just one example of boxed hair color

Just one example of boxed hair color

Lets take a quick look at the facts of coloring your hair at home.

It’s true…the ingredients of boxed color and professional color are similar, but boxed home color is created with no idea who is going to use it. So, to work adequately for a wide variety of women with various hair colors and types, it’s harsher, with a higher developer volume than you would use. This way, a woman with light brown and dark brown hair can use the same product. But they won’t get the same results, no one will get what’s shown on the box and if a woman already has color, there’s no predicting what will happen.

Something to consider:

1. The model in the photo on the box did not do her own color!

2. Home color can’t account for hair texture or condition. Porosity, curly hair, and already abused hair can greatly affect color results and hair health. The question you need to answer is this: “Would you use harsh detergents and hot water on every piece of clothing you own?” And if your answer is yes, how’s that workin’ for ya?

3. Application is extremely important. Even a “simple” root retouch can be messy to do yourself, and if you overlap the color, you can get dry ends and color build-up. Then, you’ll have dark ends and gray that still shows at the roots.

4. Ammonia-free doesn’t mean chemical free, and home color could use a large percentage of an ammonia substitute. Ammonia does a much better job of getting you the color you want, but can be too harsh for some types of hair…another reason to let the professionals handle it.

5. People that use hair color purchased from a retailer, should understand the base of a color product, underlying pigment, and how to avoid getting orange when “just making brown hair lighter.” This is chemistry that hair stylists study before being given a license. However, it still remains a mystery to me why some stylists are allowed to place any sort of chemical on any clients head, when they clearly don’t understand the results their actions will produce. Always ask your stylist (if you have one) if she understands the color wheel. If you get a questioning look in response to that question, excuse yourself and leave!

6. You can’t really get a dimensional look from box color. The only possible “dimension” a partially grey haired person will get when using at home products, is the pigmented (hair that still has color), hair will be a totally different color than the hair that is grey. More than likely, the grey will look muddied, because grey absorbs less of the product because of the hard cuticle. If the hair is fragile to begin with, (as in already bleached/highlighted hair, it will grab drab and dark…depending on the product you’ve chosen.

In conclusion, I have to admit that I’ve seen some pretty good results come from a box. But it’s generally when the person using the product, has some understanding of HOW to use the product, and is good at it…or has someone else do the application, such as a family member, etc. However, it truly is a roulette game you play when choosing to do your own color. There have been times that the color purchased from big chain retailers, gets switched in the box while still on the shelf (by who, we’ll probably never know). I’ll never forget the call I got from a sister-in-law that had used a boxed color. The color on the front of the box was of a beautiful brunette. Well…the color she got was a fiery red! She was (needless to say), very upset. And it wasn’t the first time she got a totally different color than what she thought she was getting. And…it could have been the condition of her hair at the time of application, or the fact that she really didn’t know what she was doing. Kinda like me and my car. I just want to get in it, put the key in the ignition, and it do what it was built to do. But when it needs serviced, I don’t touch it…nor does my husband. It goes to those trained in working with the dynamics of it’s makeup.

Another time, I had lunch with a gal that had black color stains running down the side of her neck, just behind the ear. I said, “Did you color your hair recently?” I already knew the answer, just wanted to say that for shock value.


Hair RX

I must admit, I too, have visited the WebMD more than once. I always try to self-diagnose before choosing to visit our family doctor. I just don’t want to take the time to sit in the doctor’s office and wait my turn. Nor do I like paying the price of waiting. My time is valuable, my money is, well…it comes through my time. Yet, I have found it’s always better to visit a local facility where I can be looked over and find out what the actual problem is, especially if it doesn’t go away. Our symptoms may be the same as Joe Blows, and yet have different outcomes, because of existing circumstances. This is not a ploy to get us all visiting our family doctors…what it is, is an informational blog about diagnosing the condition of your hair. Pretty cool, right? You didn’t know your hair could tell on you, did you?

Well, I’m not going to advise looking on line for your solutions. You knew that already though, right? You can find just about anything you’re looking for…on line. But the question is, do you REALLY know what the problem is?

Self-diagnosing an illness with WebMD or Google is a big no-no, so why would it be any different when it comes to hair? I’ve had clients tell me, “my hair is dry,” or “it’s extremely damaged,” when in reality they have been using a chelating shampoo (not knowing it’s properties, nor what to look for), that is stripping the natural oils, on a consistent basis. The body continues to supply natural oils to the scalp area, but if we daily strip them off, then the hair is going to feel as if it is dry. Or, a friend has recommended a certain shampoo and conditioner and because you like the smell of it, you grab it for purchase. Because shampoo, is shampoo, right? Wrong! You can wash your hair with Tide and get it clean. But I wouldn’t recommend it. Not only does harsh chemicals strip ALL the natural oils out, they also wreck havoc on the scalp, over a period of time. Resulting in dull, lifeless hair and flakey scalp.

There could be numerous things going on, causing the hair to be dealt a bad hand. A doctor wouldn’t take a patient’s word for it and simply hand over a prescription without conducting a thorough evaluation—and neither will I. I know you want the prescription that actually addresses the needs of your hair, and there’s no way I can know that without first evaluating.

The first thing a good stylist will do, will be to evaluate their client’s hair and determine whether or not it will require major damage control, extra moisture, or simply needs to be maintained. For someone with dry, tangle prone hair that breaks off easily, I would recommend a cocktail of two opposites for conditioning. One, a protein infused conditioner (such as Scruples ER) to restore necessary elements back to the hair, and a product to detangle (such as Scruples Quickseal). I’d then suggest an in-salon treatment, and would also encourage the client to purchase the line to use at home for one month (or until her next appointment). Then, we’d re-evaluate her hair’s condition and decide if she could move up to a normal regime of shampooing and conditioning.

Like I said, you can find just about anything on the net…with the exception of personal care, hands-on experience, and a diagnosis of what is really happening with your hair. Many things “make the person.” However, I’ve seen without fail, the person feeling not-so-well, make a complete turn-around while sitting in my chair…simply because there had been a solution for her problem. A weary day of no hope in sight, restored to “tomorrow is a new day.” Sounds extreme, right? It just does something for our self-esteem, our acceptance (as sad as that is). It somehow makes us walk taller. It lifts our head. Somehow, we can look the world in the eye and say, “I’m ready for ya!”

Okay, that last statement was for the reallllly insecure. 🙂

Yes, there is a cost for damage control. But seriously, how many band-aides should a person use? Until the problem is full blown, and extremely hard to regenerate? And more costly. Or should we maintain a healthy balance, continually taking the steps necessary for that healthy glow? It’s true, what’s on the inside of us shows on the outside. Our health really is that important. But society has a habit of abusing their bodies. It may be the cause of too much work, without taking time to nourish the body. It may be from simply too much stress in one’s life. And then, when all that goes down, so does the skin and hair we live in.

But, there’s one more thing that causes me to have a job. We love to look fabulous. We decide to bleach, tone, dye, perm, relax, and use all sorts of products that build up on the cuticle (outer layer) of our hair. Over time the cortex (inner core) of our hair becomes so damaged, that we need help getting it to respond how we would like it to. It becomes limp, with no body to speak of. It doesn’t want to hold a curl. It frizzes easily. It wraps itself around our brushes. It falls on our shoulders in great numbers. There are times it just needs a breather, and stop the over-processing. But how does one know when they are getting past the point of no return?

That’s where your hair specialist comes in. Hopefully, it would be before that point and you wouldn’t need to worry about that. Hopefully, you would be visiting her/him, on a regular basis. Especially if you are using chemicals that demand the hair look the way you desire it to.

Maintenance…that’s what it’s all about. If we catch a problem before it becomes a problem, our hair and our skin will respond with a luminous, “THANK YOU!!!”

Now, go see your stylist…preferably me. 🙂

You can find me at:
Elements Salon
800 W. Williams Street, Suite 117
Peakway Market Square (inside Sola Salons)
Apex, NC. 27502