Is it OK to Color Your Hair During the First Trimester?

Try to hold off on the hair dye.

Photo: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Whether you're a first-time mom or a veteran with three other kids, pregnancy kicks off a slew of serious lifestyle changes. When the nausea hits and bloating sets in, you might want to reach for a bottle of hair dye to boost your confidence and get back to feeling like your old stylish self, but the harsh chemicals in commercial hair dyes should make you pause before piling on the color, especially in your first trimester.

First-Trimester Risk

The first three months of pregnancy are the most fragile time for a developing fetus, and slight fluctuations in hormones or minimal exposures to chemicals can impede healthy development. Because as many as 80 percent of miscarriages occur during the first trimester, doctors advise expectant moms to keep their lifestyles as healthy as possible, and that includes limiting exposure to any substance that can alter your blood chemistry. You know that hair dyes are readily absorbed into your hair, but trace amounts of chemicals can penetrate your skin and enter your bloodstream, and anything in your bloodstream is part of your developing baby's bloodstream, too.

Good News for the Dye-Addicted

As long as you aren't hitting the dye bottle every few weeks, dying your hair is unlikely to cause any harm to a developing fetus. Dr. Roger W. Harms, of MayoClinic.com, notes that most concern regarding hair dye is linked to a 2005 study that linked hair-dye exposure to childhood cancer, but no previous or subsequent study has been able to repeat the same results or find a similar link. Your doctor will likely advise you to skip the dye until you're into your second or third trimester, after the baby's neurological connections have already been established. But if you can't wait, or if you dyed before you knew you were pregnant, no conclusive evidence exists to suggest any serious harm.

Beyond Baby Risk

Even once you rule out serious risk to a developing fetus, there are still plenty of reasons you might want to skip the dye jobs, at least until after the first trimester. Your body chemistry undergoes serious changes during pregnancy, and there's no guarantee that your hair will react to color the way that it normally does. If you are experiencing nausea, dye might not be the best idea, either. The smell of chemicals might set your tummy on edge or kick off a killer headache, even if you are normally a hair-dye trooper. Nausea and morning sickness dissipate during the second and third trimesters -- another reason to wait on the dye jobs.

Hair Dye Alternatives

In most things pregnancy-related, it's best to err on the side of caution and avoid risk when you can. You can still change up your look without a chemical dye job. Try out a fresh new cut instead. Temporary hair dyes like hair-color mascara wands or clip-on colored extensions add color to your hair without the potential chemical exposure risks. If you absolutely have to dye your hair, skip the all-over dye job and stick to a few simple highlights for a lightened-up look.

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