Haircare in Pregnancy | What’s Safe?

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haircare pregnancy hairdye

Being pregnant can be tough. Your body is undergoing a ton of physical changes and as you're coming to grips with all these new and bigger bits, sometimes a little pampering is what you need. We've discussed safe pampering in pregnancy in a previous article, but what about haircare in pregnancy? 


We reviewed the evidence and spoke to obstetrician Dr. Zara Chan 陳駱靈岫 and eco-friendly and health conscious hair salon, Emmanuel F. to discuss haircare in pregnancy.


The concern

Pregnant women have been concerned about whether the chemicals used in hair products, including bleach, dye, chemical straighteners, relaxers, and shampoos are harmful to their growing baby.


Safety of shampoo and conditioners in pregnancy

There is increasing evidence that chemicals in home hair products such as shampoos and conditioners end up in our bloodstreams. There is also some research that shows triclosan (found in antibacterial soaps and some toothpastes) can transfer to unborn babies and via breastmilk. 


There isn't much research on the effects of some of these chemicals on growing babies, but it's wise to avoid products with phthalates (in nail polish and some products with fragrance), parabens (used as a preservative in cosmetics).


Safety of hair chemicals in pregnancy

There have been numerous studies looking at the safety of professional and at-home hair chemicals during pregnancy. The results have been mixed and are hard to base general recommendations off of as many are outdated and manufacturers often change formulas without testing for effects on pregnancy. The general consensus is that the amounts used for personal use are so small that they are unlikely to pose a risk. 


To stay safe, obstetrician Dr. Zara Chan recommends the following for both professional and at-home hair dye:

  • The first and second trimesters are when the majority of the fetus' organs are developing so try to avoid as many chemicals during this period as possible.
  • Choose a natural hair dye AND make sure to read the label. Natural colors are usually a better choice than artificial dyes but it's still important to read the label. Likewise with shampoo and conditioner, it is best to avoid the following ingredients: PPD, pyarzolone, phthalates, DMDM hydantoin, formaldehyde, sodium laureth sulfate, phenyl methyl, parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate and aminophenol.
  • Minimize contact with hair dye. If possible, avoid putting dye directly on the scalp, wear gloves if you're dying your hair at home, follow the directions carefully, leave the dye on for the minimum amount of time, and make sure you're in a well-ventilated area.

Peace of mind is key. Pregnancy is already a stressful time so make the decision that feels right to you.


How to stay safe at a hair salon

So, what should you look for at a salon? Emmanuel F. is a hair salon recommends aiming for one that uses non-toxic products. Get in touch with the beauty salon of your choice before you go to make sure they're able to provide pregnancy-safe haircare. 


Dr. Zara Chan 陳駱靈岫 is a Specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology, practicing at OT&P Healthcare's Woman and Child Clinic in Central. Dr. Chan is Canadian and completed her medical training at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong. She received her specialist qualification from the Hong Kong College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and is a member of the UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. She was an honorary lecturer at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and is currently the president of the Midwives and Maternal-Child Caregivers Association.


Emmanuel F. is a hair salon in Central committed to providing natural, organic, and eco-friendly hair and beauty service.

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This article was independently written by Healthy Matters and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.

Dr. Chan Lok Zara
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