Can You Highlight Hair When Pregnant
Congratulations, you’re pregnant! Whether it’s your first or subsequent pregnancy, there will be much to think about throughout your pregnancy. Of course, at the top of your mind, practically every day, will be thoughts about your baby’s health and development. You might wonder, can highlighting or lowlighting your hair harm your baby’s health?
What are Hair Highlights?
Highlighting is a hair coloring activity or technique that uses a lightener, a hair dye, or a color to add streaks to your hair. The streaks are typically two to three shades lighter than your original hair color, making your hair look multi-dimensional. Lowlighting is a similar technique, except the streaks are two to three shades darker than your natural hair color. It’s an excellent technique for women with thin hair, creating the appearance of thicker hair.
Should I Get Highlights While Pregnant?
Although it is generally agreed that dying your hair won’t harm your baby, scientists do not know for sure if it’s safe to highlight your hair while you are pregnant. There haven’t been enough research studies to answer this question definitively. The limited number of studies done so far have primarily examined the potential effects of hair dyes, which contain chemicals and are typically applied to your whole head of hair and scalp. After coming in contact with your scalp, “…exposure to these chemicals from hair dyes or hair products results in very limited systemic absorption unless there are burns or abscesses on the scalp. Therefore, these chemicals are unlikely to reach the placenta.” This conclusion is from a 2008 study in the Official Publication of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) agrees with the findings. For over 60 years, ACOG has published information based on medical research and Ob-Gyn experiences. ACOG’s official statement on hair dye hair during pregnancy is, “Most experts think that using hair dye during pregnancy is not toxic for your fetus. There are different types of hair coloring, including permanent, semi-permanent or temporary color. These all contain chemicals. Studies on animals show that high doses of these chemicals do not cause serious birth defects. Also, only a tiny amount of chemicals from hair dye is absorbed through the scalp.”
Most experts advise pregnant women to wait until at least after the first trimester for whole-head hair-dying techniques. Here is a sampling from credible medical sources for how long to wait to dye your hair:
- “Consider waiting until the second trimester.” (The American Pregnancy Association)
- “Some doctors advise women to avoid having their hair dyed during pregnancy (or at least until after the first trimester).” (The American Cancer Society)
- “Many doctors recommend holding off on hair color until week 13 of your pregnancy, just to be safe…” (The Cleveland Clinic)
Do medical experts also advise pregnant women to wait to have their hair highlighted? Hair highlighting methods do not come into contact with the scalp, so the risk of chemicals entering the scalp is much less than that from whole-head coloring. A pregnancy’s first trimester lasts until the end of the 13th week. This time is critical for your baby’s growth and development. Thirteen weeks is a fairly short time to wait to have your hair highlighted. If you are still concerned about getting your hair done with highlights during your pregnancy you should talk to your doctor.
Learn more about a highlighting technique we use here at the Therapy Hair Studio called Balayage. Balayage (pronounced “baa-lay-ahge)” is a French hair-coloring method that works by hand-painting the surface of your hair, starting midshaft and continuing toward the ends of your hair. This method has several advantages over the more traditional highlighting technique using foil. Balayage requires less maintenance, is less damaging to your hair, and avoids chemicals coming into contact with your scalp, reducing the risk of scalp absorption.