In a nutshell

It's safe to colour or bleach your hair in pregnancy, but follow the product instructions to the letter


The expert view

NHS guidance states that chemicals in permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes, including those that contain bleaching agents, are not highly toxic. Although there's only limited research, most of the evidence shows that it’s safe to colour or bleach your hair while pregnant.

We spoke to celebrity hair guru Daniel Galvin Jnr who confirms this advice. "You can dye your hair whilst you are pregnant, but I'd recommend you visit a professional to have it done," he says. "Dyeing your hair at home whilst you are 6 months pregnant is not going to be an easy or enjoyable task!

"I’d also advise that you use a vegetable colour which gives your hair added shine and more depth in colour."

If you are going to home dye your hair when you’re pregnant, make sure you:

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  • Always do a strand test before you start. Pregnancy can make your skin more sensitive, so you may react differently to the same dye you normally use
  • Wear gloves
  • Leave the dye on for the minimum time
  • Keep the door and any windows open while you doing the dyeing, so that the room is ventilated
  • Rinse off the dye thoroughly once the time is up

Semi-permanent pure vegetable dyes, such as henna, are thought to be the safest types of dye.

Highlighting your hair also reduces any risk. This is because the dye only goes onto strands of hair rather than your full head. The chemicals used are only absorbed by your hair, and not by your scalp or bloodstream.

Wasn't there research showing there was a risk of harm?

There have been a small number of studies that found very high doses of the types of chemicals that can be found in hair dyes may cause harm. However, these doses were much higher than the small amount of chemicals you're exposed to when colouring your hair.

A 2005 US study did show a slightly raised risk of neuroblastoma in the children of mums who used hair dye. However, these results have not been repeated in other studies.


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Magda Ibrahim is a freelance writer who has written for publications including The Times and Sunday Times, The Sun, Time Out, and the London Evening Standard, as well for MadeForMums.