Dye or Bleach Hair During Pregnancy

Pregnant woman with colored dark brown hair
Photo: Shutterstock
Q: Can I dye or bleach my hair during pregnancy?
A: It's usually a good idea to make sure your stylist performs a patch test (to check for sensitivity to the chemicals) and a strand test (to verify processing times) anytime you have a chemical service, but especially if you are (or if you have recently been) pregnant.
The hormones released in the female body during pregnancy affect the body in various ways. Some women experience a thinning of the hair during or immediately following pregnancy, some women find that perms given during pregnancy don't work as well (and in some cases not at all).
There's also the fact that many women become hyper-sensitive to chemicals that contact the skin. Your hair's condition may change (drier, oilier, more porous, more resistant, etc.) which will effect how it processes and the results you will see. A common effect among pregnant women is that the chemical smells that were previously only annoying become nauseating and intolerable.
In most cases, bleaching or dying the hair during pregnancy is fine, as long as you've tested to make sure you haven't developed a sensitivity to the hair color or bleaching agent. If the patch test shows any degree of sensitivity, then don't have the process.
In a patch test, your stylist will apply a small dab of the chemical (hair color or perming solution) to an area not usually visible (usually on the neck behind the ear) and leave it there for the normal length of processing time, then wipe it away and wash the area. Then you wait for 24-48 hours and check the area for redness or irritation. If after 48 hours there's no reaction or irritation, you can feel safe in pursuing the chemical service.
Strand tests for color involve taking a slender lock of hair from the head and using it as a swatch to be treated with the chemicals to be used. This allows the stylist to know exact processing times needed for bleaching and coloring to achieve the color you want.
Most problems with pregnancy and hair are in sensitivity to the chemicals and smell of hair color and perming solutions, and in processing and results of processes like perms and straightening. It's uncommon to find a problem with the results of hair coloring processes due to pregnancy.
See also:
Bleaching hair
Hair bleaching problems
Hair during pregnancy
Maternity hairstyles
Do you know if you can colour your hair if you're pregnant?