Is It Safe To Dye Your Hair After Birth? (And While Breastfeeding!)


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One of the hardest things about being pregnant and having a newborn is not feeling like yourself anymore. Particularly if you have just given birth to your first child, you have probably spent the better part of the last year thinking about how to do everything that is best for him and focusing on the inside of your body. After the physical strain of giving birth and the stress of adjusting to life with a newborn, it can start to be hard to recognize yourself as an individual and not just as someone’s mother.

Several studies have shown that it is safe to dye your hair after the first trimester and even while breastfeeding as the chemicals involved are relatively safe and unlikely to pass into the bloodstream or breastmilk. For the highest level of safety, however, there are many options available with more natural ingredients.

Whether it is to return to the look you recognize in the mirror or because you want a change to make you feel pampered and rejuvenated, there are precautions that you need to take to ensure the health and safety of your baby. There are also some great natural options for dyeing your hair that can be better for both of you than the traditional and more mainstream brands.

Can I dye my hair with a baby in the house?

The biggest concern with dying your hair with a baby in the house is the amount of time the chemicals need to be in your hair for the color to take. When you are dying your hair, there are several safety precautions that are recommended even when there is not a baby or young child in the house. 

  • Always wear protective gloves when dyeing your hair
  • Rinse your scalp thoroughly after the dyeing process is complete
  • Only dye your hair in a well-ventilated room

For the most part, being conscientious about following these best practices and keeping young lungs away from the fumes will ensure that it is safe to dye your hair with a newborn or young child.

If possible, try to have someone else in the house who can watch the baby while you dye and rinse your hair, or be sure to plan your dyeing time around your baby’s nap or bedtime.

In addition to being careful during the actual dyeing process, you need to be diligent about how you are storing and disposing of the chemicals. Keep the box out of reach until you are ready to use it. As soon as you are done, gather everything that was used and either throw it away immediately or store it where your baby cannot get to it and consume the opened chemicals.

How long do you have to wait to dye your hair after having a baby?

Although several studies have been done that show it is most likely safe to dye your hair after the first trimester while pregnant, there is very little information about the potential consequences of dyeing your hair after having the baby, and especially while breastfeeding.

The general consensus among most experts is that while direct exposure to the chemicals included in most hair dye could be harmful to a fetus or baby, the amount that they could be exposed to through the bloodstream or breastmilk is insignificant. Most doctors simply recommend that you wait out of an abundance of caution.

Whether you choose to have your hair done professionally, do it yourself at home, or use an alternative natural method, there is not a proven medical reason to wait until a specific time after giving birth.

You may, however, want to keep in mind that many mothers lose a lot of hair after giving birth. It is really just your body and hormones returning to normal after pregnancy, but it can be disturbing and disheartening, especially for new moms. This postpartum hair loss usually happens around the third month, and you may want to consider not chemically treating your hair during this time.

What about bleaching hair after giving birth?

Bleaching your hair while breastfeeding is similar to dyeing it, but there are no truly natural ways to significantly lighten your hair because you are stripping color out rather than adding it on top of your natural color.

Like dyeing, very little bleach will be absorbed into the bloodstream through a healthy scalp, and even less will make it into your milk. 

You might want to take into account that the smell of bleach in your hair can linger and be unpleasant for your baby. Some babies are particularly sensitive to smells and will not latch on if there are any distracting smells, such as a heavily scented lotion or body wash, or perfume. 

If you have any bleach left after you lighten your hair, be sure to store it safely out of reach of your child. 

What’s the safest hair dye to use?

In a perfect world, you could look for any organic hair dye and be confident that it would be, if not harmless, at least safer for your child to be exposed to. Unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate the use of the word “organic” on the packaging, and “natural” only means that the ingredient was derived from a natural source, not that it is good for you. 

It is important to remember that all commercial dyes almost certainly contain some chemicals in order to set the color. With that being said, some chemicals are definitely safer than others and there is a general agreement that we should look to avoid parabens, phthalates, ammonia, para-phenylenediamine (PPD), and resorcinol.

Keep in mind that leaving out these chemicals means that your hair dye might be less effective than you are used to, albeit safer.

Herb Speedy PPD and Ammonia-free Hair Color

It’s pretty hard to find a hair dye that actually leaves out PPD and other harmful ingredients and also has good reviews from actual users.

This particular dye is free from all of the bad chemicals in our list and nearly all users report that the dye worked better than they expected. It’s actually produced by a pharmaceutical company in Korea (the current beauty product capital of the world) and really isn’t any more expensive than your standard hair dye, which surprised me.

The Henna Guys 100% chemical-free hair dye

So, a henna dye is a little different than your typical commercial hair dye, but it could be just what you are looking for if you are trying to avoid chemicals. That’s because henna is a completely natural herb powder than applies color to your hair without chemical interactions. That means you won’t have to worry at all about potential chemical interactions or allergies.

The downsides to this method, however, are:

  • You cannot lighten hair
  • It doesn’t guarantee 100% coverage
  • Semi-permanent – it will not last as long as permanent dyes

Still, these dyes are pretty highly rated and nearly all users that understood the limitations of this dyeing method were happy with their results. Most people report getting anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks of color out of this dye before they needed to redo it.

Alternative techniques

If you don’t feel comfortable using chemicals at all while breastfeeding, there are several chemical-free options for darkening, lightening, and adding color, many of which use colorants that you may have in your kitchen already.

  • Carrot Juice – Carrot juice can be mixed with a carrier oil like coconut oil or olive oil to tint your hair reddish-orange. This method works best if your hair is light-colored to start with.
  • Beet Juice – This has a similar effect to carrot juice, but the final result is a cooler tone.
  • Lemon Juice – Spritzing your hair with lemon juice can help create subtle sun-kissed highlights. Because this is a bleach rather than a dyeing process, this is a permanent color change and will not fade away.
  • Chamomile Tea – If you already have blonde or light hair, a weekly tea treatment can lighten it and help keep it bright.

By the way, I also tackled the topic of getting balayage hair dye while pregnant or breastfeeding as an alternative to a full hair dye job. This technique doesn’t hit the roots of your hair so there is very little, if any, skin contact!

Is it safe to dye your hair while breastfeeding?

There has not been much research done on the effects of dying your hair while breastfeeding, but there are a few studies that have been done on pregnant women that indicate neither permanent or semi-permanent dyes are toxic and only a small amount of dye is absorbed through the scalp. Even less than that will be passed on through the breastmilk. 

If you are concerned about any chemicals being passed to your nursing baby, consider getting highlights instead of a full dye job since they are painted on individually and you can request that your stylist not make direct contact with your scalp.

Alternatively, using one of the natural dyes noted above will minimize the harmful chemicals that could potentially be absorbed.

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Josh

I'm the dad in charge of Natural Baby life. With 10 years of parenting experience across three children, I am constantly learning how to raise children more naturally. I'm passionate about doing whatever it takes to raise a happy and healthy baby! Find out more about me here.

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