Can You Bleach Your Hair While Pregnant? Is It Safe 2023?

Elesa Zehndorfer

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

can you bleach your hair while pregnant
Bleaching hair while pregnant can carry risks

First-trimester hair care doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, your hair may never have felt so thick and lustrous as it does during pregnancy! But can you bleach your hair while pregnant? It is a great question. Our advice? Don’t do it. In this article, we’ll be sharing the science behind exactly why we’ve made that recommendation. 

The great news? We’ll explain why your hair can be so glossy during pregnancy and why, when your little bundle of joy has arrived, you needn’t be alarmed if you experience some temporary hair loss. We’ll talk you through how to restore your hair to its former glory in the postpartum phase and share a safer alternative to hair bleach that will leave your hair feeling and looking great.

Is It Safe To Bleach Your Hair While Pregnant?

In this article, we share reasons why we would not recommend that you bleach your hair while pregnant. We explain why exercising caution is salient, given the lack of consensus amongst medical researchers as to the safety of the practice. We also explain why you may wish to avoid hair dyes during the breastfeeding phase, too.

Risks Of Bleaching Hair While Pregnant

So let’s get straight to it. Is hair bleaching safe for pregnant people? Since approximately 67% of women in a study continued using semi-permanent hair dyes despite a high incidence of allergic reactions, the cosmetic importance of this trend remains high.[1]

Well, we know that while hair dyes contain potentially highly toxic chemicals, they are generally not considered[2] carcinogenic or cancer-causing. And the effects of hair dye on neonatal development remain unclear.[3]

May Increase Pregnancy Complications

Taking a look at a recent 2015 meta-analysis,[4] we can see that hairdressers working in a salon wearing gloves had a significantly elevated risk of pregnancy complications, including fetal and embryonic loss and low birth weight. However, the authors cautioned in asserting a direct link between the occupation and the observed pregnancy outcomes. 

In addition, in the first study of its kind, maternal occupational exposure to hair dye was found to be significantly associated[5] with stillbirths. The study also looked at fetal and maternal exposure to other chemical substances harming reproductive outcomes (gasoline, insecticides, and herbicides) but found none of these other chemical exposure types to affect these outcomes as much as hair dye did.

Linked To Leukemia Risk In Young Children

A multi-center hospital-based study conducted in Brazil offers further clarity, reporting a statistically significant link between maternal exposure to hair dyes and straightening products while pregnant —— and the incidence of leukemia[6] in children under two years of age. This link was most common when using these products in the first trimester.

Interestingly, some substances in hair dye have been observed in animal studies to pass into the blood circulation and exhibit potentially carcinogenic effects.[7] It is not clear if these effects may also occur in humans, but it raises a question about the safety of these chemicals, especially during pregnancy.  

May Increase Risk Of Abnormal Infant Birth Weight

Even using hair dye while trying to conceive or TTC appears to increase the risk of abnormal infantile birth weight, as reported in this study[8] of 6,203 pregnant women.

May Increase Anxiety In The Mother

Generally, prenatal anxiety disorders are considered common and emerging[9] in studies as potential causes of preterm birth and low birth weight. 

Engaging in non-essential practices — such as hair bleaching — that might be damaging to a fetus can seriously increase maternal anxiety, and for a good reason. A 2021 Japanese large-scale study[5] of fifteen regional health centers, for example, recently reported that hairdressers or individuals exposed to hair dyes more than weekly, across trimesters, was significantly associated with stillbirth. 

Can You Bleach Your Hair While Breastfeeding?

We’ve covered some of the potential risks of hair bleaching while pregnant, but what about during the breastfeeding phase?

While all women react differently, we would also advise against it, and here’s why. A possible association has been found between maternal hair dye use and the development of leukemia[6] in children under the age of two years. The study’s authors subsequently cited the need for pregnant and breastfeeding women to avoid[6] hair dyes. 

Safety Precautions

For professional hair colorists who are exposed to a high concentration of bleaching and dying chemicals, it is recommended[10] that they always wear gloves, work in a well-ventilated area, and limit their engagement with hair dye chemicals as much as they can. Also, before coloring, always apply a patch test to check for an allergic reaction. 

For expectant and breastfeeding mothers, it appears the safest option for hair dyeing is to wait until breastfeeding has ended before being exposed to any hair-bleaching agents. That’s because scientific knowledge relating to the safety of using hair dyes during pregnancy remains relatively scarce[5] and often inconsistent. Our take is that until its safety can be assured, it is better to sidestep it altogether.

When Is The Safest Time To Bleach Your Hair? 

In our opinion, the safest time to bleach your hair is subsequently after the pregnancy and breastfeeding phases have ended! Based on several research studies, in our view, it just isn’t worth the risk.

Maintaining Beautiful Hair Without Bleaching

can you bleach your hair while pregnant
You can maintain beautiful hair with natural products without bleach.

The story is not all negative, however! There are many other indulgent hair treatments that you can engage in while pregnant, such as coconut oil or argan oil hair masks and other deep conditioning treatments. 

Furthermore, during pregnancy, many women experience wonderfully thick hair,[11] principally because hair follicles generally remain in the anagen (growth) phase in pregnancy for longer than usual.

Following birth, however, hair follicles enter the telogen (shedding) phase once again, during which many women experience accelerated hair loss. This is known as postpartum telogen effluvium.[12] 

As bleaching can be harsh on hair,[13] causing it to become brittle or break, it might make postpartum telogen-related hair loss appear even more extreme. Therefore, it may be sensible to wait until your hair has re-entered the anagen phase to top up those highlights. 

And don’t worry- postpartum hair loss doesn’t last long! In the meantime, supplements can help you feel great and give you a boost, and may even improve the quality of your hair.

The Bottom Line

Pregnancy is a time of great joy, anticipation, and change, but it can cause us some anxiety. We want to know what is safe for our baby, yet conflicting advice can confuse us along the way!

That’s why we’ve clarified some conflicting hair care advice in this article.  So, if you’ve clicked on this article thinking, ‘Can I bleach my hair while pregnant?’ or ‘Can I bleach my hair during the first trimester of my pregnancy?’, our answer is we think it is better to wait until the postpartum post-breastfeeding stage. In the meantime, invest in some indulgent hair masks, relax, and enjoy the impending arrival of your little bundle of joy!

+ 13 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Narayana, S., Krishnaswamy, B. and Patel, D. (2013). Trends in use of hair Dye: A cross-sectional study. International Journal of Trichology, [online] 5(3), p.140. doi:
  2. Guerra-Tapia, A. and Gonzalez-Guerra, E. (2014). Hair Cosmetics: Dyes. Actas Dermo-Sifiliográficas (English Edition), [online] 105(9), pp.833–839. doi:
  3. Caro, R. and Fast, J. (2020). Pregnancy Myths and Practical Tips. American Family Physician, [online] 102(7), pp.420–426. Available at:
  4. Henrotin, J., Picot, C., Bouslama, M., Collot‐Fertey, D., Radauceanu, A., Labro, M., Larroque, B., Roudot, A., Sater, N., Elhkim, M.O. and Lafon, D. (2015). Reproductive disorders in hairdressers and cosmetologists: a meta‐analytical approach. Journal of Occupational Health, [online] 57(6), pp.485–496. doi:
  5. Ooka, T., Horiuchi, S., Shinohara, R., Kojima, R., Akiyama, Y., Miyake, K., Otawa, S., Yokomichi, H. and Yamagata, Z. (2021). Association between Maternal Exposure to Chemicals during Pregnancy and the Risk of Foetal Death: The Japan Environment and Children’s Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, [online] 18(22), p.11748. doi:
  6. Couto, A.C., Ferreira, J.D., Rosa, A.C.S., Pombo-de-Oliveira, M.S. and Koifman, S. (2013). Pregnancy, maternal exposure to hair dyes and hair straightening cosmetics, and early age leukemia. Chemico-Biological Interactions, [online] 205(1), pp.46–52. doi:
  7. (2023). Anticancer Research. [online] Available at:
  8. Jiang, C., Hou, Q., Huang, Y., Ye, J., Qin, X., Zhang, Y., Meng, W., Wang, Q., Jiang, Y., Zhang, H., Li, M., Mo, Z. and Yang, X. (2018). The effect of pre-pregnancy hair dye exposure on infant birth weight: a nested case-control study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, [online] 18(1). doi:
  9. Ding, X.-X., Wu, Y.-L., Xu, S.-J., Zhu, R.-P., Jia, X.-M., Zhang, S.-F., Huang, K., Zhu, P., Hao, J.-H. and Tao, F.-B. (2014). Maternal anxiety during pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Journal of Affective Disorders, [online] 159, pp.103–110. doi:
  10. Madnani, N. (2013). Hair cosmetics. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, [online] 79, p.654. Available at:
  11. Grymowicz, M., Rudnicka, E., Podfigurna, A., Napierala, P., Smolarczyk, R., Smolarczyk, K. and Meczekalski, B. (2020). Hormonal Effects on Hair Follicles. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, [online] 21(15), p.5342. doi:
  12. Gizlenti, S. and Ekmekci, T.R. (2013). The changes in the hair cycle during gestation and the post-partum period. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, [online] 28(7), pp.878–881. doi:
  13. Bloch, L.D., Valente, N.Y.S., Escudeiro, C.C., Sarruf, F.D. and Velasco, M.V.R. (2020). Chemical and physical damage affect the perceptions of hair attributes: A quantitative sensory assessment by a trained panel. Journal of Sensory Studies, [online] 36(1). doi:
Elesa Zehndorfer

Medically reviewed by:

Melissa Mitri

Dr. Elesa Zehndorfer is an academic, a multi-award-winning writer, a Pilates coach and personal trainer, and author of five titles for a globally leading academic publisher. Dr. Zehndorfer earned her PhD from the School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences at Loughborough University in 2006. Her research interests focus on the application of physiology theory to both orthodox, and seemingly disparate, fields (such as finance, politics & management).

Medically reviewed by:

Melissa Mitri

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