Can I Dye My Hair While Breastfeeding?

Woman getting her hair dyed

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Your usual self-care routines may have taken a backseat when you were pregnant. Most people know to avoid using retinol or getting Botox while expecting, but once you have the baby, you’ll be able to do things you avoided during pregnancy. You can eat raw fish, drink champagne, take Advil, and dye your hair. In fact, dyeing your hair is widely considered to be safe during both the pregnancy and breastfeeding stages.

“As hair dye is applied to the hair and not the scalp, if used appropriately, very little, if any, would enter the bloodstream of the lactating person,” says Amy Goh, MSN, Certified Nurse-Midwife. “Therefore, it's unlikely that hair dye would have any effect on the breastfeeding baby."

With a newborn baby, it can be hard for parents to take time for themselves. It can also be a challenge to remember who you were before becoming a parent. Dyeing your hair may allow you to remember the rituals you were accustomed to before giving birth. It can also feel like a chore that you don't have the time or energy to do anymore. Either way, it's your choice.

Keep reading as experts explain why it’s generally considered safe to dye your hair while breastfeeding.

What Is Hair Dye?

Hair dye comes in various forms—temporary, semi-permanent, and permanent. There are also differing techniques on how to apply hair color.

At a salon, a single process is when one shade of dye is applied over the entire head. Getting highlights, also called balayage, is when certain pieces or strands of hair are dyed to lighten the color. Root touch-ups are typically for covering gray hair that has newly grown out.

Be aware that some “natural” dyes like henna or vegetable dyes may be permanent. “I strongly recommend against using henna or other forms of ‘natural dye’ unless you are content with a truly permanent change,” says Aaron Bradford, a colorist at Cédric Salon in New York City. “These are near impossible to remove from the hair afterwards, even with lightener or bleach. They will not be removed unless the hair is cut off."

Using traditional hair dye is safe for those who are breastfeeding, so there is little benefit in trying to use an alternative hair dye that may cause damage to your hair. "Attempting to chemically remove some of these products may cause irreversible damage," warns Bradford.

Is It Safe to Dye Your Hair While Breastfeeding?

It is safe for those who are breastfeeding to dye their hair. “Although we don’t have extensive data on hair dying products and their passage into breastmilk, it is generally thought to be safe to dye one’s hair while breastfeeding,” says Ayelet Kaznelson, IBCLC, an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant and a Labor Support Doula.

Very small amounts of chemicals in hair dye, if any, actually pass into the bloodstream. Therefore, there is minimal risk of harm to your nursing baby. “Hair dye does not enter the bloodstream, therefore it does not enter breast milk,” says Dr. Sandy Dorcelus, DO, an OB/GYN physician at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island. “There have not been any studies to show any concerning correlation.”

Furthermore, as with some things like alcohol or caffeine consumption while breastfeeding, there is no recommended period of time needed between dyeing your hair and nursing. “There would be no reason to delay breastfeeding your baby after dyeing your hair,” says nurse Goh.

With breastfeeding, the benefits greatly outweigh any small risks posed by getting your hair color done. “There are no restrictions,” says Dr. Dorcelus. “What’s important is to provide your baby with the many health benefits that breastfeeding provides.”

“There would be no reason to delay breastfeeding your baby after dyeing your hair,” adds nurse Goh.

Dyeing your hair while breastfeeding is safe, especially if you choose to get highlights, a process where dye does not come in contact with the scalp. Since the color is only applied to the hair shaft, there is no way for any chemicals to enter your bloodstream or breast milk.

Every breastfeeding journey is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about dyeing your hair while breastfeeding.

Safety Precautions for Dyeing Your Hair While Breastfeeding

“Highlights are a great option because there is no physical contact between the product and the skin, and therefore, no possibility of chemical absorption,” says Bradford. To maintain the health of your hair and keep your color looking vibrant longer, Bradford recommends using a shampoo and conditioner specifically for color-treated hair, as well as one that is free of parabens and sulfates.

The safest way to dye your hair while breastfeeding, Dr. Dorelus says, would be to avoid “products that contain harsh chemicals such as ammonia.”

Many salons offer this type of hair dye. “Consult with a professional, first and foremost, for a proper and clean application. At Cedric salon, we exclusively use L’Oréal ammonia-free color for the healthiest results, be it on a mother or not,” says Bradford.

If you are skipping the salon in favor of coloring your own hair at home, there are some things to keep in mind. “Remember to wear gloves and not leave the dye in your hair for longer than the manufacturer instructs,” nurse Goh says. “Due to the potential risk of inhalation of toxic chemicals, it's important to dye your hair in a well-ventilated room or outdoors.”

Additionally, do not dye your hair with the baby in the room since there will be a strong odor that might make it hard for an infant to breathe.

What To Do If You Don’t Want To Dye Your Hair While Breastfeeding

Dyeing your hair while breastfeeding is a personal choice. It is definitely not required. New parents have a lot on their plate—looking camera-ready may not be high on your priority list, and that is okay!

"A baby doesn’t care about the color of your hair, whether dyed or not,” says Dr. Dorcelus. “What they care about is milk that is always available. Breast milk provides the right amount of nutrients and is easily digested. Breast-fed babies have been shown to have a lower incidence of ear infections, respiratory tract infections, allergic diseases, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).”

A Word From Verywell

It is safe for breastfeeding parents to dye their hair while nursing. There is no scientific correlation that hair dye passes through breast milk or poses a harm to infants. Highlights are a great option, as dye only touches the hair, and not the skin. If you choose to forgo hair dye while breastfeeding, that is a personal choice. Remember to talk to your OBGYN, midwife, or healthcare provider for more information about dyeing your hair while breastfeeding.

 

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