Can I Bleach My Hair While Pregnant?

Pregnant woman with roots growing in

Lars Zahner / EyeEm / Getty Images

In your efforts to keep your growing baby safe, you've dropped your second cup of morning coffee and stopped using retinol cream in the evenings. When you get a text about your upcoming hair color appointment you booked prior to finding out you were pregnant, it leaves you wondering if it's safe to have your hair bleached when pregnant.

You can feel free to keep your appointment on the books because it is most likely safe for you to bleach your hair during pregnancy. While it's suggested you wait until the second trimester, there's nothing stopping you so long as your healthcare provider is on board. We tapped experts to find out what you need to know about bleaching your hair when pregnant.

Hair-Bleaching While Pregnant

Not much research has been done on using hair dye while pregnant, but it is generally considered safe because only a small amount gets absorbed into your skin during the dying process.

You may want to consider waiting until your second trimester or later to dye your hair when the risk of miscarriage is lower. Or, you may decide to skip hair bleaching while pregnant in favor of some alternatives. "The risk to an infant is unlikely, however, ‘unlikely’ might not be good enough for some," says Lisa Masterson, MD, a nationally-renowned board-certified OB/GYN.

Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about bleaching your hair while pregnant.

Is It Safe for Baby?

It is unlikely that the minimal amount of dye absorbed into your scalp will have any effect on your growing fetus. "The research on hair dyes and treatment chemicals in pregnancy has always been quite limited but most indicates they are relatively safe to use during pregnancy," says Dr. Masterson.

Benefits of Bleaching Your Hair While Pregnant

There are no real benefits of bleaching your hair while pregnant. If you normally bleach and want to touch up your roots, or if you really want a new look, you might get a confidence boost from it. But other than that, bleaching your hair has no specific benefits.

Safety Precautions

If you decide to bleach your hair while pregnant, there are some safety precautions to keep in mind.

Bleach in a Well-Ventilated Area

You should always bleach your hair in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves. During pregnancy, your risk of fainting is higher so open those windows and doors.

Using bare hands to bleach would allow more of it to be absorbed into your skin, which may not be safe for the baby. Plus, it can burn your skin or cause discoloration.

If you don't have much experience bleaching your hair yourself, consider leaving it to the pros and booking an appointment at your trusted salon.

Do a Patch Test

Even if you have bleached your hair before, it might be a good idea to test for allergies by applying a small amount to your inner elbow 48 hours before bleaching. Allergies can show up at any time, and you don't want to be dealing with a reaction while pregnant and trying to figure out which medicines are safe.

Have a Professional Do It

Go to the salon to get your hair bleached rather than doing it yourself at home. This can help to reduce the risk of anything getting absorbed into your scalp, which is the only way it could get to your baby. "If hair bleach is applied properly, it ideally won’t penetrate your skin, so the toxins won’t affect your body in any way," notes Monica Davis, a professional hairstylist and the founder of the Hair By Monique blog. 

Rinse Well and Don't Keep it on too Long

Make sure that bleach only stays on your hair as long as the package directions say. Don't keep it on longer, even if you want a lighter shade. After bleaching, be sure that the product is completely rinsed out.

If you want to get a lighter shade of blonde, bleach your hair on separate, successive occasions. Each time, only leave it on your hair as long as the package says to.

Wait Until 12 Weeks

Bleaching your hair does allow a small amount of chemicals to be absorbed into your scalp. Although this amount is unlikely to affect a fetus, it may be wise to wait to bleach your hair until you start your second trimester of pregnancy. At this point, your fetus is less vulnerable.

Watch Out For Hair Damage

Be aware that bleach may damage your hair even more than usual while you are pregnant. "During pregnancy, women's bodies receive fewer nutrients for hair, nails, and teeth," notes Davis. "Bleaching puts a huge stress on your hair regardless of your current hair health, and combined with pregnancy, it may lead to extensive hair breakage and loss."

Possible Alternatives

If you want to be extra careful, but you still want to change up your hair color, there are a few alternatives you can try. Getting highlights that start a little below your roots is one way to go about it while making sure no dye is absorbed into your skin. "This decreases risk as the bleach is applied is mostly on just the strands of the hair and less so directly on the scalp," notes Dr. Masterson.

Or you can try natural products, such as henna hair dye.

A Word From Verywell

Bleaching your hair during pregnancy is most likely fine. While there isn't much research on it, we do know that a minimal amount of hair dye is absorbed by the skin, and this probably wouldn't affect a fetus. Having a professional bleach your hair will lessen the amount of bleach that touches your scalp, reducing any possible risks even further.

If you would rather not bleach your hair, but you still want lighter locks, consider getting highlights that start a bit after the root or using natural alternatives. If you have any concerns about bleaching your hair while pregnant, always reach out to your healthcare provider.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Is It Safe to Dye My Hair During Pregnancy? American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

  2. Miscarriage. March of Dimes.

  3. Cosmetics Safety Q&A: Hair Dyes. US Food and Drug Administration.

  4. Pregnant and Postpartum Women. Centers on Disease Control and Prevention.

By Elisa Cinelli
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR and Scary Mommy, among others.