Can I Use Hair Toner While Pregnant?

Woman in salon

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When you first find out you’re expecting, it seems like there is an endless list of do’s and don’ts as far as what to eat, what activities to stop doing, and what is considered safe for both you and the baby.

If you had an in-depth beauty routine before getting pregnant, you may need to re-think some of your go-to treatments. Love getting Botox? It’s a no-go. Use retinol? It needs to take a backseat on your shelf. But luckily, there are beauty treatments and products that are safe to use while pregnant, and hair toner is one of them.

“Hair toners, in general, are considered to be safe in pregnancy as they do not contain high levels of toxic chemicals,” says Sally Sartin, MD, a women's health expert at K Health.

Since hair toners are usually only applied to the hair for around 15 to 20 minutes, there is very minimal contact with the scalp, and therefore, minimal risk of any harmful substance getting into your bloodstream and subsequently to the fetus.

Keep reading to see why applying hair toner is safe to do during pregnancy.

What Is Hair Toner?

Hair toner is literally a product that tones your hair, meaning it can slightly alter or change the color of your strands. Many people who get highlights or balayage use a toner to prevent brassiness or yellow undertones.

Otherwise known as a gloss, hair toners help promote shine and vibrancy in the hair. It’s the equivalent of a deep conditioner, but instead of delivering moisture, it helps to regulate the shade of your hair color. Tinted shampoos, like those that are purple and designed for blonde hair, are also a form of toner.

Is It Safe to Use Hair Toner During Pregnancy?

It is safe for a pregnant person to use toner while expecting. “There are no risks of using toner while pregnant,” says stylist Nubia Rëzo, owner of Rëzo Salon in NYC, and founder of Rëzo Haircare.

Rëzo says the average person will leave a toner on for between 15 and 25 minutes. Despite the fact that the product is applied to the hair, and a small amount will touch the scalp, there is little, if any, cause for concern.

"Chemicals on the hair can go through the scalp into the bloodstream,” Rëzo says. “The skin is the biggest organ in our body and it has the ability to absorb everything.” Luckily, since toners are not made from harsh chemicals and the application time is short, there is little threat.

This is not the case with treatments like keratin, which can contain ingredients like ammonia and formaldehyde, and need to sit on the hair and scalp for hours.

On the other hand, dyeing your hair when pregnant, especially getting highlights where the dye doesn't touch the scalp, is considered safe. “Usually, the amount of chemicals you are exposed to when dying your hair is very low,” says Dr. Sartin. “This is true whether you choose a semi-permanent or a permanent dye.”

If you want to be extra safe and cautious, there are a few precautions you can consider before stepping foot in a salon.

“Consider waiting until your second trimester of pregnancy to color your hair when the risk of harming the baby is much lower,” says Dr. Sartin. “Also, consider cutting down the time the toner is left in the hair and rinsing your hair thoroughly after its application."

If you are using hair dye or hair toner at home, be sure to take proper steps to limit any risk. “Wearing gloves, carefully following the directions on the package, and being in a well-ventilated area can also reduce the risk of exposure,” says Dr. Sartin.

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

Benefits of Using Hair Toner During Pregnancy

Since this beauty treatment is safe to use during pregnancy, the benefits are mainly mental. You may get a confidence boost from looking and feeling more polished, with shiny, smooth hair.

Since there is an extremely low risk to the unborn baby, getting your hair treated with a hair toner can help you relax, recharge, and allow you to indulge in some self-care during your pregnancy.

Safety Precautions

Most experts unanimously agree that using something like hair toner is safe to do during pregnancy. “Hair toner usually contains some type of semipermanent hair dye. While human data is relatively sparse, animal data provides some reassurance that even high doses of chemicals found in hair dye do not cause serious birth defects,” says Anate Aelion Brauer, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist, OBGYN, and IVF director at Shady Grove Fertility-New York.

As Dr. Brauer points out, there is limited data for the use of certain beauty treatments during pregnancy, since most patients are not willing to risk any harm to their baby. However, you can still make informed decisions based on ingredients and animal studies. Timing also matters. Since most development happens up until about 20 weeks of pregnancy, waiting until the second or third trimester is likely safest,” says Dr. Brauer.

Another thing to keep in mind is that when you’re pregnant, a lot of things in your body are changing. Hormone levels fluctuate, leading to different effects on your skin and hair. “You may notice certain changes to your hair while you are pregnant, such as it being more or less absorbent, frizzy, or even reacting differently to when it is colored or permed,” says Dr. Sartin. “It’s always a good idea to speak to your hairdresser first for advice if you are considering using a toner in pregnancy."

A Word From Verywell

You can use hair toner throughout your pregnancy since it contains little, if any, harsh chemicals and is applied to the hair for a short amount of time before being rinsed out. But it's always a good idea to be in touch with a healthcare provider about any personal care products you use during pregnancy. Talk with your midwife or OB/GYN if you have any further questions about hair toner or any other hair dyes while you are expecting.

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.
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  2. Takkouche B, Etminan M, Montes-Martínez A. Personal use of hair dyes and risk of cancer: a meta-analysisJAMA. 2005;293(20):2516. doi:10.1001/jama.293.20.2516

  3. Caro R, Fast J. Pregnancy myths and practical tipsAm Fam Physician. 2020;102(7):420-426.

  4. Sodhi VK, Sausker WF. Dermatoses of pregnancy. Am Fam Physician. 1988;37(1):131-138.

By Dory Zayas
Dory Zayas is a freelance beauty, fashion, and parenting writer. She spent over a decade writing for celebrity publications and since having her daughter in 2019, has been published on sites including INSIDER and Well+Good.