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Is it risky to dye your hair while pregnant and breastfeeding?

Evaluations and alternatives.

We live in a polluted world, unfortunately. We eat polluted food, we breathe polluted air. When we are about to become mothers, this thought worries us even more, because we are aware that with our choices we can not only harm ourselves, but also and above all the life that grows within us.

During pregnancy we are more careful, and even in the aesthetic field we select products and services with greater care.

Is it safe to dye your hair while pregnant and breastfeeding?

Today, unlike in the past, there are many choices. The market offers a lot, but who can we really trust?

The European regulation for the safety of cosmetics ( ) lists the threshold presence of a list of elements prohibited in dyes, as they are considered potentially toxic; attention must however be paid, there are some substances which, although allowed, can cause allergies or annoying intolerances. If applicable, the manufacturer is obliged to state this in the information material. 

I therefore suggest, as a first precaution, to check and read the labels carefully.

In parallel with the standards, there are many scientific researches that have explored the topic, evaluating whether and how the use of permanent (chemical) dyes can cause the onset of diseases. Among many, I report the British Medical Journal, an academic medical journal published by the British Medical Association (BMA), which you can consult here:

This study analyzed and tried to understand if a continuous use of permanent hair dyes and the onset of tumors are somehow related. Approximately 120,000 women participated in the study and, although the conclusion is that there were no direct relationships between use and cancer risk, and related mortality, “…conflicting results in stratified analyzes by natural hair color warrant further investigation…”.

 So to have total certainty, we will have to wait for these further investigations, and related further tests: research is - fortunately - always in flux, and what is true today may not necessarily be true tomorrow.

This is valid in all fields. The REACh Regulation, for example, is the instrument that the European Union has introduced to ensure the correct and safe management of chemical substances in textiles. And it is one of the regulatory references that we too at MHUG consult when we have to choose new fabrics. This tool has been updated over time, the thresholds have become more restrictive. 

Therefore, where there is no certainty… be careful!

So what to do?

How to reduce the risks in using chemical dyes?

The National Health Service of the United Kingdom (NHS), on the site writes:

You may decide to wait to dye your hair until after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, when the risk of chemicals harming the baby is much lower. If you're coloring your hair yourself, you can further reduce the risk making sure you:

  • Wear gloves
  • Reduce laying to the minimum indicated
  • Work in a well-ventilated room
  • Rinse the scalp well after applying the dye

He also specifies that reviving the color on the strands reduces any risk, as the chemical substances are absorbed by the hair and not by the scalp.


Are there any alternatives to using chemical dyes?

Following the fashion of the moment, the first alternative would be…not to dye them at all! Once gray was synonymous with premature aging, now we see 20-year-olds with chemically created silver hair and beautiful 40-year-olds flaunting their natural whiteness.

Are there alternatives for those who don't want to give up coloring, like me for example?

I speak from direct experience: having a very sensitive and reactive skin, I have always suffered from skin irritations and rashes (so many itching in the head!) I have experienced, made disasters over the years; I left the house with improbable colors… before arriving, by pure chance, much later, to discover Beautilicious Delights, an all-female company created by Rozalia Chiru, a young and serious entrepreneur who produces, in collaboration with a laboratory specialized in the production of natural cosmetics, a line of organic, healthy and innovative products. This is his website: .

I was immediately struck by his grace (in a world where the one who screams the loudest often seems to win), his competence and total dedication to his work. I asked her for advice and have been her client ever since. 

I state, and I would like to specify, that there is no commercial agreement, I am only genuinely enthusiastic because I speak of it from experience.

Are herbal dyes safe?

 In the recommendations indicated above, the NSH specifies that semi-permanent pure vegetable dyes, such as henna, are a safe alternative.

But is it really so?

Actually no. Natural is not synonymous with non-toxic, and therefore thinking that a dye herb is necessarily safe is not true.

Let's see how the process with dyeing herbs works: unlike the chemical dye, the vegetable dye wraps around the hair shaft, and colors thanks to the action of a pigment present in what is commonly called "henna" (Lawsonia inermis). To be clear, that red pigment, the only one that covers white hair and that is also used in combination with other herbs to obtain a wide range of brown colors, and more!

This pigment, Lawsone, when applied as a batter, penetrates the scalp (and therefore, into our body). Bad news: laswsone itself is toxic. Don't be alarmed though, parsley is also a poisonous herb, yet we eat it, as well as many others! To establish its toxicity, it is necessary to evaluate some parameters, such as the level of concentration and the time of exposure to the substance: if in correct doses, Lawsone is absolutely harmless. Let's go deeper to understand up to what doses it is not harmful.

To date there is no law that regulates the percentage of Lawson admitted, we are stuck in a 2013 study (updated last year), drawn up by the scientific committee of the European Commission, which specifically deals with the henna topic, “Opinion on Lawsonia inermis (hemma) ”, for those wishing to learn more, this is the link . 

Here is a summary in Italian

The study states that using henna is safe , stating that such it is if the % of Lawsone is at max 1.4%.

And what about quantity? 

When formulated and applied as stated in functions and uses, e.g. 100 g of henna powder mixed with 300 ml of boiling water, henna is considered safe for the consumer.

Which is great for us, 100g is more than necessary to color a long hair.

So it would seem that everything is safe, right? Unfortunately not, let's remember that since there are no legal constraints, companies actually have the freedom to regulate themselves as they see fit, and unfortunately there are always those on the market who take advantage of it.

This is why it becomes important for our safety to rely on those who, in a transparent and documented manner, declare what they sell, what are the potentially toxic substances present and what are therefore the respective potential risks. 

In the case of dyeing herbs, every producer and trader has the ethical duty to check and verify that this percentage of 1.4% is never exceeded.

In the jungle of the organic and natural market, Beautilicious Delights stands out clearly, offering an example of great seriousness: it informs the consumer, publishes the results of the tests that are regularly carried out on a sample basis on the lots of dyeing herbs for sale and offers scrupulous personalized advice. Because Rozalia cares about her job and wants to do it well.

Here is a concrete example:

The products are organic, certified by Ecocert as Cosmos compliant, the standard that defines the criteria that companies must respect to guarantee consumers that their cosmetics are organic or natural and made with the highest feasible sustainability practices. Another guarantee for us consumers, for our health and also for the environment.

Once you find the herbs safe, the question is: do they really cover gray hair?

The answer is yes. But the result depends on the type of herb used, where it comes from and how it is applied. 

It is possible, through well studied mixes, to obtain any shade starting from white hair. Therefore, the belief that dyeing herbs can only generate red or coppery hair should be dispelled.

This is Rosalia. When she got pregnant and shared her joy on social media, it seemed only natural to invite her to try one of our Mei Tais. A bit like what had happened to me in the world of dyeing herbs, Rosalia had also had negative experiences in "our world", so she abandoned the idea of ​​wearing her beautiful Luna. Despite the initial and understandable skepticism, he decided to try again, and his feedback, which he wanted to share, filled us with joy. 

If you are interested in the world of herbal dyes as a (very valid!) alternative to chemistry, this is her ig page @beautilicious_delights_rozalya 

To learn more about the hair cycle phases:

If you want to learn more about what happens to our hair during pregnancy, you can learn more here, in Rozalia's blog you will find the various stages of growth well explained:


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