THE TALK: Pregnancy and Hair Coloring
WHAT TO SAY WHEN YOUR CLIENT ASKS:
“I’m pregnant, can I color my hair?”
There are various conflicting or inconclusive studies about hair dye and associations with risk. The upshot: When it comes to pregnancy specifically, hair color has not been proven harmful, nor has it been proven safe. So, when there’s evidence of zero, what you don’t say matters more than what you do say.
Don’t advise one way or the other. Let physicians do that. Every pregnancy is different and carries different risks. Ask your client if she has spoken to her health care professional. Suggest she do so, since this is an individual, personal decision. Say, “Let’s follow what your physician advises.”
Know what medical professionals are saying. According to the Mayo Clinic, “When you use hair color, a small amount can penetrate your skin. Generally, however, the dye isn't thought to pose harm to a developing baby.” According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), “Hair color is probably safe to use during pregnancy because so little dye is absorbed through the skin. However, it is still important to be cautious.”
Acknowledge that it isn’t just about color. Pregnancy can cause sensitivity to smells. Always service clients who are expecting in well-ventilated areas, and encourage them to alert you if smells bother them in any way. When clients first raise the issue, say, “I have a new odor-free color that will work great, if you decide to continue coloring your hair.”
Know what your supplier says, and stay abreast of the latest studies. According to Procter & Gamble: “If a woman normally colors her hair and has safely used hair colorants before, there is no scientifically established reason for her to stop coloring her hair during pregnancy…However, if she is worried about using a hair colorant during pregnancy, do not convince her to continue coloring her hair if she is still worried, for whatever reason.”
IF YOUR CLIENT DECIDEDS TO CONTINUE WITH COLORING:
1. Err on the side of caution. Because the first trimester is the most critical time for chemical exposure of any kind, most physicians advise against using hair color during the first trimester. You should do likewise.
2. Recognize that the body changes in many ways during pregnancy, so always do a patch test, even if you’ve been coloring the client’s hair for years.
3. Avoid touching the scalp with color. Use barrier creams and let your client know you are doing so. Tell your client, “I can avoid touching your scalp with the hair color, which is another reason you should not try coloring at home.”
4. Offer alternatives, such as semi-permanent colorants, vegetable dyes or off-the-scalp highlights.