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Breastfeeding and Hair Dye: What You Need to Know!

As a licensed cosmetologist and a former breastfeeding mom, I get a lot of questions about whether you can color your hair while breastfeeding. My pregnant and new mom clients usually want to know if hair color is safe for breastfeeding moms and what dye is best to use.

In this article, I will provide you with the information you need regarding breastfeeding and hair dye. 

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Can You Dye Your Hair While Breastfeeding?

If you are concerned about how hair color might affect you while breastfeeding, your concerns are valid. After all, hair color can contain some pretty toxic chemicals. Such as ammonia, paraphenylenediamine, titanium dioxide and sodium lauryl sulfate to name a few.

Is Hair Color Safe for Breastfeeding Moms?

We are regularly advised to be very careful about what we are exposing ourselves to while breastfeeding. This is because some substances can enter a mother’s blood stream and end up in her breast milk. Have you ever had to pump and dump after a series of prescribed medications? 

Even so, there are alternative hair dyes that do not contain such toxic ingredients that should be safe to use while breastfeeding and I’ll be sharing some of those options with you further down.

When Can You Dye Your Hair After Pregnancy?

As long as you are using non-toxic hair color and are in a well-ventilated room also being careful not to allow the hair dye to soak into your skin – there should be no reason why you would need to wait a specific amount of time to color your hair after pregnancy or when breastfeeding.

Will Dying Your Hair Affect Breastfeeding?

There is no evidence that hair color, hair products or hair treatments have any effect on a nursing mother’s milk. Even though small amounts of hair color may get on your skin, only small amounts of the chemicals are absorbed into your skin. Meaning that is unlikely it will affect your breast milk.

However, if you’d rather err on the side of caution, limiting your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals while breastfeeding is still a good choice. If you do decide to dye your hair while breastfeeding, you could take an extra precaution and wait a couple hours before nursing your baby again. 

Bleaching Your Hair While Breastfeeding 

There are a couple of things to consider when bleaching your hair while breastfeeding. For one, you will want to avoid on scalp bleach lighteners that can penetrate into the skin. This not only could seep into your bloodstream, but can also cause chemicals burns.

Using bleach in foils to lighten your hair should be perfectly safe as long you are also in a well ventilated room. 

Summary

A breastfeeding mother can safely dye her hair as long she is aware that there are some toxic chemicals in most hair dyes. It is best to use a non-toxic hair color in a well-ventilated room and avoid getting the color on your skin as much as possible. Although there is no evidence that hair dye affects breast milk, erring on the side of caution is probably best. Bleaching your hair while breastfeeding is ok when using the lightener in foils and avoiding contact with the scalp.

Best Hair Dye to Use While Breastfeeding 

When choosing a hair dye to use while breastfeeding, opt for an ammonia free hair color. Ammonia is typically going to be the most toxic ingredient found in hair color. 

If you need to cover gray roots, you will want to use an ammonia free permanent hair dye like this one at Amazon. 

For moms who just want to refresh their existing hair color and add shine to that dull postpartum hair, try this ammonia free, deposit only shampoo color tint. 

P.S. These color gels shampoos are what I would regularly use behind the chair as a hairdresser to tone and refresh my client’s faded color in between color appointments.

A semi-permanent hair dye, like these are also a good hair color option for breastfeeding moms who just want a quick change.

However, take note because a semi-permanent hair color will only deposit color darker than the original color you are starting with. It will not lighten your hair.

What Hair Products to Avoid While Breastfeeding 

Are there any other hair products a breastfeeding mom should avoid? Possibly. Even though there is little to no research on what hair products are safe for nursing mothers, there are certain hair products that contain chemicals that are generally recommended to avoid when breastfeeding.

Chemical Straightening Treatments 

It is common for some chemical hair straightening treatments to contain formaldehyde. If you are unsure whether the chemical hair straightener you are considering using has formaldehyde, it may also be listed as methylene glycol, formalin, methylene oxide, paraform, thiazolidinecarboxylic acid. 

Keratin treatments, Brazilian blowouts, relaxers and other chemical hair straightening treatments should be avoided while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Instead, opt for a professional flat iron that will give you the silky-smooth hair you desire without the exposure to chemicals. This CHI flat iron is my professional recommendation.

Perms

Perms also contain variations of formaldehyde type ingredients along with ammonia. These chemical agents also have the potential to be harmful to a nursing or pregnant mother.

Another reason to avoid these hair treatments when pregnant or breastfeeding is the often strong and offensive smell they emit.

Perms, straighteners and relaxers in particular often come with a very strong sulfur smell, which could cause extreme illness for a mother’s sensitive nose.

To still enjoy the look of curly, textured hair while pregnant or breastfeeding, use a clamp-free curling wand like this one Bed Head makes.

Some Shampoos

Many self care products contain phthalates such as certain shampoos and conditioners, cosmetics and even fabrics. They are everywhere and we are being exposed to them (mostly unknowingly) all day, everyday.

Accumulated exposure to phthalates have many health consequences for humans. Such as altered development of sex organs, damage to the kidney, liver and lungs as well as low sperm count.

My hair care products recommendation for nursing and pregnant women is Surface Hair.

They create environmentally sustainable, phthalate, sulfate and paraban free products that are natural and simple. Surface Hair is the hair care product line I used on all of my clients behind the chair for many years!

Summary

A breastfeeding mother should attempt to avoid most chemical hair treatments, especially those that contain toxic ingredients such as formaldehyde and ammonia. The accumulation and constant exposure to phthalates and other similar compounds could also be damaging to nursing mother’s health. 

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The Bottom Line

Coloring or bleaching your hair while breastfeeding is generally safe as there is no proof or recorded studies done that have determined otherwise. However, many and most hair dyes, hair care products and chemical hair treatments do contain harmful and sometimes toxic ingredients. 

Avoiding prolonged exposure and contact with these substances is most likely the best route to take while breastfeeding. Even though small amounts of chemicals are absorbed through the skin, they can still enter the blood stream and possibly your breast milk. 

References: 

  1. Phthalates and Dehp – Healthcare Without Harm

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