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Pregnancy hair care

How does pregnancy affect your hair and are dyes, perms and straighteners safe?

Posted: 5 April 2006
by ThinkBaby

Being pregnant may require some changes to your usual hair-care regime, yes, it's those pesky and indispensable hormones again. Not only may the condition of your hair change, meaning you have to change how you treat it, but the many women who rely on regular treatments to keep their hair looking good will have legitimate safety concerns for their pregnancy, so read on.

Is it safe to dye, perm or (chemically) straighten hair when pregnant?
Doctors used to always recommend that you wait until after the first trimester to have your hair dyed, permed or straightened and some women still do. There's no evidence that, in the amounts used in hairdyeing, the chemicals in dyes and perms are harmful to the fetus, although some of the chemicals have been shown to be harmful to animal fetuses at much higher levels. Likewise, however, there's no proof that hairdying and perming is completely safe and some of the chemicals used are absorbed through the scalp (not the hair shafts) into the bloodstream.

On balance, given the amounts used, it probably is safe to have your hair dyed every couple of months, but no-one can tell you this for sure and many women decide to err on the side of caution. If you feel uncomfortable or worried about it then either don't do it, or check with your hairdresser for what kind of chemicals they use: Vegetable dyes may have synthetic versions of some of the same potentially harmful chemicals as other dyes, so aren't necessarily safer, Henna, on the other hand, is considered very safe.

If you are worried about exposing your fetus to the chemicals in the first trimester then you can either try to get through to the second trimester without any dyeing, or go for highlights: with highlights less of the scalp is exposed to the chemicals, so fewer toxins will be absorbed into the body.

So that deals with safety for the fetus, but what will the results look like? The pregnancy hormones running through your body can change the way your hair reacts to the chemical agents in dyes, straighteners and perms, so you need to be aware that your hair may take colour far more quickly than usual, or your hair may frizz, rather than curl or straighten. You can do a strand test to check for how the colour takes, or just keep a close eye on the process, but with perming and straightening it might be as well to opt for a new cut instead.

How does pregnancy affect the condition of your hair
The surge in hormones flooding your body in pregnancy does affect the condition of hair for many women, but it doesn't necessarily affect everyone in the same way. Some women may find that their hair becomes very dry, others may find that their hair becomes excessively greasy and others will have the luck of enjoying luxuriously shiny, full and thick locks during pregnancy. Let's hope you're in the last group!

If not, then you may need to adjust your hair-care regime to cope with the new conditions. If your hair is dry then try switching to a moisturising shampoo and conditioner and using an occasional deep-conditioning treatment. For completely natural care you can try massaging olive or jojoba oil into the hair and scalp and leaving it for twenty minutes (or longer) before shampooing. If your hair is very greasy then wash it with a mild shampoo to prevent stripping the natural oils from the scalp and prompting yet more oil production.

The reason why hair often looks thicker and fuller during pregnancy is that pregnancy hormones prevent the usual amount of hair loss occuring naturally every day, meaning you should leave fewer hairs around the house and on your partner's clothes too. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and after birth, or after nursing, you may notice that you lose a lot of hair suddenly. There's no need to panic about suddenly going bald though, your head is simply shedding all the build-up of hair that it didn't shed throughout pregnancy and getting rid of all the older hair. Your hair won't be as thick as it was during pregnancy, but you will have new growth leaving you with your usual thickness.

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