Have you ever thought about using hair removal creams or dying your hair during pregnancy, but you were not sure if it was safe to do so? These are two topics that doctors get asked the most by women during appointments when it comes to the use of beauty products. During my pregnancy, I had so many questions concerning the safety of many of the products that I used on my hair and skin and I would make sure that the beauty products I used wouldn't have any effect on my baby. 

We spoke with Dr. Jessica Shepherd, an OB/GYN at the University of Illinois at Chicago to ask her a few questions about the safety of these types of products during pregnancy. Dr. Shepherd is actively involved in patient care, teaching residents and research at UIC. She is also the Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecology, and she specializes in endometriosis, fibroids and surgical approaches to these diseases. She is an advocate for educating women on their options for minimally invasive surgery.  She aims to increase her patients’ awareness of their choices and alternatives. We asked Dr. Shepherd a few questions about using hair removal creams during pregnancy and also dying your hair during pregnancy.

Photo Courtesy of @iamjamesanthony

Is it okay to use hair removal products during pregnancy?

Shepherd: “For hair removal during pregnancy, there are options from waxing, shaving or use of hair removal lotions. When it comes to hair removal cream and depilatory methods, the real concern is the type of ingredients that are in the products. Although it might only be used on the legs, some of the chemicals can have a strong odor.  Some of them contain barium sulfide powder and also calcium thioglycolate. However, these products used in small doses may not cause harm to the baby.  To play it safe, try to avoid products with suspect ingredients, including dyes, and chemicals.  Also only use these products on the extremities and not in the pelvic area as they can be harmful and cause irritation.”

When is it okay to bleach or dye your hair during pregnancy?

Shepherd: “To minimize potential harm to a developing fetus, some experts advise against coloring hair in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (the first trimester), however, there are no studies that say it's harmful to the baby. The assumption has been that harmful chemicals can be absorbed into your bloodstream.  The chemicals found in dyes or bleach is not highly toxic.  A small amount can penetrate, but not enough to pose harm to your developing baby. If you are going to dye your hair or bleach your hair yourself, make sure you use gloves and follow directions carefully and make sure that you're thoroughly rinsing after application of hair dyes and don't do it excessively. Still concerned?  There are alternatives to use during pregnancy.  You can use semi-permanent hair dyes or henna or don't dye your hair at all.”

Are you pregnant and have questions about what products are safe to use for hair during pregnancy?