Can I use hair dye and fake tan during pregnancy?

We give you the lowdown on which hair dyes and fake tanning products are safe to use during your pregnancy.

Pregnancy brings so many physical changes that it’s easy to feel as if there’s no way to keep your appearance the way you want it. If you dye your hair or use fake tan, you might be worried about the potential risks of continuing to do this during pregnancy. Here’s some advice and information on which products are safe, and how to use them.

Hair dye during pregnancy
Scientific studies have shown that very few of the chemicals in hair dyes are actually absorbed by the body, and there are no reports of hair dye having an effect on an unborn child. Good news for those of us with hair that isn’t 100% natural! That said, if you want to be cautious you can wait until the second trimester when your baby is less vulnerable.

Which hair dyes are safe
Most hair dyes available in shops are safe to use, as long as you aren’t using them too often. Remember to follow the instructions and don’t leave the dye on for too long. Also wear gloves to minimise your exposure to the chemicals and use the products in a well-ventilated room.
Vegetable based hair dyes are a good alternative to chemical dyes if you want to be extra-safe. Henna is a semi-permanent vegetable dye that has been around for years and is considered safe by doctors. It is messy to use, though, and if it’s not pure henna it may also contain chemicals.

Fake tanning products
Fake tan is becoming increasingly popular as we learn more about the dangers of sunbathing and using sun beds. When you’re pregnant, your skin is more sensitive and you may burn easily, so be careful in the sun and always apply sunscreen. The active ingredient in fake tan is Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which is non-toxic and reacts with the outer layer of your skin to create a coloured pigment. These skin cells are already dead and will shed quickly, which is why you need to re-apply the fake tan. DHA isn’t absorbed by the body, so it shouldn’t be harmful to your baby.

What to watch out for
Fake tan is available in shops as mousses, creams, wipes and sprays. Beauty salons and spas also offer all-over fake tan body sprays. The problem with using the sprays at home and in the salon is that you might inhale some of the spray. While you are pregnant, it’s better to use the products that can be rubbed or wiped on.

If you’ve used fake tan products before, it’s a good idea to stick to the ones you know. If you choose a new product, make sure you do a test on a small patch of skin in case you have an allergic reaction to it.

Things to avoid
You should avoid taking tanning pills or injections. These are available online, but are not legal and have not been approved by doctors. Fake tan pills contain high amounts of beta-carotene or canthaxanthin, commonly used as food colouring, and can be toxic to your baby. These pills may also damage your eyes or increase the risk of contracting hepatitis. They should not be used by anyone, let alone pregnant women.

Keeping your hair and skin looking the way you want them to is important during pregnancy, when there are so many other physical changes to get used to. Do you have any products that you can recommend to other Moms-to-be?
BabyGroup says…
This article has been checked by Dr Nomathamsanqa Matebese, Gynaecologist. A member of the BabyGroup Medical Council.

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