Self-care is an important part of any person’s daily life, or it should be. It’s good for both your physical and mental wellbeing. Becoming a mother shouldn’t stop you from taking care of yourself or making time to treat yourself. One of the most popular self-care routines that many women love, is hair styling and treatments. There are many different types of hair treatment to choose from, whether it’s a color, a cut or keratin treatments.
As new parents or as a breastfeeding mom, you may be wondering whether you can dye your hair while breastfeeding, whether it can affect your breast milk supply and whether it’s safe for your breastfed baby to continue breastfeeding after you’ve dyed your hair.
The importance of self-care
Self-care is when you take the time to do things that help you live well and help improve both your physical and mental health. Self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy.
Self-care is especially important for mothers. Becoming a mother adds additional responsibility to a woman’s life and feeling overwhelmed happens all too often. Self-care is highly encouraged and very important for mothers.
The milk supply
Many mothers may be concerned that dyeing their hair may affect their milk supply due to the chemicals in the dye. The good news is, there is no evidence to support these claims. Many breastfeeding mothers all over the world dye their hair every day and there are no reported cases of the milk supply being affected by hair dye.
The need to pump and dump
You may have heard about people needing to pump and dump after certain medications, so you may wonder whether you’ll need to pump and dump after dyeing your hair.
I can assure you that there’s absolutely no need to pump and dump after dyeing your hair and there is absolutely no need to interrupt breastfeeding at all. You can continue breastfeeding as normal. In fact, it’s quite rare for mothers to have to interrupt breastfeeding or having to pump and dump.
The health of your baby
You may worry about your baby’s health and safety after dyeing your hair, after all, hair color can contain toxic chemicals such as ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, paraphenylenediamine, titanium dioxide and sodium lauryl sulfate.
It’s believed that very little chemicals are actually absorbed through the scalp into the bloodstream and then passed through the breastmilk. There have been no reported cases of hair dye affecting breastfed babies.
What does the evidence say?
There are minimal studies and scientific evidence available regarding the safety of hair dyes while breastfeeding, but with the little research there is, it’s believed that very little chemicals are absorbed through the scalp, and very little chemicals reach the bloodstream. With minimal chemicals in the blood stream, there will be minimal chemicals transferred into the breastmilk. There are no reported cases of side effects in infants whose mothers dyed their hair while breastfeeding.
The benefits of breastfeeding greatly outweigh any potential small risks there may be to dyeing your hair. There is more risk to your child’s health and wellbeing when you stop breastfeeding to dye your hair than it is to continue breastfeeding while dyeing your hair. Breastfeeding is extremely beneficial for your child and breastfeeding should continue for as long as possible.
Safety measures to reduce any potential risks to both mother and baby
Ensure there is proper ventilation
The fumes from hair dye chemicals can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat and may exacerbate any existing respiratory issues. So doing any hair treatments containing strong chemicals should be done in a well-ventilated area.
Do a strand test
Doing a strand, or patch test on a small strand of hair can minimize the risk of sensitivity and allergic reactions to certain dyes and chemicals.
Sensitivity and allergic reactions are no reason to wean from breastfeeding, but it may call for temporary separation in the event of hospitalization, which is rare, but possible.
Don’t forget to wear gloves.
Only do haircare treatments on a healthy scalp
If you have a healthy scalp, there will be less chemicals that will be absorbed by the skin. Less chemicals being absorbed by the skin equals less chemicals in the bloodstream, and therefore less chemicals in the breastmilk.
Don’t dye your hair while your baby is in the same room with you
The fumes from the dye chemicals can irritate your baby’s eyes, nose and throat. Babies already have immature respiratory systems and irritation should be avoided when possible.
If your baby comes into direct contact with the hair dye by any chance, it may cause skin irritation or even worse, sensitivity or an allergic reaction.
Option for alternative dyes
If you feel unsure about the chemicals, even though there are very few chemicals that pass-through breastmilk, and even though there is no evidence of it being unsafe while breastfeeding, you can choose alternative options. There are many different types of dye such as those with natural ingredients and natural vegetable dyes.
Alternative hair dye options include:
Henna hair dye
Henna has been well known for many years. Henna dye is a natural and chemical free hair dye. It’s important to note that this is only true for pure Henna, processed Henna products will contain some chemicals.
Temporary hair dyes
Temporary dyes do contain toxic chemicals, but it does contain much less toxic chemicals than semi-permanent color or permanent hair dyes.
Ammonia free dyes
Ammonia is one of the most commonly known toxic chemical ingredients in hair dye. It’s what gives it that unpleasant, strong smell.
The biggest potential risk to hair dye is the chemical exposures to your skin and respiratory tract, which could be bad for you and pose potential health risks whether you’re a breastfeeding mom or not.
Ammonia can cause irritation to both the skin, and to the respiratory system when the fumes are inhaled.
Natural food dyes
There’s always the option of using natural food dye. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but some people may prefer it.
Natural food dyes are made with the juice/color of food. Beetroot for red, turmeric for yellow, coffee for brown etc.
Self-care is always a good idea and hair care is a good way to make self-care happen. Hair care is one of the best ways to make self-care a regular thing. Be sure to continue your hair regimen if you want to.
There is absolutely no reason why you can’t dye your hair while breastfeeding. There is very little evidence on hair dye and milk transfer, but it’s believed that very little chemicals will even make it to your breastmilk and into your baby’s bloodstream. There have been no reported cases on breastfed babies being harmed after their mothers dyed their hair.
There are safer alternatives available if you choose to stay on the side of caution, but it’s not necessary. Be sure to reduce any possible risks to yourself and your baby.
If you’re ever in doubt about anything related to breastmilk and breastfeeding, contact an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) for education and support. If you’re ever in doubt about anything related to you or your baby’s health, contact your healthcare provider or any healthcare professionals that you trust for evidence-based information and support.