Can You Dye or Colour Your Hair While Breastfeeding?

Hair Colouring or Perming During Breastfeeding – Is it Safe?

Medically Reviewed By
Shyamala Sathiaseelan (Lactation Specialist)
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If you are wondering if getting hair treatment is safe during breastfeeding, then you are not alone. These treatments require heavy use of chemicals, and therefore, it is natural to wonder if the chemicals will find a way into your baby’s system through breastmilk. After carrying the baby for nine months, watching your every move and ensuring everything you do is for the baby developing inside you, you might be in the mood for some “me time”. Spending a day at the salon to pamper yourself is one of the best ways to relax and rejuvenate. However, some salon procedures for getting your hair treated may not be safe for you yet, particularly if you are breastfeeding. In this article, we shall shed some light on whether it is safe for you to get your hair coloured or permed during breastfeeding.

Can You Colour/Dye, or Perm Your Hair During Breastfeeding?

If you are wondering if you can colour your hair while breastfeeding, here is what you need to know. While most breastfeeding mothers stay away from any chemical products, there isn’t any proof to suggest that hair colouring or perming can have negative effects on your baby. The chemicals used in these processes are mild and cannot be absorbed through the hair follicle. However, the chemicals will be absorbed in minimal quantities when it is applied to the skin. Also, some products leave fumes which could be harmful to the mother if they are inhaled. Thus, if you have to, you may use products that do not emit harmful fumes and ensure they are applied only to the hair and not the scalp or the skin. Have proper ventilation for chemicals with fumes, and wash the scalp right after the dye is applied. Having said that, we always recommend mothers to indulge and pamper themselves in a salon only once their baby has been weaned onto solid foods.

Can Chemicals in Hair Treatments Cause Harm to Breastfeeding Moms?

The association of breastfeeding and hair dye is a fearful one for nursing mothers. As mentioned earlier, the products used for treating hair consist of chemicals that, when applied to the skin, can be absorbed into the bloodstream but at low levels. Also, if the products emit harmful fumes like ammonia, the mother could experience minor health issues if she inhales them. Using good quality products from trusted brands can lower the health risks, if any, but cheap brands with loads of harmful chemicals can cause some harm, whether you are breastfeeding or not.

Hair Colouring during breastfeeding

Let’s take a look at the side effects of hair perming or hair dye while breastfeeding.

Side Effects of Hair Colouring or Hair Perming During Breastfeeding

Some hair treatment products may contain chemicals which could lead to side effects. Here are some of them –

  • Some of the older and cheaper dyes use ammonia for hair colouring. The fumes of ammonia, if inhaled by the mother, can be extremely harmful to her. An easy solution is to use dyes that do not contain ammonia. Thankfully, most companies now make ammonia-free dyes.
  • Most of the treatments leave a strong smell on the hair. If you are a nursing mother, your baby might find the smell repelling, making it difficult for you to nurse your baby.
  • Pregnancy, labour and breastfeeding can cause a lot of changes to the body and make the hair react differently to colour than before, so it could turn dry or frizzy or increase hair fall, etc.
  • The chemicals used in hair colouring or hair perming could leave the skin with a local itch or redness.
  • Hair dryness is very common after hair is exposed to several chemicals.
  • Slow hair growth could also be seen.
  • Permanent or temporary hair dyes contain harmful compounds, such as phenols, naphthylamine, aromatic amines, arsenic, hydrogen peroxide, etc. These chemical compounds pose an extremely high risk for cancer and other illnesses for people exposed to these chemicals. 

If you are concerned about your baby’s health and do not want to take any chances, you may consider alternative methods of treating your hair during breastfeeding.

Alternative Methods of Hair Treatment

Your doctor may dissuade you from getting any hair treatment, but you must not lose heart. There are several alternative processes that are chemical-free and, therefore, safe to use on your hair. Post your pregnancy, your hair might require much-needed love and care, and while these alternative hair treatments might not give results as good as the other professional products do, you will be assured that nothing will harm you and your baby while you are breastfeeding him.

1. Vegetable Dyes

One of the major complaints of breastfeeding women is the appearance of grey hair soon after giving birth; hence, they wish to dye their hair. Since chemical dyes are not safe, you can always choose natural vegetable dyes. Dyes like henna will hide your grey hair, make your roots healthy and also give your hair shine and bounce. You can boost the colour and depth of henna by adding beetroot juice and coffee decoction.

2. Highlights

Instead of hair dyeing or perming, you can get only highlights for your hair. The dye then will be restricted to only small parts of your hair, and the exposure to chemicals will be drastically reduced. This option is stylish and in trend, too.

3. Temporary Treatments

Another great idea is to choose treatments that are temporary and, hence, do not require any chemicals. Instead of getting a perm, you can just use a curler to set your hair the way you want. The same trick can be applied to straighten your hair. This way, you can also change your style according to your mood and occasion. This option requires less upkeep and will still ensure a great and relaxing spa day for you.

4. Coffee Extracts

Start by brewing crushed roasted coffee beans in hot water (avoid using instant coffee). After straining and letting the liquid cool, consider adding a tablespoon of green tea for extra hair nourishment and potential colour enhancement. Combine this coffee blend with a leave-in hair conditioner. Once you’ve showered, apply the mixture to your hair, leave it for about an hour, and then rinse it off.

5. Sage Remedy

Brew sage tea by steeping dried sage leaves in hot water. After straining and allowing the tea to cool, use the mixture to rinse your hair for a few minutes following your shower. Gently comb through your hair and let it naturally air dry.

6. Black Plum

Black plum (jamun)is perfect for temporary or instant colouring to give shade to your hair. Remove the pulp and skin from a black plum (jamun), then blend it into a thick paste. Apply this paste to dry hair, covering it with a plastic shower cap, and let it sit for an hour. Afterwards, take a shower and rinse your hair thoroughly to wash it away.

If your heart is still set on getting your hair coloured or permed, you may take some precautionary measures, too. Let’s take a look at it. 

Precautions to Take While Colouring or Perming Hair for Breastfeeding Moms

These precautions will help you get the required hair treatment and ensure the chemicals in the products you will be using do not enter your bloodstream.

  • Since the chemicals have little chance of being absorbed by the hair itself, you can pay attention solely to your scalp. Ensure no product touches your scalp, forehead, ears, neck o nape.
  • If you are doing the treatments yourself, wear gloves to avoid contact with the chemicals.
  • Make sure your scalp is healthy and does not have any cuts or infections.
  • Do not use products without doing an allergy test on yourself.
  • Do not keep the product on for long. Follow the instructions given in the package and wash it off immediately after the stated time.
  • Ensure you do not touch your baby if you have the product on your hands.
  • It’s better to carry out the procedure away from the baby as the smell of the chemicals might cause discomfort to him.


1. Can You Use Hair Spray During Breastfeeding?

Personal care products are known to cause nipple soreness. Similar to deodorants and colognes, hair sprays should be taken care of when used during breastfeeding. Although there is no information regarding the safety of hair spray during breastfeeding, it is best to exercise caution or consult a doctor.

2. Is it Necessary to Pump and Dump Breast Milk After Dying Your Hair?

If hair treatments like dying hair or perming are done properly, it is unlikely for chemicals to enter the breast milk and contaminate it. However, a consultation with your doctor would always be better to avoid risks.

Now that you are aware of using hair colour while breastfeeding, it is recommended that you consult a paediatrician first to know if it will affect your baby. Frequent hair colouring or hair perming should be avoided and should be done when it is absolutely necessary. If you do colour your hair during this time, follow the doctor’s instructions to keep your baby safe and healthy.


1. Is it safe to use hair dye when I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?; NHS;

2. Mother To Baby | Fact Sheets [Internet].; Hair Treatments; NCBI;; October 2022

3. Breastfeeding with Sore Nipples; La Leche League International;

4. AlGhamdi. K. M, Moussa. N. A; Local side effects caused by hair dye use in females: cross-sectional survey; J Cutan Med Surg.; PubMed;; Jan-Feb 2012

5. Breastfeeding FAQs; Stony Brook School of Medicine;

6. Hair dye poisoning; MedlinePlus;

7. Hair Dyes and Cancer Risk; American Cancer Society;

Also Read:

Is Botox Safe during Breastfeeding
Getting Tattoos during Breastfeeding
Is Microblading Safe while Breastfeeding?

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