Safe Hair Dye For Pregnancy & Fertility

A helpful guide to coloring your hair while pregnant or undertaking fertility treatment.

Confused about whether it's safe to dye your hair during IVF treatment, or while pregnant?

Between the forums, your hairdresser and everybody else's opinion, you could be really confused about the safety of colouring your hair while trying to conceive or during pregnancy.

And let's be honest, this is an added stress your body could do without. Not to mention the grey roots! So, here are some useful tips to get you through this process.

The Truth About Hair Dye

The problem with hair dye is that like a lot of beauty products (and house hold cleaning products) they can contain endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Which can be one of the most difficult chemicals to avoid in beauty products because they cleverly elude ingredient lists by hiding within an ingredient or the packaging of the product.

Due to extensive studies on endocrine disrupting chemicals there is much debate when it comes to the safety of hair dye and fertility/pregnancy.

What The Experts Say

Wella Professional, an internationally recognised German hair company teaches their trainee hair colourists that their products are safe to use on pregnant women. Saying that ––although hair colour contains chemicals, they aren't highly toxic and the body does not absorb enough of them to harm a pregnant woman or her baby.

And, it would appear from the many forums on this subject that lots of women follow this advice with successful IVF/pregnancy stories.

What's The Solution?

If you are undergoing fertility treatment then minimizing the burden of environmental toxins on your organs is no doubt a big part of your life right now. So, it's just common sense to research the ingredients of your beauty products and opt for safer brands.

A big part of how we come into daily contact with toxins is through our skincare, cosmetics, and hair products . Many of them contain known endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that mimic hormones and can affect egg and sperm quality.

In this post, I'm going to highlight the hair dye ingredients to avoid at this time if you do decide to colour your hair.

According to The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database these ingredients contain EDCs.

7 Potentially Harmful Ingredients To Avoid:

  • AMMONIA: When the fumes are inhaled it can cause lung irritation, resulting in respiratory problems. It scores 2-6 depending on usage on the EWG's Skin Deep Database and is linked to miscarriage.

  • FORMALDEHYDE & DMDM HYDANTOIN: Exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to cancer, though more research is needed (source). It can also irritate the eyes and respiratory tract (source). Formaldehyde scores 8-10 on the EWG's Skin Deep Database. DMDM Hydantoin is a preservative that releases small amounts of formaldehyde gradually, so it can have similar irritant effects to pure formaldehyde.

  • RESORCINOL: This antiseptic chemical is a suspected endocrine disruptor commonly found in hair dye, hair products and also acne/eczema treatments (source). Avoid these ingredients on products labels: 1,3-benzenediol, resorcin, 1,3-dihydroxybenzene(m-hydroxybenze, m-dihydroxyphenol)

  • PPD (paraphenylenediamine): PPD is a chemical used in permanent hair dyes to fix the colouring onto the hair shaft. It scores 5-7 on the EWG's Skin Deep Database and is quite well known to cause allergic reactions even after previous use. If you've developed a PPD allergy will not be able to use any permanent dye, with the possible exception of Daniel Fields Water Colour.

  • PARABENS: Parabens are a type of preservative used in many cosmetics products to extend their shelf life. They are suspected endocrine disruptors that mimic the behaviour of oestrogen, and have been linked to breast cancer, though more research is needed. Propyl-paraben can even be found in your pastries and cakes!

  • PHTHALATES: Pronounced thal-ates, this chemical compound is one of the elusive EDCs you have to hunt for on an ingredients list. Studies have shown that phthalates do not have hormone-mimicking effects on the body like most EDCs, but these ones have adverse effects on the male reproductive system, including decreased sperm count, testicular cell destruction and thyroid irregularities.

  • FRAGRANCE: The term Fragrance/Parfum is a labelling loophole in the law that allows manufacturers to put any number of chemicals into a formula without having to disclose them. Fragrance can often contain individual chemicals associated with allergic reactions and hormone disruption.

3 Safer Options

1. Ammonia-Free/Oil-Based Professional Hair Colour

Ammonia free hair color during pregnancy, and fertility treatment is a must. Finding a salon that uses ammonia-free, oil-based professional hair colour could be your best bet if you're not a Do-It-Yourself kind of girl. Depending on how well you know your hair dresser, you could ask them to get this type of dye in for you, or even offer to purchase it yourself and bring your own! I have been using oil-based hair colour since they first came out, and I absolutely love them. They are better for your health and give perfect results, just as good as traditional hair dye. I wish these brands were more widely available in local salons.

2. At-Home Natural (less toxic) Box Dye

At-home natural colours like Daniel Fields products may not give you quite the same results that you would get at the salon, but for your peace of mind during a stressful time they will temporarily cover your grey roots! These dyes will eventually wash out depending on your hair type and colour

3. Henna/Herbal Dyes

If you've ever coloured your hair the herbal/Indian way then you will know about the wondrous benefits of henna. One of the oldest and most natural ways to colour your hair, henna is still very popular in India and the Middle East. Although, it is a rather time consuming option as henna dye may need to be prepared overnight and must be left on the hair for 4-8 hours! But, I will tell you that the benefits (other than the colour) are well worth it. Henna is mixed with other herbal powders like Cassia, Amla, Brahmi, Shikakai and Bhringraj to colour hair in different shades. These herbs have many amazing hair benefits from thickening and conditioning, improving curl pattern and hair growth. It's basically a hair treatment and colour in one!


Ammonia Free: The Oil-Based Professional Option

KEUNE - So Pure Natural Balance

One of the oldest (non-toxic) hair brands around, Keune was developed by Dutch chemist, Jan Keuen in 1922. Now an international brand Keune is a profesional product, so you will have to find your closest stockist on this salon locator. So Pure products are enriched with certified organic Argan Oil which is a new(ish) method of getting colour into the hair without having to use harsh chemicals like ammonia. Oil based hair dyes are considered more nourishing for our hair due to the vitamins and and omega fatty acids the natural oils provide. FREE FROM: Parabens, Sulfate, Ammonia, Artificial fragrance (phthalates), Animal derived materials (vegan friendly)

REDKEN - Chromatics Beyond Cover

This colour line is developed with Argan Oil and a Protein Extract technology to 'fortify' the hair strand. It is especially formulated for people with 75% grey or more and rates a 2 on the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database which is considered “safe.” Again, this is a salon only hair dye but, you can purchase them on amazon if you happen to be a colourist or your colourist is happy to let you BYO! FREE FROM: Ammonia and Fragrance, which I assume means no phthalates


Your salon may offer you one of the above hair dyes from L'Oreal, which use the same oil delivery system as both Keune and Redken. But you should avoid this product if you are having IVF or are already pregnant. INOA is an Ammonia free line, but that's about the only toxic ingredient it doesn't contain. Inoa hair colour rates a 5 on the EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. It contains resorcinol which has shown strong evidence in studies of being a human endocrine disruptor.

The At-Home Natural Hair Dye For Pregnancy & Fertility: Box Dye Options

ONC - NaturalColors

ONC offer at-home permanent hair colouring kits with certified organic ingredients. The application method uses heat to open the cuticles as opposed to ammonia, which is traditionally used in chemical hair dye to open the cuticle. ONC claims their formulas contain pharmaceutical grade peroxide - the kind in contact lenses and eye drops, lowest percentage of PPD possible for optimal gray coverage, nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and amino acids. They also promise a lower pH level (closer to a neutral value) colour that does not fade, and perfect gray coverage.

FREE FROM: Ammonia or Ammonia derivatives, Resorcinol, Parabens, Formaldehyde, Certified Vegan & Cruelty-Free by PETA, GMO Free, Not tested on animals

Daniel Field Water Colour

Daniel Field is known as the pioneer of organic, mineral and natural hair dye. He has developed unique products for his salons, including his hugely popular Water Colour, a natural colour range. These are gentler safer alternatives, which are kinder to the hair than the harsher products generally used in traditional salons. This is really easy to use at home, the colour comes in powder form in a tiny bottle that you mix with water in the applicator bottle. It does not cover grey hair as good as hair dyes containing PPD, but it will get you through your pregnancy! FREE FROM: Ammonia, Alcohol, Hydrogen Peroxide, PPD

The Henna/Herbal Option

SURYA BRASIL - Henna Cream

When carried out correctly henna hair dye can thicken, condition and even help hair growth. And I stress the word 'correctly' as henna alone can be incredibly drying, so must be used alongside a nourishing hair mask. As with the other hair colours mentioned in this article there will be a number of chemicals in them, just not the same harsh chemicals in traditional dyes, which is why the Environmental Working Group rates them so well on their Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. These dyes score a 1 on list - the best available for hair dyes. FREE FROM: Ammonia, PPD, Parabens, Peroxide, Resorcinol, Artificial fragrance (phthalates), Certified Vegan & Cruelty-Free, GMO Free

For a full list of all the toxic ingredients Surya Brasil does not put in their formulas click here

IT'S PURE - Herbal Hair Colour

IT'S PURE herbal hair dyes contain 100% Soil Association certified organic ingredients. They offer 9 different colours which are pretty limited due to the fact that the formulas only contain organic herbal powders, such as Amla, Ruhbarb Root, Cassia and Indigo powders. So colour is very dependant on your original hair colour and condition. These dyes contain absolutely no chemicals and are perhaps the most natural and organic on the market.

FREE FROM: Artificial preservatives, Animal derived materials (vegan friendly), GMO Free, Artificial additives, Not tested on animals

For more help on safer beauty products and customised non-toxic skincare programs contact us to book a consultation.

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