Hair Product Usage

Studies show that the use of hair products during pregnancy does not increase the risk of adverse fetal effects compared with the general population. (1) It is estimated that having hair treatments 3 to 4 times during pregnancy is pretty safe due to minimal systemic absorption. (1) However, the safety of these products comes with limited exposure. (2)

It is important for women who are pregnant and work as hairdressers to follow the following recommendations to assure their safety and that of their unborn infant.

(1) wear gloves, (2) work less than 35 hours a week, and (3) avoid prolonged standing. (1)

In a study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology in 1999, researchers performed a case-control study on 525 Black women in North Carolina. These women had delivered infants following exposure to either hair straightening or curling products. The study concluded that the use of these products during pregnancy was not associated with preterm delivery or low birth weight. (3)

Chemicals are used in hair products to either color, straighten, relax, curl, or bleach hair. The following is a list of the most common chemicals used in hair coloring:

sodium sulfite
oleic acid
sodium hydroxide
ammonium hydroxide
propylene glycol
isopropyl alcohol

List of products used in hair straighteners and permanents:

Sodium hydroxide
Guanidine hydroxide
Ammonium thioglycolate
Ammonium hydroxide
Hydrogen peroxide


1. Chua-Gocheco A, Bozzo P, Einarson A. Safety of hair products during pregnancy: personal use and occupational exposure. Can Fam Physician. Oct 2008;54(10):1386-1388.
2. Hueston WJ, Eilers GM, King DE, McGlaughlin VG. Common questions patients ask during pregnancy. Am Fam Physician. May 1 1995;51(6):1465-1470.
3. Blackmore-Prince C, Harlow SD, Gargiullo P, Lee MA, Savitz DA. Chemical hair treatments and adverse pregnancy outcome among Black women in central North Carolina. Am J Epidemiol. Apr 15 1999;149(8):712-716.


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