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Pregnancy and Hair Coloring Safety

Before you embark on a trip to the salon, always talk to your obstetrician about any color treatment you might be planning. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn't done any conclusive studies on the effects of hair color chemicals on a developing fetus, but it's better to play it safe.

Doug MacIntosh, colorist at Minardi Salon in New York City, suggests that once you've decided to continue coloring your hair throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding, you have an in-depth consultation with a colorist about what the best option is for you.

Before you color, heed these tips:

1. Wait out the first trimester. Most doctors and colorists recommend not doing chemical processes during the first three months of pregnancy for both safety reasons and your potential sensitivity to the chemical fumes. Also, hair may change during pregnancy. Some people get more gray hair, others find that their hair's texture changes dramatically. After the first trimester you'll have a better idea what you're dealing with.

2. Avoid processes that involve scalp contact. All the experts agree that any color process should avoid touching the skin and scalp to prevent absorption of chemicals into the bloodstream. This means no single-process color, which is harsher and comes into contact with hair roots.

3. Try temporary color. Here's the ultimate no-commitment option -- a hair mascara wand or a hair pencil. The results only last until your next shampoo, and they're nontoxic.

4. Opt for highlights. This process involves painting sections of the hair with permanent color (which contains peroxide and ammonia) but not allowing the solution to touch the scalp or skin.

5. Don't be duped by vegetable dye. There's no such thing as vegetable dye that's safe against the scalp during pregnancy.

6. Pare down your hair color expectations. Coming into the salon every four weeks for root touch-ups or a single process just isn't realistic. Talk with your stylist about taking your hair maintenance down a notch.

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