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Changing up your hair care routine isn’t always easy, but for expectant mothers, switching to pregnancy safe hair products is an important step. Many everyday hair care products contain chemicals that may be unsafe for pregnant women and their developing babies. In this guide, you’ll find valuable insights into which hair product ingredients to avoid, discover some pregnancy-safe hair product alternatives, and learn more to ensure both your and your baby’s safety.

Hazards That May Be Hiding in Your Hair Products

Many hair products contain ingredients that could be harmful to pregnant women. Some of these ingredients include:

Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs)

An endocrine-disrupting chemical, or EDC, refers to any natural or human-made chemical that could mimic, block, or interfere with the body’s natural hormones. EDCs (also known as endocrine disruptors) are commonly found in many household hair products, including anti-frizz products, conditioners, hair lotions, relaxers, and more. 

Many different chemicals can be classified as EDCs, but some notable examples of EDCs include the following:

  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Cyclosiloxanes
  • Nonylphenols

If you are pregnant, consider avoiding hair products that contain EDCs. One 2018 study notes that EDCs are known to cross the placenta, be present in breast milk, and be capable of inducing reproductive tract abnormalities.

Early-life EDC exposure can influence pubertal timing, particularly in females. As for prenatal exposure to EDCs, there is an association with preterm birth rates. One 2021 study concludes that regular use of hair oils (containing EDCs) during late pregnancy may be associated with shorter gestational duration. 


Formaldehyde can be found in a wide array of hair care products. Most notably, formaldehyde is used in hair straightening treatments, such as Brazilian Blowouts or keratin treatments. These products use formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing chemicals to straighten hair temporarily. 

Formaldehyde is classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It can irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and throat, particularly at higher concentrations or with prolonged exposure.

There are concerns about formaldehyde exposure and its potential effects on pregnancy and fetal development. However, the evidence regarding its potential to cause congenital disabilities in humans is not yet considered conclusive. Most of the available research comes from animal studies, which may not directly correlate to typical consumer exposure levels through hair products.

Tips for Avoiding Harmful Hair Products

When you’re expecting, it may be easiest to steer clear of products with synthetic fragrances. This includes many commercial shampoos, conditioners, hair sprays, and styling products. Specifically, look out for labels that list:

  • Toluene
  • Diethyl phthalate
  • Any ingredients ending in “paraben”

It can also be helpful to avoid chemical hair treatments altogether. Some common chemical hair treatments to avoid include:

  • Relaxing 
  • Brazilian Blowouts
  • Bleaching 
  • Coloring

Remember that many of these ingredients and treatments have not been studied extensively in pregnant women because of safety and ethical concerns.

Pregnancy Safe Hair Products and Styling Tips

Many pregnant women choose natural or organic hair care products, when possible. These pregnancy safe hair products are often made without harsh chemicals and can benefit the health of your both baby and scalp. Some examples of pregnancy safe hair products you may want to incorporate into your routine could include:

  • Ouai Detox Shampoo
  • LUSH Curl Power
  • Aveda Nutriplenish Deep Moisture 
  • Amika Soulfood Nourishing Mask
  • True Botanicals Nourishing Shampoo and Conditioner

Additionally, consider alternative methods to achieve your desired hairstyle. For instance:

  • Use heat-free styling techniques like braiding or air-drying.
  • Opt for regular trims to help maintain hair health and appearance without chemical treatments.
  • Embrace your natural hair texture during pregnancy and avoid relaxers.

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