Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Changes to hair during pregnancy

3-minute read

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect your hair, making it thicker or thinner. Find out more about these potential changes and whether you should be using hair treatments or colour (dye) while pregnant.

Hair can become thicker

Your hair has a natural life cycle. Each individual hair grows, then rests for 2 or 3 months before being pushed out by a new hair growing in that follicle (the tube-shaped sheath that surrounds the hair beneath the skin). In pregnancy, this cycle changes.

Many women experience their hair feeling thicker at around 15 weeks of pregnancy.

This is not because each hair strand itself becomes thicker, but because the hair stays longer in the growing phase of its cycle, which means that less hair falls out than usual. This is due to an increase in the hormone oestrogen.

Hair can become thinner

Some women experience more of their hair falling out during pregnancy. This is due to a decrease in oestrogen, which may happen as a result of the following:

It is also common for women to experience hair loss after pregnancy when their oestrogen returns to normal levels. This causes the additional hair from the growth phase to change to the resting phase, which then falls out more than usual, until around 3-4 months after your child is born.

This hair loss is usually nothing to worry about – your hair growth will return to normal by the time your baby is around 12 months old. If you feel your hair loss is excessive, or your hair growth has not returned to normal by 12 months, speak to your doctor.

Should I dye my hair during pregnancy?

Using hair colour, or ‘dye’, is not thought to cause harm to your developing baby because your hair doesn’t absorb enough harmful chemicals to affect you or your baby. The amount of toxic chemicals in hair dye is not high.

However, as there is not a lot of research into the use of hair dye and pregnancy, you may prefer to delay colouring your hair until after the first trimester (first 12 weeks of pregnancy) is complete.

Other things you can do to minimise your exposure to hair-colour chemicals:

  • wear gloves if you dye your hair yourself
  • ensure you don’t leave the hair dye in for longer than necessary before rinsing
  • colour your hair in a room that is well ventilated
  • rinse your scalp well afterwards
  • follow the directions on the packet of hair dye
  • don’t mix different hair colour products
  • do an allergy (patch) test before you dye your hair

Be cautious if using other chemical treatments on your hair. For example, some hair straightening treatments contain the chemical formaldehyde. While there’s no evidence that it can harm unborn babies, it is a known carcinogen and should probably be avoided.

If you’re unsure, speak to your doctor about whether your hair treatment is safe for use during pregnancy.

Where to seek more information

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: May 2020


Back To Top

Need more information?

Changes to hair during pregnancy

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your hair thicker or thinner. Learn about these changes and whether you can dye hair while pregnant.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Changes to your skin during pregnancy

As your pregnancy develops, you may find that you experience changes to your skin and hair.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Pregnancy at week 15

By week 15, your baby may be able to respond to sound and light, while you are gaining weight and your skin and hair are changing.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Pregnancy stages and changes - Better Health Channel

It’s helpful to have an idea of how your body may react to the different stages of pregnancy. It also helps to know how pregnancy may affect your emotions and feelings.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Things to avoid during pregnancy

From hair dye to house paints, there are a few products or lifestyle habits pregnant women and their partners should be cautious of during pregnancy.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

38 weeks pregnant | Raising Children Network

A pregnancy week by week guide for 38 weeks pregnant – find out how your baby is growing, how your body is changing and how to look after yourself.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Pregnancy - Pregnancy Topics - The second 3 months of pregnancy – the second trimester

During the next 3 months of your pregnancy, the second trimester, you will probably put on about 6 kilograms, even though your unborn baby will only weigh about 1 kilogram by the end of this part of your pregnancy

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

PCOS and pregnancy

Having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can increase your risk of some complications during pregnancy. Read about diagnosis, infertility and how it can affect pregnancy.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Pregnancy at week 21

At week 21, you should consider whether to do any travel since you may not be able to for much longer in your pregnancy.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Smoking, alcohol, drugs, pregnancy & men | Raising Children Network

If smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs is part of your lifestyle, your partner’s pregnancy might be the time to quit. Get information for dads-to-be.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.