Are All Shampoos and Conditioners Safe to Use During Pregnancy?

Are there any dangers to look out for in my shampoos and conditioners or hair products? Are there ingredients I should be avoiding during pregnancy?
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profile picture of Melissa Schweiger and Annette Rubin
Updated March 2, 2017
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Shampoo is on your hair for only about half a minute before you rinse it off. So it couldn’t do much harm, right? Well, honestly, that’s not exactly certain.

Here’s the deal: The ingredient sodium lauryl sulfate, a popular surfactant found in shampoos, has been linked to birth defects in animal studies. (Note that sodium _laureth _sulfate, which sounds similar, is actually proven safe for use.) Other ingredients to watch out for in haircare products include parabens; rosemary; synthetic fragrances, which may contain phthalates; and a preservative called methylisothiazolinone (MIT). Phthalates may alter hormone levels, and in scientific studies, MIT inhibited the growth of rats’ nerve cells. How these chemicals affect a human fetus really isn’t known (scientists _don’t _test chemicals on pregnant women). Plus, your hair follicles provide entry points into your skin, so those chemicals could easily enter your body.

The problem is, these chemicals are pretty common in shampoos. So we recommend shampooing less often than usual while you’re pregnant (we got away with doing it about once a week, with a few rinse-downs throughout the week, of course!). When you use conditioner, only apply it to the ends of your hair, not the roots. If you want a deep condition, make a yogurt hair mask out of an egg, plain yogurt and olive oil. It will make your hair smooth and frizz-free without the icky chemicals.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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