Can You Get A Perm While Pregnant?

Perms can give a whole new look to your usual hairstyle, and many women love to have it in their favorite salon. However, since perming involves the use of certain chemicals, women get a bit cautious of having their hair treated once they get pregnant. Is it okay to perm hair while pregnant? Here’s what you need to know about hair perm and pregnancy.

What is Perming?

Perming is among the many hair treatment services offered in salons or by professional hairdressers. This hair treatment involves the use of chemicals to transform your hair from straight to wavy or curly and make this hairstyle last for several months.

The active ingredients used in most perming lotions are glyceryl monothioglycolate and ammonium thioglycolate. These chemicals swell the hair cuticle layers and break the disulphide bonds in the hair by inserting hydrogen, so that they can assume a new shape. Since the hair is now more malleable, it can mold easily to the shape of the perming rods.

After a couple of hours, the perming lotion will be removed and replaced by a neutralizing lotion. The chemical used in neutralizing is hydrogen peroxide or sodium bromate. In this final stage, the hydrogen that is infused earlier was removed from the hair and replaced by oxygen molecules to lock the disulphide bonds in its new wavy or curly form.

Can you perm your hair while pregnant?

Though the research concerning this topic is a bit limited, there is no current evidence that the chemicals used in perming can negatively affect pregnancy or harm the unborn baby inside the womb.

In a 1999 case-controlled study among 525 black women in North Carolina which was published at the American Journal of Epidemiology, the researchers found no significant association between chemical curling products, preterm birth, or low birth weight infants.

Similarly, a 2008 review reflected in the Canadian Family Physician, showed no evidence of harmful effects on the fetus among pregnant women who are exposed to hair treatment chemicals due to their occupation as hairdressers. The evidences gathered also showed that the hair treatment chemicals, have minimal systemic effects to the pregnant women. This lead to a calculation that hair treatment, including perming, to no more than 3 to 4 times during the course of pregnancy is not a major concern.

So you can typically get a perm while pregnant, but there is still another concern among the moms-to-be who would like their hair done. Your much-desired hair style may not look like what you imagine it to become if you’ll have it while pregnant. The exact cause is unknown, but it is thought that the pregnancy hormones alter the natural state of the hair, making it more resistant to hair styling. So this is something to be thought about too, considering how much hair perming can cost you.

Safety tips in perming your hair while pregnant

Since current data shows that perming has very little to no risk of pregnancy-related complications, it can therefore be considered that you can safely perm your hair while pregnant. That’s good news for moms-to-be who would like to have a hair transformation. Still, many experts and pregnant mothers simply decide to go on the much safer side, and with that, a couple of friendly reminders can help. Here are some safety tips in perming your hair while pregnant.

Limit hair treatment to 3 to 4 times throughout pregnancy.

Experts suggest that pregnant mothers should follow this recommendation to minimize their exposure to hair treatment chemicals. This recommendation includes other hair treatment procedures like hair coloring or dying and relaxing.

Consider perming your hair after the first trimester of pregnancy.

The first 12 weeks of pregnancy is when the critical development of a fetus occurs. This is also the time when there is an increased risk of congenital malformations, miscarriage and other pregnancy-related complications. This is why doctors often advice to limit the pregnant mom’s exposure to chemicals during this time. So if you wish to have a perm, it may be better to have it done after the first trimester of pregnancy when the risks are significantly lesser.

Avoid perming your hair when you have scratches or wound in the scalp.

Though the absorption of perming chemicals through the scalp is found to be minimal, it may significantly increase if you have an open wound in the scalp. To prevent greater risk, it may be worth to wait until the scratch or wound has completely healed before you perm your hair.

Have a perm in a well-ventilated room.

Apart from the scalp, the hair treatment chemicals may additionally be absorbed via toxic fumes that they emit. To safeguard your health (especially now that you’re pregnant), it is best to have your hair set in a well-ventilated area to minimize inhaling these chemicals.


Generally, pregnant women can get a perm while pregnant. But if you wish to stay on the safer side, you can follow the safety tips in perming your hair during pregnancy or better yet, simply go natural during the course of pregnancy and wait to get a perm until after you give birth.

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