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May 172011

Pregnant women often wonder whether they should go in for hair straightening or not as they are concerned about their babies. Hair straightening is a cosmetic process in which curly or frizzy hair is straightened either by using physical methods or by chemical treatment. Physical methods are blow drying and ironing.

In blow drying a drier is used in conjunction with a brush. Hair is straightened by heat as it is being stretched with a brush. To iron the hair a flat ceramic iron is used to diffuse heat and press the hair after a cream has been applied to the hair. These methods are relatively safe as no chemicals are used. Heat is used only on the hair.

The second method is thermal reconditioning. It takes about five to six hours for the process to be completed. A protein solution is applied to the hair to break the hair bond. After a while, the hair is rinsed and dried. The solution is reapplied and the whole process is repeated. Later a neutralizer is applied and the hair straightened. The chemicals used are not very strong.

Another method used is called relaxing of hair. First, a strand of hair is tested to know the hair texture, strength and elasticity of hair. Chemicals are then applied which enter each hair shaft and change the structure of the inner layers. Strong chemicals are applied directly to the hair.

The effect of the chemicals used on the hair cannot be determined accurately. There are so many companies manufacturing these products and they keep changing the contents. There has been no proper study to check the effects of these chemicals on the developing foetus. However, if mercury, hydroquinine or tretinoin is used, then these are not considered safe.

Some experts claim that chemicals used to straighten hair are potentially harmful for the foetus and may induce premature labour or prevent babies from gaining weight when they are in the uterus. Others suggest that only a very tiny portion of the chemicals used are absorbed by the scalp. Consequently, only a fraction of the chemicals is able to enter the mother’s blood stream. This small amount causes no danger to the unborn child.

Hair straightening during pregnancy has not been proved to be perfectly safe. Since there is absence of evidence, it is best to err on the side of caution. A pregnant woman should avoid even the smallest chance of her baby absorbing harmful chemicals. If you do want to go in for hair straightening consult your gynecologist first. She can advise you whether you should ahead or not. She will be able to monitor the foetal development properly and if any problems are encountered, she can deal with them immediately.