Is it Safe to Use a Flat Iron or Curling Iron During Pregnancy?

Yes! Moms-to-be can safely style their hair with heated appliances such as flat irons and curling irons throughout their pregnancy. The heat-styling itself poses no risk to mom or baby, so if you’ve got the energy for anything more than a messy bun, you’re free to use these styling appliances during your pregnancy.

Do You Need to Reduce the Temperature of Your Flat Iron or Curling Iron During Pregnancy?

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of catching your hand on one of these heated appliances, you’ll know just how hot they can be!  Some moms-to-be might worry about using something so hot during pregnancy.

So, do you need to lower the heat setting on your flat iron or curling iron during pregnancy? No, while flat and curling irons can reach temperatures in excess of 400 degrees, they do not contribute to an increase in your own core body temperature and therefore they are not dangerous.

While many sources like the American Heart Association agree that it’s not good for the pregnant body to get too hot during pregnancy, it’s important to remember that this refers to core body temperature, specifically a body temperature above 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

While curling irons, flat irons, and even crimpers (who remembers those) apply heat to your hair, they do not raise your body temperature.

With that said, there are some extra precautions we recommend when using hot irons during pregnancy.

Safety Precautions for Hot Irons During Pregnancy

Pregnant women need to be careful when using these appliances though.  Studies like this one from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists show that dizziness and even fainting spells are more common when you’re pregnant.

For this reason, sitting down while you’re styling your hair, rather than standing up while your styling your hair may be a good practice, and also more comfortable during the latter weeks of pregnancy.

Also, some of us can be a touch more clumsy when we’re pregnant (especially as that wonderful bump grows), so just be aware of these things, take your time, and take care to avoid any burns to your fingers, neck, cheeks, or ears.

Using Flat Irons and Curling Irons On Pregnancy Hair

One of the “side effects” of pregnancy hormones is a change to the hair, with reduced shedding and an increased thickness of the hair shafts.  These changes don’t make the use of flat or curling irons any less appropriate, in fact, many women find they need to spend a little more time styling their hair with such appliances in order to “tame” their new thicker, longer hair!

Are Heat Protection Sprays Safe During Pregnancy?

While the heat from flat and curling irons doesn’t pose a risk to pregnancy, it does pose a risk to the hair.  Heat protective sprays are a very popular way to protect the hair from the damage caused by curling irons and flat irons, and so many moms may be wondering if heat protection sprays are safe during pregnancy? 

Yes, in general, heat protection sprays are safe to use during pregnancy, though to be extra cautious, make sure to use them in well-ventilated rooms, and avoid spraying them directly onto your scalp (instead spray them on the hair shaft, where they offer the most heat protection).

According to The Official Journal of the College of Family Physicians of Canada, which discussed the use of hair products during pregnancy., although some ingredients have been associated with risks of teratogenicity (the ability to cause defects in a developing fetus) in animal studies, there’s little evidence to suggest that personal use of hair care products will harm a fetus in humans.  This is simply due to the very low level of absorption of the offending chemicals into the body.

Chemicals can penetrate the hair shaft and indeed some products are specially formulated to make the hair shaft permeable to the ingredients within the formulation.  But in the case of the products you use to protect the hair from the heat of flat and curling irons, the formulation needs to sit on the hair shaft in order to protect it.  Key ingredients in heat-sprays, such as PVP/DMAPA acrylates copolymers, coat the hair to protect it from heat, rather than penetrating deeper into the hair or down toward the hair follicle. This is a good thing!

How to Be Extra Careful with Heat Protective Sprays During Pregnancy

  1. Avoid spraying the hair root. To be extra careful when using a heat protectant spray, avoid the root area of your hair.  As studies, like this one, show the hair follicles, from which each of your hair shafts emerge, are an area where absorption of chemicals could take place. Actively avoiding spraying heat-protecting (and other hair styling products) down into the roots of the hair is a simple precautionary step a pregnant woman might like to take to reduce the absorption of chemicals into her body. 

    You read above that PVP/DMAPA acrylate copolymers are commonly used in heat-protectant sprays.  The Cosmetic Ingredient Review deems PVP/DMAPA acrylate copolymers safe as per their current usage in hair sprays.

    It’s also worth noting that these ingredients are generally used at low percentages in these preparations because this is all that is needed to produce heat-protecting results.  
  1. Use them in a well-ventilated room. If you regularly apply hair products during your use of flat or curling irons, you’ll know that you can smell and sometimes even taste the product, due to the way it is aerosolized into the air when you spray it.  This means there is a potential route for the chemicals within the product into your body by way of the nose and mouth. 

    Spraying your styling products in a well-ventilated room is another step you might like to take, or you could opt to use the likes of heat-protectant mousses and gels, as these won’t be released into the air and inhaled in the same manner.


Chua-Gocheco, A., Bozzo, P., Einarson, A. (2008). Safety of hair products during pregnancy: Personal use and occupational exposure. Canadian Family Physician. 54(October 2008), 1386-1388.

Johnson, W. (2018). Safety Assessment of Vinylpyrrolidone Polymers as Used in Cosmetics. Cosmetic Ingredient Review.

Lynfield, Y. (1960). Effect of Pregnancy on the Human Hair Cycle. The Williams and Wilkins Co. 323-327.

Mohd, Todo, H., Yoshimoto, M., Yusuf, E., & Sugibayashi, K. (2016). Contribution of the Hair Follicular Pathway to Total Skin Permeation of Topically Applied and Exposed Chemicals. Pharmaceutics8(4), 32.

Sirisha, Y. et. al. (2010). Syncope During Pregnancy. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 115(2)1, 377-380.

Summer heat brings special health risks for pregnant women. (2019). American Heart Association News.

Lindsey Bruce

Lindsey is Mom to Eleri and Henry. Starting with a degree and then numerous Higher National Diplomas, Lindsey has been studying and working in the field of Ethnobotany for twenty years. She has a special interest in traditional plant-based healing and plant chemistry. After Lindsey was asked to contribute educational writing she discovered a passion for writing and once her children were born she started writing even more educational content and has since enjoyed writing about a broad range of subjects.

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