Beauty treatments and breastfeeding

Hair treatments

Hair treatments include hair colouring, hair curling (perms), hair bleaching and hair straightening (relaxers) agents. 

Information about having hair treatments while breastfeeding is limited. However, the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists states that it is highly unlikely that a significant amount of the chemicals used would enter the breastmilk because very little enters the mother’s bloodstream.

Hair removal

Topical products, such as depilatory creams, that are applied to the skin are poorly absorbed into the bloodstream and therefore are very unlikely to end up in breastmilk.

There is no evidence that electrolysis or laser hair removal would affect breastfeeding or your breastfed baby.

Postpartum hair loss

Postpartum hair loss is a normal reaction to pregnancy and birth in some women. Postpartum hair loss is not related to breastfeeding. For most women, their normal hair growth cycle will return to normal between 6 and 12 months after birth. If you feel your hair loss is excessive, or things are not returning to normal by 12 months, see your doctor.

Fake tans

The active ingredient in all self-tanning lotions is dihydroxyacetate (DHA), a chemical which stains the skin temporarily. There are no studies on DHA levels in breastmilk or its effect on the health of the breastfed baby.

If you decide to use self-tanners while breastfeeding, avoid putting the self-tanner on areas that the baby’s mouth comes in contact with, such as the nipple and areola.


Getting tattoos increases the risk of infection.

Bacterial infections can be transmitted during tattooing mainly as a result of contamination of the pigment used. Ensuring that pigments are single-use only can reduce this risk.

Hepatitis B or C and HIV are serious viruses which can be transmitted if equipment for tattooing is not cleaned and sterilised properly between users. The main cause for concern out of these viruses for a breastfeeding mother is HIV because it is known to be able to be transmitted via breastmilk.

Tattoo parlours in Australia have to be registered with the local council and each state has laws about infection control within the body art industry. The Victorian Government Department of Health (Better Health Channel 2017) advises people who want to get a tattoo to choose a reputable place that is registered with the local council. Reputable tattooists understand the need for infection control so the risk of infection is unlikely.

Although the risk of infection from getting a tattoo is low, especially if done at a reputable parlour, it is a health risk which must be carefully assessed before a breastfeeding mother, or anyone for that matter, decides to get a tattoo.


Breastfeeding Information and Research has more detailed and fully referenced articles Breastfeeding and Body Modification: BOTOX®, Tattoos, Hair Dyes and Fake Tans (2011) and Unusual Effects Sometimes Attributed To Breastfeeding (2002). These articles can be obtained upon subscription to Breastfeeding Information and Research or for a fee. Contact the Australian Breastfeeding Association for more information.

 The information on this website does not replace the advice of your health care provider.


© Australian Breastfeeding Association August 2017



Last reviewed: 
Aug 2017