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Once school's out, summer dye is a kid hair trend. But is it safe?

"If I can help her express herself and style in a safe way, then why not?"
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

A simple Pinterest search for "fantasy hair" turns up tons of photos showing bright, colorful hair designed to look like a mermaid's tail or a star-filled galaxy. But it's not just adults who are seeking trendy, vibrant hair colors.

Fantasy hair colors are a rising trend for kids as well — many of whom had to wait until summer vacation to douse their locks in blue or purple dye due to school rules.

Susan Meyer's 11-year-old daughter, Abby, colored her hair with a semi-permanent dye that washes out over a 3-day period.Susan Meyer

Michigan mom Susan Meyer says after her 11-year-old daughter, Abby, saw friends color their hair, she began begging to color her own.

"To be honest, I was hesitant at first and said no for a few months," said Meyer. "I thought it wouldn't look right or that it wouldn't wash out easily ... but the more I explored it, I realized it was just becoming a fun way for kids to express themselves."

Meyer says she purchased hair color online that washes out over a three-day period and allowed her daughter to color a few strips in the front of her hair. Abby was thrilled.

"I love that she is willing to try new things and have fun with her look," said Meyer. "At this stage, it's becoming a pretty normal thing for kids her age to do, and we see it all around town."

Bianca Jamotte's daughter, Lily, with her magenta hair.Bianca Jamotte

Bianca Jamotte, a New York mom, says her 5-year-old daughter, Lily, spent the entire school year begging for pink hair. At the start of summer vacation, Jamotte chose a shade of pink she assumed would show up well in Lily's blonde hair.

"She said it wasn't the right color and asked if we could go darker pink," said Jamotte. "We used magenta the second time and she was happy — she said 'this is the only me.'"

"I figure there are so many things I have to say no to for safety reasons that if I can help her express herself and style in a safe way, then why not?" said Jamotte.

Florida mom Charity LeBlanc is a make-up artist who has worked in the beauty industry for several years and colors her own hair blue. When her daughter, Felicity, 2, requested pink hair, LeBlanc says she did her research, checking with her hair-stylist friends and reading product ingredients to make sure coloring Felicity's hair was safe.

Once she felt comfortable with agreeing to hot pink locks, LeBlanc posted a video to her Instagram account, showing the process of coloring her daughter's hair. The video has received more than one million views, and has generated both positive and negative comments from viewers.

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"To me, it was a fun and sweet moment I shared with my daughter," said LeBlanc. "She was so happy about her hair that I would do it all over again regardless of anything just to see her light up and giggle at it again."

Kim Jester's son, Jimmy, 14, with his colored hair.Kim Jester

And, the fantasy color trend isn't just for girls. Maryland mom Kim Jester says her son, Jimmy, 14, has been coloring the front of his hair for over a year.

"I was perfectly fine with him getting his hair colored and my only stipulation was that he get it done professionally instead of trying to do it himself," said Jester. "I didn't want him to ruin his hair or my bathroom."

"I understand the need to feel different and in control of your appearance," Jester continued. "Hair color is not permanent, and it's an easy way for my son to express himself that can easily be undone if he changes his mind, unlike a tattoo or a piercing. I have absolutely no problem with it."

Nicole Sutton's daughters with their pink hair extensions.Nicole Sutton

But not all parents are on board with the hair-color trend.

Nicole Sutton, a Virginia mom, says when her daughters, Hayley, 11, Reagan, 9, and Bethany, 6, began asking for colored hair, she did her research and decided to go a different route.

"I did not want to put any permanent or semi-permanent color in their hair and after speaking with several friends who told me (fantasy hair) was expensive and wouldn't last long, I decided it was a no-go," said Sutton, who instead allowed her daughters to get pink hair extensions, calling it, "just enough fun without going overboard."

So is coloring kids' hair safe?

Dr. Tace Rico is a pediatric dermatologist who serves as medical director of the Florida Center for Pediatric Dermatology. Rico says it's important that parents remember that kids have very fine hair that can be easily damaged by ammonia, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, and other chemicals found in some hair colors.

"Children's hair is less mature than adult hair or even teenage hair," Rico told TODAY Parents. "The hair is finer with a much more fragile shaft to it."

Because of this, Rico recommends parents who allow young children to experiment with hair color turn to semi-permanent, temporary hair dyes that do not penetrate the hair shaft and only coat the hair.

TODAY Contributor Terri Peters allowed her daughter, Kennedy, 6, to have her hair colored at the start of summer vacation.Terri Peters

"It's good to save the real, more formal dyes until kids are at least 16," said Rico.

Rico also suggests parents complete a spot test before using hair color of any kind on their kids, applying a small amount of the product to the inside of the child's wrist several times before using to make sure there is no allergic reaction.

And, because of allergic skin reactions, Rico reminds parents that avoiding direct contact with the scalp is always a good idea when it comes to younger kids.

Jamotte says Lily plans to dye her hair purple next time, and recalls a time when a passerby made a negative comment about her daughter's magenta hair.

"I just gave her a big smile and said loudly, 'Lily, have I told you how proud I am of you that you have such a great sense of self and style? Most people will never be as brave as you.'"

This story was originally published in 2017 and has been updated.