All The Beauty Treatments You Can — And Can’t — Pamper Yourself With While Pregnant
Maybe it’s the prenatal vitamins, maybe it’s the pregnancy glow, but many women claim their hair and nails have never looked better when they get pregnant. But, a few months later, when they feel like they’re carrying the weight of the world in their belly — literally and figuratively — that glow could be long gone. So, what would any woman do? Head to the salon for some pampering, of course. But when you’re pregnant, it’s just not that simple.
“Some beauty treatments are off limits during pregnancy because most things have not been studied for safety during pregnancy,” says Dr. Lisa Valle, OB/GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA. “Overall, you want to limit exposure to as many toxic chemicals as possible during pregnancy so that you minimize the overall toxic load of exposure.”
Women typically take every precaution to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby. “They often give intense thought to every ingredient in their diets and vitamins, scrutinize exercise regimens, travel plans, house painting and carpet cleaning, and even physical working conditions to minimize risk,” says Dr. Alyssa Dweck, MS, MD, FACOG, a practicing OB/GYN at the CareMount Medical in Westchester County, New York and Monistat Ambassador. “Medications, whether prescription or OTC, are carefully vetted. Rules and guidelines are under continuous review and this is an ever-changing landscape with newer research and the benefit of time. Hygiene products and beauty regimens should be just as carefully contemplated but when all considered, each woman’s health care provider provides the ultimate guidance for each individual.”
So how can you know whether certain beauty treatments may pose a risk to you or your baby during pregnancy? The truth is, every case is different. That’s why we broke it down for you, explaining what’s safe — and what’s not:
By now, we’ve all heard that the only safe tan comes from a bottle — not the damaging rays of the sun. Unless, of course, you’re expecting, in which case you will have to embrace the indoors look. “It is best to avoid spray tans during pregnancy due to the unknown effects of inhalation of the chemicals involved,” Valle says. “Also, you might have an allergic reaction since your skin is much more sensitive during pregnancy.”
You should never use a tanning bed, regardless of whether you’re pregnant or not, because it’s one of the worst things you can do to your skin. “Tanning beds pose the risk of skin cancer and skin damage to all women and is not advocated,” warns Dweck. Having a bun in the oven is an even bigger reason to avoid this oven. Plus, it’s never a good idea to significantly raise your body temperature, since it may increase the risk of neural tube defects, cautions Valle.
Luckily, you don’t have to dare to bare nude nails. “You can use regular nail polish while pregnant,” Valle says. “However, adequate ventilation during application is important so that you avoid inhaling the fumes. I would stick with formaldehyde- and toluene-free nail polishes. Formaldehyde can irritate your lungs, eyes and throat and you can possibly be more sensitive to this during pregnancy. Toluene at high levels can damage the nervous system and thus have effects on your newborn baby.” And nail art fans can rejoice — Valle says gel manicure are safe too, as long as you adhere to the same rules.
If you want to nail your pregnancy, skip the acrylics. “I would avoid acrylic nails during pregnancy,” Valle says. “All of the chemicals involved in the acrylic nail application process have not been studied for safety in pregnant women.”
Feeling a little puffy in the face? A facial can help with that — estheticians are trained to massage your face in a way to bring down any swelling. “A traditional facial isn’t concerning as long as you confirm the safety of the products and methods used,” Dweck says. “Be sure to confirm with your own health care provider.” Your OB-GYN will give you a list of skincare ingredients to stay away from, such as retinol and any vitamin-A derivatives. Run that list by your esthetician before any treatment to make sure you won’t be exposed. Also, keep in mind that your skin will likely be more sensitive due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy.
A prenatal massage might end up being your favorite prenatal anything. Carrying another human can lead to backaches, among other pains, so you’ll want plenty of them. “Consider a prenatal massage with an experienced masseuse,” Dweck says. “Make sure to be on a table with a hole for a gravid belly while on your stomach, and avoid being flat on your back after you’re 16 to 20 weeks. Use the proper tilting with pillows to avoid lowering blood pressure. Also, avoid pressure points on the feet that might promote contractions.” Even with these guidelines, you’ll still want to check with your doctor first before getting a massage during pregnancy.
Enjoying a shvitz is not such a hot idea (pun intended!) while you’re pregnant. “We typically advise avoiding excessive temperatures in a sauna or steam room,” Dweck says. “It brings a risk of dehydration or increased body temperature.” The latter can make you feel dizzy, which is never a good sensation, especially when you’re expecting. And again, it’s best to avoid high heat that would raise your body temperature, since it may increase the risk of neural tube defects.
You’re better off showing those roots in the early stages of pregnancy. “The general rule of thumb is to avoid lead and ammonia containing products, avoid touching the scalp with foils, and wait until after the first trimester for all,” Dweck says. “Confirm with your own health care provider to come up with a plan.” But be sure to proceed with caution. “There are only limited studies on the safety of hair dyes used during pregnancy,” Valle says. “If you do decide to color your hair, I advise a well-ventilated area and the use of gloves.”
“No, I would advise against using Botox and fillers during pregnancy,” Valle says. “There are no large safety studies during pregnancy to show that it is safe.” You’ll just have to be fine with fine lines for now!
Embrace the fuzz! “I would avoid laser hair removal during pregnancy since there isn’t a lot of safety data on this on the effects on the fetus,” Valle says.
Want a “mom” tattoo? It’s best to hold off on getting any fresh ink. “A tattoo should be avoided during pregnancy due to the small increased risk of acquiring Hepatitis B, C and HIV,” Valle explains. “There is also no safety data on the dyes used during pregnancy.”
“There is no issue with waxing, however go to a reputable facility,” Dweck says. “Also, avoid being flat on your back after 16 to 20 weeks, and be mindful of signs of infection.” Keep in mind that your skin is a lot more sensitive during pregnancy, so it might hurt a lot more. And as with waxing at any point in your life, avoid doing it on any type of broken skin, varicose veins, warts or acne since it will aggravate these conditions.
Your new studs will have to wait. “I would avoid piercings during pregnancy due to the small risk of infection,” Valle warns. “Even small infections can cause problems due to the changes of the immune system during pregnancy.”
Have you ever walked by a salon and seen the stylist wearing a mask while doing a keratin treatment? That makes it pretty obvious you should steer clear of this one. “I would advise against using a keratin hair treatment while pregnant,” Valle says. “Many contain formaldehyde, which can irritate your lungs, eyes, throat and you can possibly be more sensitive to this during pregnancy.”
Written by Celia Shatzman.