Pregnancy and you blog

Pregnancy beauty routine: What's safe?

By Julie A. Lamppa, C.N.M., R.N. October 28, 2015

We like to think of pregnancy as a time to glow and show off that baby bump. But, let's face it, the Marilyn Monroe inside of you isn't always as loud and proud as it should be.

Changes in hormones and skin — and, of course, weight gain — all can contribute to pregnant women not always feeling quite their best. So what beauty products are safe to continue using while pregnant? The answers aren't always easy.

The biggest problem is the lack of research. Without studies, health care providers and mothers need to rely upon expert opinion and good ol' common sense. As with any product you are unsure about using during pregnancy, talk to your health care provider. Consider these guidelines for your pregnancy beauty routine:

Skin products

  • With most facial products, very little of the active ingredients pass into the maternal blood stream. Because of this, it's unlikely that a developing baby will be affected.
  • Avoid products containing tretinoin (Retin-A, Atralin, others), a type of retinoid. Isotretinoin (Amnesteem, Claravis, others), an oral prescription medication for severe acne, is known to cause birth defects and should never be used during pregnancy.

Self-tanning lotion, gels and sprays

  • Experts estimate that only 0.5 percent of dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the active ingredient in self-tanners that makes skin darker, passes into the maternal blood stream during application. It is unknown if this small amount crosses the placenta to the baby.
  • Consider avoiding spray tanning booths since there is a higher risk of inhalation, which could allow more DHA to get into your system.

Hair treatments

  • When you use hair dye or other hair products, a small amount can penetrate your skin. Generally, however, the chemicals aren't thought to pose harm to a developing baby. While further research is needed about straightening treatments and permanents, only small amounts of the chemicals involved are absorbed maternally.

Waxing and nail treatments

  • Getting a wax or a manicure won't put baby directly in harm's way, but a subsequent skin infection could pose risks. Make sure the salon follows recommended hygiene practices.

When it comes to making decisions about pregnancy exposures, every woman is different. Some wouldn't dream of indulging in the new fall hair color during pregnancy, while others don't worry about it. And others might defer until after the first trimester. Regardless of where you fall, continue to find your beauty in all of the wonderful (and temporary) changes that are happening. Even if the pregnancy glow is just a nice way to describe your greasy face, learn to roll with it!

Oct. 28, 2015