Safe Beauty During Pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, it’s important to remember that everything that you put into or on your body has the potential to cross the placenta and be shared with your baby. Everyday beauty habits and treatments, while perfectly safe while not pregnant, may not be safe for the developing fetus. Here’s the low down on ten common cosmetic and skincare practices and whether or not they are safe during pregnancy.
1. Dying Your Hair
Verdict: Probably Safe
Whether or not it is safe to dye your hair is one of the most commonly asked beauty questions during pregnancy. While there has not been extensive research done on the effects of hair dye during pregnancy, the American Pregnancy Association has stated that it is probably safe due to the minimal amount of dye that is actually absorbed by the skin. If you want to be extra cautious, avoid any hair dye during the first trimester and opt for color treatments like highlighting or lowlighting that do not expose the scalp to chemicals. Also, make sure the room you are in is well ventilated and that you promptly rinse any excess dye from your hair after the treatment.
2. Using Sunscreen
Verdict: Safe with Precautions
Certain sunscreens during pregnancy are not safe as they contain chemicals that can get into the bloodstream and be transferred to baby. Specifically, you should avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, homosalate, octocrylene, para-aminobenzoic acid and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor. Opt for sunscreens that are not absorbed by the skin like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Also, wear a hat and avoid sun exposure between the hours of 10 and 2 when the rays are the strongest. Pregnant women are actually more susceptible to sunburns during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and are also more prone to heat exhaustion. For these reasons, it is imperative that you protect yourself from the sun during pregnancy for you and your baby!
3. Whitening Your Teeth
Because whitening treatments have not been extensively researched during pregnancy and contain potentially harmful ingredients like peroxide that can cross the placental barrier, they are considered not safe during pregnancy. Consider using a whitening toothpaste instead or waiting until after your baby is born for a professional or over-the-counter whitening treatment. It is important, however, to keep up with your dental hygiene and exams as unfortunately pregnancy can do a number on your teeth and make you more susceptible to cavities and gum disease.
4. Treating Acne
Verdict: Certain Treatments Safe
Pregnancy hormones can often wreak havoc on your skin and leave you with acne reminiscent of your freshman year in high school. To make matters worse, many of the most common and most effective acne treatments that can be prescribed by your doctor are absolutely not safe during pregnancy. Many of these prescription options have the potential to cause serious birth defects. Acne medications that should be avoided during pregnancy include topical retinoids, oral tetracyclines, isotretinoin, and hormone therapies. There are some prescription and over-the-counter topical acne medications that are most likely safe due to low absorption rates. Always discuss these options with your doctor or midwife before using any acne products during pregnancy. To err on the side of caution, opt for drug-free approaches to healthy skincare. This may include practices such as washing your face twice daily and after exercise, changing your pillow case frequently, using an oil free cleanser and moisturizer and avoiding touching your face with your hands or cell phone. Pregnancy related acne will almost always clear on its own over time once your hormones stabilize.
5. Using Hair Products
Verdict: Probably Safe
Using products like hair spray and mousse are probably perfectly safe during pregnancy. There has been some evidence in animal studies that phthalates (found in hair spray) have the potential to cause complications with male sexual development but no risk has been found to human babies thus far. Although, hair spray, gel and mousse are all most likely perfectly safe during pregnancy, if you wish to err on the side of caution, opt for products like mousse or gel that are applied topically versus products that are sprayed on the hair and pose the risk of phthalate inhalation.
6. Getting Botox
Because there have been no extensive studies examining the effects of Botox on unborn babies, it is recommended that you abstain from the treatment during pregnancy. Studies in animals show evidence of fetal abnormalities associated with Botox exposure during pregnancy. While the results cannot be generalized to human babies, the research presents a compelling reason to avoid the treatment while pregnant. Fortunately, you may find that your wrinkles are actually are less visible during pregnancy due to the extra fluid retention and that healthy pregnancy glow often experienced due to extra oil production.
7. Using Wrinkle Cream
Verdict: Generally Unsafe
Because many anti-wrinkle creams contain retinol which has been linked to birth defects and miscarriages, it is safest to steer clear of them during pregnancy. Retinol is a form of Vitamin A that has been found to cause serious birth defects such as cleft palate and other developmental abnormalities in high doses. Instead, opt for safer ways of caring for your skin like a mild facial moisturizer, drinking plenty of water and getting sufficient rest.
8. Using Self-Tanner
Verdict: Better to Wait
While tanning from a bottle or spray booth is likely safer than tanning beds or excessive exposure to the sun, there is still some concern about dihydroxyacetone which is the primary active ingredient in these products. Dihydroxyacetone or DHA is able to penetrate the skin and therefore can get into your bloodstream and ultimately to baby. Because research has not been performed examining the effects of DHA on the fetus, your safest bet is to avoid self-tanning until after your baby is born. Additionally, you may find that your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy and more prone to irritation. If you do decide to use a self-tanning product, be sure to do a patch test first before covering your entire body with the solution.
9. Getting Your Nails Done
In general, it is perfectly safe to get your nails done during pregnancy. Nail polish, and even acrylic nails, cannot be absorbed through the nails and therefore pose no risk of getting into your blood stream and crossing the placenta to baby. The primary concern in the nail salon while pregnant is the solvent fumes which can make you feel queasy or light-headed. To avoid over-inhalation of dangerous fumes, be sure to sit in a well-ventilated area or save your manis and pedis for the comfort of your own home where you can better control the ventilation and airflow.
Getting Your Hair Professionally Straightened
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety, Japanese and Brazillian professional hair straightening treatments are not safe during pregnancy. This is due to the fact that these procedures involve harmful chemicals like formaldehyde that have the potential to cause fertility problems, fetal abnormalities and miscarriage. If you want straighter hair during pregnancy your best bet is to use a flat iron which will not expose you and your baby to potentially harmful chemicals.
While pregnancy may feel like it has an endless number of rules about what you can and cannot do, try to remind yourself that their all to protect the health and well-being of your future baby. There are not any beauty treatments that cannot wait nine months in exchange for the peace of mind that you are doing everything you can to protect your developing child. For questions about safe beauty and skincare during pregnancy, or for a free consultation with a midwife and a tour of our Birth Center, contact Health Foundations. We are here to answer all of your pregnancy related questions and more!