So you’re expecting (congrats!), but now what about your beauty routine over the next nine months? You may have that natural glow, stronger nails, and thicker, longer hair—all which come along with your growing bundle of joy, but, hey, you still want to look your best. You like your products. But the big question is: are they safe? One general rule to live by: always patch test first. “Your body is going through so many changes during pregnancy and you might develop allergies and sensitivities that weren’t an issue before,” says all-natural guru and founder of her own eponymous skin care line, Indie Lee. We quizzed Lee and other beauty experts to get their opinion on what’s baby-safe—and what you should avoid until the little bundle of joy arrives.
“There are so many options for you to feel good about how you look and what you’re putting on your body while pregnant,” says Lee, naming organic makeup lines like ILIA and rms beauty as examples. “The growth of natural products in the industry is fantastic—you can now get all kinds of lip colors and stay on trend while still being safe. In fact, once you see how easy it is to go natural these days, you might want to stick with it after pregnancy, too,” says Lee.
In general, Lee’s biggest tip: know what the ingredients are in every product before you put it on your face or body. This is especially important when you’re with baby. “The products with the least amount of ingredients and the most you can easily pronounce are the best,” she says. You can even make products yourself, DIY-style (see Lee’s vanilla body cream recipe here). But, always consult your doctor before putting on any topicals, like straight essential oils. A few more tips from Lee:
• Stay hydrated. Nurture yourself by drinking lots of water and moisturizing. “It’s one of the most important ways to keep your skin elastic and can help with itchiness and stretch marks,” says Lee. Melted beeswax is great to apply right to your belly and raw coconut oil is your best bet for an effective and safe moisturizer. Be extra careful, too, about what you use on your breast area if you plan on breastfeeding.
• Seek out natural healers: Get lots of ylang ylang, tea tree oil, chamomile, and citrus. All are great ingredients in skin care products, and especially while pregnant. If you breakout during your pregnancy, use tea tree oil on your pimples, “It’s a miracle worker,” says Lee.
• Avoid known inflammatories. Rosemary, jasmine, and cinnamon—all natural—are all also known to increase blood pressure and could cause early contractions, “unless,” adds Lee, “you’re at the end of your pregnancy and want a natural way to help speed up the process!” Also, be mindful of salon services; don’t wax since your skin is too sensitive. For the same reason, Lee also recommends steering clear of anything containing synthetic fragrances.
“In general getting your nails done while pregnant is safe,” affirms Chelsea King, noted nail artist and blogger who says since the polish is on your nails, and not getting absorbed into your skin, a mani-pedi is relatively nontoxic. The problem is more the environment of the salon you go to for nail services. “You want to make sure the salon is well-ventilated so you aren’t affected by the fumes,” says King. Some more tips from King:
• Use dye-free polish. King singles out RGB, Deborah Lippmann, and OPI as three great, more-natural options. “But in general, these days, I’d say that most major brands have switched to chemical-free products because they know they work just as well,” she says. Meaning, polishes are either 3-free (made without dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde) or 5-free (which add formaldehyde resin, and camphor to the 3-free list). “Just be sure to check the bottles,” says King.
• Bring your own tools. According to King, it’s the most sanitary way to ensure there are no problems with fungus getting spread when you’re pregnant.
• Have fun with it. When you’re pregnant, you’ll want to be pampered, so enjoy your time at the salon, especially when you’re nearing the end of your term and can barely reach down to touch your toes. “A lot of baby showers are now incorporating mani-pedi parties,” says King, “and some moms-to-be will gift their guests with blue or pink polish to go home with, matching the baby’s gender.”
“I personally like when women take a break from hair color when they’re pregnant because you want to be 100% safe,” says Pasquale Caselle, creative director of IT &LY Hairfashion and consultant for TV shows including Modern Family and The Voice. Obviously hair dye and bleach each have a rash of chemicals that are used to process your strands—when absorbed through the scalp, they can enter the bloodstream. The other reason is that, given the extreme hormonal changes your hair is experiencing, it can make your hair more stubborn to accept color. And that might require your stylist to use a stronger product so that it’s effective.
There are two periods during your pregnancy that you especially want to be super careful, says Caselle: One is the first trimester and the other is three months after giving birth, especially if you plan to breastfeed. However, this isn’t to say you have to watch your roots grow like drying paint during the next nine months. Here are Caselle’s tips for staying safe while looking fab:
• Choose ammonia-free color. Talk to your stylist or choose clearly labeled at-home brands (Garnier and L’Oreal both have options). “It may give you super-intense color,” says Caselle, “but you can go with a gloss or rinse that at least gives you a spruce-up that you know is safe.”
• Opt for foils or ombre. Foiling and ombre techniques, which target only the tips of hair, are much safer. Why? “Because the product is not touching the scalp,” explains Caselle.
• Dilute the dye. You can dilute with water or add almond, sunflower, or jojoba oil to make the product easier to tolerate, says Caselle. Remember, do a patch test first. If you put on the product and get a reaction—developing a rash, becoming nauseous from the fumes—wash off all dye immediately.