Moms of the four million babies born each year in the United States face many claims surrounding their beauty regimens during pregnancy. While some beauty practices should be avoided, there are many solutions for women concerned about whether beauty products could be harmful to their unborn child.
"Women face a lot of uncertainty as their bodies change during pregnancy, and many worry about how to look their best," said Mary Rosser, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women's Health, Montefiore Medical Center, and assistant professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women's Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. "We work hard to separate truth from fiction to put mothers at ease and help them figure out ways to make this special time in their lives consistent with the way they're used to living and looking."
You naturally glow during pregnancy and your hair and nails get stronger and grow more quickly. But the most common concerns among pregnant women are focused on hair dyes, nail products and skin care. Dr. Rosser debunks the following claims and addresses mother's concerns:
•CLAIM: Pregnant women shouldn't dye their hair because the product is absorbed into the skin and can be toxic to the baby.
oGenerally speaking, dyes are safe but try to be completely natural during pregnancy.
oIf you must color your hair, do so after the first trimester and in a well-ventilated space; let your hair stylist know you are pregnant and ask to try not to allow chemicals to touch the scalp.
oThe real concern is breathing the ammonia fumes that could be harmful to the developing baby in the first three months of pregnancy. Women should be mindful of the fumes in straightening products as well.
oHighlights are considered safer because the dye is enclosed in foil and won't be absorbed into the skin. Vegetable dyes such as henna are likely to be safer during pregnancy.
•CLAIM: Pregnant women should avoid using nail products because the chemicals are toxic.
oPregnant women can get a standard manicure after the first trimester, when the risk to the developing fetus is lower.
oCheck that instruments have been sterilized.
oAsk the nail technician not to cut the cuticles to prevent exposure to bacteria and germs.
oAvoid acrylic nails as the chemicals and adhesives can contain cyanoacrylate, which can be harmful. This substance can be inhaled in the dust when nails are filed, so wear a mask and make sure there is proper ventilation.
•CLAIM: Pregnant women have few options to safely combat changes to their skin.
oTo combat acne, wear oil-free cosmetics and wash the face twice a day with a gentle cleanser and lukewarm water. If acne persists, ask your doctor for a prescription for erythromycin. Avoid Retin A or tetracycline, which can cause birth defects.
oTo prevent dark circles around the eyes and darkening pigment of the skin, wear sunscreen.
oStretch marks are not completely avoidable but you can try rubbing vitamin E oil on the areas most likely to be affected.
"The most important thing to remember is that this is a happy time in your life and you are beautiful just by nature of being a pregnant woman," Dr. Rosser said. "As long as you make smart choices, get plenty of rest, drinks lots of water and eat a healthy, balanced diet, you can enjoy your pregnancy, look and feel good and have a healthy baby!"
Montefiore Medical Center