With big feet, an expanding belly, and hair cropping up in places no hair should ever be, it's no wonder many of us don't feel at our best during pregnancy. Not only do we have to deal with the internal issues such as fatigue and aching muscles, we also have to deal with the external facade, and it's so tempting to use all the products under the sun to help us look, and feel, more like our old selves. But could these little pampering sessions actually be harmful to the baby? While some beauty products are considered to be completely safe during pregnancy, others have shown to contribute to birth defects, and research for some products remains inconclusive. So if you're worried about what you can and can't use on your body during pregnancy, here's the lowdown.
Some creams and lotions are perfectly safe to continue using during pregnancy and breastfeeding, with some, such as suncreams providing more protections against risks, and against beauty imperfections, than not using them at all.
All women know the importance of wearing a good, high factor sunscreen in the summer; not only does it protect against the risk of sunburn, skin cancer, and premature ageing, it can also be very beneficial during pregnancy for keeping at bay the dark patches that some women develop. Dark patches on the face especially are very common during pregnancy. The condition is called melasma gravidarum and is caused by the natural change in hormones. Up to 70 percent of women report these changes, with those with darker skin more susceptible. Studies have found that regular use of sunscreen can reduce this figure to just 2 or 3 percent.
Gentle Cleansers & Soaps
Due to the risks of using prescription acne treatments, it's always best to try to manage skincare using facial soaps and cleansers. If oily skin is a worry, wash twice a day with a "simple" soap with minimal ingredients, one without a huge list of chemicals you can't pronounce. Although the chemical-laden products promise to remove grease, they can also remove the skin's good oils, leaving the face dry and peeling. To reduce grease, switch to oil-free foundations and moisturizers and keep hair clean to avoid oil transfer.
Hair Removal Lotions
As any pregnant women will know only too well, trying to shave the legs with a big baby belly in the way is an impossible task. While some women employ their husbands or partners to get trimming for them, some of us are more comfortable with keeping that air of mystery in the relationship. So how do you stay smooth? With hair removal creams. These creams kill the hair follicles and are absorbed into the skin to moisturize, but they are not absorbed into the bloodstream, meaning the chemicals are never in contact with the baby. So there's no excuses for hairy legs, ladies!
Use with Caution
Some products are widely used by women during pregnancy, but research into whether they are completely 100 percent safe or not is varied. Therefore, it's your choice whether to use these beauty products or not, but if you do decide to use them, stay safe and use your initiative; if you feel something is wrong, see a Doctor.
Hair dye is one of the big pregnancy debates. While some argue it's perfectly safe, others worry about the harsh chemicals harming the baby, especially the chemicals found in bleaches and other lightening products. Studies have found slight positive associations between first trimester hair coloring and an increased risk of neuroblastoma; a cancer of the nerves. Therefore, it's better to color hair after the first trimester, and, if possible, avoiding putting dye directly onto the roots and scalp to reduce the amount that is absorbed into the body. Highlights are considered safer due to the foils creating a barrier between the dye and the scalp.
Nail Adhesives & False Nails
Manicures is often something pregnant women don't think can pose a risk to their baby, but not only can acrylic affect the reproductive system due to the cyanoacrylate, which is of course detrimental to a growing baby, but pushing the cuticles back can leave women susceptible to infection. To reduce risks, delay manicures until after the first trimester, and avoid false nails. If falsies absolutely have to be worn, be sure to wear a mask during filing, and do it in a well ventilated area.
Some products should be avoided altogether, particularly some prescription acne treatments and over-the-counter moisturizers that contain specific ingredients. As a general rule, do not go near any product that contains retinoids or salicylic acid.
Some Acne Pills & Moisturizers
Retinoids are frequently found in anti-ageing moisturizers due to their wrinkle-reducing properties, but the way they work is by repairing skin cells using high doses of Vitamin A. Doses greater than 8000 IU daily have been found to contribute to birth defects, which is why pregnant women are advised to limit their consumption of Vitamin A-rich foods such as liver. Many acne pills contain salicylic acid which is a type of aspirin. It's very effective in clearing up skin by reducing the inflammation, redness, and tenderness of pimples. However, high doses of aspirin, particularly during the first trimester, are thought to be partly responsible for a serious birth defect known as gastroschisis, where the intestines protrude through the body.
Pregnancy is a good opportunity to experiment with some homemade natural solutions to beauty woes. Honey and porridge oats make an excellent face mask, while honey and olive oil are great for leaving hair strong and shiney. Some brave women choose to make their own antiperspirants out of fruits such as strawberries, and if you're feeling brave, you could even make a hair dye from vegetable juices. Get creative!