Q: Can I use cellulite creams while I'm pregnant?
A: "Generally, I don't recommend firming and cellulite creams during pregnancy," says Elizabeth Goldberg, M.D., a clinical instructor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City, who is expecting her first child in January. "They contain three ingredients that we suggest pregnant women stay away from: retinols, DMAE and caffeine." Retinols, a form of vitamin A, have been linked to severe birth defects, and caffeine is a stimulant that should only be consumed in limited amounts during pregnancy. The effects of applying DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol, a naturally occurring substance that is said to firm and tighten skin) during pregnancy haven't been researched, so it should be avoided. "The major problem with these products is that they're unregulated, so you have no idea how much of any potentially harmful ingredients are in a tube or jar," Goldberg cautions. Also, since they are applied over a large surface area, the potential for absorption into the bloodstream is that much greater.Since cellulite often is a weight-gain issue, Goldberg says that eating a healthful diet and exercising are the best ways to help smooth its appearance. Beyond that, be sure to keep your skin well-hydrated--any basic moisturizer will make the skin look better by holding in water and preventing dimples from becoming too pronounced. And even if you do notice the appearance of cellulite for the first time during pregnancy, it may diminish after you give birth.