OUR essential head-to-toe guide to PREGNANCY primping TELLS YOU WHAT'S SAFE to spray, slather & sprinkle on your body.
Studies show no links between today’s hair colorants and birth defects, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists OKs the use of hair dye during pregnancy. Still, if you want to be extra cautious, avoid hair color during your first trimester or space out treatments as much as possible, says Lois E. Shulman, M.D., associate professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. As for highlights, precision application that avoids the scalp makes them safe as well.
While makeup is a glow-enhancer, Accutane and all other vitamin-A derived skin medications are toxic to your baby. There’s debate on alpha and beta hydroxy acids, so consult your doctor before using them. As for sun protection, it’s not only safe but essential: Pregnant women face the same sun-exposure risks as others, plus UV-exacerbated melasma (the “mask of pregnancy”), says David E. Bank, M.D., a dermatologist in Mount Kisco, N.Y. So use a UVA- and UVB-shielding, SPF 15+ product every morning.
For some women, the quickest path to sensuality is a spritz of fragrance. And though perfume is safe to use during pregnancy, there are some caveats: “Neck fragrance is a common cause of skin allergies, to which you’re especially susceptible now,” says Bank. Then there’s scent sensitivity: Your favorite perfume may suddenly seem too strong (or completely odious to you). So first determine whether you still like it and, if all goes well, test a spritz on your skin. No adverse reaction after several minutes? You’re good to go.
breasts & belly
There’s no sexier rendering of ripeness than a burgeoning
belly and bosom. But with products that promise to defend these or other body parts against stretch marks, safety isn’t the big issue—efficacy is. While these balms are safe and soothing, doctors contend that nothing other than your own DNA can prevent the little pinkish-purple lines. However, stretch-mark-prevention balms and lotions are great at easing dry, itchy skin.
A good massage is not only safe but advisable during pregnancy. The right rubdown may ease symptoms ranging from low back pain to swelling. Check with your doctor before you book an appointment, and make sure your therapist is certified in prenatal massage. A supportive pillow system, rather than a cut-out massage table, is best for accommodating your belly (the latter may create undue strain). And though a pregnancy-trained therapist should know which oils are safe for you, sniff whatever is going to be used to make sure you don’t mind the scent.
Though pregnant manicurists who are consistently exposed to potentially harmful substances may have cause for concern, getting the occasional manicure shouldn’t pose a safety risk. However, a study by the Environmental Working Group warns against using polish that contains dibutyl phthalate (DBP), an ingredient that is linked to birth defects in animals. And for devotees of nail extensions who may have safety concerns, there are all-natural, fake nails (however oxymoronic).
At least two hair-removal methods are perfectly safe during pregnancy: shaving and waxing (though the latter may cause a reaction or be particularly painful for expectant moms). The prevailing thought on depilatory use: Why smear unnecessary chemicals on your body now? As for laser hair-removal during pregnancy, consult with your doctor if you’re interested. Meanwhile, leg lotions can safely ease fatigue.
Happy feet aren’t out of the question now, despite their increased burden. According to Janine E. Polifka, Ph.D., president of the Organization of Teratology Information Services, the mint-scented soothers aimed at tired, swollen feet and legs are safe, not to mention refreshing. But if you’re using a soak, make sure the water is cool to warm. If you’re getting a pedicure, avoid reflexology, as
certain pressure points are believed to stimulate labor.