Do's and dont's of pregnancy primping
Do pass on the polish
While there’s no medical consensus on using polish and polish remover during pregnancy, a recent study by the Environmental Working Group found that dibutyl phthalate (or DBP, a chemical contained in many leading brands of nail polish) caused birth defects in lab animals. So keep your nails free of polish, or look for products that are DBP-free.
Don’t use strong acne treatments
In your heightened hormonal state, you may experience intensified breakouts, but most of the usual treatment options are off-limits during pregnancy. “Accutane is definitely not allowed since it has been proven to cause birth defects, and you should also avoid other vitamin A treatments, like Retin-A, Renova and Differin, until after you’re done breastfeeding,” says OB-GYN Allan Lichtman, M.D., clinical professor at the University of Southern California School of Medicine in Los Angeles. He also suggests you steer clear of oral acne medications (the tetracycline family of antibiotics, in particular, can discolor your unborn baby’s teeth). Even seemingly benign drugstore remedies (benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid) are potentially harmful, so stay away. Also avoid “natural” acne treatments that contain herbs or oils; these ingredients aren’t monitored by the Food and Drug Administration, so there’s little information on their safety. Drying mud masks and alpha hydroxy acid lotions are safe.
Do indulge yourself at a day spa
Tell the spa that you’re pregnant when you book an appointment, as there are some treatments that you should avoid — and others that are perfect prenatal treats. “A pregnancy massage feels heavenly to most women, especially during the third trimester,” says Tanya Handling, a licensed massage therapist at Skin Spa in Encino, Calif. “There are special tables with holes cut out of the middle, so an expectant mother can lie face down — something she may not have been able to do for months.”
Stay away from anything that involves a lot of heat (such as hot baths, whirlpools, steam rooms, even paraffin wax treatments). Also request only unscented or mildly scented products; you may be sensitive to fragrance, and some essential oils are unsafe during pregnancy. At home, try a de-stressing mist.