How to Choose a Safe Beauty Treatment in Pregnancy

Why use a product or get a treatment that will make you fret when you're expecting? Our guide will help you stress less and pamper yourself more.


The hair salon
Stay away from all color treatments during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, says New York-based OB-GYN Albert Sassoon, M.D., M.P.H. After that, stick with highlights (they don't touch the scalp) or natural vegetable dyes. If you plan on coloring your locks at home, take note: Because your hair is going through hormonal changes right along with the rest of you, the color you usually use may look different when you apply it while you're expecting, says Eliút Rivera, owner of Eliút Salon in New York. This may be the time to splurge on a salon treatment to avoid any unexpected horrible hues. Book the first appointment of the day to minimize your exposure to fumes.

We like: Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Multi-Lights, $7, add highlights.

The nail shop
You can still get a manicure and pedicure, as long as you take certain precautions: Bring your own tools and don't put your feet in the tub because your immune system is suppressed now. "It can be a breeding ground for bacteria," says dermatologist Heidi A. Waldorf, M.D. Choose a well-ventilated salon and avoid polishes that contain toluene, phthalates or formaldehyde (check ingredients at

We like: Butter LONDON polish, $14, is free of toxins.

The spa
Many massages are not just OK, but recommended. "They help improve circulation, promote relaxation and reduce swelling," says New York-based integrative physician Jeffrey Morrison, M.D. Be sure to tell your practitioner that you are pregnant. That's because you shouldn't lie on your back for more than a few minutes after the first trimester and certain massage techniques, aromatherapy and facial products should be avoided. As for the sauna or steam room, it's best to avoid them as well as any treatment that causes your body temperature to rise dramatically, such as a warming body wrap or vichy shower.

We like: Mustela Massage Oil, $12, hydrates and soothes skin.

The beauty counter
Most acne medications contain ingredients that can cause birth defects, so don't use topical retinoid products, including Avage, Differin, Renova, Retin-A, retinols, retinyl palmitate and Tazorac. Oral medications, such as Accutane and tetracycline, should also be avoided, as should over-the-counter products that target blemishes with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.

We like: Zeno Hot Spot, $40, uses heat to heal blemishes.

Take extra care to keep harmful ingredients out of your beauty arsenal when you're expecting. In addition to those mentioned above, here are more words to watch out for on labels: aluminum, ammonia, hydroquinone, oxybenzone and parabens.