Practice Safe Sexiness

Enhance your glow with our head-to-toe beauty guide. Plus, pregnancy-approved product picks.

feet beauty pregnant article_0.jpg

Hair To be on the safe side, most doctors advise against coloring your hair, especially in the first trimester. Dye can be absorbed into the scalp, explains dermatologist Jeannette Graf, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Instead, try henna or chemical-free dyes. As for highlights, precision application that avoids the scalp makes them safe as well.

Our pick: Aubrey Organics Color Me Natural, $12, safely covers gray, enhances natural tones and conditions hair without toxic chemicals.

Face While makeup is a glow enhancer, most acne medications contain ingredients that can ingredients that can cause birth defects, so do not use topical retinoid products, including Avage, Differin, Renova, Retin-A, retinols, retinyl palmitate and Tazorac. Oral medications, such as Accutane and tetracycline, should be avoided, as should over-the-counter acne creams with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. 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. Use a UVA- and UVB-shielding, SPF 15+ product every morning.

Our pick: Josie Maran Argan Protect SPF 40+ Natural Daily Sun Protection, $32, is PABA- and chemical-free.

Neck For some women, the quickest path to sensuality is a spritz of scent. Some conventional perfumes contain phthalates, which could be harmful to you and your baby. ("Fragrance" in the ingredient list could indicate the presence of these chemicals.) Instead, opt for organic or essential oil-based scents. In addition, your skin may be extra sensitive during pregnancy, and your favorite perfume may suddenly smell too strong or even odious to you. So first determine whether you still like it and, if so, test a spritz on your wrist.

Our pick: The soothing notes of mimosa, neroli and chamomile in Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Les Petites, $42 for 2 ounces, won't offend sensitive noses.

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—it's efficacy. While these balms are safe and soothing, doctors contend that nothing other than your own DNA can prevent the pinkish-purple lines from developing. However, stretch-mark-prevention balms and lotions are great at easing dry, itchy skin.

Our picks: Mustela Stretch Marks Double Action, $39, is hypoallergenic and free of parabens and phthalates; Palmer's Organics Cocoa Butter Tummy Butter for Stretch Marks, $12, soothes skin with vitamin E. Post-pregnancy, try Mederma Stretch Marks Therapy, $40, made with botanical extracts. Back A good massage is not only safe but also advisable during pregnancy. Most treatments are fine, but be sure to tell your therapist you're pregnant, says Diane Berson, M.D., of New York Presbyterian Hospital. That's because you shouldn't lie on your back for more than a few minutes after the first trimester and certain massage techniques and aromatherapy scents (i.e., essential oils of cinnamon, clove, rosemary and clary sage) should be avoided. A supportive pillow system, rather than a cut-out massage table, is best for accommodating your belly. Although a therapist trained in prenatal massage should know which oils are safe, take a whiff to ensure you don't mind the scent.

Our pick: The Organic Pharmacy Mother & Baby Massage Oil, $34, contains calming lavender and chamomile extracts.

Legs & feet At least two hair-removal methods are perfectly safe during pregnancy: shaving and waxing (as long as you've done it before and know you are not prone to ingrown hairs, which can be difficult to treat during pregnancy). The safety of laser hair removal during pregnancy has not been thoroughly studied, so it's not recommended, says Graf, who also suggests steering clear of chemical depilatories, because it's not known if these are absorbed into the skin. If you're getting a pedicure, avoid reflexology, as certain pressure points are believed to stimulate labor. To safely ease foot and leg fatigue, choose a soothing lotion.

Our pick: Made with essential oils, Mama Mio Lucky Legs, $20, contains cooling spearmint and relaxing chamomile.

Hands Though pregnant manicurists, who are constantly exposed to potentially harmful substances, may have cause for concern, getting the occasional manicure shouldn't pose a safety risk. Bring your own tools and avoid polishes with toluene, phthalates or formaldehyde (check ingredi- ents at

Our pick: Vegan-friendly nail polish from Zoya, $7, doesn't contain formaldehyde, toluene or camphor.