Safety First

Protect your baby and your own skin with these tips.


As your body changes during pregnancy, so may your beauty routine. You'll want to be extra vigilant about which beauty products you use, because your regular regimen may not be safe for your baby.

Check out our product guide on the following page to help prepare for the biggest change of all—a new addition to your family.

The Mane Event The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists OK's hair-dye use during pregnancy, but other experts urge caution. To err on the side of safety, avoid coloring your hair during your first trimester or space out color treatments as much as possible, advises Lois E. Shulman, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Highlighting, a precision application that avoids the scalp, is also a safe way to color your hair. To extend the life of your color choice, use products like L'Oreal Nature's Therapy Color Confidence Anti-Fading Shampoo ($9) and Conditioner ($7), which contain vitamin E to moisturize hair and fruit acids to prevent color from fading.

About Face While makeup can enhance your pregnancy glow, oral or topical vitamin A-derived skin medications, such as Accutane and Renova, can cause birth defects. "Salicylic acid also needs to be avoided," cautions Leslie Baumann, M.D., professor of dermatology at the University of Miami and author of The Skin Type Solution (Bantam).

Baumann explains that salicylic acid is in the same family as aspirin, which has been linked to fetal brain bleeding. Also, consult your doctor before using products containing alpha- or beta-hydroxy acids. Along with the same sun-exposure risks as others, you're prone to UV-exacerbated melasma (the "mask of pregnancy"), says David E. Bank, M.D., a dermatologist in Mount Kisco, N.Y. Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Daily Regenerating Moisture Lotion with SPF 15 ($13) protects skin and contains vitamin C to prevent skin damage from free radicals.

Bosom Buddies Your belly isn't the only part of your body that is getting bigger—and, in turn, suffering the consequences. Your ballooning breasts, too, may develop stretch marks and itchiness as the skin expands. Keep your skin soft—and discomfort to a minimum—by washing with a mild cleanser and applying cream right after you shower to lock in moisture, suggests Bank. Mustela Specific Support Bust ($25), which is safe to use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, contains a soy peptide derivative and wheat protein to help support the skin as it expands, plus calendula extract to soothe itching.

Full Frontal Disclosure There's no sexier rendering of ripeness than a burgeoning belly. But when it comes to the host of products that promise to prevent stretch marks, safety isn't really the issue—effectiveness is. The result of your rapidly expanding midsection, stretch marks form in the layer of supportive tissue found just beneath the skin's surface.

While doctors agree that only your own DNA can prevent permanent marks (which will fade over time), most balms and lotions are harmless and soothing. Clarins Stretch Mark Control ($46) calms dry, inflamed, itchy skin with olive, coconut and palm oils.

Smooth Operator Your legs can safely stay as smooth as a baby's bottom with shaving and waxing. But because pregnancy hormones can sensitize your skin, waxing may cause a skin reaction or feel particularly painful. And while depilatory use hasn't been shown to be harmful, moms-to-be should avoid applying unnecessary chemicals on their bodies.

In addition, be sure to consult your doctor before scheduling laser hair removal. To safely relax and rejuvenate tired legs, look for lotions containing refreshing botanicals, such as Burt's Bees Mama Bee Leg and Foot Creme ($9) with cooling peppermint oil (safe in small doses) and rosemary leaf extract.