Which beauty treatments are safe during pregnancy?

Find out whether it's safe to wax, dye, paint and pierce when you're expecting a baby

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Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you want to let your normal beauty routine go out of the window. But could any of your usual treatments harm your unborn baby?

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Can I dye my hair during pregnancy?

Most research shows that it’s safe to colour your hair while pregnant. Although very high doses of the chemicals in hair dyes may cause harm, when colouring your hair you are only exposed to very low amounts of chemicals. Many women decide to wait to dye their hair until after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, to lower the risk of chemical substances harming the baby.

How can I safely dye my hair?

  • If you colour your hair yourself wear gloves, leave the dye on for the minimum time and work in a well-ventilated room
  • Highlighting your hair reduces any risk because you’re putting the dye onto strands of hair, meaning they are not absorbed by your scalp
  • Change to a safer alternative such as a semi-permanent pure vegetable dye, like henna
  • As your hair may react differently in preganancy always do a strand test first, using the hair dye or treatment that you intend to use

Can I have bikini or leg wax while pregnant?

There’s no evidence to show that waxing is unsafe during pregnancy and many women continue their usual waxing routine. 

You may find you have more hair growth during pregnancy and your skin is likely to be more sensitive, because of all the hormonal changes in your body. This means your waxing may be more painful than usual.

What are the tips for waxing while pregnant?

  • Test a little of your usual product on a small area first
  • If you use a depilatory cream, make sure to read the instuctions
  • Remember to tell beauty therapists you’re pregnant if you go to a salon
  • Treat youself to wax at a salon in your third trimester as you may find it hard to do your usual hair removal routine yourself
  • If you are finding it too painful in the last few weeks of pregnancy don’t worry as by then hair removal may well have slipped down your list of priorities

Can I use fake tan during pregnancy?

A tan can make you feel a million dollars and help you get that pregnancy glow when your aren’t feeling it. Fake tanning lotions and sprays are a safer alternative to hours in the sun or sunbeds. 

The active ingredient in fake tan is Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) which is non-toxic and as it doesn’t go beyond the outer layer of skin it isn’t absorbed into the body.

Changes in hormone levels can make the skin react differently during pregnancy so if you do use a fake tan, always test the product on a small area of skin first.

Can I have my hair permed when I’m expecting?

Perming your hair during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy is a safe treatment and can make caring for your hair less time consuming and easier. Although, you’re advised to avoid having any chemically treatment on your hair in the first trimester.

Can I get a Brazilian straightening treatment while pregnant?

A Brazilian straightening treatment uses keratin to simultaneously repair and straighten your hair. As it’s applied to the hair strands it means that the chemicals are not likely to be absorbed by your scalp. However the treatment does contain a low dose of formaldehyde which you should avoid exposure to during pregnancy, particularly in your first trimester.

Can I paint my nails during pregnancy?

There is no reason why you shouldn’t use nail polish and nail polish remover during pregnancy, as long as you use it in moderation. If you just want to paint your nails now and then, you’ve nothing to worry about. It’s worth knowing that chemicals in nail polish, formaldehyde and toluene, can be harmful if you’re regularly exposed to them in large quantities. 

How do I paint my nails safely?

  • Use a nail polish that’s free from toluene and formaldehyde.
  • Use a nail polish with formaldehyde and toluene once a week at most. If you work as a nail technician, try to leave the nail painting to a colleague when you can.
  • Open doors and windows before you put on your nail polish.
  • When you dry the polish, don’t blow on it. You are more likely to breathe in the fumes. Stretch your arms way from your body to let your fingernails dry.
  • Use acetone-free nail polish removers. But even using nail polish remover every day won’t expose you to enough to harm you or your unborn baby.
  • After removing nail polish, wash your hands with soap and water to remove any chemical residues.

Can I have false nails fitted while pregnant?

Having acrylic nails fitted while pregnant has a few risks. The fumes that you breathe in can be harmful but are at low enough levels that you should not be too concerned, although you may wish to avoid having them fitted in your first trimester. The risks of having acrylic nails lie more in the complications that can arise from having false nails which can include:

  • Developing an allergy to adhesives or acrylic
  • Catching a fungal or bacterial infection in or around your nails

But these are potential problems with acrylic nails even when you’re not pregnant, and they wouldn’t have a direct effect on your baby. You may find that when you’re pregnant you’re more sensitive to these kinds of products so always test a small area first. Your nails could be stronger and healthier during your pregnancy than usual, so that “going natural” might be a good option during this time.

Can I get a piercing during pregnancy?

Women are encouraged not to have piercings done on the belly button, nipples or genitalia during pregnancy or while trying to conceive because of the physical changes happening in your body at this time.

During pregnancy you need to know how to care for the piercings you already have and how to make an informed decision about any piercing you may be considering. If you already have a piercing that has completely healed and it feels comfortable, there is not a medical reason to take out your jewellery. As your stomach and breasts grow, you may find your jewellery catching on clothing, being pulled, or bothering your skin.

How can I look after my piercings?

  • Ask your piercer for advice about maintaining the hole, preventing pulling/tearing, preventing infection
  • Keep an eye on any changes in your piercings
  • Replace jewellery for something more comfortable. You can buy flexible plastic jewellery (made of polytetrafluoroethylene) for Belly button piercings which stretch as you grow.
  • Remove any piercings if your hole is weepy, pussy, inflamed, red or irritated
  • Remove any nipple piercings during breastfeeding; this is a choking hazard and increases the risk of infection
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