Hair and Beauty – Keeping safe during pregnancy.

March 24, 2020

What is safe during pregnancy?

This is a question I get asked often and keeping safe during pregnancy is very important.

From dying your hair and applying spray tan, having your nails done as well as Botox understand what is safe for you during your pregnancy.

Any chemical in large amounts can be harmful to both you and your baby. But most beauty products only contain small amounts of chemicals.

Botox in pregnancy and breastfeeding

Botox or botulinum toxin is used for cosmetic purposes as well as for helping people deal with headaches and migraines. Despite its use in women who might be pregnant there is limited research to show its effects on pregnancy or the fetus.

Botox is a large molecule so doesn’t cross the placenta. However whilst it might not cross over to baby it has been shown in animals that high levels of Botox resulted in a miscarriage. It is for this reason that Botox should not be used during pregnancy.

Limited data is available as to whether Botox passes into breast milk. So that means no Botox until you have stopped breastfeeding.

Hair Dye

For those women who dye their hair, regrowth can be dreaded. There has always been the myth that dyeing your hair can harm your baby. Fortunately, this one is not true. The chemicals in both permanent and semi-permanent hair dye aren’t readily absorbed by intact skin and as a result, are unlikely to cause any harm to your baby. Research in this area is limited, however, colouring your hair three or four times during your pregnancy is safe.

If you are a little worried about any absorption then I do recommend waiting until 12 weeks to dye your hair. This prevents your baby from being exposed to chemicals whilst their vital organs are forming.

You can decrease absorption by minimising or avoiding any scalp exposure to chemicals; so highlights and balayage might prove an alternative. Using semi-permanent vegetable dye, such as henna is another alternative.

If you’re colouring your hair yourself, use standard precautions by:

  • wearing gloves
  • ensuring the room is well-ventilated
  • leaving the dye in for the minimum amount of time required and
  • thoroughly rinsing your hair at the end of the treatment.

If your skin is broken it can lead to increased blood absorption. It is best to avoid colouring your hair if your scalp has any scabs, broken areas, chemical burns or abscesses.

If you’re a hairdresser there is no need to worry. There is no evidence that working with hair dyes can harm your baby or cause a miscarriage. Just ensure you wear gloves and work in a well- ventilated salon.

Nail Treatments

Just like hair dye, the chemicals used in nail treatments are in low doses and not readily absorbed by your skin.

As with any chemical, the greatest concern is long term exposure to a chemical or a once-off very high dose of a chemical. This could result in high blood levels of the chemical and usually causes continual chronic headaches.
If such levels are reached then it could result in miscarriage – however, the research is very limited and conflicting.

Follow the same simple steps as for hair colouring to minimising absorption and therefore the risk to your baby. If you have any cuts to the nail bed its best to avoid any nail treatments.

The fumes given off from the acrylic products might cause you to feel nauseated and sick. This can happen if you’re pregnant or not. Some women may get an allergy to the acrylic nail or develop a fungal or bacterial infection due to changes in the immune system whilst pregnant. In this case, avoiding future treatments is best.

For women who are pregnant and working in nail salons with acrylic nail products; ensure the area is well ventilated and protect your skin from exposure to chemicals by wearing gloves. Have a discussion with your employer to see if you can limit the time you spend around these chemicals and ensure you get some fresh air throughout the day.

Fortunately in pregnancy, your nails are usually healthier and stronger, so for some women avoiding exposure to treatments may not be such a bad thing at all.

Fake Tan

The active ingredient in fake tan is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). It reacts with the cells in the outermost layer of skin, producing a brown pigment called melanoidin. Fortunately, it doesn’t penetrate the skin much further, so isn’t absorbed by the bloodstream. It’s safe to use in creams and lotions.

It’s safest to avoid spray tans given that you can inhale DHA which might make it more easily absorbed.

Fake tan can cause an allergic skin reaction in pregnancy due to the changes in a woman’s immunity. I recommend that prior to using any lotion or cream to the whole body, do a test on a small patch of skin that is well hidden.

Anti-ageing creams

Anti-ageing creams contain retinoids which are a type of Vitamin A. Retinoids help renew your skin and prevent collagen from breaking down.

Vitamin A in high doses, when taken orally in the form of tablets or in food containing liver, has been shown to cause deformities in babies, especially if consumed in high doses during the first 7 weeks of pregnancy.

However absorption of Vitamin A from anti-ageing creams is very low, so don’t be too worried if you used them not knowing you were pregnant.

That said the general rule is its best to avoid these creams whilst pregnant.

Waxing and using depilatory cream in pregnancy

You can continue with your waxing regime. The only issue is that you might find your skin becomes more sensitive especially in the pubic area. This is due to changes to your hormones and the blood flow to that area in particular. Waxing might result in some bruising.

The use of a depilatory cream might result in an allergic reaction that wasn’t present when you weren’t pregnant. If you have an allergy, don’t use it anymore and try a small test dose 2 months after pregnancy.


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