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Pregnancy-Proofing Your Beauty Regimen

Is your beauty routine safe when you're pregnant? Get insights on what changes you may want to consider.

Pregnancy Pimples? Get a Pro's Advice

Acne often gets worse during pregnancy because of hormone fluctuations. Talk to your doctor if you start breaking out. Prescription acne medicines, such as Accutane (isotretinoin), Retin-A (tretinoin), and tetracyclines are dangerous during pregnancy and can cause birth defects.

"I prescribe topical medications that contain azelaic acid, erythromycin, or clindamycin," says Jeanie Leddon, MD, PhD, a dermatologist in Lafayette, Colo. "Glycolic acid peels are also safe." Some doctors may feel comfortable recommending very small amounts of cream with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic wash.

It is safe to wash your face with warm water and a gentle cleanser two times a day. But don't scrub. 

Healthy Hair Color: Highlights and Dyes

Researchers haven't examined the effects of hair dye on pregnant women, so some doctors recommend avoiding them.

Other doctors are more lenient. "It's thought that only a small amount of hair-treatment chemicals are absorbed into women's skin, and this isn't enough to cause problems to the fetus," Leddon says. "Highlights that aren't applied to the scalp may be fine."

As a conservative measure, avoid hair treatment during your first trimester -- that's when your developing baby is the most susceptible.

In general, also avoid dyes and other treatments with ammonia because their fumes may cause nausea. To reduce irritation from hair coloring, treat hair in a well-ventilated room, wear gloves, and rinse well immediately after treatment.

There's No Reason to Be Led Away From Lipstick

Lead is sometimes added to lipstick to make color long-lasting. In 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that 61% of brand-name lipsticks they tested contained lead. The FDA doesn't consider lead in lipstick to be a safety concern, since lipstick isn't ingested.

"The contribution of lead-containing lipsticks [to lead poisoning] is unknown but probably fairly small," Healy says. But the safest bet would be to use one of the many lead-free lipsticks that are on the market.

Give Your Anti-Wrinkle Cream an Exam

Some pregnant women reach for wrinkle cream almost as much as they reach for stretch-mark lotion. But before massaging it into your laugh lines, consider the ingredients. Many wrinkle creams contain retinol, which has been linked to birth defects.

"There haven't been any conclusive studies, but the consensus is that retinol may be related to miscarriage or impaired growth," Salasche says.

"If a woman wants to use an anti-wrinkle cream during pregnancy, she should bring that product to her doctor so he or she can review the contents," Healy says.

Ban Botox Cosmetic Until Your Baby Arrives

Botox Cosmetic injections help smooth furrowed brows. But experts recommend skipping these treatments during pregnancy. "There are no adequate, well-controlled studies of Botox Cosmetic in pregnant women. So administration of Botox Cosmetic is not recommended during pregnancy," says Kellie Reagan, a spokeswoman for Allergan, the drug company that makes Botox Cosmetic.

Reviewed on March 01, 2012

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