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Bronzing Your Belly: Self-Tanners and Sunscreens continued...

Some sunscreens include oxybenzone; one recent study linked its absorption to low birth weight in baby girls. But this research didn't prove that sunscreen was to blame.

"Sunscreen is extremely important because pregnancy hormones can make the skin more sensitive than normal," Salasche says. If you're concerned about its use, consider one of these options:

  • Use a non-chemical sunscreen and wear a hat and other protective clothing while out in the sun. Limit your time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense.
  • Use sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide instead. These ingredients filter out UV rays by sitting on top of the skin -- meaning they're not absorbed.

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.