By the time women hit 30, we tend to have our beauty habits in place. We’ve perfected our hair color and honed our product lineup to find our favorite go-to’s. The onset of pregnancy, however, forces mothers-to-be to reevaluate everything. Suddenly the safety of every product and ingredient is an issue. No longer can we inject, peel and dye with total abandon. But life’s greatest blessing doesn’t have to be beauty’s biggest curse. Here are some alternatives to time-honored beauty routines that will get you through those nine long months.
Treatment to Avoid: Botox
Why: According to the National Institute of Health, the effects of Botox administration during human pregnancy are largely unknown. The FDA labeled it a pregnancy risk category C, which means there aren’t adequate or well controlled studies in humans, and recommends that it should be “administered during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.”
What You Can Do Instead: Try Brad Skincare’s Ultra Elastin Sculpting Firming Complex Cream. The LA-based cult line features multi-peptides that promotes new elastin and collagen synthesis, significantly reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Natura Bisse’s Diamond Ice Lift also defines and smoothes facial contours while diminishing wrinkles. Or, take precautions in advance that will help ease the effects of aging. “The number one anti-ager that pregnant women can do is wear a hat every single time they are out in the sun,” said Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center. “Pregnant women are particularly sensitive to the sun and sunscreen just isn’t enough.”
Treatment to Avoid: Single Process Hair Color
Why: Experts go back and forth on this one. Experimental animal studies showed risks from some of the chemicals found in hair products and dyes, namely phenylenediamine,aminophenolsand ethanolamine when used in very high doses. Human studies, however, show that such exposure results in very limited systemic absorption. To be safe, many women opt to wait until after the first trimester.
What You Can Do Instead: For his cautious clients, Oscar Blandi applies alternative color processes that lack ammonia or peroxides, such as a watercolor camouflage for roots or Inoa, an all-natural color line by L’Oreal. Oribe offers an Airbrush Root Touch-Up Spray that instantly cover grays and roots and revives highlights between appointments. Rita Hazan also created her Ultimate Shine Gloss to help clients go the distance between treatments. It is free of ammonia and alcohol and keeps color from fading.
Treatment to Avoid: Glycolic Peels
Why: According to the NIH, there have been several animal studies demonstrating adverse reproductive effects when glycolic acid was administered in high doses. Examining the use of glycolic acid in human pregnancy has not been conducted.
What You Can Do Instead: At her Fifth Avenue facility, Joanna Vargas administers her Oxygen Purifying Facial on pregnant clients. The treatment resurfaces skin, erases fine lines and wrinkles and restores moisture to the skin. Because pure oxygen is antibacterial, it kills acne-causing bacteria that can lead to breakouts. She also recommends organic products to use at home and to avoid using anything too harsh outside the office. “I would only do peels with an estheticians guidance because so many things can irritate the skin while pregnant,” said Vargas. Dr. Sherry Ingraham of Houston’s Advanced Dermatology recommends SkinCeuticals’ Metacell Renewal, a brightener that helps minimize the appearance of dark hyper-pigmented patches that often accompany the hormone fluctuations of pregnancy.
Treatment to Avoid: Keratin
Why: The formaldehyde used in most hair straightening treatments has been classified as a potential carcinogen and can also cause sensory and respiratory irritation for mother and fetus.
What You Can Do Instead: For those whose hair erupts into frizz at the mention of summer, the Serge Normant at the John Frieda Salon offers pregnant women the mildest form of a three-level straightening treatment. It’s a formaldehyde-free solution that eliminates frizz. Frieda also introduced an at-home application, Frizz-Ease 3-Day Straight that seals in the style with the help of a flat iron and keeps hair straight for up to three days.
Treatment to Avoid: Retinoids
Why: The role of topical retinoids in pregnancy remains controversial in relation to birth defects. The NIH does not encourage expecting mothers to use them.
What You Can Do Instead: Judit Galambosi, lead therapist at the Erno Laszlo Institute recommends monthly facials for pesky, hormonal acne. “Despite common understanding, facial treatments are so much more than an hour of pampering,” said Galambosi. “They have an enormous benefit to the health of your skin.” She prefers peptide-based serums to stimulate collagen like Laszlo’s Transphuse Day Serum and deep hydration treatments like the Hydra-Therapy Refresh Infusion. “If the skin doesn’t have enough moisture, the natural excretion and exfoliation process gets disrupted and skin cells will clog pores,” she said. Also, spot treatments featuring tea tree oil or volcanic clay will draw out impurities, like Joanna Vargas’s exfoliating mask. Or try Natura Bisse’s Essential Shock Intense Complex, a serum whose key ingredient, Iris Florentina root is rich in isoflavones that address hormonal issues within the skin.