As soon as you start thinking for two, it can seem like nothing is safe anymore. Everything you put into your body undergoes additional scrutiny. But what about what you put on your body? Is nail polish safe? Can you still get highlights? Is it best to avoid the dentist? Melissa Schweiger, co-author of "Belli Beautiful: The Essential Guide to the Safest Health and Beauty Products for Pregnancy, Mom and Baby," answers these questions and more.
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Are there any general beauty rules or guidelines pregnant women should keep in mind?
The biggest hard and fast rule is to not use anything with synthetic fragrances, which means anything listed on the ingredients that says perfume and it isn't natural-based or an essential oil. It's also best to stay away from anything containing triclosan, which is found in antibacterial soaps. It's been shown to cause hormone destruction in animals, and you don't want to be messing around with hormones at any time but especially while pregnant. When checking the ingredients on beauty products, the three chemicals you want to say away from are dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde.
Is it still safe to get manicures?
As long as you go with nail polishes that are "3-free," which means they don't contain those three chemicals I just named. A lot of nail polish brands are 3-free now — Butter London is a great one.
When it comes to beauty products, is it best to switch to all-natural products or is it OK to keep using trusty favorites?
I would switch to more natural brands for sure. You want to stay from chemicals that could potentially be hormone destroying, so anything all-natural is best. If you have a question about something listed in the ingredients, look it up on ewg.org/skindeep. It's a database created by an environmental working group, and you can look up any ingredient. The database will tell give you a rating of how potentially toxic or harmful it is. It's a great resource.
What about hair treatments? Is it OK to dye your hair or get highlights while expecting?
Any treatment where the agent is not touching the scalp is fine. Dyeing your hair and getting highlights is OK because the agent is only drawn on to the hair, which is dead fiber, so you aren't absorbing anything and it isn't going into your bloodstream. It's best to make your appointment early in the morning before the salon is too busy. You don't want to be inhaling chemicals or sitting next to someone getting a keratin treatment or something like that.
Is there anything someone who is pregnant should keep in mind when she's at the dentist?
The dentist will know if something is safe during pregnancy, so definitely make sure he or she knows. But you do want to make sure you go. A study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that pregnant women with moderate to severe gum disease were seven times more likely to go into preterm labor and deliver low birth-weight babies. So it's best to go twice during your pregnancy.
Is there anything else pregnant women should keep in mind as far at their beauty routine is concerned?
When you're pregnant, you're so hyperparanoid about things. My advice is just to do what you can. There are things to avoid, so do your best to avoid them, but in most cases you are going to be fine. Pregnancy is a good gateway to leading a cleaner, healthier lifestyle, and you're doing that not only for yourself but for your child. It's a good place to start incorporating these practices.
Melissa's favorite baby-safe beauty brands
One Love Organics: Unlike some all natural makeup lines, this brand is superaffordable.
ILIA Cosmetics: Not only are the products safe, they're also beautiful.
Butter London: This nail polish line is completely safe.
BabyGanics: They have everything from diapers and cleaning products to skincare.