beauty

A concise list of what beauty products you can and can't use when you're pregnant.

This wonderful nugget of beauty wisdom comes courtesy of Mamamia’s beauty podcast, You BeautyTo ensure you never miss an episode, listen to You Beauty here for free. It’s a blast.

When you’re pregnant, there are a lot of things you’re told you ‘shouldn’t do’.

But when it comes to what beauty products you can’t or shouldn’t use during pregnancy, the waters are murky.

Mamamia’s executive editor and beauty journalist of 15 years Leigh Campbell, who also happens to be pregnant, is wading through those waters right now and it’s bloody confusing.

“I’m discovering the opinions around pregnancy are wild… but the short answer is, there’s no certification for what’s pregnancy-safe and there aren’t any clear guidelines so it’s tricky. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal choice, and you should always check with your obstetrician,” Leigh said on the You Beauty podcast’s pregnancy special (you can listen to the full episode below, post continues after audio).

“The hardest part about pregnancy is, no one is going to put 200 pregnant women in a study and try stuff on them, so many things might be safe but we need to err on the side of caution because it hasn’t been tested.”

To simplify things, here’s a rundown on the beauty products and treatments you can and can’t use during pregnancy.

Can you use retinol and vitamin A during pregnancy?

“It’s advised not to use retinols and vitamin As during pregnancy, which is great advice because they haven’t done studies into how it might affect the baby,” Leigh said.

“Confusingly, some brands are bringing out what they’re calling ‘pregnancy-safe’ vitamin As and retinols. They’ll say ‘our version is safe in pregnancy’, that’s when you’d ask you obstetrician – those types of ingredients are getting a lot more sophisticated and safer to use, but just because a beauty brand says it’s OK, I would still check with your doctor.”

Leigh recommended vitamin C products as a great alternative if you’re wanting to use anti-ageing products during pregnancy, as most vitamin C products are completely safe. That said, some  women (like Leigh) will find their skin is extremely sensitive during pregnancy, and vitamin Cs might cause irritation.

“If vitamin C products are agreeing with you, they’re fine to use during pregnancy.”

Hormonal acne during pregnancy.

Leigh said hormonal acne during pregnancy is extremely common, and it’s also tricky to treat

“Because your hormones are going nuts for the whole nine months, you kind of are just keeping it at bay, you’re not going to treat it because week-to-week, your hormones are just going to do whatever they want.”

“I would say for women who are experiencing hormonal acne during pregnancy, to actually do less. A lot of people are wondering how to fix hormonal pregnancy acne and they’re chopping and changing products and adding in too many products. Anecdotally, my girlfriends who have hormonal pregnancy acne are going back to basics and dealing with it case by case because you can’t really solve it.”

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Leigh suggested going to a really reputable facial person and explaining that you’re pregnant and cautious about using products, and letting them sort out your skin for you.

“I know you can be worried about finances when you’re pregnant and that’s very stressful, but just going and getting [your skin] on track will make you feel a bit better while your body is going through all these crazy changes that you’re not in control over.”

What sunscreen to use when you’re pregnant.

“Remember: sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen – with the pregnancy hormones, your skin is really susceptible to the sun and you can get melasma and pigmentation,” Leigh said.

“Melasma is pregnancy pigmentation, it’s called the melasma mask and you can get it around your lips and eye area. Basically, it’s big groups of pigmentation.”

If your skin is sensitive to sunscreens during pregnancy, try a physical mineral sunscreen over a chemical one (more on the difference between physical and chemical sunscreens here).

Should I use natural skincare products during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, your first instinct can be to remove any and all chemicals from your life, including swapping to natural beauty products. In Leigh’s opinion, it’s not entirely necessary.

“I think people’s first instinct is to go all natural, which is good, but I often ask people why and they don’t know why, they just think it’s meant to be better,” she said.

“A lot of natural products contain essential oils – essential oils are something you also need to be very careful of, some can trigger labour and some have other reasons for not being used. I use a natural fragrance that contains essential oils (more on Leigh’s natural fragrance in this post) but I’ve made an informed decision about the oils that are in it and I feel safe using it.”

“People think they need to steer clear of all products, they really don’t. A lot of chemicals are really safe, you can use more products than you think you can, you don’t have to go all natural coconut oil.”

Leigh also said she isn’t using any products with artificial fragrances in them, including burning candles, but that is her personal decision.

Can you get botox when you’re pregnant?

“Definitely no botox and definitely no filler while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding,” Leigh said.

Can you get your nails done when you’re pregnant?

Getting your nails done when you’re pregnant is relatively safe, Leigh explained.

“20 years ago, nail polishes were much more toxic than they are now. We heard formulas go to what’s called three-free, which was taking away the three most harsh ingredients, now most are five-free.”

“What I would say is, if you’re going to a really affordable nail place where you don’t know the brand, take your own polish, and if you’re in a nail salon, wear a mask or sit in a seat closest to the door. If you’re getting a pedicure, be careful of foot massage because it’s not recommended you get hardcore feet massages when you’re pregnant because you could go into labour.”

Can you fake tan when you’re pregnant?

“Tanning is a personal thing – I went to a place that had what I’d researched as the most natural spray tan for extremely sensitive skin – I wore a mask and I didn’t get any itchy, so I was really comfortable personally,” Leigh said.

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Can you get your hair dyed during pregnancy?

Hair dye is another contested pregnancy topic – Leigh suggested speaking to your doctor and/or hairdresser.

“I’ve had my roots done a couple of times since I’ve pregnant to cover my greys and that’s a semi-permanent colour with no ammonia. There are great products to cover your greys if you’re worried, especially in the first 12 weeks when it’s the scariest and until you’re in the “safe zone”, not that that really exists.”

To summarise:

  • Avoid vitamin A, retinol, botox, fillers and hardcore skincare active ingredients.
  • Always ask your obstetrician (that’s what you’re paying them for) – if you’re going through the public healthcare system, call the MotherSafe hotline on 9382 6539 or 1800 647848 and they can answer your questions.

You Beauty Cheat Sheet

Other questions Leigh and Kelly answered, as well as their ‘spendys’ and ‘saveys’ (and where you can buy them).

‘What is the best serum or cream to use on stretch marks?’

  • You can’t really prevent stretch marks and 90 per cent of women will experience stretch marks – there’s no proven prevention.
  • Whether you’ll get stretch marks will depend on your age (Leigh is almost 37 and she’s having what’s referred top as a geriatric pregnancy, and she’s found her skin is not as elastic as it used to be).
  • There are lots of body lotions and butters out there that target stretch marks, but Leigh doesn’t think any can really fight or prevent them.
  • Applying a stretch mark oil is a nice thing to do as massage after 12 weeks is proven to be great for the baby – apply once or twice a day and don’t forget your boobs, bum and hips..
  • Fresh stretch marks can look hardcore and purple, but after you give birth, they’ll fade to a light silvery colour.
  • There are lasers you can have if they really bother you, but essentially there’s nothing you can do about them, so please don’t get down on yourself about stretch marks.

Leigh’s Spendy: Bioeffect EGF Serum, $195.

bioeffect-egf-serum
Image: Bioeffect.
  • Back in 2017, Leigh travelled to Iceland to interview the Bioeffect scientists about how it's made, and she drilled them on everything because they're very proudly pregnancy-safe.
  • Leigh's using it during this pregnancy as her anti-ageing product in place of retinol and vitamin A.
  • The EGF is a plant-based replica of a protein that naturally occurs in human skin, and the product is a great all-rounder, fights fatigue, fine lines, pigmentation and general signs on ageing.
  • You only need three drops at night - Leigh cleanses her skin and puts that on with nothing else.

Kelly's Spendy: Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask, $73.

summer-fridays-jet-lag-mask
Image: Mecca.
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  • Kelly describes it as the 'sweet Jesus of hydration and moisture'.
  • Came to Australia two months ago, the hype in America is huge.
  • It's expensive and the tube isn't massive, but you don't need much.
  • Kelly's been wearing it all the time - putting some on before bed, and putting it on under her makeup as a moisturiser/primer.

Leigh's Savey: Weleda Skin Food Body Butter, $29.95 (coming to Aus soon).

weleda-skin-food-body-butter
Image: Weleda.

Kelly's Savey: Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer, $29.95.

physicians-formula-butter-bronzer
Image: Priceline.
  • Kelly has officially found her favourite bronzer in the entire world.
  • It's just the one colour, smells like a tropical oasis and blends better than any bronzer Kelly's used.
  • It's a powder, but it's not matte - it's creamy and looks like your skin.

Until next time, stay lovely.


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