Pampering in pregnancy: Myth buster
Look good and feel great, not guilty, says Rebecca Howard Dennis, with our no-nonsense, myth-busting guide to what's safe and what's strictly off-limits when it comes to pampering in pregnancy
No one is more deserving of top-to-toe TLC than a mum-to-be, of that we're sure – but is all that dyeing, de-fuzzing, massaging and manicuring really a good idea when you're expecting?
Many women worry about the impact their pre-pregnancy beauty regime might have on their unborn child, but is it really necessary to tone down the treatments or stop using certain products altogether? Hardly a week seems to go by without another scare story doing the rounds, but it can be difficult to work out where they've come from and whether they're really true.
So take our advice, and before you mothball your make-up or delete the local salon from your speed dial, check these simple rules for peace of mind when it comes to pregnancy beautification.
Can I carry on colouring my hair?
'This really is an old wives tale,' explains Bantika Robson, Master Colourist at the internationally acclaimed Josh Wood Atelier in London. 'There has never been a single scientific study that has shown hair dye poses any risk to an unborn child. But if you are worried, we would advise waiting to colour your hair until the second trimester, when all the baby's major organs have formed and any hypothetical risks associated with exposure to chemicals are greatly reduced.'
Alternatively, swap your regular all-over tint for highlights or balayage, where the colour is painted onto the hair shaft so it doesn't come into contact with the scalp and there's no chance of anything entering your bloodstream.
It's also worth remembering that today's dyes, bleaches and tints are non-toxic and carefully formulated, but if you're still nervous, why not opt for a vegetable dye or use henna instead?
If you're dyeing your own hair, wear gloves and work in a well-ventilated room, as skin can become more sensitive and prone to irritation in pregnancy and there's nothing like the smell of home hair colour to upset you if you're already suffering from morning sickness.
'I see a lot of women during their pregnancies,' says Bantika. 'Taking care of themselves and maintaining their hair care regime is important for their confidence, especially when they feel out of control with what's happening to the rest of their bodies. And let's be honest, once the baby arrives regular trips to the colourist tend to be way down on their priority list!'
Pay someone else
Aveda Full Spectrum Hair Colour is up to 99 per cent naturally derived, made from plants and non-petroleum minerals using a patented process involving green tea to tint hair safely and sympathetically. Fewer chemicals means less drying effects and a longer-lasting, healthy shine. Find your nearest Aveda salon.
Do it yourself
Keep a look out-for L'Oreal Paris Casting Sunkiss Jelly. Available in three strengths, this easy-to-use jelly can be applied to wet or dry hair, then blow-dried to give yourself salon-standard sunkissed looks, while the camelia oil-enriched formula leaves your looks healthy. Apply to individual strands and you'll get a beautiful balayage effect.
What's the deal with waxing when you're pregnant?
While thick, lustrous locks are a welcome perk of pregnancy, unwanted hair elsewhere can be a pain, not to mention potentially embarrassing. Caused by an increase in sex hormones – androgens – pregnancy-induced excess hair growth can pop up anywhere on the face or body. Many mums-to-be report dark hairs sprouting on cheeks, lips and chins, as well as a finer fuzz on arms
and legs, backs, breasts and even bumps.
Rest assured that according to the American Academy of Dermatology most of it will disappear within six months of giving birth. But in the meantime what are your options?
You'll be relieved to hear that waxing is completely safe, but on the downside it can be considerably more painful than pre-pregnancy. 'A surge in hormones and increased blood flow to the skin, particularly in the pubic area, can make waxing (especially that Brazilian) much more uncomfortable,' explains Arezoo Kaviani, a respected beautician and waxing guru.
'It can also mean that hair grows back far more quickly than usual.' She recommends icing the area before and after waxing to reduce heat, swelling and the tendency for pregnant women to bruise but poses no risks to your pregnancy. Ditto shaving, but don't go for laser treatments or electrolysis, and shelve the depilatory creams, hair-growth inhibitors and bleach for now.
While some may claim that reputable products applied to your skin to remove or slow the growth of hair are safe to use, there are no long-term studies to support this, so is it really worth the gamble?
Pay someone else
Strip and hot wax are both safe to use in pregnancy and neither is less painful than the other, it simply comes down to personal preference. Look out for salons that use Caron wax. An organic brand from Australia, it leaves skin far less red or irritated post-treatment, and devotees swear that it keeps them hair-free for longer between appointments.
Do it yourself
If you can bear the discomfort, invest in an epilator – nothing beats the Braun Silk-épil 5 5780. Relatively gentle and equipped to whip out hairs as short as 0.5mm, it comes with its own cooling glove, designed to prep skin pre-epilation and soothe it afterwards.