I look a mess. What can I do?

Hair Skin and Nail Care in PregnancyPregnancy hormones have an impact on skin, hair and nails. Typically there is more growth, often skin and hair are oilier and sometimes there is a tendency to increased acne.

As your skin retains more moisture (which can smooth out any fine lines and wrinkles) and has increased blood flow people may comment you have a ‘pregnancy glow‘.



Acne can be a greater problem in pregnancy because of the impact of hormones on the skin. Keep your skin clean. Skin cleaners are recommended. Oral treatment agents are contraindicated. Some over the counter topical agents are safe but check with me first.


Blood vessel blemishes (capillary haemangioma)

Because the skin is more active these are more obvious and larger in pregnancy. It is for this reason that treatment is best deferred until after the pregnancy when it is simpler, less involved and less likely to scar.


Chemical peel

This is best avoided in pregnancy because of the chemicals involved.


Hair colouring

Pregnancy hormones will usually cause accelerated hair growth. This means if you usually colour your hair, roots will show through quicker than usual while you are pregnant.

While commercially-produced hair dyes contain significant chemicals that would be harmful if ingested, evidence is lacking that these hair dye chemicals will adversely effect your baby’s well being. Such hair dyes, used in accordance with the instructions, should be perfectly safe during your pregnancy. If you want to be very safe you are better to use a vegetable-based colour or a natural colour, such as henna. Highlights, which do not come into contact with your scalp are not absorbed in any way, are no risk.

While scientific evidence is lacking, it is probably best to wait until you are past the first trimester before using hair dyes. This is because during your first trimester, the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system is at its most active and so it is during this time that your unborn child is at the greatest risk from outside pollutants and chemicals.

Also be aware hormonal changes can mean you may experience a difference in texture and your hair’s general condition. This in turn can lead to hair colours turning out different to what you were expecting.

It is also worth noting the fumes from hair dyes, especially home colouring kits, can make you feel nauseous, even if you don’t suffer morning sickness.


Keratin hair straightening

There are no definite evidence that chemical treatments such as keratin hair straightening will have any negative effect on your baby. But if you want to play it safe why not avoid it until after the first trimester.


Hair removal

  • Shavingwaxing and electrolyses are safe in pregnancy. Be aware hair grows quicker and your skin is more sensitive in pregnancy. So you are more likely to get an associated rash or traumatise the skin.
  •  Chemical depilatories contain chemicals that can result in allergic reactions, chemical irritation and potential absorption through the skin. With pregnant skin being more sensitive it is best to avoid them during pregnancy.
  • Laser hair removal is probably safe in pregnancy. There is no evidence that laser hair removal will put your baby at greater risk. Even so it tends not to be done in pregnancy and most laser clinic will not accept pregnant women. They don’t want the responsibility and pregnant women may find the procedure more uncomfortable. Also with increased hair growth in pregnancy it is likely to be more difficult to get a good cosmetic result. It is best to wait until after pregnancy to get laser removal of hair.



This procedure is perfectly safe during pregnancy.


Nail care

Applying nail polish remover and applying nail polish are considered safe during pregnancy.


Shampoos and conditioners

While anything applied to the skin can potentially be absorbed, commercially manufactured shampoos and conditioners are generally considered safe in pregnancy.  To be very safe shampoos for dandruff that use salicylic acid should be avoided.


Tanning and Sunscreen

There is no evidence that tanning is of risk to your baby. Studies have not confirmed that the active ingredient in tanning lotions and sprays, dihydorxyacetone (DHA) is able to penetrate the skin. DHA has been used in cosmetics since 1960 and no problems have been reported.

UV light tanning beds and excessive sunlight tanning while not a pregnancy risk can increase your risk of malignant melanoma, cause premature ageing of your skin and make you more prone to chloasma, the dark splotches that can appear on the face during pregnancy.

There is no evidence using protective sun creams and lotions poses a risk in pregnancy. In the harsh Australian climate with the increased risks of sun exposure, liberal use of 30+ sunscreen is strongly indicated to minimise sunburn and your risk of melanoma.


Any finally…

Many pregnant women do not like how they look and how they feel in pregnancy. If this is you – then why don’t you indulge yourself. You deserve it! Why not have a pedicure, a manicure, have an appointment with a  good hairdresser, have a new colour in your hair or a new hairstyle. Do something for yourself that will make you feel and look fantastic.

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