Most women know that certain foods become off limits once you’re pregnant. Soft cheeses, lunch meats, and sprouts are all on the “do not eat” list, largely due to the risk of food poisoning.
But many women don’t realize that their beauty routines may be rocked, too. Not only do pregnant women have to look out for a number of ingredients in popular cosmetic products, but they also have to deal with a host of brand-new skin issues.
I spazzed during my first pregnancy when I discovered three months in that salicylic acid face wash is on the “no go” list—and promptly tossed the wash I’d been using since I was a teen in favor of an all-natural scrub.
To keep other expectant moms from having the same freak-outs, we’re breaking down the products you may want to stop using when you’re with child, as well as ones you may want to consider adding in order to deal with the many body changes that hit.
Take A Closer Look At Your Face Wash
“Most women that are pregnant may think that they need to avoid certain foods, and don’t realize that topical products can be absorbed and cause harm to their growing baby,” says Susan G. Murrmann, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., co-founder of the McDonald Murrmann Women’s Clinic.
Common acne-fighting ingredients like tetracycline, salicylic acid, and any retinoid product should be avoided because they may be associated with birth defects, she says. Instead, opt for washes that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), glycolic acid, and lactic acid, which are considered safe alternatives.
Rethink Your Mani/Pedi
Manicures and pedicures can feel amazing—especially when you’re pregnant and have crazy-sore feet—but Murrmann urges caution. Many nail polish formulas include a chemical known as TPHP, which is commonly used as a flame retardant, that can be absorbed into the body through the nail, according to a study published in Environmental International.
That doesn’t mean you need to avoid nail polish altogether—just look for polishes labeled “all natural” or “TPHP-free.”
“I felt lousy during the first two trimesters of my pregnancy, and getting a monthly pedicure really helped me feel pampered,” says Amy L. “The salon near me didn’t have nail polishes I felt good about, so I just brought my own.”
Combat Skin Changes
Skin discoloration, or melasma, a common condition in which people get dark patches on their skin, can occur during pregnancy and is triggered both by hormonal changes and sun exposure. That’s why Tsippora Shainhouse, M.D., F.A.A.D., board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at the University of Southern California, says it’s especially important to wear sunscreen when you’re pregnant.
If you do develop melasma patches and they bother you, talk to your dermatologist. Kojic acid and soy are two ingredients that can lighten the patches and are considered safe to use during pregnancy, Shainhouse says, but there are other treatments that can be used after your pregnancy and when you’re done breastfeeding.
Related: Try Reviva’s Brown Spot Night Gel
Have A Razor Handy
When Laura P. was pregnant, she noticed something unusual with her body hair: “I suddenly had to shave my legs every day. I used to shave every two days.”
That’s not uncommon, Shainhouse says. “Pregnancy hormones can make hair darker and boost both its thickness and speed of growth,” she says. “This can occur not only in the pubic area, but on your legs, underarms, face, abdomen, and legs.” Laser hair removal isn’t FDA-approved during pregnancy, she says, so you’ll have to stick to shaving or waxing.
Up Your Moisturizer Game
Pregnant women often suffer from dry, itchy skin, which is why Murrmann recommends increasing your water intake during pregnancy. This can be due to either hormones or dehydration—pregnant women are drinking for two, after all. (According to the Mayo Clinic, women who are pregnant should aim to drink 10 cups of water a day.)
Since expectant moms are also at a risk for stretch marks, Murrmann recommends hopping on the cocoa butter train as early as possible. That, and gaining weight at a slow, steady pace, can help keep stretch marks at bay. Some marks may be unavoidable, but regularly spreading cocoa butter across your belly, hips, and thighs can help to minimize the stretches.