When you're pregnant, it's even more important to be conscious of what you're putting in and on your body. It goes through a lot during pregnancy: You might experience an increase in breakouts, dark spots, or stretch marks—you know, all the fun stuff. But before you proceed with your normal beauty routine or start treating these skin-related pregnancy side effects, NYC-based dermatologist Neal Schultz, and ob-gyn and senior medical contributor for ABC News Jennifer Ashton tell you what ingredients and treatments to avoid when you've got a baby on the way.
1. Don't use any form of retinoids.
Retinoids are great to use as treatments for wrinkles, acne, and stretch marks—but not when you're pregnant. Retinoids come in oral forms (like isotretinoin, which is used for severe cases of acne) and topical forms (like Retin-A, which is used to treat minor breakouts), and can either be prescribed or purchased over-the-counter, depending on their potency. But if you're pregnant, it's best to avoid them altogether because although only the oral form (isotretinoin) has been guaranteed to cause birth defects, both Dr. Schultz and Dr. Ashton say moms-to-be shouldn't risk it by using topical forms during pregnancy either.
2. Limit your use of salicylic acid.
Salicylic acid (a beta-hydroxy acid) is one of the most common ingredients for treating acne, since it helps to exfoliate dead layers of skin that can clog pores. But if it's taken orally during pregnancy, it can cause complications and even birth defects.
That said, if you're breaking out like crazy, Dr. Schultz says it's safe to use 1 to 2 percent salicylic acid as a spot treatment, or use an alternative ingredient like glycolic acid, which is completely harmless to use during pregnancy and is the gold standard in chemical exfoliation anyway.
3. If you develop melasma, a skin discoloration that commonly occurs during pregnancy, don't use hydroquinone to treat it.
Hydroquinone is a controversial ingredient used to lighten brown spots, and since it isn't proven to be 100 percent safe, Dr. Schultz says it's best not to use it during pregnancy. Instead, prevent the development of dark spots on your face with a chemical-free sunscreen, which contains either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide or a combination of the two. Then, after you have your baby, talk to your dermatologist about how you should go about lightening any spots you have left.
4. You're free to paint your nails, but be cautious during a manicure or pedicure.
Your actual nail is an impervious structure, which means the stuff you're putting on your nail isn't going to get into your bloodstream. However, if you'd rather not use lacquer when you have a bun in the oven, skip polish and just get your nails buffed for a shiny effect instead. Regardless, whenever visiting your nail salon, Dr. Schultz suggests you make sure the manicurist doesn't cut your cuticles or remove calluses. When you remove cuticles and calluses, you increase the risk of cuts and infection, which isn't a good idea ever but especially not when you're pregnant.
5. Skip applying self-tanner while you're pregnant.
Everything you put on your skin, which is your largest organ, is potentially absorbed into your blood stream, so be cautious with any skin product that you're putting on in large quantities. If you're a fan of spray tans or use self-tanner on your whole body, you're allowing a greater opportunity for absorption of the products into your system. Some ingredients in self-tanner might be harmless but not all formulas contain the same ingredients. Dr. Ashton says it's best to carefully review the label on your products and skip any that contain any known carcinogens.
6. If you decide to color your hair, opt for highlights over a single process.
Coloring your hair during pregnancy is very controversial. Dr. Ashton says the issue is that there are a lot of known or suspected carcinogens in hair products. So if you decide to color your hair, it might be a good idea to stick to highlighting because the product isn't directly touching your scalp. Dr. Ashton says most obstetricians would say to avoid a single process, which requires the color to sit on the scalp for a prolonged period of time.
7. Be careful when getting waxed.
Waxing, though otherwise safe to receive during pregnancy, can cause ingrown hairs or infections if not done properly. Dr. Schultz and Dr. Ashton say to make sure the salon you're visiting is sanitary and doesn't double-dip in the wax.
8. Skip injectables like Botox or lip fillers when pregnant.
Dr. Schultz says most dermatologists would shy away from administering any injectable fillers when you're pregnant. Although fillers are fine when done by a trained professional, no studies have proven they're safe for use during pregnancy, so it's smart to wait until after baby is born.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.