BEAUTY

Mum-of-one and beauty writer PAMELA MCIN­TOSH quizzes skin and health ex­perts on body treat­ments, and what (if any) should be avoided dur­ing preg­nancy

Little Treasures - - CONTENTS -

Tips for a preg­nancy-friendly beauty regime

Three trimesters of baby-grow­ing brings on a mul­ti­tude of vari­a­tions to your rou­tine, diet and gen­eral aware­ness of well­be­ing. Our skin ab­sorbs every­thing we put on it, and with the health of an un­born baby top of mind, thoughts creep in and ques­tions arise: What’s ok? What is po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous? It’s time to dis­pel the myths and get mind­ful.

Q Are there any in­gre­di­ents I need to be mind­ful of that could be in hair styling prod­ucts?

A “A lot of cos­met­ics and toi­letries cur­rently con­tain a preser­va­tive called methylisoth­ia­zoli­none (MI), which can cause rashes and eczema in ba­bies and adults, ex­plains Vic­to­ria. “It is be­ing banned in some coun­tries but we still see it com­monly in prod­ucts on the shelves in New Zealand. Der­ma­tol­o­gists gen­er­ally rec­om­mend all peo­ple (re­gard­less of preg­nancy) avoid prod­ucts con­tain­ing MI be­cause we are see­ing an epi­demic of peo­ple re­act­ing to it. It can even be found in baby wipes so it is al­ways worth check­ing the in­gre­di­ents la­bel.” Ad­di­tion­ally, Sheena warns that hair straight­en­ing prod­ucts may con­tain the well-known harm­ful car­cino­gen formalde­hyde, also known as methanal, methy­lene ox­ide, oxymethy­line, methy­lalde­hyde, ox­omethane and other names, and ad­vises to “seek out formalde­hyde-free prod­ucts”.

Q Is it safe to have my hair coloured dur­ing preg­nancy?

A “There is very lit­tle re­search into this,” says Dr Vic­to­ria Scot­t­lang, head of der­ma­tol­ogy at Christchurch Hos­pi­tal. “The lim­ited data avail­able sug­gests that the chem­i­cals in per­ma­nent and semi-per­ma­nent hair dye are not highly toxic and are safe to use in preg­nancy. How­ever, some women choose to avoid dy­ing their hair al­to­gether dur­ing preg­nancy, de­spite lack of con­crete ev­i­dence that it does harm. Oth­ers may choose to use nat­u­ral dyes. High­light­ing the hair would the­o­ret­i­cally cause less chance of ab­sorp­tion through the scalp and so could be another way to min­imise ex­po­sure to chem­i­cals.” Natur­opath Sheena Hen­dons’ view is that am­mo­nia and other chem­i­cals, such as re­sor­ci­nol, parabens, and PPD (para­phenylene­di­amine) are the key chem­i­cal nas­ties found in many hair dye for­mu­las. “These in­gre­di­ents may ir­ri­tate the skin and lungs,” she warns.

Q Can I con­tinue my pre­scribed or over-the-counter acne cream dur­ing preg­nancy?

A Un­for­tu­nately, preg­nancy can of­ten flare up acne and some women are plagued by it dur­ing this time. “The vast ma­jor­ity of acne drugs are not to be used in preg­nancy, which makes treat­ment choices very lim­ited,” ex­plains Vic­to­ria. “The only acne treat­ments that are gen­er­ally rec­om­mended in preg­nancy by der­ma­tol­o­gists are ben­zyl perox­ide and fruit acids, eg sal­i­cylic acid, gly­colic acid and aze­laic acid. Very rarely oral an­tibi­otics can be used for se­vere acne, but we try to avoid us­ing drugs where pos­si­ble.”

Q I love a reg­u­lar man­i­cure and pedi­cure. Can I con­tinue my favourite pam­per treat­ment?

A Kauri Health­care dermatologist Dr Louise Re­iche sug­gests avoid­ing the use of UV lamps (of­ten used for man­i­cures where gel formula is used) be­cause “ar­ti­fi­cial UV light in­creases skin cancer risk in the nail bed”. She also ad­vises to not be tempted to push back cu­ti­cles, say­ing, “it’s na­ture’s sealant to pre­vent in­fec­tions in and around the nails”. Be mind­ful of nail sa­lons where nail in­fec­tions may be trans­mit­ted, re­quir­ing strong med­i­ca­tions to clear – which may not be used dur­ing preg­nancy.

Q I love wear­ing fra­grance, but is it safe for me and baby?

A Vic­to­ria says there is a great deal of un­cer­tainty about the risk of chem­i­cal ex­po­sure dur­ing preg­nancy. “The Royal Col­lege of Ob­ste­tri­cians and Gy­nae­col­o­gists state that cur­rently it is im­pos­si­ble to es­ti­mate the risk, if any, of ex­po­sure to low lev­els of chem­i­cals dur­ing preg­nancy,” she ex­plains. “They rec­om­mend that preg­nant women may wish to con­sider min­imis­ing their risk of chem­i­cal ex­po­sure by lim­it­ing use of fra­grance and per­sonal care prod­ucts amongst other steps – whilst stress­ing that ‘it is un­likely any of these ex­po­sures will be truly harm­ful for ba­bies.”

Q Can I stick to my usual hair-re­moval regime?

A “The ac­tive ingredient in hair re­moval prod­ucts is usu­ally some form of thio­gly­colic acid,” ex­plains Sheena. “And many of the more pop­u­lar brands list ‘fra­grance’ which may con­tain ph­tha­lates. No stud­ies show that thio­gly­colic is un­safe dur­ing preg­nancy, but there are also no stud­ies show­ing it is safe. I would ditch hair re­moval creams or de­pila­to­ries dur­ing preg­nancy and breast­feed­ing and opt for the safer wax­ing or old-fash­ioned ra­zor op­tions in­stead.”

Q Self-tan­ning dur­ing sum­mer helps me look and feel great, but should I be con­cerned about the in­gre­di­ents?

A “It is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered safe to use fake tan creams dur­ing preg­nancy be­cause the main ingredient di­hy­rox­y­ace­tone (DHA) is not ab­sorbed by the skin (it sits on the outer layer), ex­plains Vic­to­ria. “Spray tans are best avoided be­cause of the pos­si­bil­ity of in­hal­ing DHA – the ef­fects of which are un­known.”

Q I know there are chem­i­cals in sun pro­tec­tion prod­ucts. What do I need to know?

A “Many women pre­fer to use phys­i­cal blocks in preg­nancy, like zinc ox­ide or ti­ta­nium diox­ide-based sun­screens, rather than those con­tain­ing chem­i­cals. Sun­screens con­tain­ing oxy­ben­zone may be safe but given the un­cer­tainty with re­gards to chem­i­cal ex­po­sure in preg­nancy, it may be safer to stick to phys­i­cal blocks. Women of­ten de­velop in­creased skin pig­ment dur­ing preg­nancy and be­ing strict with pro­tect­ing the skin for UV ex­po­sure will help min­imise this. This is par­tic­u­larly rel­e­vant for New Zealand where we have sig­nif­i­cant lev­els of UV ex­po­sure all year round, par­tic­u­larly high in De­cem­ber and Jan­uary.”

Q Are saunas ok to use while preg­nant - what should I be mind­ful of?

A “No,” says Louise. “In­creased body heat from saunas are not safe for you or your baby dur­ing preg­nancy. Skin blood ves­sels di­late when you get hot, di­vert­ing blood flow away from your head (mak­ing you feel faint) and your pla­centa (mak­ing baby feel faint).”

Q Should I con­tinue any ap­pear­ance medicine treat­ments while preg­nant or breast­feed­ing?

A Emma Lind­ley, Skin In­sti­tute na­tional ap­pear­ance medicine trainer and reg­is­tered nurse, ad­vises against any cor­rec­tive ap­pear­ance medicine treat­ments while preg­nant or breast­feed­ing, such as Bo­tox, der­mal fillers, some fa­cial peels, IPL or laser treat­ments, say­ing, “The main rea­son we don’t ad­vise hav­ing any of the above treat­ments is due to their cos­metic na­ture and it’s ap­pro­pri­ate to avoid any use that is not med­i­cally re­lated while preg­nant.” 

SHEENA SAYS The more chem­i­cals our un­born child is be­ing ex­posed to, the greater the dan­ger of toxic over­load. So, although one prod­uct may have a min­i­mal amount of a cer­tain tox­ins, when you com­bine sev­eral beauty prod­ucts with other nu­mer­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal and food chem­i­cals we are ex­posed to on a day-to-day ba­sis, there may be a cu­mu­la­tive dele­te­ri­ous ef­fect

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