Makeup During Pregnancy

Pregnancy may present you with the greatest makeup challenges of your life, with many of your old standby products rendered suddenly useless. The moment you find out you're pregnant, go makeup shopping, and talk to stylists about the range of things you may expect to happen to your complexion. Moisturizers, cleansers and scrubs made for ultra-sensitive skin will almost certainly be helpful here.

Brighter color blush with lipstick will perk up your complexion once your pregnancy is under way. Look for colors that are a shade or two lighter than what you normally use, or switch from peach tones to pink tones. Complement the look with equally bright lipstick, and look for products with a glossy finish, which gives off a youthful glow and lightens up your whole face.

Your Hairstyle

As estrogen levels soar, a complex network of biochemical changes make your hair naturally thicker, shinier and easier to manage. The cut, color and overall style is a great way to express who you are. Pregnancy can be one never-ending great hair day for some, while others are not so lucky. Your first trimester can make hair suddenly oilier than ever before. Straight or curly hair may go dry and frizzy, particularly late in the second or early in the third trimester. Hair that is already dry before pregnancy can become brittle.

For still others, hair problems that existed before pregnancy are exacerbated. Dry hair gets drier, oily hair gets oilier and unmanageable hair takes on an unruly life of its own. So, what can a pregnant girl do? Usually, just a few changes to your hair care routine with a few different products will serve you well after baby is born.

Hair Loss vs. Hair Breakage

Learning to tell the difference between hair loss and breakage can save you much anxiety during pregnancy and the ensuing postpartum period.

Hair breakage is when the hair fractures on the ends or at any point throughout the length of the hair strand. Split ends are the most common culprit. As you probably know, the only cure for split ends is to cut them off.

Hair loss is when the hair comes out completely from the root of the follicle. Restoring damaged hair requires conditioning, treatment, or cutting off portions of damaged hair.

Caring for Hair During Pregnancy

Avoid wrapping hair in a towel after a shower. The added friction can knot and damage vulnerable wet hair. Carefully blot hair dry instead. Once or twice a week, try rubbing conditioner into dry hair before washing, allowing the product to fully penetrate the strands of hair before the water dilutes it. After shampooing, rub a leave-in conditioner into the ends of your hair. Always blow-dry with the air flow pointing away from your face.

Natural Hair Treatments

Conditioner: Combine 2 ounces of purified (or bottled) water, 1/2 banana, 1 tablespoon of plain yogurt, 1 teaspoon of honey, a cantaloupe (for vitamins A and C), 1 tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk (for vitamins A and D) and 1 teaspoon of wheat germ oil (for thiamin and more). Blend on medium for ten seconds; apply to hair in a downward motion and leave on for forty-five minutes, or longer if your hair is very dry or broken. Rinse off with warm water, then shampoo and rinse again with cool water to seal in hair cuticles.

For Extra Volume: Try parting your hair to the right. Since most hair follicles grow from left to right, a right part pushes hair against the natural angle of growth, adding instant height and body.

To Strengthen Your Hair

Hair is weakest when it is wet, and brushing can easily damage it, so brush hair only when it's dry. Always comb before brushing.

To give your hair a quick boost, try a synthetic hair piece. Made of a natural-looking synthetic hair product, most of these pieces wash and dry in about an hour, and require no other maintenance. While they work fantastically during pregnancy, they turn into a real lifesaver in the days and weeks following childbirth, when washing and styling your hair might be difficult. Another bonus: If you pack one of these hair add-ons in your labor bag, you'll have the absolute best looking "new mom-new baby" pictures on the block!

Coloring Hair During Pregnancy

Bleaching, dying, or highlighting your hair may have been a regular part of your beauty regimen before you became pregnant. However, you may have some hesitation or even fear about continuing to color your hair while pregnant. You may be relieved to hear that a December of 2001 statement by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists indicated that hair dyes are most likely safe. The New York Office of the Organization of Teratology Information Service concurs that coloring your hair probably is safe. However, the Clinician's Guide for Occupational and Environmental Reproductive Hazards doesn't exclude hair dye as a suspected cause of birth defects, so we recommend that you approach hair coloring with caution. Talk to your doctor or nurses-midwives about this.

Manicures During Pregnancy

Some of the products commonly used in a manicure have, over the last several years, come under scrutiny with regard to health and safety. At least some of the ingredients commonly found in nail polishes and removers (methyl methacrylate for example) are not recommended for use during pregnancy. The Food and Drug Administration warns that what goes on your nails can be absorbed into your body. Ingredients in nail lacquers (such as formaldehyde and toluene), are also suspected of causing problems, and most experts agree they should be avoided during pregnancy.

There are a variety of "safe" nail products that can deliver color and shine without compromising your baby's health. Most are biodegradable, and many replace harmful chemicals with natural essential oils and herbs. We recommend brands like Almost Natural Nail Polish Remover, Go Natural Nontoxic Nail Polish, and Peel Off Polish. Many salons stock these products for their pregnant patients. Others will use whatever polish you bring, so check with your manicurist before scheduling an appointment.

Taking Care of Your Pregnant Feet

You may have noticed that the weight you've gained during pregnancy alters your center of gravity. This changes the way your feet bear the weight of your body. If and when pregnancy hampers circulation to the lower lower-half of your body (which is common), your feet can swell, especially by the end of the day. If you have a job that requires you to spend a lot of time on your feet, it can be even worse!

A lavender foot bath can ease aching feet, and even reduce your overall stress-levels. The Nagano College of Nursing in Japan conducted studies which showed that soaking feet in a hot bath with lavender oil for just ten minutes a day increased circulation to the feet and legs. Surprisingly, it also brought about changes in the autonomic nervous system, reflecting an increased sense of relaxation.

Make Your Own

Fill a foot basin or small plastic trash can with water that is warm to the touch (about 100 degrees or less). To the water add up to 5 drops of essential oil of lavender. Blend with your hand until oil diffuses through the water. Immerse both feet, and soak for ten minutes. Important: Remember to never put any essential oils directly on your skin.

For extra lavender comfort, rub feet with lavender-scented cream.

Tanning During Your Pregnancy

As a general rule, we recommend staying out of the sun during pregnancy. Exposure to the sun increases the risk of melasma - or pregnancy mask - as well as skin cancer and other skin discolorations. Unfortunately, the same risks apply tanning beds. Tanning salons may claim that you only get the "safer" UVA rays (and not the burning UVB rays), such claims may not be accurate.

In natural sunlight, approximately 90% of the burning rays are UVB, with and about 10% being UVA. However, in a tanning in a salon, the power of the UVA rays is magnified 300 to 500 times! Melasma can be caused by either UVA or UVB rays. In the end, it doesn't matter which rays do the damage, because the risk of skin cancer is the same. There is no safe way to get suntan during pregnancy.

However, so far there appear to be no medical or government reports citing problems with "self tan" lotions when used during pregnancy. Since the active ingredients stay on top of your skin and aren't absorbed into your bloodstream, most doctors agree they are safe. Remember that self-tanners are not protection from the sun, so you'll still need a sunscreen.