Pregnancy Safety in the Spa
Updated: Dec 6, 2021
It is important to know the in’s and outs of what is safe for you and your baby. Do not take any chances and ALWAYS without a doubt ask questions if you are unsure. Consult your doctor if your gut is telling you to do so. If you are given some information and want to double check with you physician, I am absolutely a supporter of that decision! Play it safe, momma!
This blog is for you if you:
are wondering what you can and cannot have done... wondering what you can and cannot use.
If I am pregnant, is it still safe for me to treat myself to a spa day? Are there any services that I should avoid while pregnant or breast-feeding?
Throughout this blog entry I will highlight precautious to take in regards to visiting a spa and having treatments while pregnant. I will have a general rule of thumb that can be applied to any spa and any service, but will be specifically elaborating on: hair removal, lash extensions, body treatments, facials and ingredients. If you want further information about pregnancy and nail salons or nail services, unfortunately this is not your blog, as I will not unfold on that topic. However, just be careful!!! Make sure the implements are clean and properly disinfected, make sure the products are safe (ingredient wise) and that the ventilation in the salon is good. You do not want to be in a poorly ventilated area for a long period of time while pregnant. Anyways, I digress.
Lets start with HAIR REMOVAL! First things first, no matter the service (you will be reading this tip throughout this entire blog) make sure your aesthetician or technician is aware you are pregnant! That is your first tip of the day. If all else fails, remember to inform.
Waxing and Sugaring are both safe services to have done while pregnant. However, that being said, there are a few things you may want to note. 1. You may be sensitive to the temperature of the wax or sugar (it could be more shocking then you remember) 2.The actual process of removing hair can cause more discomfort (your hormones and stress levels are elevated) 3. You may experience rapid hair growth (which means you may need to have your waxing or sugaring done more frequently—and you probably will grow hair places you never knew you could) 4.Your hair might grow in multiple directions.
So, all this being said, feel free to continue on booking those waxing or sugaring appointments! You will not be the only pregnant lady going into the spa for these treatments; so do not be embarrassed.
Laser and Electrolysis are highly effective hair removal methods that unfortunately do not have a lot of evidence that it is neither safe nor unsafe during pregnancy. Considering proof is lacking one-way or the other, I simply advice my pregnant clients to avoid laser and electrolysis. If you are mid way through your treatments, we simply put the treatments on pause until baby arrives. If laser or electrolysis is something you have been considering, give me a call when that bump is gone!
Lets get to…LASH EXTENSIONS;like mentioned prior, please make sure you inform your technician that you are pregnant. This is important for your lash technician to know for three main reasons. 1. It is not advised that a pregnant lady lie flat on her back for an extended period of time (early stages of pregnancy this is not so much of an issue) With lash extensions you could be laying on your back from 1- 3 hours at a time.
2.Pregnant women face more sensitivities, therefore this could potentially trigger an allergic reaction to the adhesive. A good way to avoid a reaction is by doing a patch test 24 hours before the service.
3.Proper ventilation. There are some fumes that come along with the lash extension adhesive. This being said, it should never be so strong that you smell a strong odor the entire duration of your lash appointment. If you are in a lash bar where multiple lash services are going on, just make sure there is proper ventilation.
An alternative option is getting a lash lift, which is safe and popular! Also less time laying down flat.
There is no evidence that lash extensions or the adhesive can some how negatively influence pregnancy or the baby. However, like everything else, use your own judgment. If lash extensions are not a priority for you at this time, then so be it, skip this service. On the flip side, it is common that moms want to feel beautiful through this changing and challenging time, so if that’s you, book your appointment and follow these precautions.
Now going pretty general lets quickly talk about BODY TREATMENTS. There are countless services that involve a full body massage, full body scrub, specific body part treatment you name it, it’s on the market. I am just going to touch on the popular body treatments such as body scrubs, body massages and tanning.
As many of you moms already know, massages are actually encouraged through your pregnancy (in my professional opinion at least). Firstly because you deserve the relaxation and the alleviation of discomfort and secondly because it could help minimize the appearance and the severity of stretch marks. Keep in mind, these are two benefits; out of many. I encourage you to have your massage therapist educate you on the many other benefits of massage. This being said, make sure you go to a MASSAGE THERAPIST and even better go to a massage therapist that is specifically trained for neonatal massage! It’s a thing, and it is offered, you just have to do a bit of calling around.
MMM; Body scrubs. Gosh, who doesn’t love a good body scrub? This is another spa service I encourage mommas to get while pregnant. Sometimes the body scrub portion is done by an aesthetician and the massage is done by an RMT, these are just questions you have to ask the spa as there are many ways these type of services can be done; simply just inquire and make your decision based off of what makes you most comfortable. Body scrubs exfoliate your skin, sloughing off dead skin and can help reach areas you may not be able to reach at the moment of your pregnancy. Body scrubs will help minimize the appearance of stretch marks and or pigmentation that has surfaced. Another benefit of having a body scrub is that it is good for blood circulation. It is vital that our blood carries enough nutrients not only to our babies but also to the momma who is growing that baby. Do keep in mind that your skin is more sensitive while pregnant so ask them to use a gentle exfoliation so that you can try and avoid any skin irritations. The body scrub and massage will leave you feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and your skin will have a glow that cant just be a pregnancy glow! Just be mindful of what products and ingredients the scrubs and oils are made up of. Continue reading for a more in-depth explanation of ingredients. On another note, try and keep the massages to neonatal or Swedish massage, avoid any hot stone so that your body temperature can stay safe and regulated.
Tanning beds are an absolute no no. They should be a no no regardless of being pregnant or not; but I am not here to scold nor judge you. While pregnant, this is a big NO. Tanning beds should absolutely be avoided when pregnant. Other then diving into the obvious reasons of the importance of avoiding tanning beds; you also need to keep you core body temperate down when pregnant, being in a tanning bed will raise your temperature to unsafe temperatures for you and your baby. If you are craving that bronzed beauty look make your investment in a good self-tanner or a good spray tan. Look for a product that will make you look like you went down south, but please make that product as clean as possible. You will most likely see an ingredient name called dihydroxyacetone (DHA) although this name sounds scary it is safe to use. This is the main ingredient used in self-tanners; as it is what provides the colour to the skin. Just remember what ever you apply topically will be absorbed into your blood stream which means it is something your baby is consuming.
Last but not least… FACIALS AND INGREDIENTS!Here is my forte and my passion, the skin, the face and ingredients. Gosh!! It is all so important, so lets dive in. First things first, if I haven’t beaten it to death yet, always trust your gut and in this case consult a dermatologist if you have any concerns or hesitations. Make sure whoever is providing you a service knows you are pregnant!
Lets start with, ‘is having a facial okay during pregnancy?’ – the answer is what facial are you inquiring about? Cause, the answer is YES you can have a facial, but you need to avoid specific types of facials. Again, to repeat another point I have been driving home is... inform the aesthetician or physician who is doing your facial so they know what they can and cannot do and use. Without getting to complex, I will point out the things YOU as the client need to know. Having this knowledge not only prepares you for the spa service but will also guide you when purchasing products.
When looking to book a facial, book facials that tend to use words such as hydration facial, hydro-facial, calming facial, soothing facial, custom facial... you get the drift. Avoid facials such as detox facial, micro-facial and micro-current treatments. Going in for a facial will be beneficial because it can help control the hormonal changes that are apparent in your skin. Hormonal changes can look something like, light or dark pigmentation spots, big patches of discoloration, dryness and acne (and more). Having a facial from a professional can help control these responses and prevent any further damage. When choosing a spa, choose the spa with the cleanest products so that right off the start you know you and your baby are not consuming a bunch of chemicals.
Now lets talk about facial treatments you want to stay away from while pregnant and why.
Unfortunately, as amazing as microdermabrasion is, I recommend avoiding this facial during your 9 months of pregnancy. This is my professional opinion and I have found other articles that supported this opinion. I recommend avoiding this facial treatment because it could be too abrasive for the skin. As your body undergoes pregnancy, your skin changes dramatically. The main changes that tend to be found in the face is acne, dry skin, sensitive skin, thinning skin and skin that shows or has developed pigmentation. As a skin specialist I do not want to potentially make these sensitivities worse, hence me suggesting skipping out on a microdermabrasion treatment. On this note, also avoid any chemical peels that are BHA (beta hydroxy acid) based, same principals as why to avoid microdermabrasion. If you are looking for a safe intense facial book a glycolic or lactic acid facial- these are safe because both chemical peels are derived by sugarcane. A facial can be the perfect remedy to make the mom feel beautiful and enhance that pregnancy glow.
High frequency, laser resurfacing, Micro-Needling or any micro-current facials are also facials I advise you to not indulge in until after giving birth. Yes, these are highly effective and result driven procedures; but it is never recommended to have foreign currents sent through your entire body while pregnant. Like previously explained, your skin is already jeopardized by being sensitive there is no way to predict the reaction your skin may face.
Botox and other injectable’s (I do not do these services) however, I read online that these type of procedures are also a “no bueno” zone. For more information on this topic please advise your physician.
Okay, so now that we have a brief overview of what facial treatments are approved and not approved lets uncover some information about INGREDIENTS, shall we?
Here is a quick dictionary list of specific ingredients to avoid and why:
Acetone: Commonly found in nail polish remover- You can find (and I suggest you resort to) acetone free. Acetone is quite potent and can trigger nausea, dizziness and migraines. It can also cause irritations such as dry skin and dermatitis. If exposed to this ingredient please make sure room ventilation and air quality is good.
Aluminum Chloride: Commonly found and mainly used in deodorants. It is used to clog the sweat glands so that perspiration and odor does not come through the pores. Careful with the exposure to aluminum chloride when pregnant, just be mindful of this ingredient. There are no direct studies linked to prenatal or post natal difficulties, however it is still an ingredient recommended to avoid in high consumption or regular exposure. In extreme rare cases it could lead to Frey’s syndrome (neurological disorder)
Avobenzon:Commonly found in sunscreens and perfumes. This ingredient is harmful, and recommended to be avoid because it is a hormone disruptor and can increase the risk of cancer. This ingredient can also cause sensitivities to the skin and potentially accelerate aging skin.
Benzoyl Peroxide: Commonly found in acne cleansers and creams as it is an antibacterial agent. Causes an influx in hormones and potentially could suppress the immune system. Consult your doctor before using any facial products that have this ingredient. I have heard some doctors advise pregnant women against it, even as a means of helping with hormonal or pregnancy acne.
Essential Oils: What a controversial topic, it depends who you ask (no news there) There are a few essential oils recommend to avoid when pregnant. Please be aware, not all essential oils are bad- as always, consult your physician and trust your mommy intuition. - Jasmine: May Trigger contractions - Clary Sage: May Trigger contractions - Basil: Could contribute to abnormal cell development - Rosemary: Thought to increase blood pressure, which needs to be maintained when pregnant and could induce contractions - Nutmeg: Could potentially have hallucinogenic effects There is a lot of confusion, and controversy with essential oils in general. Do your research, ask around, and go with your gut! One thing to remember is the quality of the essential oil, the composition of the oil, the method of application, integrity of the skin and the dosage/dilution of the oil are all factors to consider with ALL essential oils.
Other ingredients to avoid and watch for:
Formaldehyde: Commonly found in nail polish and nail polish removers. Formaldehyde is an odorless and colorless gas, therefore very hard to identify. If ingested at a high amount it is very dangerous for lungs (respiratory system in general) and can be a contributing factor to cancer.
Hydroquinone: Hydroquinone is commonly found in serums and or moisturizers. This ingredient is quite harsh, as it is used to help with hyperpigmentation spots. That being said it is commonly prescribed to pregnant women to help with their pigmentation and melasma, also known as pregnancy mask. There are no known direct correlation to birth defects or any prenatal issues, however this ingredient is harsh and absorbs quickly into the skin. Be mindful of how often you are using this ingredient and consult a doctor. Also be aware of potential reverse reactions because your hormones are not typically stable while pregnant.
Oxybenzone: Commonly found in sunscreens, there is a warning out for this ingredient because it is a hormone disruptor and very high on the toxicity scale, actually known as one of the most toxic ingredients in cosmetic products.
Parabens: Parabens can be found in countless cosmetics such as makeup, skincare, body care, hair care… you name it, its common that you will see ‘parabens’. A good thing to note is that paraben is a general term for a preservative. It is used in cosmetic products to extend the shelf life of the product. Parabens should be avoided mainly because they are known to cause hormonal disruptions (studies have proved this). Parabens have also directly been correlated with headaches, migraines, miscarriages, low birth weight, potential future obesity and impaired fetal growth and behavioural problems.
Retinol: Retinol is used in many skin care and body care products. Retinol is used for aging skin, acne skin and even resurfacing scarring. Retinol is also known as retin A or Retinyl Palmitate (retinol is derived from vitamin A). It is important to note that Vitamin A itself if okay during pregnancy, just be mindful of the amount you are ingesting/ exposed too. Retinol is a great example of an ingredient that you should consult your doctor or dermatologist.
Salicylic Acid: Salicylic Acid again is commonly used in acne medications and in acne facial lines. This ingredient can cause irritation topically. This ingredient also comes with lots of controversy. Some dermatologists/doctors/aestheticians say applying it topically is fine it’s ingesting it that is harmful. On the flip side, other doctors advise against it in every aspect. If salicylic acid was ingested it could increase your risk of intracranial bleeding. Consult a doctor.
Toluene: Commonly found in nail polish. It’s dangerous because it is colorless and odorless and is a fume used in many paints. High concerns of irritations.
Always consult your doctor with products you are wanting to use!
Hopefully this provided you with some information, or made you think of other questions that you need to consult your doctor with. Pregnancy is no joke; take care of your body and your baby. I hope reading this was worthwhile, feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have further questions. Research is constantly being done and products are always being improved. This blog did not cover everything, and will need some updating and additions at some point. However, at this time, this is the information I believe is important to guide you through the aisles and spas throughout this pregnancy.
Provided below is a casual list of websites I used to gather my information. Feel free to cross-reference or read the articles.
Cheers and happy growing!