Pregnancy-Safe Beauty: Guide to Skin, Hair, and Nails

By Kerry Weiss
Reviewed by Alyssa Quimby, M.D.
January 31, 2024

For the text version of this infographic, read on.

Pregnancy-Safe Beauty Routine

It’s okay to treat yourself while you’re pregnant.

Beauty rituals can be a form of self-care and may help you feel confident.

But it’s important to go about it safely.

Why You Need to Be Cautious

Some beauty products contain ingredients that may potentially cause harm during pregnancy.

Remember: Most over-the-counter personal care products aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration—and they don’t need to follow safety precautions for pregnant people, either.

Be careful with your beauty products and practices to help keep you and your baby safe and healthy.

Hair Dye Safety During Pregnancy

Using temporary, semipermanent, or permanent hair dye is generally considered safe during pregnancy.

These types of hair dyes do contain certain chemicals that aren’t considered highly toxic when used in small amounts. Very little of the chemicals are absorbed into the body when dying hair.

However, you may need to avoid hair dye containing hydroquinone, which can be harmful during pregnancy.

Tips for Safe Hair Coloring

At the salon, tell your stylist you’re pregnant before getting any hair treatments. Ask that they use only pregnancy-safe products and practices.

To be extra safe:

  • Don’t color your hair until you’re past the 12-week mark, when the risk of chemicals in hair dye harming your baby decreases.
  • Consider getting highlights, which expose you to less hair dye than a full color would.
  • Space out your appointments so you’re not exposing your body to hair dye as often.

For hair dyeing at home, make sure you:

  • Open the windows for ventilation
  • Wear gloves when applying hair dye
  • Keep the dye on for a very short amount of time
  • Rinse your scalp thoroughly afterward

Keep in mind that hair changes during pregnancy. It may react differently to hair treatments than it usually does.

Test products on a strand of hair before doing a full application to ensure the results are what you’re looking for.

Avoid Chemical Straightening

Chemical hair straighteners have not been found to be safe in pregnancy.

Skincare Safety During Pregnancy

Check the ingredients in your skincare products to make sure they’re safe for you to use during your pregnancy.

Skincare Products to Avoid While Pregnant

These skincare ingredients are not considered safe in pregnancy:

  • Retinoids (retinol, tretinoin, tazarotene, spironolactone), which can be found in some acne treatments and anti-wrinkle products
  • Certain antibiotics (tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline) used to treat acne
  • Adapalene, another acne medication
  • Phthalates, which can be found in certain soaps, shampoos, oils, sunscreens, or hairsprays
  • Parabens, which can be found in some makeup, moisturizer, and shaving cream, as well as hair products
  • Triclosan, which can be found in certain types of antibacterial soap, cosmetics, and body wash, as well as fluoride toothpaste
  • Oxybenzone, which can be found in some formulations of sunscreen

Ask Your Doctor About These Skincare Products

Talk to your doctor and proceed with caution when considering these skincare ingredients:

  • Topical antibiotics for acne, such as azithromycin, clarithromycin, clindamycin, or dapsone
  • Skincare products containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or trichloroacetic acid

Pregnancy-Safe Skincare Products

These skincare ingredients are generally considered safe during pregnancy:

  • Vitamins C and E
  • Colloidal oatmeal
  • Shea butter
  • Azelaic acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Glycolic acid

When in doubt, talk to your ob-gyn or dermatologist about the ingredients in your beauty products. Discuss whether there’s anything you’ll need to avoid during pregnancy.

Pregnancy-Safe Sunscreen

Pregnancy can increase skin sensitivity and contribute to skin changes like dark spots called melasma.

Wear sunscreen regularly to prevent sunburn and sun damage.

Most sunscreens on the market are considered safe for pregnancy.

If your skin is sensitive, choose a mineral sunscreen. These contain either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as their active ingredient.

Avoid sunscreens that contain ingredients that aren’t safe for pregnancy, like:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Phthalates

Nail Care Safety During Pregnancy

Most nail polish, polish remover, and other chemicals you may find in a nail salon are safe during pregnancy.

Getting your nails done may even help you keep your nails healthy. Fingernails and toenails may grow more quickly, become more brittle, change color, or go through other changes during pregnancy.

Here’s how to make sure you get a pregnancy-safe manicure or pedicure:

  • Stick to regular nail polish while you’re pregnant. Not much is known about the safety of gel versions.
  • Book your appointment at a salon that’s well ventilated. Ask for a seat near a window or exit. This can help lower your exposure to fumes, which may be helpful if you’re experiencing nausea.
  • Let your nail tech know you’re pregnant so any massages given as part of the service can avoid pressure points linked to labor induction.

Spa Safety During Pregnancy

Visiting the spa? Pregnancy safety typically depends on the service. Here’s what to consider before you book.

Keep Facials Simple While Pregnant


  • Any facial that includes unsafe chemicals, like topical retinoids
  • Harsh treatments, like microdermabrasion
  • Chemical peels that can aggravate sensitive skin

Don’t Get Laser Hair Removal While Pregnant

It’s best to reschedule for after you give birth. There’s not enough information available around how these procedures can affect pregnancy. For now, stick to shaving, waxing, and depilatory creams.

Skip Botox and Fillers

It’s best not to get these procedures while you’re pregnant. Not enough research has been done for doctors to comfortably recommend them during pregnancy.

Always Let Your Aesthetician Know You’re Pregnant

That way, they can customize your treatments and products to be safe for you.

Avoid Heat

Avoid any heat treatments like hot tubs, saunas, or steam rooms. These can raise your core body temperature and be harmful in pregnancy.

Don’t Lie Flat in Late Pregnancy

Avoid being flat on your back for any treatments after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This position can restrict blood flow to your uterus and baby.


American Academy of Dermatology Association. Is Any Acne Treatment Safe to Use During Pregnancy? Accessed January 12, 2024.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food and Drug Administration

Kostelic, A. F. (February 2022) Resolve to Self-Care and Self-Pamper. Family Caregiver Health Bulletin. University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

March of Dimes. (2022) Personal Care Products and Cosmetic Use During Pregnancy.

National Health Service, Great Britain. (Last reviewed July 2021) Is it safe to use hair dye when I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

Oakley, A. & Stanway, A. (2021) Skin changes in pregnancy. DermNet.

Patel, S. (2015) Be safe when pampering yourself during pregnancy. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Trivedi, M. K. et al. (2017) A review of the safety of cosmetic procedures during pregnancy and lactation. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology.