When you’re expecting, it’s important to keep your morale up and stress levels down, and we can think of few better ways to do so than to get in a little 「me」 time now and then! Getting pampered can take many forms, from a mani/pedi, to a blow dry, to a babymoon at the spa. Pregnancy massage is not only a great way to unwind, but can also provide pain and stress relief for expecting mothers.
While a trip to the hairdresser or the nail salon can help you relax, there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re dyeing while expecting. Hair dye and nail polish are made of synthetic chemicals which come in close contact with your body. As such, it is normal to worry about any negative side effects on yourself or your wee one. Research and studies on the issue are divided. While there is consensus that the chemicals in both products are harmful for mother and child, there is debate over whether the amount absorbed by the mother is significant enough to affect the development of the foetus. Of course, you shouldn’t take risks that could harm the development of your baby.
Below we’ve listed some tips for all the pregnant ladies who would like to maintain their beauty routines while pregnant, or who simply want to enjoy some 「me」 time safely:
Timing is key
The first trimester and early second trimester is most crucial to foetal organ development. It is also when the baby is most sensitive to chemicals the mother is exposed to. Getting your hair and nails done in the third trimester may put your mind at ease that most of spud is finished developing!
The best way to deal with potentially hazardous chemicals is to minimize contact as much as possible. If you’re going DIY with hair dye, make sure to wear gloves when applying hair dye and remember to rinse your scalp thoroughly after application. Use the dye in a well-ventilated area, and don’t leave it on your hair longer than instructed. Nail polish should also be applied in a well-ventilated room, and generally only one coat should be used. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after applying the polish.
Go Natural, Read the Labels
Natural hair dyes (like henna or are typically a better choice than artificial dyes, but make sure you read the labels as some natural ingredients can still be harmful for you and the baby. PPD is an important one to watch out for because while natural, it can still induce an allergic reaction. Pyarzolone, phthalates, DMDM hydantoin, formaldehyde, sodium laureth sulfate, phenyl methyl pyarzolone, parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate and aminophenol are other chemicals to be wary of. Same theory applies to creams, lotions, self-tanners and more: check the ingredient list to ensure you’re not potentially harming spud. The shorter the list and more pronounceable the ingredients, the better. Pick a chemical-free sunscreen which contains either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to prevent dark spots (and skin cancer!)
Get Inspired by your Pantry
Did you know that you can use ingredients commonly found in your pantry to colour your hair? Yep, seriously. Beet and carrot juices, along with hibiscus infusions, are great choices for adding red hues to your hair. Chamomile tea or lemon juice work great for blonde tones, and coffee, tea, sage or walnut work well for darker hues or to cover greys. The effects will not last as long or be as dramatic as chemical dye, but repeating the treatments have a cumulative effect.
Most nail polishes contain a laundry list of unpronounceable chemical ingredients. Among the worst offenders are Toluene, Formaldehyde and Dibutyl Phtalate (DBP), the toxic trio found in a majority of nail polish brands. Other chemicals to avoid are Camphor, Formaldehyde Resin, Triphenyl Phosphate (TPHP), Xylene, Ethyl Tosylamide, Lead and Parabens. Brands like Essie and OPI are 3-Free. Natural brands are at minimum 5-Free, with 7-Free being the gold standard. 9-Free (i.e. free of all of the above chemicals) is the best one can wish for, but we haven’t found any in HK.
Be weary of cuticle cutting, callous removal and waxing – your skin is more sensitive when you’re expecting, and infections are a bigger risk, so make sure instruments are sanitary. Facials are perfectly safe but skip the harsher peels and microdermabrasion treatments.
The good news is, pregnancy massage is excellent at any time during your pregnancy – they can alleviate pain, increase circulation and lower your stress levels. Look for a therapist who is comfortable and knowledgeable with pregnant bodies. Look for spas with cut-out tables for your belly if you want to lie face down. Also if you get nauseous, it might be best to ask them to use unscented oils.
Treatments to avoid
We’d personally avoid optional beauty treatments like botox injections or teeth whitening – there is no conclusive evidence that it will harm spud, but why take the risk? Skip hot tubs and jacuzzis – the increase in core body temperate can lead to birth defects, especially in the first trimester. Avoid steam rooms and saunas too as the heat will leave you wobbly. But enjoy a warm, relaxing bath!
Pregnancy can be a stressful time for many reasons. In the end, the decision to use nail polish or dye your hair when pregnant is personal. If you find yourself constantly worried about effects on the baby’s health, maybe just wait to try that treatment after baby has arrived.
Below is a partial list of salons, spas and shops where you can find pregnancy-friendly products and services:
Nail Salons & Products
- Nail Me (multiple locations on HK Island and Kowloon) uses ella + mila, a 7-free US polish brand
- Emmanuel F U/G, The Pemberton, 22-26 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan, uses LVX
- Iyara Day Spa 27 Hollywood Road, Central, uses Couleur Caramel, a French 7-free polish
- A Polish sells 5-free brands online
- Beyorg stores carry JINSOON, a 7-free polish brand from NYC
- Flawless 4th Floor, 22-28 Wyndham St, Central offers pre and post-natal massages as well as facials and skin treatments
- Feel Good Factor 2nd Floor, 73 Wyndham St, Central has massage beds designed for your bump
Looking for health insurance? Want to better understand your current plan or healthcare options in Hong Kong? Contact our partner AD MediLink now at [email protected] or +852 2606 2668 for expert and unbiased advice. Their advisors are uniquely trained on the Hong Kong healthcare system to answer all your questions; on both the public and private sectors.