Can I get a facial while pregnant?

Is it safe to get a facial while you're pregnant, and will it help your skin at all? See more pregnancy pictures.
Is it safe to get a facial while you're pregnant, and will it help your skin at all? See more pregnancy pictures.
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Pregnancy can come with its share of skin-related problems, so there's no shame in wanting a facial to get your skin back into shape while you're expecting. However, because many facial treatments often use harsh chemicals, it's important to be wary when choosing a method.

If you're looking into getting a facial because of skin issues, whether it's acne, rashes or discolorations, you'll want to be careful of what ingredients you use since your skin can absorb chemicals into the bloodstream. You'll also want to be aware that since these problems are often hormone-related, a treatment like a facial might not give you the visible results you were hoping for [source: Bouchez].


Expectant mothers should steer clear of a few common acne-fighting ingredients often used in facials, such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and any type of retinoid [source: Bouchez]. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are approved for use -- particularly products containing glycolic acid, the mildest type of AHA. In some cases, these have eliminated acne and smoothed out an uneven skin tone in pregnant women.

If you want a facial just for relaxation, you might consider those that use simple moisturizers or certain natural products, such as soy. The terms "natural" or "organic" don't automatically make it safe, so you need to be aware of any allergies you have as well as the risks of the products you're using. Even common ingredients like soy can do more harm than good. Soy contains estrogen-like components, which might affect your hormone balance [source: Drakulich]. While many of these products may not actually benefit your skin in any way, they can provide a nice, relaxing afternoon of pampering.

If you decide to get a facial at a spa or salon, mention that you're pregnant -- as well as any allergies you're aware of -- when you're setting the appointment. Salons and spas should be equipped to handle your specific needs as an expecting mother, and if they're not, try somewhere else. On top of using different ingredients, they'll also take it easy on your face, which is likely extra-sensitive because of increased blood flow.

Once you've given birth, you're not out of the woods yet. Experts haven't yet determined whether the same acne-fighting ingredients mentioned above could be transferred to your child during nursing or affect his or her development. To be safe, it's best to stay away from topical retinoids and hormone-affecting ingredients until you've finished nursing [source: American Pregnancy Association, American Academy of Dermatology].

It should be OK to get a facial if you follow the above precautions, but as with all pregnancy issues, it's best to consult with your doctor if you have questions.

To learn more about facials or pregnancy, visit the links on the next page.



Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Acne medications not for use during pregnancy." (April 22, 2010).
  • American Pregnancy Association. "Acne Treatment During Pregnancy." (April 24, 2010).
  • Bouchez, Colette. "Pregnancy Skin Care: Get that Glow!" WebMD. (April 24, 2010).
  • Clevelend Clinic. "Understanding the Ingredients in Skin Care Products." June 12, 2007. (April 24, 2010)
  • Drakulich, Angie. "Safe skin care during pregnancy." BabyCenter. July 2006. (April 24, 2010).
  • March of Dimes. "Skin Changes." (April 22, 2010).
  • Saint Louis, Catherine. "An Expression of Doubt About Facials." New York Times. March 18, 2009. (April 22, 2010).