Pregnant woman having a massage

Can you get a fake tan or a wax when you're pregnant? What about a massage? Find out everything you need to know about beauty treatments here.

Can I wax my legs or bikini line etc while I'm pregnant?

If waxing is your hair removal method of choice, then you’re fine to keep going as normal during pregnancy. Hormone changes and extra blood flowing to you skin (especially your pubic area) can make you more sensitive to pain though (Nussbaum and Benedetto, 2006). So just be aware that it might make you wince a bit more than it usually does.

It’s also good to know that lots of pregnant women get excessive hair growth, especially in early pregnancy. Hair growth is usually more pronounced around your upper lip, chin, cheeks and more generally (Nussbaum and Benedetto, 2006). So you’re not alone in this.

Let your beauty therapist know that you’re pregnant and be aware that they might opt not to not wax you in your first trimester. Just be careful too that the beauty salon has clean equipment and does not reuse wax as this could put you at risk of bacterial infections (Healthline, 2015). If you’re waxing yourself at home, make sure you do a patch test first (Healthline, 2015).  

Is hair removal cream safe during pregnancy?

Again, it’s a yes – but with a caveat. The ingredients in hair removal creams are fine during pregnancy (Bozzo et al, 2011). What you may find though is that your skin is more sensitive or that the smell makes you nauseous. That’s because your sense of smell is stronger in pregnancy. Open lots of windows and you should be fine.

Can I dye or bleach my hair when pregnant?

You're still ok to get that appointment booked. Going for your usual colour at the hairdressers is not thought to be a problem when you’re pregnant, although highlights are a better option than a full colour as the chemicals don’t touch your scalp (NHS, 2018).

You’re very unlikely to absorb the chemicals in hair dyes and for them to reach your unborn baby through the placenta unless you have burns or abscesses on your scalp (Chau-Gocheco et al, 2008). You might in any case want to wait until after your first trimester when the risk of any dangers is a lot lower.

If you’re colouring your hair at home, the same applies but you should also:

  • wear gloves
  • leave dye on for minimum time
  • open the windows
  • rinse your scalp once you’ve put the dye on.

(Chau-Gocheco et al, 2008; NHS, 2018)

Can I use fake tan, spray tanning or a sunbed when pregnant?

You’re fine to slap on the fake tan during pregnancy (Bozzo et al, 2011). But nobody yet knows for sure whether spray tans are safe, as inhaling the spray might cause harm (NHS, 2018b).

There’s no clear evidence that sunbeds are unsafe during pregnancy. But your skin is extra sensitive when you’re expecting a baby and can burn more easily too. That means sunbeds’ high UV rays can be dangerous (NHS, 2018c).

Sunbeds can also make you and your baby overheat (NHS, 2018c). So all in all it’s probably a good idea to switch to the bottle if you want a fake tan until your baby’s born.

And remember, tanning pills are banned in the UK and aren’t safe for anyone let alone an unborn baby (NHS, 2018b)

Is it safe to have a massage while pregnant?

If you like massages, this can be a wonderful and relaxing treat during your pregnancy. Find a therapist that has pregnancy massage training and experience. Call ahead and find out if they offer massages for mums-to-be.

During your massage, you will either get a cut-out to rest your bump in or be massaged sitting up, lying on your side or semi-reclining. For more information about pregnancy massages and the oils and positions it's safe to use, see our article about pampering in pregnancy.

While you’re there, you could ask for some tips for massage in labour. Some women find it really helpful in the early stages.

Can I go to a nail salon, get gel nails or use nail polish when pregnant?

Yes, but there are a few things to bear in mind. First, the fumes in a nail salon might make you feel sick in your first trimester, so it’s probably better to wait until later down the line. Plus, those fumes might contain organic solvents, which have been linked with birth defects in babies of mothers exposed during pregnancy (Khattak et al, 1999).

Second, if you’re getting gel nails, check whether the chemical methyl methacrylate monomer (MMA) is used, as this should be avoided (whether pregnant or not) (HSE, 2008). There is also no evidence about whether acetone – used to remove gel/ acrylic nails – is safe during pregnancy (ATSDR, 1994). So it’s best to follow some guidelines:

  • Try and avoid gel nails as much as possible, painting your own at home instead or getting a standard manicure.
  • Ask nail technicians not to leave the acetone on for any longer than needed.
  • If you’re taking nails off yourself, use cotton pads soaked in acetone instead of dunking your hands in a bowl full of the stuff.
  • Give your hands a thorough wash afterwards to make sure all the chemicals have gone.
  • Make sure the salon has doors or windows open when your nails are being taken off.

(Healthline, 2016)

This page was last reviewed in October 2018.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

ATSDR. (1994) Toxicological profile for acetone: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry  - US Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp.asp?id=5&tid=1 [Accessed 8th October 2018].

Bozzo P, Chau-Gocheco A, Einarson A. (2011) Safety of skin care products during pregnancy. Canadian Family Physician. 57:665-667. Available at: www.cfp.ca/content/57/6/665.full.pdf [Accessed 8th October 2018].

Chau-Gocheco A, Bozzo P, Einarson A. (2008) Safety of hair products during pregnancy. Canadian Family Physician. 54:1386-1388. Available at: www.cfp.ca/content/cfp/54/10/1386.full.pdf [Accessed 8th October 2018].

Healthline. (2015) Can I still get waxed while I’m pregnant? Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/waxing#1 [Accessed 8th October 2018].

Healthline. (2016) Can you get your nails done while pregnant? Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/can-you-get-nails-done [Accessed 8th October 2018].

HSE. (2008) Health and safety in nail bars – RR627 research report. Health and Safety Executive. Available at: www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr627.pdf [Accessed 8th October 2018].

Khattak S, Moghtander GK, McMartin K et al. (1999) Pregnancy outcome following gestational exposure to organic solvents. 281(12):1106-1109. Available at: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/189189 [Accessed 8th October 2018].

NHS. (2018a) Is it safe to use hair dye when I’m pregnant or breastfeeding? Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/is-it-safe-to-use-hair-dye-when-i-am-pregnant-or-breastfeeding/ [Accessed 8th October 2018].

NHS. (2018b) Is it safe to use fake tan during pregnancy? Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/is-it-safe-to-use-fake-tan-during-pregnancy/#further-information [Accessed 8th October 2018].

NHS. (2018c) Are sunbeds safe to use during pregnancy? Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/are-sunbeds-safe-to-use-during-pregnancy/ [Accessed 8th October 2018].

Nussbaum R, Benedetto AV. (2006) Cosmetic aspects of pregnancy. Clinics in Dermatology. 24(2):133-141. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0738081X05001252 [Accessed 8th October 2018].

Related articles

Pregnant woman having a massage

Local activities and meetups

NCT Membership
Support NCT Charity by becoming a member

Courses & workshops

NCT Antenatal course

Find out more

NCT Online Antenatal refresher course

Find out more