Pregnancy is an exciting time. Your body is going through lots of changes, both physically and emotionally. But over the next nine months, shifting hormone levels can cause some unusual things to happen.
Some of these, like growing extra hair in unwanted places, can be embarrassing. You may find yourself looking for ways to remove it.
When you’re pregnant, hormones cause changes in your hair and nails. Your active growth cycle lasts longer. The hair on your head may grow in thicker. You might notice fewer loose hairs falling out in your brush or in the shower.
While a thicker head of hair sounds nice, unfortunately your head isn’t the only place hair will get thicker. Many women experience hair growth in unwanted places like armpits, legs, and the bikini line, or in the pubic area.
You’re also more likely to see hair in places it may not have been noticeable before, like your chin, upper lip, lower back, the line from your stomach to your pubic area, and around your nipples.
Don’t worry, this new pattern of hair growth won’t last forever. About six months or so after giving birth, your hair and nails will return to normal.
In the meantime, if you find the extra hair bothersome, waxing is one way to get rid of it.
Using wax to remove unwanted hair can be done by a professional at a salon or spa, or at home using your own store-bought kit. Before getting waxed, make sure hair grows out about 1/2 inch so the wax will stick to it.
There are two types of wax, soft and hard. Soft wax is spread on with a thin layer. A cloth strip is placed over the wax and rubbed on, then quickly torn off in the opposite direction that the hair grows.
Hard wax is spread on in a thicker layer and then allowed to dry until it hardens. Then the wax itself is torn off in the opposite direction that the hair grows.
Hard wax doesn’t stick to the skin as much as soft wax, so it’s often used in more sensitive areas, like the bikini line or under the arms.
Getting waxed during pregnancy is generally considered safe. But there are some precautions you should be aware of, whether you’re waxing at home or going to a spa or salon.
Make sure to see an experienced and licensed esthetician. Ask about their work history and training. The Associated Skin Care Professionals has a database that helps you find licensed professionals in your area.
You should also check to see that the facility is clean and does not reuse wax or the strips between clients. Doing so could put you at risk for bacterial infections. Reusing applicators or “double dipping” them back into the wax also increases your risk of infection.
Skin with the following conditions or blemishes should not be waxed:
- open cuts
- varicose veins
- scar tissue
- areas where acne medications are applied
Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, a dermatologist based in Los Angeles, California, says, “Waxing can flare already irritated, swollen skin, potentially causing acne breakouts, folliculitis, and ingrown hairs. Broken skin has a small chance of developing local skin infections, which can usually be managed with topical antibiotics.”
Home waxing kits tend to be pregnancy-safe. Shainhouse recommends making sure the wax is not too hot and that you can see and reach any area that you are waxing. This prevents burning the skin, which will be painful and can become infected.
Sensitivity During Pregnancy
Your body is producing extra blood and fluids to support your growing baby. As a result, your skin may be more sensitive than usual, making waxing more painful.
If you’ve never been waxed before, it might not be a good idea to start during pregnancy. With your doctor’s approval, try taking two Tylenol an hour before the treatment to minimize discomfort.
Tell the skin care professional that you’d like to have a test done on a small patch of hair. This will give you a sense of how the process is going to feel and let you know how your skin will react. If it’s too painful, you can stop before a large area of your skin is affected.
Try applying a few drops of a pregnancy-safe essential oil after waxing to sooth your skin and kill bacteria, recommends Pearl Dworkin, a licensed esthetician.
Melasma, also called pregnancy mask, is a common skin condition that causes brown or greyish patches of skin to form on a pregnant woman’s face. Women who have melasma are typically told to avoid waxing those areas. Waxing can irritate the skin and cause melasma to get worse.
If you find that your skin is too sensitive for waxing during pregnancy, there are other options for hair removal. Depending on where the unwanted hair is, you might be able to simply use tweezers. This is best for smaller areas like eyebrows or nipples. You can also have the hairs threaded away.
Shainhouse says shaving is the safest way to remove hair during pregnancy. But you may find it difficult to shave some areas as your pregnancy progresses. In this case, your partner may be able to help.
Note: Bleaching and using chemical depilatories might be dangerous during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor before trying these.
Skin Care After Waxing
Immediately after waxing, avoid harsh sunlight and tanning. For 24 hours, you might want to skip exercise and products with chemicals, perfumes, and dyes. You can apply a pregnancy-safe moisturizer the next day.