Never had a problem with stubborn, overgrown, or where-the-heck-did-that-come-from body or facial hair? Good for you! (We only hate you a little.)
But now that you’re expecting, it’s time to embrace the change. Pregnancy does all kind of weird things to your skin and hair, so it’s more likely now than ever that you’ll wake up one morning to new leg/face/body/boob hairs that are discolored, super long, uber-persistent, or just plain there.
While hair removal during pregnancy (or any time!) is certainly not necessary, some people might prefer to keep their body hair in check.
So, are you supposed to shave, like, twice a day? Do you have to pluck these anomalies away one at a time like it’s your day job? Or can you break out the big guns, such as a chemical hair remover like Nair? Here’s how to safely manage all that follicular overgrowth during pregnancy.
Nair is a product that removes body hair without shaving, plucking, or waxing. It’s called a depilatory; depilatories use chemicals (usually some combination of potassium and calcium salts) to break down the keratin bonds each strand of hair is made from. When these bonds break down, the hair becomes soft and weakens enough that you can just wipe it off your skin.
Nair is available in a variety of products and applications for men and women, from leg masks and body lotions to face and bikini creams. They all generally include the same ingredients and work the same way to open your hair shaft and dissolve the hair follicles.
All those wild pregnancy hormones are to blame for body hair growth during pregnancy, and estrogen, which increases steeply after conception.
In addition to your hair growing faster during pregnancy, many people also experience texture and oil changes, finding that their hair is frizzier, drier, or greasier. Sometimes hair darkens during pregnancy, and sometimes it pops up in totally new places. Hairy belly? That’s a pregnancy symptom.
If your hair growth has been out of control lately, you can blame your hormones (meanwhile, we won’t blame you if you want to get rid of it, stat).
However, avoid permanent hair removal systems during pregnancy as the hair may be significantly less after pregnancy.
Nair says its products are safe for use in pregnant women if they’re used correctly. There’s currently no evidence that they cause any real harm. Often, products that are only applied to the skin and don’t get absorbed into the bloodstream are considered generally safe for use during pregnancy.
Though there are exceptions, always check with your doctor if you aren’t sure.
Most expectant people wonder about using Nair to remove hair on their legs, but if you’re hoping to use it on your bikini area, it’s safe for that, too. All Nair products are made with the same kinds of ingredients, though some are specially formulated to tackle different types of hair (i.e., coarse versus fine) or hair in different areas (like your face versus your legs). No one type of Nair is safer or less safe than another, however.
That said, while Nair isn’t suspected to be harmful to you or your baby, you should keep three things in mind:
- Your skin is usually extra sensitive during pregnancy. The same hormonal changes giving you more hair during pregnancy are also making your skin more prone to allergic reactions. While an allergic reaction would probably only affect the surface of your skin, it could be more severe and harder to treat than usual (since some allergy medications are off-limits during pregnancy).
- Nair stinks. The chemical process involved in breaking down your hair’s keratin is literally a smelly affair, and although this isn’t dangerous, it could be even more offensive to you while you’re pregnant and have the sensitive nose of a bloodhound. Good luck tolerating Nair’s “signature smell” of rotten eggs when you have morning sickness!
- Most people try to avoid any chemicals during the first 3 months of pregnancy, which might be a good time to shave instead of using hair removal creams.
If you’re willing to give Nair a try during pregnancy anyway, it’s a good idea to perform a skin patch test prior to using Nair. If you’ve always ignored this advice pre-pregnancy, think twice about skipping it while you’re expecting (see below for how to do one at home!).
You should also definitely do it with the windows open to increase ventilation. Have some pregnancy-safe moisturizer on hand to soothe away any skin irritation and read the ingredient label to make sure you don’t have known allergies to any of the ingredients.
And once you’ve applied the product, do not leave the product on any longer than the manufacturer recommends to help decrease the likelihood of the body potentially absorbing chemicals.
Many OTC products like Nair will include instructions for doing a skin patch test to check for allergic reactions.
Yes, this is one extra step that means you can’t jump into using the product the way you want to right away. But trust the insight behind this step, it’s worth it. If you were to have an unforeseen allergic reaction to a product, wouldn’t it be better if that reaction was limited to one small spot on your arm and not all over your face?
We thought so.
Anyway, here’s how to do a skin patch test:
- Pick a non-obvious area of your skin that’s similar in thickness to the skin you plan to use the product on (i.e., don’t patch test your leg with a facial depilatory, use the spot right under your ear).
- Rub a dime-sized amount of the product onto the selected area, making sure it’s fully absorbed.
- Follow any other package directions for use (like waiting 3 to 10 minutes before wiping hair away and cleansing the skin, if needed).
- Monitor the area for 24 to 48 hours after use. If any reaction occurs, like itching, redness, swelling, or rash, do not use the product again or on a larger area of skin.
Since there are no official recommendations on using Nair while pregnant, you’ll have to rely on your best judgment.
If you’re especially worried about the exposure to chemicals, you might want to wait until the second or third trimester to use a depilatory. You can also limit your use to once per week, for example, to cut down on the number of times you’re using the product.
If you want to manage your body hair without a depilatory, here are some options that are considered safe methods for hair removal during pregnancy:
- tweezing and plucking
- waxing (if it doesn’t irritate your skin)
However, you should avoid bleaching or laser hair removal during pregnancy; there’s not enough available research about the safety of these methods to recommend them.
When used as directed, Nair is typically a safe option for quick and painless hair removal during pregnancy. It can be used to get rid of hair everywhere from your face to your feet (and everything in between, like *ahem* your bikini line).
Even though it’s generally safe, you might have a hard time using Nair while pregnant if your skin has become especially sensitive to chemical products or your nose just can’t handle the super strong smell.
If you have questions about hair removal during pregnancy, or the product Nair specifically, talk with your doctor.