It’s a common experience for a woman who has discovered she is pregnant to take a closer look at the products in their shower, medicine cabinet, and makeup bag and recoil in fear after seeing all of the scary-sounding chemical names that she has been putting on or in their body, and possibly exposing their fetus to. It’s easy to avoid the nasty chemicals when you’re pregnant you just need to know what to look for, in this article we share some of our top products to avoid during pregnancy.
Retinoid or retinol-containing products are the number-one type of beauty product you need to avoid during pregnancy. The vitamin-A compounds in these products are associated with birth defects and are classified as category “X”, meaning they are unsafe for use during pregnancy. Acne medication and topical retinoid creams, such as those found in certain prescription anti-aging and acne medications, are thought to be dangerous during pregnancy as well. Instead, use a retinoid-free moisturizer/anti-aging cream.
Salicylic acid has a mild peeling effect and is used to chemically exfoliate skin to help with acne. Beta hydroxyl acid (BHA) is another form of salicylic acid. While salicylic acid has only been shown to cause birth defects and other pregnancy complications when taken orally, it is also best to avoid topical salicylic acid as well. You can ask your doctor if you need some help with topical acne however you should try and avoid these products and chemicals where possible instead use a gentle cleanser and oil-free cosmetics or better still, avoid make up all together to try and help your skin clear naturally.
Self-tanning sprays and lotions contain the product dihydroxyacetone, or DHA. Some studies have shown DHA to be mutagenic or to cause mutations. While DHA is not absorbed by the skin, particles of this chemical tanning agent may be inhaled during application, particularly when spray-on products are used. So while you are pregnant it is best to avoid sunless tanning products all together to be sure that you are not exposing you and your baby to UV tanning or dangerous tanning chemicals.
Hair dye and straightening treatments on pregnant women are not well-examined, but some studies have shown those hair salon workers who are exposed to these harsh chemicals on a regular basis are at increased risk for cancer and adverse pregnancy outcomes. While only a very small percentage of these products are absorbed through the skin, it is important to ensure when you are getting your hair treated or colored that there is plenty of ventilation and safe chemicals are used where possible in the hair dying process. Pure Henna (Lawsonia inermis) dye, which provides a red-orange color, is considered safe. Fast-acting or colored henna is not pure and may contain potentially dangerous chemicals or metals.
Phthalates are plasticizing agents found in certain cosmetics and beauty products. This group of chemicals has not been proven to cause birth defects in humans, but animal studies indicate these compounds have disturbing reproductive effects, disrupting hormonal levels and interfering with male sexual development. Unfortunately, these substances are not typically listed on product labels; however, there are some ways you can avoid them. Avoid products with strong fragrances (including products that use the word “fragrance” on the label), as these commonly contain phthalates. To minimize phthalate exposure from nail polish and hair spray during pregnancy, Focus on checking when it comes to scented skin products like body washes, lotions, and sprays that your products are phthalate -free products made from natural ingredients, and check labels for the word “fragrance.” While it is almost impossible to find things that are free of phthalates, keeping an eye out for this during pregnancy is key.
Hair removal/minimizing creams, commonly contain a chemical called thioglycolic acid. This harsh, irritating chemical whose reproductive effects are not known – but the fact that it is strong enough to cause the hair to separate from your skin is not a good sign. For safety during your pregnancy avoid this hair removal process altogether and aim to wax or shave instead to be 100% safe.
It’s important to note that “natural” does not always mean “safe.” Dangers can be especially pronounced if the herbal product is taken orally. Some herbs act as uterine stimulants, have hormonal effects or may cross the placenta.
Aim to buy natural, organic personal care products and to check health and beauty products during your pregnancy and try and get natural personal care products which are often sold at natural health stores as well as at your local supermarket or pharmacy. Talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns about these or other chemicals found in health and beauty products in regards to your pregnancy.