Congratulations, you’re pregnant! Of course, you want to look your best in this glorious period of your life. But before you rush to the nearest beauty store, you must know that not all skincare products are good for your unborn baby.
Your hormones are changing. Even your hair is different. It's important to make sure that every skincare product you use is harmless to you during this period.
Dermatologist Dr. Tiina Meder, founder of Meder Beauty Science advises erring on the side of caution when it comes to skincare products, since their ingredients may harm mother and baby1.
Here’s a list of skincare products to avoid during pregnancy:
- Retin-A. retinol and retinyl palmitate
Manhattan ob-gyn Dr. Albert Sassoon advice would-be moms to steer clear of this family of skincare products. While vitamin A is vital to proper fetus growth, he says too much can produce “serious birth defects and liver toxicity2.”
Dr. Roni Munk, director of Munk MD Dermatology in Montreal, Canada, states that studies on retin-A and retinyl palmitate, derivatives of vitamin A, show that excess amounts of these substances are linked to abnormalities in the formation of the baby’s head, heart, brain and spinal cord3.
Accutane, used as acne medication, also contains a strong Vitamin A derivative known as isotretinoin. Its use is linked to birth abnormalities including kidney malformation, cleft lip, and even mental retardation4.
- Some essential oils
While some essential oils are safe for pregnant women, others are not5. Laura Townsend, Canadian marketing director of The Detox Market says jasmine and clary sage lead to contractions, while sage and rosemary oil can cause bleeding5. She adds that rosemary raises blood pressure levels.
Townsend clarifies that a lot of essential oils found in natural skincare products are diluted and are therefore safe for pregnant women. Still, it is best to be careful.
Dr. Meder warns that several essential oils raise skin’s sensitivity to UV rays. So these kinds of skincare products must be avoided since the risk of pigmentation rises during pregnancy5.
Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas, meanwhile, reveals that tea tree oil can be toxic.
- Salicylic acid
Dr. Dendy Engelman, a dermatologist and mother, observes that this ingredient in skincare products, usually recommended to treat acne or used as cleansing agent, is combined with other substances. Pregnant women, she adds, should opt instead for purer skincare products that have just one of the approved aids, like glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acids6.
Dr. Munk warns that salicylic acid taken in big doses orally, can lead to negative results.
Would-be moms with skin pigmentations or melasma, may seek relief from topical treatments with this substance. But they shouldn’t. Its 35 to 45 percent absorption rate, bothers experts. B Munk warns that a lot of strong anti-pigment agents like hydroquinone contained in skincare products are not good for pregnant women.
- Tazorac and Accutane
These prescription-only products derived from Vitamin A lead to birth defects.
- Aluminum chloride hexahydrate
This product contained in antiperspirants affects sweat-producing cells. Not much study has been done and the effects on pregnancy has not been fully established.
According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, this substance used in salon hair-straightening processes and nail polishes may raise a woman’s risk of miscarriage7. Formaldehyde is also associated with respiratory problems and cancer8. Japanese and Brazilian hair-straightening products also contain formaldehyde.
Dr. Engelman advises nail polishes with “3-Free” or “5-Free” labels don’t have this particular substance.
- Hair dye
Dr. Sassoon advises patients to avoid using this for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, when the fetus is developing crucial body parts and organs.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Chemistry says exposure to BPA (a kind of paraben) during pregnancy is related to miscarriage, low birth weight, obesity, problems in fetal growth and behavioral issues9.
This substance, also found in shampoo and other skincare products, can disrupt hormones and easily find its way into skin.
- Chemical sunscreens
Dr. Engelman considers sunscreens with mineral ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as safe skincare products for pregnancy. Chemical sunscreens contain suspected endocrine disruptors and carcinogens10.
The best thing to do is read the labels before you use or buy any skincare products. By doing so, you might just be able to save your unborn baby’s life.
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1 11 Skincare Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy (April 17, 2017) Retrieved Sept. 11, 2020 from https://globalnews.ca/news/3383851/11-skincare-ingredients-to-avoid-duri...
2 9 Beauty Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy (March 10, 2016) Retrieved Sept. 11, 2020 from https://www.vogue.com/article/beauty-ingredients-pregnancy-safety-toxic
3 11 Skincare Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy (April 17, 2017) Retrieved Sept. 11, 2020 from https://globalnews.ca/news/3383851/11-skincare-ingredients-to-avoid-duri...
4 Vitamin A and Pregnancy: A Narrative Review (March 11, 2019) Retrieved Sept. 21 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6470929/
5 Essential oils and pregnancy (April 29, 2016) Retrieved Sept. 11, 2020 from https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-healt...
6 11 Skincare Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy (April 17, 2017) Retrieved Sept. 11, 2020 from https://globalnews.ca/news/3383851/11-skincare-ingredients-to-avoid-duri...
7 Seven Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy (Sept. 3, 2019) Retrieved Sept. 11, 2020 https://www.irishnews.com/lifestyle/2019/09/03/news/seven-skincare-ingre...
8 9 Beauty Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy (March 10, 2016) Retrieved Sept. 11, 2020 from https://www.vogue.com/article/beauty-ingredients-pregnancy-safety-toxic
9 Reproductive Health and the Workplace (n.d.) Retrieved Sept. 11, 2020 from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/repro/formaldehyde.html
10 Which Beauty Products That are Safe to Use During Pregnancy? (March 30, 2020) Retrieved Sept. 11, 2020 from https://www.todaysparent.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-health/beauty-products-...
11 Impact of Pregnancy on the Levels of Parabens and Bisphenol A: Data from NHANES 2005–2010 (June 29, 2016) Retrieved Sept. 11, 2020 from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jchem/2016/1529071/
12 Which Beauty Products That are Safe to Use During Pregnancy? (March 30, 2020) Retrieved Sept. 11, 2020 from https://www.todaysparent.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-health/beauty-products-...