Pregnancy Skincare: Ingredients to Avoid When Pregnant
So by now, you’re probably pretty familiar with what foods you should avoid during pregnancy; foods such as raw fish, meat, + eggs, unpasteurized milk, cheese + fruit juices, and alcohol. It makes sense to avoid certain foods during pregnancy, since anything you ingest could make its way to the fetus and cause harm.
However, have you also considered the beauty products you apply to your skin and body? Your skin absorbs what you rub into it and certain ingredients found in your everyday beauty products may pose significant risk to you and your unborn baby.
To make things easy, we’ve compiled a list of common skincare ingredients to avoid while being pregnant.
*(Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before using a beauty product you’re unsure of – this list is not exhaustive and is for reference only)
Skincare Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy
Vitamin A Derivatives (Retin-A, Retinol, Retinyl Palmitate)
Vitamin A derivatives, often used in anti-aging creams and serums, should be avoided during pregnancy as they may impact development and even lead to birth defects.
Many acne treatments on the market contain salicylic acid as their active ingredient. Oral ingestion of salicylic acid (found in the form of aspirin) is not considered safe during pregnancy as it may cause certain medical complications. Although topical application of salicylic acid is unlikely to reach the womb and cause harm to the baby, it is best to avoid it – to be on the safe side!
Benzoyl peroxide is another powerful acne-busting ingredient found in certain acne creams. While the risk of systemic absorption from topical use is low, it’s better to stay away from products containing benzoyl peroxide during pregnancy.
Chemical Sunscreen (Oxybenzone, Avobenzone)
Pregnant or not, chemical sunscreens should be avoided altogether! They contain ingredients that are possible hormone disruptors.
Chemical ingredients like oxybenzone and avobenzone can also impair the development of the baby’s nervous system. It’s best to opt for a mineral based sunblock (containing zinc or titanium oxide) to avoid the health risks.
Some women experience the ‘mask of pregnancy’, also known as melasma. And while a skin-lightening cream to treat this condition may be tempting to use, it’s not advised. Hydroquinone (a skin-lightening agent found in many skin bleaching creams) has a high absorbency rate and could potentially enter the bloodstream, putting baby at risk.
Essential oils are often viewed as ‘safe’ since they are, after all, natural. However, they are highly concentrated compounds and may be harmful, especially if used undiluted.
It’s best to seek your doctor’s advice before using essential oils during pregnancy. Certain essential oils have been known to trigger labor contractions.
Parabens are a type of synthetic chemical used to preserve and extend the shelf life of cosmetic products. They pose a significant health risk since they quickly absorb into your body and do not break down easily. Parabens are known hormone disruptors.
High levels of parabens found in a mothers’ bodies have been linked to premature births, low birth weight, and other developmental issues.
Phthalates are another toxic chemical often found in hair care, nail polish, synthetic fragrances, and body washes. They are especially unsafe during pregnancy since they can disrupt a mother’s hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) hormone levels. This hormonal imbalance can impair fetus development and cause genital abnormalities in male babies.