You have probably read a lot about what you should not eat, drink and inhale and what medications you should avoid during pregnancy. The list may seem obnoxiously endless and restrictive, depending on your lifestyle. The reason for such caution during pregnancy is that everything you consume is passed to the baby in some way.
Here’s one you may not have thought about: the substances that enter your body by absorption through your skin, such as skincare, nail and hair products and cosmetics. Many of these items can contain ingredients that are toxic to any woman over time. Passing along even small amounts of certain substances to a growing baby can be dangerous, especially early in a pregnancy as your baby is developing rapidly.
Many beauty, skincare and personal care items contain toxins. They aren’t put there to be harmful, but rather to help the product do its job such as foam, smell nice, cleanse, congeal, spread smoothly, prolong its shelf life or to give the product a tint. Unfortunately, these toxins can be filled with chemicals and heavy metals that are damaging to our bodies – in every way from general lethargy to life-threatening cancer, and everything in between – and certainly the developing baby in your belly. Some of the worst-offending toxins to avoid during pregnancy are: parabens, fragrances, formaldehyde, oxybenzone, retinoids, phthaltes, toluene and p-phenylenediamine.
Hard-core naturalists may recommend postponing use of all beauty products and cosmetics during pregnancy to be extremely cautious. It’s something to consider, but most doctors would not tell you to stop wearing makeup or halt your entire beauty regimen. They may, however, urge you to consider some alternatives or suspend some beauty practices until after your baby arrives.
Which beauty routines are a no-go during pregnancy? We’re breaking it down for you here:
Cosmetics often contain heavy metals that can be poisonous as they accumulate in the body. Lipsticks, eye liner, mascara and liquid foundations can be the worst culprits. Almost every brand, premium or your drug-store variety, contains some level of toxins. Eliminating makeup altogether is a personal choice. Dare you let your pregnancy glow shine unmasked for 9 months? If you want a healthier alternative to general cosmetics, try organic or all-natural cosmetic brands, or go for mineral makeup.
Sunscreen, the ultimate precautionary product, may itself be problematic during pregnancy. It contains oxybenzone, which could cause low birth weight in female babies. Nonetheless, sunscreen is a necessity, especially during pregnancy when skin is more sensitive due to elevated hormones. Try using non-chemical all-natural sunscreens or mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Also, wear protective clothes and hats and avoid excessive sun exposure.
Skin Creams such as anti-wrinkle creams may contain a potent yet non-prescription substance called retinol. Some studies have shown it is related to miscarriage and stunted growth. Check with your doctor to determine if your favorite cream is OK during pregnancy.
Skincare products are often smelly and flakey, two bad signs when you’re trying to avoid inhalation or absorption of toxins. Smelly products may indicate unstable chemicals and flakey products are more easily inhaled or digested. With all of the products on the market, try a variety until you find ones that have safer qualities. Or try a food-based facial instead.
Acne Medications should be avoided during pregnancy as they may cause birth defects. Ask your doctor or dermatologist for a topical alternative, especially if your hormones are creating more than your share of unwanted blemishes.
Nail Polish has been linked to increased risk of stillbirths, birth defects and spontaneous abortion because it contains three toxic substances: formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate. Instead, trim, file and buff your nails for a more natural look.
Hairspray also contains phthalates that may interfere with the development of male reproductive organs. The simple solution: use mousse or gel instead of hairspray.
Hair Dye contains various chemicals that work to magically cover gray hairs but could also cause problems for your baby. Most experts recommend avoiding hair dyes during your first trimester and using it sparingly for the rest of your pregnancy. Always dye hair in a well-ventilated room so the ammonia fumes do not make you sick.
Fragrances contain phthalates as well, which again are linked to reproductive toxicity by mimicking hormones and interfering with the growth of babies. If you are jonesing for a sweet scent, try using fragrant flowers or fruit instead.