Being pregnant is not a reason to stop feeling beautiful. Many common beauty treatments, however, are not approved for use during pregnancy and should be replaced with alternative beauty regimes until baby is born.
Hairspray, Gel, and Mousse – Some hair care products contain an ingredient called phthalates. This chemical has been linked to birth defects in animal studies and some human studies. The FDA does not recognize this ingredient as being unsafe during pregnancy due to lack of conclusive evidence, but the chance is worth changing up hair care products while pregnant.
Sunscreen Safety – UV rays are touted as a major cause of premature aging and skin cancer. Pregnant women may believe they are protecting their skin with sunscreen and SPF facial and body lotion. They could be wrong. Oxybenzone, a common ingredient in skin care products, may be linked to low birth weight in female infants and cell damage.
Soap and Shampoo – Two of the common ingredients in soap and shampoo are sodium laurel sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. The names may look similar, but the effects on the body could not be any different. Sodium laurel sulfate is generally considered safe for use during pregnancy, though skin irritation has been an issue for some pregnant women. Sodium laureth sulfate, on the other hand, may bring 1,4-dioxane along with it. 1,4-dioxane is a known carcinogen.
Lotion and Skin Oil – The first ingredient in many skin lotions is water. While this is a safe ingredient, high concentrations of water often used as a filler ingredient require chemical anti-bacterial agents to prevent bacterial growth in the product. If your lotion ingredients start with water and then move onto ingredients with chemical names and tons of syllables, chances are the lotion is not safe during pregnancy.
Acne Treatments – Accutane and Retinoic Acid – Fighting adult acne can include using Accutane or other retinoic acid based skin treatments. While effective at fighting skin breakouts, these products are considered category X for pregnant women. Under no circumstances should Accutane or retinoic acid be used during pregnancy.
Retinoids – Accutane is a retinoid used for treatment of severe acne, but other medications containing retinoids are used to treat psoriasis and certain forms of blood cancer. The March of Dimes offers the iPledge program where women who are of childbearing age can pledge they will not become pregnant while taking these risky medications.
Skin Bleaching – Skin bleaching creams contain hydroquinone. This ingredient is listed as a category C pregnancy risk. This means animals have had fetal side effects associated with consumption or use of hydroquinone. Though no human studies have proven human fetal birth defects, women should err on the side of caution when choosing skin care products during pregnancy.
There are healthy alternative beauty treatments approved for use during pregnancy. When in doubt about a beauty product, contact your obstetrician or take the product to your next prenatal check-up. Many skin care products contain toxic and risky ingredients that can affect fetal health for a lifetime.