Beauty Products During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

There are two things everyone knows about pregnancy: (1) pregnant women do some serious glowing, and (2) do not ever call a pregnant woman crazy. Ever.

But back to that first one, real quick—you know, the whole glowing thing. For most women, pregnancy does bring a luminescent quality to the skin. But that doesn’t mean she’s going to forego her favorite beauty products or even be free of skin issues during pregnancy.

And if natural beauty products are a mainstay, it’s important to know that ingredients in personal care product, and some—even seemingly harmless ones—can be dangerous to your baby, even in small doses. Here’s what you need to know.

While doctors are quick to tell you to avoid eating mercury-laden fish, or watching your intake of sweets during pregnancy, they tend to have very few words about skincare products. They may advise you to not dye your hair or wear excessive amounts of lipstick, but the consensus is still that most personal care products are safe. And, they may be, but why risk it?

Here’s an alphabetical list of common conventional personal care ingredients to avoid during pregnancy from

  • Aluminum chloride hexahydrate: Found in antiperspirant; check for aluminum chloride hexahydrate and aluminium chlorohydrate.
  • Beta hydroxy acids: Salicylic acid, 3-hydroxypropionic acid, trethocanic acid and tropic acid.
  • Chemical sunscreens: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, oxtinoxate, menthyl anthranilate and oxtocrylene.
  • Diethanolamine (DEA): Found in hair and body products; stay clear of diethanolamine, oleamide DEA, lauramide DEA and cocamide DEA.
  • Dihydroxyacetone (DHA): Found in spray self-tanners; could be harmful if inhaled.
  • Formaldehyde: Found in hair straightening treatments, nail polishes and eyelash glue; look for formaldehyde, quaternium-15, dimethyl-dimethyl (DMDM), hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, and 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol).
  • Hydroquinone: A lightening agent; abstain from hydroquinone, idrochinone and quinol/1-4 dihydroxy benzene/1-4 hydroxy benzene.
  • Parabens: Keep away from propyl, butyl, isopropyl, isobutyl and methyl parabens.
  • Phthalates: Found in products with synthetic fragrances and nail polishes; avoid diethyl and dibutyl especially.
  • Retinol: Vitamin A, retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde, adapalene, tretinoin, tazarotene and isotretinoin.
  • Thioglycolic acid: Found in chemical hair removers; can also be labeled acetyl mercaptan, mercaptoacetate, mercaptoacetic acid and thiovanic acid.
  • Toluene: Found in nail polishes; skip methylbenzene, toluol and antisal 1a.

And, remember, just because something is listed as “natural” does not mean it doesn’t pose risks to you or the baby. So be sure to research the safety of ingredients such as concentrated essential oils or botanical extracts, and definitely don’t let anyone call you crazy for scrutinizing those labels.

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