Without starting any heated debates about what is safe to consume during pregnancy and what is not, I will just say that anyone who knows me and most of you who read this blog are probably aware that I am very conservative when it comes to risks associated with foods and ingredients. I know there are studies out there that say certain things are potentially dangerous, and then other studies from seemingly equally legitimate sources say that no, they are perfectly fine.
Frankly, I don’t care about these studies.
I do not have all day to weigh the findings from one study versus findings from another to see who I believe. Most studies are biased, meaning that the results will be published in a way that will make whoever funded them happy. My opinion is this: if there is any possibility that using an ingredient or consuming a food/drink could cause harm to me or my family, I will do my best to avoid that ingredient. To me, any risk is too much risk when it comes to my health and my family’s health. Period. You are free to decide what you believe to be safe and healthy choices for yourself and your family.
So, with that being said, I think it is important that anyone who is pregnant or who is considering becoming pregnant should know that there are some ingredients in skincare products, as well as skincare treatments, that should be avoided during pregnancy. Many of these ingredients are ones that I feel should be avoided regardless of pregnancy, but especially during pregnancy and most likely during breastfeeding (another debate I won’t touch).
Many skincare products contain herbs that offer some type of benefit to the skin. However, some herbs, especially if taken in large quantities or applied topically over time, can be toxic to a developing fetus. Here are suggestions from The American Pregnancy Association and The Herbal Encyclopedia for some herbs to avoid on your skincare labels, supplements, and in your herbal teas (even if they are pregnancy teas you would be surprised).
- Ginseng (American & Korean)
- Evening Primrose
- Kava Kava
- Saw Palmetto
- Ma Huang or Ephedra
- Pay D’Arco
- Passion Flower
- Black or Blue Cohosh
- Borage oil
- Dong Quai
- Elder or Elderberry
- Fenugreek (although this is fine for nursing, may help increase milk supply)
- Licorice Root
- Motherwort (ironic, I know)
- Pennyroyal Leaf
- Shepherd’s Purse
- Uva Ursi
- White Horehound
Synthetic ingredients to avoid during pregnancy
(as suggested by Natural Living for Women:)
- Phthalates (Dibutyl and Diethyl):
- Synthetic colors
- Synthetic fragrance
- Diethanolamine, Triethanolamine (TEA, DEA)
- Imidazolidinyl Urea and Diazolidinyl Urea
- Petroleum based ingredients
- Sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate
- Propylene glycol PEG and PPG
- PVP PVA copolymers
- Stearelkonium chloride
- Salicylic Acid (BHA or beta hydroxy acid)
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) such as glycolic, mandelic, and tartaric; citric acid and lactic acid are naturally found in foods, but I still would not suggest them in skin care products during pregnancy.
- Retinol, Retin A, Retinoic Acid, Retinaldehyde
- Benzoyl Peroxide
- Any cream hair remover/depilatory
It is important to use caution with essential oils regardless of pregnancy, both in skincare and as aromatherapy, because they are highly concentrated and can be dangerous or toxic to anyone if used incorrectly. Here are some suggestions from Natural Bloom on what essential oils to avoid during pregnancy:
- Clary sage
- Sweet marjoram
Pregnancy and spa treatments
There are many spa treatments available that are tailored for pregnant women, and they can be very relaxing during this time in one’s life.
Want to know if your favorite skincare brand is trustworthy?
Many brands lie on their packaging. Find out if yours is one of them.