10 Beauty Products You Must Ditch During Pregnancy

Convert your home to non-toxic products to avoid your baby being born with an average of 200 toxins.  Safer, more effective and will even help you save.   http://optimum.nontoxichomes.info

by Christine Lepisto, Berlin on 03.18.10

baby bubble monster photo
Image: Audi insperation, Flickr

// Decades ago, when chemists were churning out new discoveries and industry was making “better living through chemistry,” the belief was widely held that chemicals do not cross the placenta. We now know that mother’s chemical exposure can affect her baby’s chances for a normal, healthy life, especially in early pregnancy when a fetus’ growth is being carefully regulated by a host of natural chemical messengers in the womb.

Should you worry? Well, first of all, women have been giving birth joyfully for decades after the advent of industrialization. It is a thrilling, suspense-ridden process with no certain answers — with a high probability that you will have created the greatest treasure of your life. Don’t let fears overwhelm your enjoyment of nine months of miracles. But do use common sense, and a little dose of facts, to help protect your little bundle of joy as much as you can. Look at the tips in bold for some easy suggestions.

1. Luxury Bath Products

Ditch high-end luxury beauty products when pregnant image Image: Limpciano, Flickr

This is good news for women who do not want to waste money buying expensive organic products for themselves during pregnancy: Tests by German green consumer magazine Öko-Test (Eco-Test) found that cheap shower creams were composed of safer ingredients. The high-end products used more exotic ingredients, frequently including chemicals that can cause allergies, even roaming into riskier territory such as cancer-causing ingredients. So leave the stuff with the fancy names on the shelf and stick with a classic low-end soap for the shower.

Baby Yourself: Buy products especially formulated for infants and children. Manufacturers make more effort to avoid questionable ingredients in these products.

2. Nail Care

Ditch painted fingernails when you are pregnant photo Image: Scragz, Flickr

Working in a nail salon made Time magazine’s list of the worst jobs in America. Anecdotes about health problems experienced by workers include stillbirths, birth defects, and developmental issues — although no studies have been published on birth defects among nail workers. A North Carolina study did find an increased risk of spontaneous abortion among nail salon employees. Consumer campaigns prompted by these concerns have forced suppliers to reformulate and reduce the “toxic trio:” dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde and toluene. But nail products continue to include many ingredients that are inadequately tested or which have raised concerns about reproductive toxicity. If you are just having your nails done once every couple of weeks, is that a “safe dose?” The fact is, no one knows. Better safe than sorry.

Nicer Nails: Even if your friends know you for having the most flamboyant painted nails, wear naked nails with pride when you are pregnant. Treat yourself to a manicure and/or pedicure without using any chemicals. Be sure to select a well-ventilated salon if you have it done professionally.

3. Spray-on Tanning

Ditch spray tanning when pregnant photo Image: The Female View

The Food and Drug Administration has approved Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) for use in chemical tanning. The DHA works by reacting with the dead layer of surface skin in much the same way bread browns when toasted. It has been shown not to absorb into the living skin below the dead layer, and is therefore considered safer than suntanning — which is known to cause cancer. However, these approvals do not take into account the risks of inhaling the particles of spray that get into the air during “tanning”.

Studies suggest that DHA may be mutagenic and can cause primary DNA damage. There is no test data publicly available on development toxicity. Bottom line: spray-on tans may be healthier when applied with proper protections on healthy adults, but it’s not worth the (mostly unknown) risk to your developing fetus.

Tan Teetotaling: elevated body temperature can also be dangerous to your unborn baby, so tanning beds are not a good option either. Spin your skin as “porcelain” not “pale.”

4. Skin Whitening

ditch skin lightening if you are pregnant photo Image: Frerieke, Flickr

Skin lightening products contain chemicals that interfere with enzymatic processes that lead to production of melanin, which darkens the skin. This drug-like action has earned lightening products the nickname “cosmeceuticals.” Typically hydroquinone or glutathione are used as the active ingredient; mostly mercury has been eliminated from whitening products. Alternatives claiming to be safer are appearing as safety concerns have led to calls for bans on ingredients like hydroquinone.

Unfortunately, pregnancy often induces darkening of the skin, and can lead to a pigment “mask” on the face, making the urge to action stronger. In all cases, doctors recommend waiting until after your pregnancy before considering any skin lightening treatments.

Safer Solutions? Take care. Alternatives often simply have less testing evidence of problems, not more proof of safety.

5. Chemical Hair Removal

Ditch depilatories when you are pregnant photo Image: Katutaide, Flickr

The active ingredient in hair removal products is usually some form of thioglycolic acid. There are no studies showing that this chemical is unsafe on the skin during pregnancy. But there are also no studies showing it is safe. The EU limits the ingredient to a maximum of 5% (as thioglycolic acid) in depilatories (hair removal products). In the US, independent panel the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) found it to be safe up to levels of 15.2% (as thioglycolic acid). The thioglycolic acid reacts chemically with disulfide bonds in hair. Because these ingredients are aggressive enough to react chemically, and no studies have been done to detect potential reprotoxic effects, we recommend the precautionary principle: Leave these on the shelf until after the pregnancy.

Shave Sharing: Get your partner involved. Create a special bond as he helps you shave those places you can no longer even see, much less reach.

6. Heavy Fragrances

Ditch fragrances when you are pregnant photo Image: kjunstorm, Flickr

Many fragrances contain phthalates as carriers. There are a wide range of phthalates, some of which are less harmful than others. But these ingredients are rarely disclosed on labels, hiding behind the general descriptor fragrance. If you are not certain the product is free of phthalates with potential for reproductive toxicity, it is better to avoid it during pregnancy. Phthalates can imitate natural hormones in the body responsible for the proper growth and development of a fetus. Because growth is very sensitive to small concentrations of these hormones, it is considered dangerous to have even low levels of exposure during pregnancy.

Fragrance-free: While you are minimizing perfumed beauty products, do away with air fresheners and any other product intended to release scent.

7. Sticky or Stinky

Ditch beauty treatments left on during pregnancy Image: justj0000lie, Flickr

A strong smell usually indicates either (1) a product with volatile organics that evaporate easily into the air, or (2) a product that forms a misty or dusty cloud. Either is an indication that you may be inhaling chemicals…a direct and efficient route for toxins to enter your body. Absorption through the skin is another common route of exposure, and the longer a chemical is in contact, the more can absorb. So if you are not sure that the product is safe (and “natural” is not the same as safe!), then minimize the contact by avoiding treatments that last longer or smell stronger.

Friendly Facial: If hormonal swings have left your face feeling oily, try an egg white facial.

8. Prescription Acne Meds

Pregnant ditch chemicals photo Image: Raebruen, Flickr

Your doctor probably already told you this when you got your prescription, but if you use the acne treatments

  • Accutane (isotretinoin)
  • Retin-A (tretinoin)
  • Tetracycline

then you should not get pregnant. Unlike the low-level exposure to chemicals in other beauty products, these drugs are taken at doses intended to cause changes in your body….changes that ultimately reduce acne outbreaks. For this reason, birth defects related to use of Accutane are not merely anecdotal. Fully 25-35% of babies born to mothers using Accutane in the first trimester have some pattern of birth defects. Less information is available on Retin-A, but it can be expected to be similar to Accutane due to its molecular structure. Tetracycline, an antibiotic, causes gray teeth.

Medication Matters: Talk to your health-care provider or pharmacist about your pregnancy plans before you take any medications when you are trying to get pregnant.

9. Tattoos

when you are pregnant ditch tattoos photo Image: wohlford, Flickr

Traditional tattoos involve needles, and therefore direct contact with your bloodstream. The risk of disease transmission is not high, but not worth taking at this delicate time in life. As usual, little information is known about the effects of the tattoo dyes on your baby’s growth. The deliberate penetration of the skin’s boundaries adds an additional level of exposure potential. The German Institute for Risk Evaluation warns that dyestuff used in the tattoo industry is not regulated in the same manner as cosmetics, and that so-called azo dyes may split into carcinogenic amines in the bloodstream in case tattoo removal by laser treatment is undertaken. Finally, some tattoo inks can cause allergies. It is rare, but when it occurs, a very severe reaction can arise since the dyes have entered the bloodstream.

Little Loophole: If you cannot resist some body art to celebrate the new arrival, get a natural henna tattoo (as illustrated above). This is not permanent, but celebrates the changes in your body. Leave this one for your third trimester to be really sure the risks are acceptable. But CAUTION: Be sure you are using natural henna, which is never black. Black henna is a synthetic chemical, para-phenylendiamine (PPD), and according to American Pregnancy, it is not safe for anyone.

10. Hair Care

Ditch hair dye if you a pregnant photo Image: House of Sims, Flickr

First, some good news. New studies seem to have overturned earlier studies that suggested a link to bladder cancer or miscarriage in hair salon employees. Nonetheless, studies continue to find links between occupational exposure in hair salons and birth defects, for example associating hair spray with penis deformity. A couple of hours getting your hair done is certainly less than the long-term exposure your beautician faces, but it is one more vector for exposure that can be avoided.

Preferred Pampering: Skip the dyes and highlights. Buy a natural bristle hairbrush and enjoy a cup of tea while treating your hair to a hundred strokes. If you absolutely must freshen up your color, wait until at least the second trimester.

More on Frightening Chemicals in Beauty Products
Why Is There Still an Endocrine Disruptor In My Toothpaste?
There’s A Frog Disruptor In My Soap
Beyond Parabens: 7 Common Cosmetics Ingredients You Need to Avoid
Lipstick, Shampoo, Nail Polish – How Toxic is OK?
“The Toxic 12” Beauty Ingredients

by Christine Lepisto, Berlin on 03.18.10
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7 Comments

  1. Stacy Schneider

     /  August 23, 2010

    Oh my god this is making me realize how much bad stuff I’m doing! I’m pregnant right now and I’ve been using almost everything on the list!!! Is this product safe or toxic to babies? http://triactolbustserum.com my friends said it was a safe way to increase breast size and l wanted to use it since I’m sort of flat chested but now I’m worried about it because I’m pregnant.

    It uses some herbs from Thailand, I’m going to try and research this but can you please help me find out if its toxic or not? I really need to find out if this is ok while pregnant right away….. thank you!!

  2. David, please show this to your wife http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3V8xmDYFFk

  3. David, you may suggest to her “catnip” tea and have her ask the OB. Your childs health is at risk, but you already know this.

    We honor you for bringing this up and encourage you to have her write us.

    What you need to know:
    Smoking harms your baby. When you smoke, your baby gets less oxygen. Lack of oxygen can cause your baby to grow more slowly and gain less weight in the womb. Smoking during pregnancy has also been linked to preterm labor and other pregnancy complications.

    What you can do:
    Quit or cut back as much as you can. We know it�s hard, but remember, you�re doing this for your baby. Here are some resources that can help:

    * Your health care provider
    * Your employer
    * smokefree.gov
    * 1-800-Quit-Now begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-Quit-Now end_of_the_skype_highlighting
    * The National Tobacco Cessation Collaborative
    * The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    If you are pregnant, avoid other people’s smoke. Studies suggest that regular exposure to secondhand smoke may harm the baby.

    For more information, read the March of Dimes fact sheet Smoking During Pregnancy.

    Smoking during pregnancy

    Smoking: Tips to Quit

    * Write down your reasons for quitting. Look at the list when you are tempted to smoke.
    * Choose a �quit day.� On that day, throw away all your cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays.
    * Stay away from places, activities or people that make you feel like smoking.
    * Ask your partner or a friend to help you quit, and call that person when you feel like smoking.
    * Ask your health care provider about quitting aids such as patches, gum, nasal spray and medications. Don’t start using these without your health care provider’s okay especially if you’re pregnant.
    * Don’t get discouraged if you don’t quit completely right away. Keep trying. If you can’t quit, cut back as much as you can.
    * Ask your employer to see what services are offered or covered by insurance.
    * Learn about smoking cessation programs in your community or from your employer. You can get more information from you health care provider, hospital or health department. Or contact the other resources listed above.

  4. My wife pretty much followed your advise here, but neglected to give up smoking!

  5. Travis, do you use non- or low-EMF blow dryers on your clients? When I went to an Academy recently, it shocked me to see so many pregnant Students, Teachers and clients. NO EMF protection; very sad. http://BioMapped.com is one very practical and effective solution.

  6. Very good advise. Also let your spa or salon know if you are pregnant.

  1. Going Green While Pregnant: 100 Ways to Help Your Baby & the Earth

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