Pregnant? Be Careful with Beauty and Personal Care
January 27, 2023
As a pregnant mom, you already possess a beauty no products can match. It’s true! Even when you feel green and gray. Try to embrace this natural glow. Make up just isn’t necessary. If you can, dare to go entirely bare! If you want to at least powder your nose, try using fewer products than you have been using. And swap what you want to continue to use for a new, more natural product free of ingredients that may hurt you and your growing baby. Yes, this means you have permission to go shopping for new, safer foundation, blush, and more. Oh, the hardship. Here are some more tips for careful personal care when pregnant.
Keep it All Natural
It’s not just your make up that needs a makeover. Shine the same spotlight on your personal care products. What do you really need to use and what is extraneous? Edit down the number of products you use, and choose natural versions of the essentials—from toothpaste to deodorant to belly creams. If switching to all new natural products isn’t in your budget, try an organic food grade oil like safflower or coconut. Keep in mind, though, that the word “natural” is largely unregulated, so look for products with third party certification and a solid roster of organic ingredients. There are dozens of certification labels and organizations. Some are more dependable than others, and explaining them all would take an entire e-book itself! Thankfully Consumer Reports offers an online guide to third party certifications that can help you identify which labels are trustworthy.
Read Labels Carefully
Most ingredients will be listed, but be aware that regulatory gaps allow some to go unmentioned. For example, nanomaterials, ultra microscopic particles of undetermined toxicity, can remain hidden in formulas as trade secrets. Scents, which can contain multiple chemical hazards, need only be listed as “fragrance.” Loopholes like these make it difficult to trust any label entirely. Relying on products with third party certification and organic ingredients is good common sense when pregnant. Trust your instincts. If a product’s label seems questionable, its claims over the top or otherwise dubious, or its ingredients suspicious, pick another. There are plenty of options.
Go Fragrance Free
No one knows exactly what is in the synthetic fragrances found in everything from cream to make up to actual perfume. Fragrance formulas are protected by the government as trade secrets. All manufacturers need to list on their labels is the word fragrance. This one word can indicate a combination of hundreds of different chemicals, none of which need to be listed. What we do know is that phthalates, which are endocrine disruptors linked to reproductive, motor and behavioral development effects, are a common class of fragrance ingredients. It’s a good idea to minimize exposure to phthalates when pregnant—in things like vinyl as well as personal care. Thankfully there are plenty of fragrance-free products to choose from. If you really want some scent, use natural or organic essential oils, or a product scented with them.
Just Say No to Spa Days, Pedicures, Hair Dyes, and Other Treatments
We get that spa treatments and pregnancy pains go together. But most body and hair treatments rely on toxic products. Conventional nail polishes, for example, contain hazards like dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde, xylene, methyl ethyl ketone and/or acetone, chemicals which are collectively capable of causing all kinds of health effects from organ and nervous system damage to hormone disruption and cancer. Don’t even get us started on spray tans.
Hair dyes have been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, and bladder cancer. Avoiding mani/pedis, certain face peels, and hair dye lowers pregnancy risks. There is no way around that. If you’d like to paint your nails anyway—or for a special occasion—there are some less toxic polishes on the market that don’t have some of the worst of these chemicals. And if you’d like to dye your hair no matter what, talk to your doctor about the best time to do your ’do. Some suggest waiting until the 2nd or 3rd trimester, other suggest highlights instead of a full dye job as a way to lessen the toxic load. Just keep in mind that you’ll still be sitting in a salon exposed to fumes from other dyes, hairspray, nail polish and more. Try to find a well-ventilated salon that uses more natural products. Still wanting a treatment? Get a massage. Just ask your masseuse to use something simple like (organic) jojoba oil on your muscles.
Practice Safe Sunscreening
Sun protection is an essential part of staying healthy and beautiful. Yet many of us achieve that protection in ways that are less than safe. Most sunscreens use three to six of these active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and/or octinoxate. Oxybenzone is the most common, and studies suggest it may increase the risk of endometriosis and low birth weight. Other sunscreen ingredients are suspected of disrupting hormones and/or causing reproductive and developmental disorders. Far safer sunscreening strategies include avoiding the sun during peak midday hours, sticking to the shade, and wearing hats and clothing to keep solar rays away. When it comes time to slather on a sunscreen, choose a tube containing a mineral like titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide.