10 Beauty Products You Must Ditch During Pregnancy

6. Heavy Fragrances

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

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

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

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

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.

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Beyond Parabens: 7 Common Cosmetics Ingredients You Need to Avoid
Lipstick, Shampoo, Nail Polish - How Toxic is OK?
"The Toxic 12" Beauty Ingredients
How to Make Your Beauty Regime Less Frightening
How to Go Green: Natural Skin Care
REACH for Greener Chemistry
How to Avoid Toxins in Your Sunscreen
Quiz: Are You a Green Beauty?

Tags: Beauty Treatments | Chemicals | Cosmetics | Diseases