By Wambui Pauline
Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful experiences for a woman. However the same hormones responsible for that enviable pregnancy glow are known to wreak havoc on the skin, leading to rashes, dark and dry patches, and acne in some expectant mothers.
Additionally, you also have to consider whether the ingredients in your usual beauty might harm you or your unborn baby. Worry not.
Here is a list of common beauty ingredients and products you should avoid while pregnant:
- Hair removers
Hair removers often contain thioglycolic acid, which might be harmful to pregnant women and their unborn babies. It is often listed as acetyl mercaptan, mercaptoacetate, mercaptoacetic acid, and thiovanic acid.
While there are no studies to show the effects of thioglycolic acid in unborn babies, there are also no studies to establish its safety either. Health experts recommend erring on the side of caution.
Praised as one of the leading anti-aging ingredients, retinoid prevent skin collagen from breaking down. However, during pregnancy you are advised to keep away from beauty products containing retinoid. On the label, they will be listed as Vitamin A, retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde, adapalene, tretinoin, tazarotene, and isotretinoin.
There’s a proven link between increased risk of birth defects and the use of retinoids. If you are trying to get pregnant, you should stop using any product with retinoids. If you get pregnant while using retinoids, stop using them immediately.
Pregnancy-safe alternatives to retinods include soy, vitamin C, kojic acid, and glycolic acid.
Often listed on ‘harmful beauty ingredients’, parabens are found in products such as body lotion, shampoo, cleanser, antiperspirants and body wash.
Parabens are known to mimic oestrogen, a hormone that is responsible for development and regulation of the female reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics. Furthermore, parabens are able to cross the placenta and enter your unborn baby’s bloodstream. Research in animals show that fetal exposure to parabens is linked to autistic-like symptoms, impaired social behavior, learning difficulties, among other problems.
Because parabens are poorly regulated in the beauty industry, only opt for products which are labelled as paraben-free.
- Chemical sunscreens
Every dermatologist and beauty expert will tell you that sunscreen is one of the fundamentals of skincare. A good sunscreen blocks harmful UV rays from your skin, keeping your skin healthy and youthful. However, are sunscreens safe during pregnancy?
While not all ingredients in sunscreens are harmful, experts agree that there is some level of risk in using sunscreen with chemicals like avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, oxtinoxate, menthyl anthranilate, and oxtocrylene. These chemicals are linked to low birth weights- a risk factor for future coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and other diseases.
Stick to formulas with mineral ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide only. Dermatologists recommend that you avoid high SPF. The highest you should use is SPF 30. When out during the day, wear a big hat, sunglasses, and cover any exposed skin.
- Synthetic fragrances
Although not all fragrances and perfumes are harmful during pregnancy, make sure to avoid any that contain phthalates. The chemical, which is used to increase durability, is also often found in nail polish, deodorants, and hairspray.
Phthalates can disrupt normal hormonal function, especially in pregnant women. In fetuses, exposure to phthalates can lead to miscarriages or sterility in adulthood.
You will often find them hiding on labels with innocent sounding names such as perfume, fragrance, fragrance oil, or artificial fragrance. Opt for products which fully disclose fragrance ingredients.