Now that you’ve announced your pregnancy, everyone — from your OBGYN to your pushy neighbor — is going to tell you about all the things you can no longer do, all the products you should no longer use, and how different your life will be. Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be a cause for celebration?! And who’s going to tell you about safe replacements for your old beauty stand-bys?! Don’t worry: as a clean beauty blogger and now that I’m in my second “clean” pregnancy, I can tell you with confidence that making the switch to pregnancy-safe skincare products is actually easier than you may think. Here are 6 pregnancy skincare don’ts, along with safe, effective replacements that are so good, you may never want to switch back.
- Synthetic Fragrance. I tell readers and friends all the time: if there is one thing you need to swap out for the natural version, it is fragrance. Synthetic fragrance contains phthalates, which are known endocrine (hormone) disruptors, along with hundreds of other chemicals that won’t be listed on the ingredient label because of trade secret laws. They are toxic to fetuses and can even cause birth defects. It’s just not worth the risk. Look for perfume, shampoo, body lotion and other skincare essentials that lists fragrance as 100% natural or organic, from essentials oils. For personal fragrance, I love Lurk Perfume Oils, which contain a sophisticated blend of essential oils with an organic jojoba oil base.
- Nail Polish. Conventional nail polish contains chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, and miscarriage. Gel polish is even worse! Look for polishes that are at least 5-Free (free of Formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, and camphor). And do not overlook the base coat counts, as it is the product that sits directly on the nail. TenOverTen makes high quality, long-lasting 8-Free Nail Polish – it doesn’t contain dibutyl phthalate (dbp), toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, or triphenyl phosphate (tphp). I never visit town without stopping into one of their four NYC locations for the best mani-pedi in town.
- Self Tanner. I know I’m not the only one who feels a million times skinnier with *a little* color while pregnant. Though conventional self tanner has come a long way in terms of effectiveness, it still leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to safety. Synthetic DHA, (dihydroxyacetone) parabens, penetration enhancers like Propylene Glycol, dyes and synthetic fragrance make this a no-no while pregnant, and spray tans only increase the risks due to the inhalation factor. So look for self tanners made with natural DHA, (derived from sugar beets) and natural, plant-based butters and oils. Suntegrity Self Tanner contains Vegetan® (an eco-certified source of DHA from sugar beets), which provides a natural golden tan while organic butters and oils provide deep hydration that leave the skin feeling incredibly silky and smooth. It never streaks and provides just the right amount of color.
- Retinol. Oral retinoids like isotretinoin (the main ingredient in Accutane) have been linked to premature birth, miscarriage and birth defects. While no studies definitively link topical use of retinoids to any dangers, we all know that what we put on our skin is absorbed into the bloodstream. So better safe than sorry, right? Look for AHA’s (alpha hydroxy acids) like lactic or glycolic acid,which are effective exfoliants that also stimulate production of natural ceramides and hyaluronic acid to prevent moisture loss. I used Luzern Absolut Au Vin religiously during my last pregnancy. This moisturizing serum contains lactic and malic acids to exfoliate and unclog pores, revealing fresh, glowing skin and minimizing the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
- Salicylic Acid. Again, when taken orally, salicin (or the synthetic version, acetylsalicylic acid, commonly known as aspirin) is linked to miscarriage, placental abruption, and heart and lung problems in unborn babies. For this reason, you should avoid topical prescription-strength salicylic acid during pregnancy. Instead, look for products that contain Willow Bark Extract, which is completely natural and gentler than its synthetic counterpart. What’s our pick at Bare Beauty? True Botanicals CLEAR Cellular Repair Serum at night, which has really kept any hormonal acne at bay during my last pregnancy. Hyaluronic Acid and bio-active marine ingredients improve barrier function and moisture retention, while Black Willow Bark Extract and Olive Leaf Extract prevent blemishes.
- Conventional Facials. If you are going to open your pores up with steam and leave products on the skin for a prolonged period of time, they should be as clean and nontoxic as possible. Unfortunately, many spas still use products that aren’t truly natural. When someone is massaging your face, you should be falling asleep, not worrying about the safety of the products he or she is using! The Golden Hour (And A Half) Facial at CAP Beauty uses all Tata Harper products, which are totally nontoxic and utterly luxurious. You’ll leave with a lifted, toned, glowing visage.