I used to be a beauty junkie. As a magazine editor — even a men’s magazine editor — you get lots of free products, and heck, I just couldn’t let them go to waste. I had enough moisturizer to switch brands every week for a year, and more mascara than a girl could wear even if she went out every NYC night. Then I read No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics, and it changed my life. I wasn’t even pregnant at the time, but it didn’t matter. Alexandra Spunt and Siobhan O’Connor’s revelatory book about the toxins rife in the beauty industry got me to break my habit — fast. So when I became pregnant, I immediately bookmarked NoMoreDirtyLooks.com, their organic beauty and lifestyle site, so I could make sure I was making safe skincare decisions for me and the little one inside. Because, as you’ll learn below, reproductive toxicants are no joke.
No More Dirty Looks’ founders recently gave Well Rounded NY a little primer (the healthy kind) on how to get your beauty routine in shape during pregnancy, and tipped us off to some of the most important skincare categories for swapping out your beauty products, stat.
Why is it so important to clean out your beauty closet and healthy-up your skincare routine when you become pregnant?
Shall we get into the bad news right away? Some beauty products contain chemicals that can affect the development of a fetus in utero — they’re known as reproductive toxicants. We’re not doctors, we’re journalists, and we think risking it is rarely worth it, so we suggest you avoid products that contain neurotoxins like lead and mercury, and products that contain phthalates. There is a decent amount of animal research showing that high exposure to phthalates can affect development of a fetus in utero. The easiest way to avoid this class of chemicals is to eliminate perfume, air freshener, synthetically scented candles and artificially scented products altogether.
Are there any particular concerns for pregnancy that make a product zero-tolerance once you get the plus sign?
There’s no need to panic — you have enough to think about right now! But it’s important to be informed about what’s in your products and salon treatments, and to use your common sense once you are. So in addition to what we just said, we also suggest you stay out of salons that aren’t well ventilated for your mani-pedi, or go to a salon that uses truly clean products only. Google around and see if you can find one in your area. When it comes to hair dye…that one’s up to you. Some experts recommend you forgo dye during pregnancy; some say there’s nothing to worry about. My personal advice — remembering again that I’m not a doctor — would be to avoid chemically straightening or coloring your hair, to stay out of stinky salons, and to do what you can to limit your exposure to phthalates.
Must you go cold turkey with all your favorite (possibly dirty) products?
We get asked this all the time and the simple answer is no. We always suggest you replace as you run out. So use up that shampoo and that tinted CC cream, but then when the bottle’s empty, make a cleaner, healthier choice. When you’re pregnant, though, you’d be wise to slightly amend that because the early stages of a pregnancy are a big time for you and an important time in the development of your fetus. Why not make it an opportunity to treat yourself to products that are kinder on your skin? Start with the products that contain phthalates, and the ones you use daily or over a large surface area of your body. Obvious examples are body lotion and soap, as well as shampoo and perfume. That perfect red lipstick you spent a decade looking for can stay — forever — but over time, phase out any other conventional products you still have lying around. You skin and your hair (and your little one) will thank you.
Some ingredients don’t penetrate the skin and get into the body; others do. Shampoo and body wash’s main ingredient, SLS or SLES, is surprisingly efficient and getting passed your skin — and it also dries the heck out of your hair. I love Intelligent Nutrients‘ PureLuxe line and Acure‘s hair line as well. Both are gentle enough for everyday use, and smell so good people ask me what perfume I’m wearing.
We’ve already explained why phthalates are a tricky one for pregnant women, so phase this out quickly. If you love wearing a personal fragrance, look for ones that contain 100% organic flower and plant essences. I love Tsi-La and Honore Des Pres — both have surprising blends that wear beautifully, and differently, on everyone.
Whether you’re a DIY girl or a salon junkie, switch your polish to something 5-free. Some nail polishes still contain DBP, another phthalate you don’t want on your body.
Since the skin on your body is, comparatively speaking, rather vast, and since you probably lotion on it every time you bathe, switch this one out stat. I like simple body oils. You can make your own with olive oil or coconut oil, or get something luxe. I love Lina Hanson‘s Global Body Serum. I also love Alaffia‘s extremely affordable magnums of shea-based cream, which you can get at Whole Foods or online.
Anti-Aging Skin Cream
This one’s hard, we know: People get attached to their skin fixes! But since most anti-agers are designed to penetrate into your skin, you should go gentle when you’re pregnant. We love Tata Harper on the higher end. We also love Juice Beauty‘s tinted CC cream as an amazing 3 (or is it 10?) in one.