How to Get Gorgeous Safely While Pregnant

During pregnancy, you’re already making healthy choices, but are you taking the proper precautions when it comes to your skin care & cosmetics?

Although research is limited, some ingredients are known to or suspected of crossing the placenta to a developing fetus and should be avoided:

Salicylic Acid (BHA or beta hydroxy acid): Used in acne, exfoliators, and anti-aging products, pregnancy complications have arisen in women who take aspirin. Since salicylic acid is part of the aspirin family, avoid it although it’s uncertain if topical application will cause problems.

Retinol A: This form of Vitamin A is used to treat acne and for exfoliation. High doses of Vitamin A have been proven to be harmful to a baby.

Parabens: A common preservative in many skin care products, parabens are worth avoiding by all of us. Research is beginning to show a link between parabens and adverse effects on baby boys’ reproductive systems. More research is needed, but mothers-to-be should avoid unnecessary risks.

Phthalates: These could be listed as DBP (dibutyl phathalate) in products like nail polish, deodorant, hair spray, or perfumes and can be found in skin care products that list “fragrance” as an ingredient. Studies have shown a “significant relationship” to the presence of higher quantities of phathalates present in a pregnant woman’s body and changes in the genitals of boy babies. Look for companies that offer phathalate-free products, avoid products with “fragrance” on the label and find one of the new phathalate-free nail polishes.

Cream Hair Removers: It’s possible that these have chemicals that can be absorbed into the skin. You may find yourself with more hair than usual, but there’s always shaving and waxing!

Essential Oils: Just because something is “natural” or “organic” doesn’t mean it’s safe for you. Some essential oils can cross the placental barrier and should be avoided. See p. 81 of “Heal Your Skin” for a complete list.

Benzoyl Peroxide: According to the Safe Fetus database, which provides safety information on medications during pregnancy and breastfeeding, benzoyl peroxide found in many products used to treat acne has shown adverse effects on fetuses in animals, but studies on humans are not available. Again, avoid unnecessary risks!

Accutane: Do not use out concern for putting the fetus at risk for serious birth defects and the possibility of fetal loss.

Hydrocortisone: More studies are needed, but this topical cream used for treating acne is thought to put the fetus at risk for birth defects and possible toxicity.

Lead: Shockingly, lead is found in some brands of popular lipsticks in amounts great enough to cause concern. Lead easily crosses the placenta and may enter the the fetal brain where it interferes with fetal development.

1,4 Dioxane: A byproduct of synthetic petroleum-based ingredients, it has been found to cause cancer and little is known about its effects on a developing fetus. Unfortunately, it has also been found in products claiming to be ‘natural’ or ‘organic.’

Hair Dye: Consider avoiding the toxic ingredients in permanent hair color during pregnancy. There is no conclusive evidence, but it’s another unnecessary risk.

While it may seem that nearly every product has an ingredient that is best to avoid during pregnancy, the bottom line is you want to do everything you can to protect your growing baby! What pregnancy skin care questions do you have? Please let us help! Leave us a comment below, or e-mail us at