6 ingredients to avoid during pregnancy

Now that we’ve all had a squeal-fest about Beyonce and her adorable pregnancy, I thought it would be a good time to share a few thoughts on preggo products. (And also one of the cutest maternity videos of all time. You’re welcome.)

Let’s start with the basics. Your OB will probably tell you to stay away from tuna fish, unpasteurized cheese, lunchmeat, sushi, caffeine, alcohol…the list goes on. But he or she probably won’t encourage you to stop washing your hair or putting on lotion just because you’ve got a bun in the oven–and you aren’t going to hear that from me, either.

There are more than enough things to worry about when you’re preggo, but one thing you can easily do for peace of mind is re-evaluate your cosmetics. After all, anything your body absorbs could potentially be absorbed by your little one, too.

Here are the top six ingredients to stay away from:

  • Mercury. It’s been discovered by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in quite a few cosmetics…if you can’t eat tuna or raw fish out of concerns about exposure to mercury, you definitely don’t want to be absorbing them through your cosmetics. Sometimes it’s listed as the preservative thimerosal.
  • Lead. In 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested 33 popular brands of lipstick and found lead in 61 percent of them. The FDA has verified these findings but hasn’t taken action. Here’s a quote from the story: “Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure, because lead easily crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain where it can interfere with normal development,” said Dr. Sean Palfrey, a professor of pediatrics and public health at Boston University and the medical director of Boston’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

  • Fragrance. Many products list “fragrance” as an ingredient–but don’t share what’s in the fragrance (they’re not required to by law). Because fragrances can contain neurotoxins and are among the top five allergens, the EWG recommends avoiding it.
  • Pthalates. Common in products like nail polish, pthalates (look for them as dibutyl pthalate or DBP) are often found in the notorious “fragrance” used in many products and for that reason may not be listed. As a plasticizer, these chemicals have been linked to damaging male sex organs, causing sperm damage, feminization of baby boys and infertility. If you want a little pampering during your pregnancy (and who wouldn’t?!), stick with nail polish that is DBP-free, like Priti, Scotch Naturals, Acquarella or Zoya.
  • Parabens. A preservative, parabens is easily absorbed and is a known hormone disrupter linked to increase risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity. It’s commonly listed as four types: ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben.
  • Most acne treatments. This includes Retinol A (or any retinoid), which has been shown to be harmful to an unborn child, and salicylic acid, which can cause birth defects and pregnancy complications. If you find yourself battling acne during your pregnancy, try a purifying cleanser like Suki Transformative Cleansing Clay or a treatment like the Seven Herb Mask by ilike.

Motherlove also has a good list of products and ingredients to avoid when you have a little bun in the oven, here. What’s been the hardest thing to give up during your pregnancy?


Honey Month Tip: Add a teaspoon of honey to a mug of hot water; let dissolve. Use as the final rinse to your freshly-washed hair to moisturize and protect your locks.

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