March 9, 2013

Top 5 Beauty No-Nos for Pregnant Women

There are all kinds of things pregnant women are warned to avoid, from alcohol and caffeine to commercial meat and dairy to aspirin and airline travel. Some guidelines you may follow to the letter while others you scoff at. But when it comes to your beauty routine, the products you slather on your skin every day, it might not be a bad idea to at least take note of the potential side effects of products and ingredients that doctors have put on the no-no list. Here are a few you may want to stay away from.

  1. Hair dye. With most commercial hair dye products containing harmful chemical agents like PPD (a colorant) and formaldehyde (a preservative) that are known to cause cancer and birth defects, amongst other things, it's not surprising that doctors caution pregnant women to stay out of the stylist's chair for the next several months (or longer if they're breastfeeding). However, this can leave you in a lurch where you line of demarcation is concerned. Don't fret just yet, though. Believe it or not, there are natural alternatives on the market (henna, for one) that can help you to hide your roots without harming your baby. Of course, bottle blondes may have a bit of trouble, but a little lemon juice and the power of the sun can help. Otherwise, getting close to your original color may be the best solution until your baby is born.
  2. Phthalates. These plasticizing agents are hard to avoid when it comes to the beauty products you use every day, mainly because they are included in all manner of products for your skin. For example, they could be present in the anti-aging moisturizer you use, as well as the makeup you layer over the top. If you use nail treatments as well, you've got the trifecta. They're also commonly added to fragrances as a stabilizer, which means they could be in nearly every beauty product you own. And since they have been linked to developmental problems in fetuses, you'll definitely want to avoid them. Luckily, many manufacturers have started to make phthalate-free products. But since the exact composition of fragrances falls under "trade secrets" you might want to avoid any products with fragrances on the ingredients list.
  3. Parabens. Like phthalates, these chemical preservatives are all around us, finding their way into shampoos, moisturizers, sunscreen, cosmetics, and more. While they keep bacteria at bay, they may also cause hormone imbalances, potentially harming a growing fetus. Although more testing needs to be done to determine just how risky parabens are, they're probably best avoided.
  4. Retinols/retinoids. Products that contain retinols or retinoids may do great things for your skin, but studies show that they have been linked to birth defects. So if you're taking oral products that contain them, you'll want to find an alternative as soon as possible. If, however, you're using a topical product, talk to your doctor. There is some concern that these products can get into your bloodstream, but the truth is that most topical creams will never penetrate deeper than the dermis. However, you may want to steer clear, just to be safe.
  5. Depilatory creams. There are a couple of reasons not to use depilatory creams during pregnancy, even though the bump in androgens may cause your hair to become thicker and grow in places it normally doesn't (on your face, for example). For starters, little is known about the harm to your baby that could result from use of these chemical agents. Additionally, your skin may become more sensitive during pregnancy, resulting in allergic reactions to harsh chemicals.
Whether your pregnancy was an "oops" or the California cryobank has just fertilized your last viable egg, you are likely keen to protect your fetus, so it's better to stay away from any products that are considered iffy.

(Written by Carol)

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