Beauty product ingredients to avoid while pregnant
Your concern for your baby, even before birth, is natural. It seems logical you would worry about what you take in through the body’s largest organ – your skin.
Given that almost every beauty product we use is chemically made, we must take extra care and be fully aware of the possible effects of these chemicals both on your, and your baby’s body. sales. Social media has raised customers’ expectations about the information they need before they purchase.
List of ingredients in beauty products
Over 1.300 ingredients are either banned or restricted in beauty products in the UK. We say “restricted” because we tend to use multiple products a day, and repeated use can cause accumulation of certain ingredients in the body. Restrictions keep this accumulation to an acceptable amount that is not harmful.
You’ll be happy to know that, luckily, ingredients that have been linked to cancer and, more importantly here, genetic mutations, reproductive harm or birth defects are not tolerated in cosmetics (at least not in the EU). This is according to The EU Cosmetics Directive (written in 2003, revised in 2013). The UK is catching up at a fast rate.
Some ingredients that used to be found on ingredient lists of beauty products in the UK, but have been banned, include:
Oxybenzone - often used in sunscreens, it’s known to possibly cause birth defects, nutrient deficiencies in new-borns, and thus raises the chances of your baby being born underweight (which can cause a whole host of other problems).
Triclosan - used for its antimicrobial properties. It can cause thyroid issues which can, in turn, cause problems with the growth and development of the foetus.
Hydroquinone - often used for bleaching (in hair and skin products). It’s a possible carcinogenic, but is also known to possibly cause skin problems, thyroid disruption, and other internal organ issues.
Hydrogen Peroxide - highly restricted and regulated in the UK and EU. It’s known to cause skin and lung problems, and so is restricted to very low quantities.
Hydrated Magnesium Silicate - it used to be included in baby powders but was proven to be too harsh for baby’s skin and lungs (when inhaled, of course) and can cause pneumonia in babies.
Benzyl Salicylate - commonly found in powders and foundations, it’s often used to prevent hyperpigmentation and protect from UV rays, and as a perfume. However, it’s been shown that those with sensitive skin can have allergic reactions to it and may even be more sensitive to UV rays (which can, in turn, damage skin and raise chances of skin cancer).
Limonene - Beauty Product Ingredients to Avoid While Pregnant- as its name suggests, it’s often used as a natural fragrance in cosmetic products because of its lemony smell. Recent research has shown that products containing limonene may cause uterine contractility, which is not good. You want your uterus to stay calm (quiescent) during pregnancy, and only start contractions when the time to birth your child comes.
Fragrance/parfum - an umbrella term for anything that can help scents last longer on the skin. Most companies don’t disclose what these ingredients are, which leaves room for some pretty shady stuff. Most of these, however, can act as hormone disruptors or at least cause skin irritation.
These are just some of the ingredients that are regulated.
It’s worth highlighting a few more, precisely because they are not regulated as well. Some act as endocrine disruptors and/or accumulate in the body, ultimately negatively impacting the development of your baby.
Watch Out for These Ingredients
Some ingredients we’ll mention are heavy metals that can be toxic to foetuses. Others fall into the category of endocrine disruptors.
The way that endocrine disruptors work is that they (typically) start imitating/blocking hormones when they enter your body.
Your body then starts to either (a) produce too much of some hormones to make up for the blockage or to (b) produce less of a hormone thinking that there’s enough of it in your system already. But there isn’t.
They thus cause havoc in the endocrine system (i.e., the glands that produce hormones and the hormone signalling processes).
Another possible danger is their accumulation in the body. Your liver might end up being too overwhelmed by the quantity and thus won’t be able to filter out all those excess “hormones” (or perhaps heavy metals). You then end up with severe hormonal disbalances or accumulated metals in your body that can disrupt your baby’s development.
Heavy Metals: Lead and Mercury
Lead is often found in coloured products, typically make-up (it acts as a mineral pigment). Lead gets soaked up by your skin and enters your bloodstream. If it’s in your bloodstream, that means it’s also in your placenta. From there, it can harm your baby. In this case, lead can cause brain damage in babies. If the exposure is extremely high, this may even lead to behavioural, learning, and language-related problems.
In a similar way, higher levels of mercury can negatively affect a baby’s brain development and can lead to memory and learning problems, but also general developmental issues. Beware of it in mascara and skin-lightening products.
Phthalates - typically used to improve the texture of products, they’ve been known to penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream.
They have been shown to be exceptionally harmful to the development of baby boys (particularly their reproductive system) and may cause premature death.
Parabens - often used for their antibacterial properties, they’re known as pretty intense endocrine disruptors. They mimic oestrogen in the body.
A type of paraben – butylparaben – has been associated with pre-term birth and decreased birth weight when found in the urine and cord blood of pregnant women.
PTFE - it’s typically used to increase the shelf life of products and can be found in cosmetics, shampoos, and sunscreen. It can enter the placenta and can be detected in pregnant women’s cord blood, urine, and breast milk. Meaning that it lingers in the body and is absorbed by the foetus.
PFAS (a group of chemicals of which PTFE is a part) has been known to cause pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, thyroid problems, low birth weight, and harm to the male reproductive system.
Given that many firms aren’t completely transparent about the ingredients that they use in their beauty products, buying something you know is safe for both you and your baby is extremely difficult.
However, Cradle & Tonic is completely transparent about the ingredients that we use. They are completely natural, and plant based. No need to worry about chemicals, heavy metals, or unnamed “fragrances” in our products!