Mother-to-be: which ingredients to avoid?

Pregnancy can be the most gloriously exhilarating yet simultaneously totally terrifying time of a woman's life. This magical time of nourish-and-nurture with the consideration of two hearts beating as one can also be a confusing time, particularly when it comes to matters of beauty.

Pregnancy hormones generate an all encompassing upheaval, chaotically upturning your usual skin balance. And then, there’s the more pressing matter of whether the products in your beauty cabinet are safe to use. Rather than squinting at the complex lists of ingredients trying to discern which formulas are mother-to-be safe and which aren’t, read-on to cut to the chase of which ingredients to avoid when expecting. 

Essential Oils

Seemingly innocuous products that you may have deemed totally lush and 100% natural for daily use may actually prove the opposite during pregnancy - In the pregnancy beauty world, it’s less commonly known that some essential oils have potentially risky side effects. 

For example, essential oils such as peppermint, eucalyptus or menthol eucalptus and camphor are too stimulating when expecting. This is because essential oils pass through the blood which serve as a vehicle to feed the future baby. Two commonly used essential oils have been deemed as especially risky when expecting: tea tree oil and rosemary oil. Tea tree oil, despite its medicinal benefits in a non-pregnancy state, is very potent and toxic when ingested. Its most troublesome adverse effect is being estrogenic, a big no-no during pregnancy as these hormonal effects have been negatively correlated with premature contractions. Meanwhile, rosemary oil can raise blood pressure and cause uterine contractions if used with a high dosage; and most importantly here with regards to essential oils, the problem is that we don’t know how much of a specific oil is absorbed.

Retinol and Fruit Acids

More ingredients to sidestep when expecting are Retinol (vitamin A) and fruit acids. Tazorac and Accutane are also vitamin A–derived formulations, but they’re rarer as are prescription only yet are known to cause birth defects. Retinol can be found in creams, serums or oils and is known to fight against skin ageing, scarring and spots. The issue is that it is extremely stimulating, so should be totally avoided during pregnancy. Retin-A is usually associated with prescription medication and skin care, but plenty of over-the-counter formulations contain vitamin A derivatives like retinol and retinyl palmitate, both of which should be banned from your pregnancy beauty kit. Fruit acids - depending on if you used them before pregnancy - especially Salicylic acid should be avoided in high doses. All other exfoliants such as glycolic acid, lactic acids and AHA are fine in small concentrations if you have used them before pregnancy. 

Aluminium Chloride Hexahydrate

Found in antiperspirants, aluminium chloride hexahydrate is another pesky one to avoid as it affects the cells that produce sweat. We already know that too much aluminium is harmful and can result in anemia (decreased red blood cells or hemoglobin), bone disease, and memory changes. Antiperspirants containing aluminum have been dirty-researched as causers of bone damage and extreme tiredness for pregnant women. If you’re pregnant, now is the time to switch to simple deodorants or natural alternatives (and stay with them!).

Enjoyed this post? Here is our team tried and tested staple pregnancy beauty cabinet guide