Being pregnant is an absolute blessing but it also is a curse in the sense one is always finding out new things that can potentially hurt your growing baby. Women have enough to worry about when they find out that they are expecting a child but chemicals are lurking in unexpected places—like basic beauty products.
The best way we can protect ourselves and our babies from potentially harmful products is by way of information: knowing what specific chemicals to watch out for and what products are safe. The risk from these chemicals ranges anywhere from skin allergies to loss of baby. And while many stores, like Sephora, are getting better at making sure ALL of their products are safe for everyone, the system is far from perfect. This is due to many factors, including the fact that some items do not even have their ingredients listed on the bottle.
Most of us are trying to be conscious of the things we expose our own bodies--and the bodies of little ones—to. We have done the hard part for you: we have completed the research and put together a simple, explanatory list that will protect your family from harmful, chemical ingredients.
14 Extravagant Bath Products
Many stores, including Sephora, make a ton of money marketing expensive and luxurious bath products to women. But unfortunately, many of these products contain chemicals that can cause anything from skin irritations to cancer. It is hard to remember that when buying something as innocent as a scrub or bubble bath, that it could contain something that has the potential to harm.
Moreover, the fancier that the product is, the more likely it is to be harmful.
The easiest way to protect you and your baby is to go with simple products that say, in no uncertain terms, that they are safe for both babies and pregnant women. These products are generally flushed of any ingredients that are known to be harmful or have yet to be tested.
13 Hair Spray
Oh, ladies, do I have some bad news for you: there have been reports that say that hairspray, especially when used during the first trimester, can cause birth defects. Moreover, the defects are really intense-- especially in male babies-- causing detriments to the genitals.
Stores like Sephora carry an array of hairspray products and studies are inconclusive as to what specific chemicals within the spray can cause the defect. We do know that certain chemicals, called endocrine disrupting chemicals, mess with hormone levels in people of all ages.
The problem with these endocrine disrupting chemicals is that they are in many everyday products, so exposure is much greater because we are inhaling it through hairspray and rubbing it on our hands through anti-bacterial soap.
Best line of defense: information.
12 Facial Masks
It might seem like you're just applying a paste that resembles wet clay when giving yourself a facial at home, but many high-end facial products are chalk full of chemicals that can be harmful to your baby. When it comes to facial products, pregnant women need to be aware of two things 1) the chemicals are entering your body through your skin/pores and 2) the chemicals are also entering your body through your nose.
When you take that deep breath and smell all the glorious perfume-like aromas, just remember that you are inhaling a ton of chemicals into your system. It is best to stick with simple, plain products or if you are super desperate-- go collect some mud from your backyard and give yourself a little scrub.
11 Glycolic Night Syrum
Sephora carries lots of night serums but this one is especially bad for pregnant women. This product contains beta hydroxy acids or BHA. BHA helps to refine skin and give your pigment a radiant shine. It helps to make your pores smaller and give your skin new life.
But because BHA is water-soluble, it can also get into your bloodstream. It is so effective because it seeps deep into your skin, but this is also the downfall. This chemical soaks into your pores and cleans out all of the dirt but it is so potent that it does not all come back out. Studies have shown that this chemical can cause birth defects in growing fetus’—something we all do our best to prevent.
Information is your best protection, ladies!
10 Retinoid Peel
Sephora sells an array of products that are not suitable for pregnant women and this is one of them. The Professional Strength Retinoid Plus is supposed to help rid your face of lines and wrinkles while also evening your skin tone. Unfortunately, it also contains retinol, which although makes your skin look awesome can also cause complications during pregnancy.
Doctors want pregnant women to be extra cautious about what they expose their children to and the worry is that the high doses of Vitamin A in the serum can cause birth defects. It is better to be safe for the entirety of your pregnancy and just stick to simple face regimens that do not have a lot of ingredients. You can resume your normal routine once your baby arrives…if you can find the time.
I know, you already feel as a big as a house and the last thing you want to eliminate from your daily routine is your deodorant. But many of the antiperspirants that Sephora (and other major retailers) carry have in ingredient in them called aluminum chloride hexahydrate. This chemical comes from aluminum and though it might help with your stank it is not great for the baby.
Studies have shown that exposure to aluminum can cause bone damage and exhaustion. Unfortunately, some mothers are also urging breastfeeding mamas to stay away as well, because traces of aluminum could be passed through your milk and into your newborn baby. There are other alternatives out there that can help mask the smell of body order with no risk to you or your baby.
8 Self Tanning Bronzing Mousse
Ahh—just say the name out loud— self-tanning bronzing mousse. That sounds so luxurious, doesn’t it? And with all of the information we are given about how damaging sun can be to our skin, many women are turning to self-tanning products. When you’re pregnant, any little thing can help you feel more like a woman and less like a giant ball that’s making a baby and giving your face a little extra color is an easy way to do so.
But be aware that self-tanners sold at Sephora (and many other places) contain Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and when this chemical is inhaled it can cause harm to a growing fetus. If you have ever tried the spray versions then you will know it's nearly impossible not breathe in…
7 Nail Polish
It is crazy to think that something as mundane as nail polish is something that you should be careful about but unfortunately, it is true. Many polishes contain formaldehyde, a toxic chemical that is popular and is wildly used for home building products. It is known for its ability to kill bacteria preserve…which is great except that it is also known for a number of other things—like causing cancer.
Due to the fact that there is so much research happening now on how chemicals affect the body, brands are starting to pay attention. Companies are changing the way that they manufacture their products to make them safer. But we still have a long, long way to go. Sephora carries a number of polishes that are formaldehyde FREE—make sure to read the label.
6 Tinted Moisturizer
Tinted Moisturizers are all of the rage now because women can add a bit of color to their skin while also moisturizing and protecting it. The problem is that many top brands have a huge list of ingredients in their products, and many can hold potential problems for pregnant women. Studies have not been conclusive on how damaging the effects of these chemicals can be, but many medical professionals who have researched their properties agree that it is better to be safe than sorry, especially involving anything with your baby.
It may seem daunting at this point to keep track of all of this stuff but we’re trying to make it easier for you. Here are some chemicals found in tinted moisturizers to watch out for:
- menthyl anthranilate
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) which is an environmental organization that researches the effects that chemicals have on people and habitats, sunscreen ingredients come in two main forms: mineral and chemical. Each utilizes a different method of protecting the skin from the sun but the most common type is the chemical form.
The chemical form of sunscreen contains pesky ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene and more, which have shown in studies that they can alter hormones and raise the risk of skin allergies.
I get it; you probably won’t retain this long list of ingredients that I am throwing at you. But if you remember one chemical from this the most potent one is oxybenzone. Avoid that one as much possible, mama.
Buy a mineral based sunscreen.
Some artificial fragrances contain a chemical compound known as phthalates which are known to cause harm to animals and humans, though we still don’t know a lot about them. Evidence has shown that in animals there is a high rate of miscarriage when they are exposed to phthalates—31%. How close those numbers are when related to humans and how much you would have to be exposed to in order to feel the effects is still in a grey area.
Furthermore, most artificial fragrances IE perfumes, do not have their ingredients listed on them. So if you are moseying around Sephora looking at Chanel, Viktor & Rolf, Yves Saint Laurent, etc. be conscious that the hefty price tag also comes with no information on ingredients.
Maybe try something more natural like lavender or vanilla oil…
3 Hair Removers
Woof—if there is one thing that is guaranteed to happen to your body when you are pregnant, it is that hair will start sprouting out of really unfortunate places. Happy-trails will pop up on your stomach, mustaches will come in with a vengeance and random hairs will come shooting out of your forehead.
Before you throw away the tweezers and start going for the chemical form of hair removal, be warned: many hair removers contain thioglycolic acid (which is also labeled as cetyl mercaptan, mercaptoacetate, mercaptoacetic acid and thionic acid). This chemical is limited, especially in Europe, because there has been little to no testing performed on it. Without having any studies to show the effects, we have no idea what harm it could cause. Better to avoid this chemical than risk harm to your baby.
2 Eyelash Glue
Christmas parties, Halloween and monumental birthdays are a great excuse for ladies to fish out their fake eyelashes from under the sink and put them to good use. There are so many kinds of lashes to choose from these days that you can make your face look anything from natural to Barbie, in a heartbeat. There are even different color glues to go with them. It can change your look in approximately two minutes and is a great addition to any outfit.
But beware that the adhesives used to glue the lash to your eyelids contain formaldehyde. This chemical can potentially cause cancer and miscarriage—it is not something to mess around with. There are many alternatives out there both at Sephora and other stores, that are made without it. One just has to be conscious.
1 Chemical Hair Straighteners
If you are anything like me and you have unyielding, stubborn, curly hair than you are no stranger to chemical straightening. I have tried just about every product that is available and have had the best (and longest) results from chemical straighteners. They make my hair soft, manageable and semi-professional looking.
Many chemical straighteners contain formaldehyde, which is known by the Center For Disease Control to cause cancer. It is also linked to fertility problems and miscarriages.
It is hard to contain a curly mess of hair without the help of chemicals but it can be done. Embrace your luscious locks during pregnancy and go without the treatments. Out of everything I tried out to replace my chemical straighteners, I had the best luck with the simplest product: sea salt spray.
Sources: The Bump, Fit Pregnancy, Baby Center, MommyMeds, CDC.gov, Chemicalsafeteyfacts.com, Skincancer.org, hsph.harvard.edu,