We all know maintaining a balanced and healthy diet
is crucial to the well-being of pregnant women and their growing babies. Most women strive to achieve the perfect balance of protein, fatty acids as well as fruits and veggies in their diet; they monitor their caffeine and sugar intake; but do they pay attention to what they use on
their body? Having a natural skin care routine while pregnant is just as important as your nutrition.
What Goes on Your Body Goes in Your Body
Our skin is the largest organ of our body; it is porous, permeable and highly absorbent. Many women use a substantial amount of beauty and skin care products on a daily basis, but they seldom think about what might be passing through their skin and into their body. If we think about it, some drugs and medication are administered through transdermal skin patches, which proves just how absorbent our skin actually can be! If patches can deliver chemicals through our pores, shouldn’t we be a little more concerned about the products we smear on our skin, especially for mothers carrying a child?
Now you may be wondering what you can slather on your skin without harming your growing baby. Although some skin care products are perfectly good for you and baby, many contain unknown, possibly harmful chemicals and ingredients*. Most of the time, these ingredients are not listed on labels
as they are found as contaminants
or indirect ingredients, and are thus legally tolerated. Finding natural skin care products can sometimes be challenging.
All mothers-to-be deserve to feel pampered with natural ingredients! Becoming more aware of how your skin care products can affect you and your baby’s health, and which ingredients you should avoid for your pregnancy will put your mind at ease as your beautiful newborn grows.
Research Proves it: Ingredients Can Reach the Umbilical Cord
Some cosmetic ingredients manage to penetrate the skin. Scientists have found ingredients such as phthalates and fragrance components in human tissues. In a study spearheaded by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an organization that specializes in research and advocacy in toxic chemicals, researchers found traces of 287 industrial chemicals, pollutants and consumer products in the umbilical cord blood of 10 American babies. Of the 287 chemicals detected, 180 were found to be cancer-causing, 217 toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 were found to cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests - That’s pretty astounding!
Another study conducted by EWG concluded that certain health and reproductive issues such as infertility, low birth weights, preterm births, certain cancers, and birth defects were linked to toxic chemicals found in cosmetics and other personal care products.Unfortunately, the cosmetics industry is not very well regulated; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have the legal authority to approve cosmetics before they go on the market, leaving consumers and their families subjected to potential harmful ingredients.
The Consequences of Long-Term Exposure on Your Baby
Although many chemicals found in cosmetics don’t cause noticeable or immediate signs of toxicity, prolonged exposure to chemicals and contaminants can affect our health and well-being over time. The impact on health all depends on the amount, frequency, length of exposition, and type of chemical itself to which you and your baby are exposed. Moreover, your genetic, resistance level and your physiognomy will also have an influence. Considering so many variables, it is obviously quite difficult for researchers to predict the exact effect on your health or your baby’s.
Children's immature bodies and organs are still developing in the mother’s womb, and as a consequence they’re less able to process and eliminate chemical substances, making them more susceptible to potential developmental defects.
There is a growing body of evidence showing that exposure to a number of chemicals commonly found in consumer goods, personal care products, food, drinking water, and other sources may adversely impact child development through altered endocrine (hormonal) function, endocrine-related diseases and disorders among children*.
7 Personal Care Ingredients to Watch Out for When Pregnant
Next time you head out to buy your beauty and skincare products, take the time to read the product labels carefully. Here is a list of 7 ingredient groups to steer clear from*:
DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl urea, Imidazolidinyl urea and Quaternium-15 are ingredients releasing formaldehyde, an internationally recognized cancer-causing contaminant used as a preservative in skin care products.
Derived from Vitamin A and known for their anti-aging properties, Retinoids could cause birth defects. Avoid ingredients such as Retinol, Retinyl Acetate, Retinal, Retinyl Retinoate, Retinyl linoleate and Retinyl palmitate, as well as Vitamin A.
3. Sodium Laureth Sulfate
All ingredients ending up with "-eth" (eg. ceteareth, laureth-4, laureth-23 ...) are contaminated by carcinogens. They are the result of a reaction with oxide ethylene, a synthetic substance recognized as carcinogenic, and contaminated with 1,4-Dioxane, a potentially cancer-causing chemical; both hidden on the label.
4. PEG and PPG
Like Sodium Laureth Sulfate, these ingredients are contaminated with carcinogens from a reaction with ethylene oxide. Be on the lookout for terminologies such as PPG-20, 30, 80..., PEG-20, 30, 80...and Polysorbate-20, 30, 80…
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA), Monoethanolamine (MEA) are ingredients contaminated with nitrosamines, an impurity found in many cosmetics and a potential carcinogen which you can’t find on labels.
6. BHA, BHT, Phthalates and Triclosan
Beta hydroxy/salicylic acid (BHA), Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), Phthalates and Triclosan are all endocrine disruptors that can mimic our hormones. Small amounts could be absorbed through the skin and affect the baby’s endocrine system.
All ingredients including the word “paraben” (Parabens, Propylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, ...) are preservatives that present evidence of causing hormonal imbalances. Be careful with the mention “Paraben-Free”: It is often replaced with Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) or Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI), equally disturbing ingredients for their human skin toxicant properties.
Before purchasing your skin-care products, read product labels carefully and avoid purchasing products containing the 7 ingredient groups mentioned above. If you’re concerned about what you’re actually putting on your skin, we recommend checking out the EWG’s Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database
. It features the ingredients used in most personal care products on the market with a toxicity rating for each one, so you can make better informed decisions for you and your baby’s well-being.
*According to EWG
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Mener B., John. “Exposure to Environmental Endocrine Disruptors and Child Development.” Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 166.6 (2012): E1-E6. Web.