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Safe Skincare When Pregnant

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 26 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
Face Skin Skincare Pregnancy Ingredients

Now that you're pregnant, there are all sorts of issues to consider. Whilst you might not have given your skincare routine a second thought, perhaps you should, as some of the ingredients used in products leave a bit to be desired. So what products could pose problems during pregnancy and why?

The ingredients lists on skincare products aren't always that easy to follow - sometimes there are names you might not know, sometimes the details are hidden under packaging and, when it comes to fragrances and parfum, the details don't all have to be listed, due to the protection of commercial secrets. So identifying everything in things isn't that easy, especially if you're not sure what you're looking for.

The skin can go through changes during pregnancy and, as there are some ingredients that can irritate sensitive skin, cause allergies, cause birth defects and affect breast milk, it is worth considering whether you want to use them whilst pregnant. Some of the key ingredients to watch out for are:

  • Petrol-based products containing ingredients such as petrolatum, propylene glycol, isopropyl alcohol, paraffin and mineral oil. These can irritate sensitive skin, especially during pregnancy.
  • Ethoxylated alcohols, such as sodium laureth sulphate (SLF) and polyethylene glycol (PEG). SLF can cause skin and eye irritation. When your scalp is even more sensitive than normal during pregnancy, together they can be harsh and cause even more irritation.
  • Amines and derivatives, such as diethanolamine (DEA) and monoethanolamine (MEA). In Europe, DEA is found in less than one per cent of skincare products, as it's known to irritate the skin and may be linked to cancer.
  • Parfum and fragrances, such as artificial musk. Artificial musk can build up in the body and has been found in breast milk.
  • Formaldehyde (a preservative), which is hidden in ingredients such as DMDM-hydantoin, metheneamine and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate. This form of preservative is one of the leading causes of allergic reactions.
  • Parabens, such as butylparaben and others beginning with methyl-, propyl- and ethyl-. These are absorbed by the skin and can accumulate in the body. Some studies have found traces in breast tissue.
  • Retinol, such as tretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene and retinyl. Large doses in pregnancy may harm the development of the embryo.

Choosing Safer Options

Despite the ingredients above causing irritation and harm, there are plenty of other products available that are calmer on the skin and ideal for use during pregnancy. Browse the skincare ranges in shops, and you'll find products that are geared up towards sensitive skin and pregnancy. Even if you've never had problems with your skin before, it's possible that it may become sensitive during pregnancy, so don't dismiss it automatically.

Whilst it might be tricky to identify some of the key culprits in ingredients lists, as they're often printed in small fonts or hidden inside packaging, some manufacturers are kinder to consumers and print a warning on the packaging that it shouldn't be used during pregnancy or whilst you're breastfeeding. Even some seemingly natural products are affected as, for example, some essential oils aren't recommended whilst you're pregnant.

Pregnancy doesn't have to mean an end to your usual skin care routine - some women may find it fine to continue with your usual products, but others may need to consider cutting down usage or temporarily finding an alternative. There are lots of products out there that smell gorgeous, are great for your skin and don't pose any harm, so enjoy browsing what's on offer and trying out the products.

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