By Dr Priyanka Reddy
Ever since the start of your pregnancy, you must be getting innumerable advice on the do’s and don’ts from everybody around you. While your family must have given an elaborate list of food to avoid, very few would tell you about the beauty ingredients that need to be avoided while you nurture a life within you.
Chemicals are commonly used even in the popular beauty products and it is important for you as an expectant mother to be careful of them. Some of the ingredients that you should keep away from are:
1 Vitamin A derivatives
Though Vitamin A is considered to be essential for the development of the foetus, higher doses can be teratogenic. Vitamin A derivatives such as Retinoids, Retin-A, Retinyl palmitate are considered to be potential teratogens and should be strictly avoided during every phase of pregnancy. The chances of foetal abnormalities are high with consumption of Vitamin A derivatives, hence both oral retinoids and topical applications should be completely prohibited.
2 Whitening Agents or Depigmenting Agents
Depigmenting agents like hydroquinone has not been scientifically proven to be teratogenic. However, it is advisable not to use products containing hydroquinone as it can cause extreme allergies and reactions in the highly sensitive skin of a pregnant woman.
3 Salicylic Acid
Commonly used in treating skin conditions like acne, dandruff, psoriasis, etc, salicylic acid can easily be found in face washes, anti-dandruff shampoos, anti-acne creams and soaps. Being a metabolite of aspirin, salicylic acid is closely linked to aspirin which is considered to have negative effects on the foetus. According to some of the studies, complications during later stages of pregnancy such as miscarriage, birth defects, etc, are associated with the consumption of salicylic acid. Some pregnant women may also be allergic to the chemical and can experience skin irritation, swelling, hives, or itching.
4 Natural/Essential oils
While the general perception is that anything natural is good for the body, it does not hold true when you are pregnant. Be it artificial or natural, you should always check if the ingredient is safe to be used during pregnancy. It is recommended to stay away from essential oils even when they are natural and organic. At least consult a doctor before using any of the natural oils since some of them are categorically harmful during pregnancy. Oils like jasmine and clay sage can cause contraction while rosemary is found to increase blood pressure which may lead to bleeding. Other essential oils to avoid are cinnamon, fennel, tarragon, camphor, parsley, marjoram, etc.
Chemical sunscreens that contain avobenzone and oxybenzone are harmful and mums-to-be should stay away from them. While there is no concrete evidence to verify the perceived side effects of these chemicals, there are studies that associate them with hormone disruption. Oxybenzone exposure is also linked to Hirschsprung’s Disease, a birth defect that affects the child’s large intestine. Known to be an endocrine disruptor, oxybenzone has harmful effects on the immune and neurological system among others.
6 Glycolic Acid
While a restricted amount of glycolic acid is considered to be safe for expectant mothers, a larger amount of the chemical can cause skin irritation or even lead to inflammatory hyperpigmentation in some cases. The use of products with a higher concentration of glycolic acid may create problems like itching, burning sensation, uneven skin tone, pain, etc.
7 Aluminum chloride hexahydrate
Aluminum chloride hexahydrate is a chemical found in antiperspirants and should proactively be avoided by pregnant women. The chemical is associated with problems like bone damage, anemia, and constant tiredness during pregnancy.
Used as a preservative in nail polish and other cosmetics, formaldehyde is yet another ingredient you should keep away during pregnancy. Prolonged exposure of pregnant women to formaldehyde increases the risk of birth defects. The chemical has detrimental effects on the immune system and hampers normal development of the foetus.
Found in commonly used products like cream, lotion, shampoo, foundation, soap, etc, paraben exposure in pregnant women might remain unnoticed. It is important to take note of paraben as an ingredient because it is associated with preterm birth and is said to be carcinogenic. It is also known to adversely affect fetal growth and has the potential to disrupt thyroid which impacts brain development.
(The writer is Dermatologist, Technologist and Founder of DNA skin clinic, Bangalore.)