Once you see those two pink lines, everything changes–including your beauty routine. During pregnancy, it’s important to recognize that not all skincare products are created equal. Some of the ingredients used in many common lotions, soaps, and cosmetics may be unsafe for moms-to-be—and could be sitting in your medicine cabinet right now.
It can be frustrating to learn that your favorite products, which can easily be found at most drugstores, are not safe to use when you’re expecting. Natural products that work well may come with a higher price, but expectant moms can use the Environmental Working Group’s SkinDeep database to see if their go-to products are safe to use during pregnancy.
As you check labels left and right, keep an eye out for these red-flag ingredients:
Triclosan is antibacterial agent and preservative found in personal care products like deodorant, toothpastes and body soaps. The FDA maintains that triclosan is safe, but some research has linked the chemical to learning disabilities and infertility. Exposure to triclosan can affect the placenta’s ability to supply estrogen, a key hormone for fetal development and childbirth, to the fetus.
Be on the lookout for the chemical, which may be listed as: Irgasan DP-300, Lexol 300, Ster-Zac, Cloxifenolum or Triclocarban. Opt for certified organic options, which by law cannot contain synthetic chemicals and are made with gentler ingredients like oils and fruit extracts.
Oxybenzone is a chemical found in many sunscreens, lotions, concealers, and lip balms. The chemical is absorbed by your skin, and it could interfere with hormones in the body and has been linked to low birth weight.
Look for alternatives that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, two common skin product ingredients that are considered safe during pregnancy and aren’t absorbed by the skin.
Salicylic acid is the active ingredient in many skincare products that helps prevent pimples and blemishes. High doses of salicylic acid in oral form have been shown to cause birth defects and pregnancy complications.
Steer clear of facial soaps, creams, and peels that list salicylic acid on the label, which may also be listed as beta hydroxy acid or BHA. If you’re looking to treat acne during pregnancy, look for a cleanser that contains ingredients like lactic acid or lemon peel oil clean and exfoliate your acne-prone skin in a healthier way.
Retinol is a milder form of tretinoin, the prescription-strength vitamin A used to treat fine lines and wrinkles. It’s commonly found in skincare and makeup products with anti-aging benefits.
High doses of Vitamin A can cause birth defects, and since prenatal multivitamins already contain the daily recommendation of 770 micrograms, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid skincare products made with the ingredients adapelene, tretinoin, retinoic acid, retinol, retinyl lineoleate, retinyl palmitate, and tazarotene—all of which are forms of retinol.
It’s important to discuss your skin care regimen with both your obstetrician and dermatologist, who can help you figure out which products you might need to avoid and suggest some replacements.