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Skincare During Your Pregnancy: What's Safe? What Isn't?

Skincare during your pregnancy: whats safe? what isn't?

Most pregnant women understand that the food they eat, beverages they drink and medicines they take during pregnancy can have a profound effect on their health and the health of their baby. But many don’t realize that what they put on their bodies can be just as significant.

Many of us are used to daily routines that include slathering on facial moisturizers, body lotions, shampoos and conditioners, as well as deodorants and perfumes. What we may not take into consideration is that many of these products pass through the skin and are absorbed into our bodies. If you are carrying a developing life in your body, this should be as vital a concern as what you are ingesting orally.

While many products we use on a regular basis are safe, the more targeted and specific the product, the more likely that it could be of concern. And if you are nursing, there are specific guidelines you should follow until you stop breastfeeding.

Retinoids are often found in anti-aging creams. They are a type of vitamin A that speeds up cell division and prevent the breakdown of collagen, both of which are effective at reducing wrinkles and improving skin tone. Oral retinoids taken during pregnancy can be harmful to your unborn child and may cause birth defects. While topical retinoids in moisturizers have not been shown to cause problems, your AOA doctor may recommend using extra caution with these products during your pregnancy.

Salicylic acid is a mild acid in the aspirin family that is used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne. It penetrates facial oils to get deep into pores and clean out dead cells and reduce inflammation. Again, high doses of this produce in oral form have been shown to cause pregnancy complications and birth defects. Small doses in a topical treatment can be considered safe, however the stronger the product, like that used in facial peels, and the amount used can be problematic. Check with your AOA doctor on whether your use of salicylic acid is within a safe range.

Many women believe that products using “natural” ingredients, such as soy are a safe alternative during pregnancy, but surprisingly this is not always the case. Soy-based products can make the condition known as “pregnancy mask” worse. Pregnancy mask is when dark blotches form on the face creating a mask-like appearance. Oil of bergamot can have the same effect.

Cream or gel depilatories (hair removing products) are generally considered safe, however, some women’s skin becomes extra sensitive during pregnancy and there may be a slightly increased risk of allergy.

Sunscreens are also generally considered safe during pregnancy. It is recommended that you take some extra precautions, however, such as avoiding the sun between 10 am and 2 pm; wearing sun-protective clothing; and reapplying your sunscreen at least every two hours.

Most makeup products, such as powders, foundations, mascaras, eyeliners, etc. are safe to use during pregnancy, as long as you avoid those makeup products that contain retinoids or salicylic acid.

If you are considering pregnancy, or are pregnant, work with your AOA doctor to insure that the skincare routine you use during your pregnancy is safe for you and for your baby.

Learn more about skincare tips during pregnancy, including what to look for specifically on product labels: