I recently wrote the following guest blog post for a local parenting website.
How do I know which skin- and hair-care products are truly safe to use while I am pregnant?
Answer: As you probably suspect, many beauty products advertised as “natural” or “organic” contain lots of questionable chemicals in their ingredients lists. Sadly, this is even true for those products marketed specifically for pregnant women. Sure, we should all learn to read and understand cosmetics labels the same way we do food labels, but this can be an overwhelming endeavor, especially when you’re living with pregnancy brain. Follow the tips below to easily mitigate your exposure to the worst offenders.
Five Tips for a Safe Prenatal Beauty Routine
- Avoid fragrances. If you cut out just one unhealthy ingredient while you’re pregnant, make it synthetic fragrance, which unfortunately makes an appearance in nearly all beauty products and sometimes shows up on the label as “parfum.” Why does fragrance stink? Because it often contains phthalates, those nasty chemicals implicated in early puberty, autism, obesity, and birth defects. Opt for unscented products or those that specify that they contain only natural essential oils.
- Go to the pros. Visit the EWG’s Skin Deep cosmetics database to learn more than you ever wanted to know about the ingredients in all of your beauty products. Surfing this site is an overwhelming experience, which is why I created Gimme the Good Stuff, where I strive to provide quick and easy info on the safety of a range of products, without sending you into a full-blown panic.
- Use less stuff. Take advantage of your full, shiny pregnancy hair and wash it less frequently (or, if you’re really brave, become a no-pooer). Skip the expensive anti-aging eye cream. Of course, you can’t be expected to go 40 weeks without wearing makeup or moisturizer. My advice? Be particularly discerning about products that you use on your whole body on a daily basis (the lotion you smear on after every shower), as opposed to special occasion products that cover a small surface area (smoky eyeshadow for your sister’s wedding.)
- Get healthy on the inside. To lessen the potential damage of chemicals in your beauty products, boost your body’s immune system. Load up on organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and grass-fed dairy and meat. Keep exercising once you get your doctor’s go-ahead. A healthier body is better able to handle the blast of phthalates you encounter whenever you walk through the cosmetics floor of Bloomingdale’s.
- Stay sane. Stress and anxiety are bad—for both you and your growing baby. Your kid is super lucky to have a conscientious momma, but don’t turn a good thing into a negative one by bugging out about how toxic your shampoo is (easier said than done, I know).
Best Bets for Safe Cosmetics
Many companies (Burt’s Bees, Dr. Hauschka) make some safe products, but also some products that I call Sneaky Stuff. It’s impossible to remember which ingredients are problematic when you’re perusing a cosmetics counter, so it helps to know of a few companies you can trust across the board. Some of my favorites brands of truly safe products, for pregnancy and beyond, include:
- Sierra Sage for belly balm, nipple cream, and sitz bath, plus lip balms, salves, and baby balm.
- Nvey Eco for makeup.
- Acure Organics for anti-aging treatments, body moisturizers, hair care, and facial cleansers.
- Earth Mama Angel Baby for a range of prenatal and postpartum products.
- Kabana Skin Care for sunscreens.