How safe are your usual cosmetics when you’re pregnant?

By Priyanka Elhence, 26 September 2018 3056

Congratulations. Being pregnant is such an exciting and busy time for mums-to-be. There’s so much to think about, what’s best for you and the developing baby, what foods to avoid and what nutrients to ensure you have enough of. But what about the ingredients in your beauty products and cosmetics? How safe are they when you are pregnant?

Every pregnancy is different and while it is a wonderful time for some women, for others it can mean months of morning sickness, fatigue and unpleasant skin conditions ranging from acne to dark pigmentation. Some conditions may be a result of raging hormones, but there are some skincare ingredients that pregnant women should avoid using as their body is in flux and they run a higher risk of adversely reacting to something at this time.

Different women respond differently to skincare ingredients depending on individual skin types and sensitivities, here are some general things to take note of:

1. The risk of using beauty products during pregnancy

Your daily routine of putting on facial moisturisers, make up, lotions, deodorants and perfumes can affect you and your baby during pregnancy as a result of possible skin absorption and hormone imbalance. Medical studies have shown that while it’s difficult to conclude precisely how much of a topical solution is absorbed into the bloodstream, usually the thinner the skin, the higher the absorption Depending on the area the chemicals are being applied to and the quantity being applied, our skin can absorb anywhere from two to five per cent of the drug.

2. Cosmetic ingredients to avoid when pregnant

You know what foods to give a miss, but what about your skin and the products in your skincare regimen? The products you put on your body can affect your baby as much as if not more so than the foods you eat. Here’s a list of some skin care ingredients that you should avoid during pregnancy:

  • Retinoids - a derivative of vitamin A, usually found on prescription acne and anti-aging medications, and in serums and moisturizers to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and pimples and to improve skin tone. Retinoids speed up cell division and prevent collagen from breaking down. While adequate amounts of vitamin A are important for embryonic growth, excessive retinoid intake has been linked to malformations and birthing defects. Other names for retinoic acid include retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde, adapalene, tretinoin, tazarotene and isotretinoin, and should be avoided during pregnancy.
  • Tetracycline – these antibiotics are used to treat a wide variety of conditions such as acne and Lyme disease. However, studies have shown that during pregnancy, they can damage a pregnant woman's liver and discolour the developing baby's teeth. Safer pregnancy antibiotics include amoxicillin or erythromycin.
  • Phthalates – these ‘chemicals’ are added to plastics to make them more flexible and to increase the strength and effectiveness of other chemicals in a formula, such as perfume or nail polish. Avoid ingredients such as BzBP, DBP, DEP, DMP, or diethyl, dibutyl, benzylbutyl phthalate and components ending in -phthalate. Also, prenatal phthalate exposure has been linked to health risks ranging from high blood pressure and ADHD to diabetes and abnormal foetal development.
  • Parabens - a common preservative in cosmetics and found in everything from foundations to styling gel, these chemicals have been linked to breast cancer as well as affecting the reproductive system. Parabens are also known hormone disruptors and are easily absorbed into the skin. Prenatal exposure to BPA (a type of paraben) has been linked to a host of pregnancy and childhood issues including miscarriage, low birth weight, obesity, impaired foetal growth and behavioural problems.
  • Essential oils – though usually used in natural aromatherapy, pure oils are risky during pregnancy. Jasmine and clary sage can trigger contractions, sage and rosemary oil may cause bleeding, and rosemary has been proven to increase blood pressure. A common myth especially during pregnancy is that natural is better. However, this is not always the case. For instance, essential oils in natural products are diluted so they’re generally safer to use, whereas pure essential oils are riskier during pregnancy. 

A common advice from doctors is to avoid introducing a new product to your beauty routine without any consultation, and definitely not until the third trimester. Be safe and look for products that are free of fragrances, BPA, formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates and DEA. Better yet, make a list of your beauty and skincare products and review them with your OB-GYN and dermatologist if you’re unsure about any specific product label.


3. Beauty tips during pregnancy

When in doubt, always keep things simple. Here are a few beauty tips that are safe during pregnancy to keep your skin glowing and baby safe:

  • Keep your make up routine simple and cleanse your skin thoroughly each day to maintain clear pores and to remove dirt and makeup, without over exfoliating either.
  • Be extra safe in the sun. Choose a zinc oxide sunscreen over usual chemical-based ones and stay in the shade as much as possible.
  • Reduce the likelihood of stretch marks by using a good natural body oil, like sweet almond oil.
  • You’re eating for two, so daily exercise is essential for these special nine months. In addition to increasing circulation, the burst of endorphins are great for happier moods and uninterrupted sleep.
  • Keep your skin glowing by increasing your water intake. Water keeps you hydrated, flushes the system clear of toxins, while a squeeze of lemon eases the nausea too.
  • And last but not least – keep the stress at bay and enjoy the pregnancy.

Besides following the above beauty routine checklist, don’t forget to take plenty of water and get quality beauty sleep to achieve natural glowing complexion. Sleep better at night knowing you’re well-protected with Maternity 360 - a comprehensive single-premium coverage plan that is designed to provide protection coverage for mommy and baby from the 13th week of pregnancy for the first 3 years of birth. The 360 degree protection plan coverage includes pregnancy complication benefits, congenital illness benefits, hospital care benefits and exclusive Maternity 360 treats among other advantages, so that you can enjoy every moment of your pregnancy and motherhood worry-free.


Important Notes:
This article is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of any Income products mentioned are specified in their respective policy contracts. For customised advice to suit your specific needs, consult an Income insurance advisor.

This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.