If you’re a mom-to-be, you’ll want the very best for your unborn baby. You give up the drinks, you take your pre-natal visits, you avoid the brie and the blue cheese, but what about what’s absorbed through your skin? Here’s some info on what ingredients are best to avoid until after the birth, or if you’re going to nurse, until baby is happily weaned.
Salicylic acid is found in a number of different skin products, mostly toners and cleansers. It helps exfoliate your pores from the inside out and, as its in the aspirin family, it can also soothe inflammation or redness. In such small amounts it’s fine, but salicylic acid in the oral form of medication, however, should be avoided at all costs as it has been shown to harm developing babies. Also, having skin peels that contain high levels of salicylic acid are not recommended during this time.
These powerful substances are often found in anti-aging moisturizers. Retinoids are a type of vitamin A that help speed up cell turnover and prevent the breakdown of collagen skin fibres, therefore improving skin tone and reducing wrinkle-depth. The use of all oral retinoids such as isotretinoin, found in acne treatments like Accutane, should be avoided altogether by pregnant women as studies have shown that it causes birth defects. Topical forms of retinol, like what you’d find in anti-aging creams, have been shown not to cause any harm to your unborn child, but to be on the safe side, it is still best to avoid them.
Some pregnant women think that using natural products such as soy won’t do any harm. However, it can sometimes make skin problems worse, such as the ‘the mask of pregnancy’, which is essentially hyperpigmentation of the skin. The problem with soy is that it has an estrogenic effect on the skin, and can make those dark patches (aka melasma or chloasma) even darker. The ‘active’ soy found in some product lines is acceptable though, because the estrogenic components have been removed.
Again, don’t assume that because something is natural, it’ll be safe for your baby. ‘Pregnant women also have to be careful with essential oils’, says Perrine Gallant, International Trainer for Decleor. ‘Some oils are very stimulating and can accelerate your heart rhythm. As a consequence the baby’s heart rate increases and this can sometimes lead to a miscarriage’. Still, she goes on to say that not all essential oils are dangerous. ‘At Decléor we ensure that we avoid these elements in our products at all cost. Our Aroma Sculpt range has been specifically tested by gynaecologists so that it can be used during pregnancy and afterwards when breast feeding’.
What about colouring your hair?
According to the latest research, colouring your hair while pregnant has not been proven unsafe since too little of the chemicals enter your system. If you’re still concerned, wait until after the first trimester and have it done professionally. You can also try high or lowlights instead, since there’s no direct contact of the chemicals with your scalp. 100% pure Henna is also an option.
Our favourite beauty goodies for expectant moms
*Decleor products are available at selected Woolworths and Truworths stores as well as selected spas and salons.
**Payot products are available at selected Miladys and Dischem stores as well as selected pharmacies, spas and salons.