Safe Ingredients for Moms to Be

Monday, May 7, 2012





With all of the topics I have covered here on the blog, I can't believe I've never posted about ingredients safety for moms to be.

Today, I'd like to go over some of the ingredients to avoid while pregnant.  Since a percentage of what we apply to our skin may be absorbed into our bloodstream, what expectant moms use is really very important.

I remember being concerned about what to eat (or not to eat) while I was pregnant. As much as I love soft cheeses and coffee, I eliminated them from my diet from the get go. I was careful about skin care, having switched to Burt's Bees (which was one of the only options at the time), but didn't really think about the other things at the time.

There's just so much more research and information out there these days.

Ingredients to Avoid While Pregnant

As wonderful as essential oils are, some really need to be avoided while pregnant. As someone who studied aromatherapy extensively, this can be a tricky subject because there ARE so many benefits of essential oils, but there still is research out there suggesting many should be avoided, so I woul err on the side of caution, especially during the crucial first trimester.

Here is a great link from the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists. They, in fact, recommend avoiding all essential oils during the first trimester and Chic & Green does agree with this.

Essential Oils to Avoid in Pregnancy (source)

•    Arnica (homeopathic is fine)
•    Basil
•    Birch (sweet)
•    Bitter almond
•    Boldo leaf
•    Broom
•    Buchu
•    Calamus
•    Camphor (brown or yellow)
•    Cassia
•    Cedarwood/thuja
•    Chervil
•    Cinnamon
•    Clary sage
•    Clove (bud, leaf or stem)
•    Coriander
•    Costus
•    Deertongue
•    Elecampane
•    Fennel
•    Horseradish
•    Hyssop
•    Jaborandi leaf
•    Juniper berry
•    Melilotus
•    Mugwort
•    Mustard
•    Nutmeg
•    Origanum
•    Parsley (large doses)
•    Pennyroyal
•    Pine (dwarf)
•    Rosemary
•    Rue
•    Sassafras
•    Savin
•    Savory (summer)
•    Tansy
•    Thyme red (large doses)
•    Tonka
•    Wintergreen
•    Wormwood

Other Ingredients:

Neem Oil -- Neem has been shown to cause damage to the forming kidneys of babies in the womb.

Tea Tree Oil -- In pregnancy, this has been linked to hormonal issues and abnormal development in boys.

Oxybenzone -- This is found in many different sunscreens.  In pregnancy, this ingredient has been shown to cause hormonal issues.

Nanoparticles  -- The more and more I study nanoparticle technology, the more concerned I become. There needs to be more regulation of this one. In pregnancy, I recommend that you err on the side of caution.  In a 2011 study, research revealed that nanoparticles caused pregnancy complications in mice. (source). These are found in titanium dioxide and zinc oxide--opt for pressed powder makeups over loose. Nanoparticles in loose minerals are much easier to inhale and have dispersed in the air. You will also find nanoparticles in some sunscreens.


Salicylic Acid -- Also called BHA or beta hydroxy acid, this is a wonderful oil soluble ingredient to get deep into the pores, help ease inflammation and for the treatment of acne-- unless you are pregnant. Since this ingredient is in the aspirin family, it needs to be avoided. Oral salicylins (like aspirin) have been shown to cause birth defects and increase bleeding problems. While there aren't concrete studies yet on topical salicylic acid in pregnancy, since we know there are great risks taking the oral form, these need to be avoided in skin care. You will also want to avoid white willow bark while pregnant. This is a natural form of salicylic acid and is often found in organic and natural skin care products. (white willow bark source)

Retinoids -- Oral retinoids, such as Accutane, have been shown to cause birth defects. While less is known concerning topical forms of vitamin A, it is recommended by the experts to avoid them while pregnant. Look for these names on labels--
Differin (adapelene)
Retin-A, Renova (tretinoin)
Retinoic acid
Retinol
Retinyl linoleate
Retinyl palmitate
Tazorac and Avage (Tazarotene)

Phthalates -- No one should be using phthalates, but they may be especially harmful for pregnant women.  In 2005, there was a study conducted at the University of Rochester by Dr. Shanna Swan, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, showing a "significant relationship" to the presence of higher quantities of phthalates present in a pregnant woman's body and changes/altered genitals of boy babies. (source)
Phthalates are often components of artificial fragrances and in many nail polishes. Look for DBP or dibutyl phathalate on the label. Unfortuntately, this is not legally required on labels when it is in fragrance. Avoid artificial fragrances.

Formaldehyde Releasers -- Look on your labels for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, and quaternium-15. These all release formaldehyde. These have been linked to cancer, as well as having neurotoxic effects. The worst thing you can do -- get a Brazilian Blowout. These contain around 10% formaldehyde and are carcinogenic. No one should get one of these, especially pregnant women. Formaldehyde is a KNOWN carcinogen--in other words, it has been proven to cause cancer. It is not worth the chance to you or your unborn baby.

Parabens -- Again, this is on our list of ingredient to avoid for everyone, not just pregnant women. Some people think parabens are OK--that there isn't enough research out there to call them a real health threat. I think that can finally be put to rest now with the most recently published study:

In the September 1, 2011 edition of Carcinogenesis, researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center released their findings showing that both BPA and Methylparaben at even low concentrations found in humans have negative health consequences such as an increased breast cancer risk. 

It also went on to mention the ever-increasing male breast cancer rate, which is another alarming trend. These findings are quite similar to an older study on parabens from about 8 years ago.  In this compelling study in the Journal of Applied Toxicology,  parabens were linked to breast cancer as they have shown to be hormone disruptive and lead to tumor growth.

I am the mother of boys. What really made me take notice of this issue was a July 2002 article in the Archives of Toxicology. According to Dr. S. Oishi of the Department of Toxicology, Tokyo Metropolitan Research Laboratory of Public Health, exposure of newborn male mammals to butylparaben “adversely affects the secretion of testosterone and the function of the male reproductive system.”


PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS















Burt's Bees has a line called Mama Bee, which was recently improved and is free of artificial fragrances. The products are quite lovely and are affordably priced.




I also highly recommend the unscented all natural soap bars from Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soap. All can be used on both face and body.



Opt for a short and sweet ingredients list. Argan oil will make a lovely facial serum for you while pregnant--works great on the ends of hair, on nails and cuticles, and for a moisturizer too! I love the Argan Oil from 100% Pure.





Herbatint offers a healthy and safe hair color option free of ammonia, phthalates, alcohol, parabens, fragrance, etc. If you must use a color that touches the roots, go for this one.  Otherwise, I would opt for off scalp highlights if you really won't give up the color.




Opt for a pressed mineral foundation as opposed to loose unless the loose product is clearly marked nanoparticle free from a reputable company. I like the pressed powder foundation from   Honeybee Gardens.



Badger Unscented SPF 30+ is a non nano sunscreen and delivers broad spectrum protection.



(seed) Healthy Hand Cream is available in a fragrance free option and works wonders on the hands, feet, and dry facial skin. Locals, you can also find this one at Wegmans!



Lastly, we all want pretty fingernails and toes--try the safer nail polish alternatives on the market.  My top 2? Zoya and Priti NYC.  My current favorite shade is Zoya's Skylar, a pretty blue gray with shimmer.
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