Chemicals to Avoid While Pregnant

Chemical exposure and pregnancy

Skincare ingredients to avoid during pregnancy

  • Retin-a, retinol, and retinyl palmitate: Commonly used in acne products, topical retinols can be absorbed into the skin, and in a few cases, have caused birth defects. This is pretty rare, but it’s still not recommended for pregnant women to use these products. Read more about pregnancy and acne here.
  • Hydroquinone: It might be tempting to use this common skin lightener during pregnancy to combat melasma or a pigmentation of the skin also called the “mask of pregnancy,” but it should be avoided. The FDA lists hydroquinone under category C because it has a higher absorption rate than other topical chemicals, which makes it more likely for larger amounts to enter your bloodstream and affect your baby.

Hair product ingredients to avoid when pregnant

  • Sodium benzoate can interfere with reproductive functions when combined with the common pairing, ascorbic acid. It has also been found to alter the brain with or without ascorbic acid.
  • Sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate has been shown to produce eye and/or skin irritation in experimental animals and in some human test subjects.
  • Petroleum can be contaminated with suspected carcinogens if not refined properly. Avoid products with petrolatum, unless it clearly indicates petrolatum is fully refined as white petrolatum.

Lotion ingredients to look out for when pregnant

  • BHT and BHA are synthetic antioxidants used to extend shelf life. They are carcinogenic, disrupt hormones, and can cause liver damage.
  • Phenoxyethanol is a preservative and severe allergen.
  • Ethylhexylglycerin is a skin conditioner that is classified as a skin irritant.
  • Propylene glycol is a penetration enhancer and surfactant that is classified as a skin irritant.

Pregnancy-safe deodorant

Soap ingredients to avoid when pregnant

  • Cocamidopropyl betaine: a synthetic detergent and surfactant that is possibly a toxicant
  • Sodium hydroxide: a detergent that can be caustic when wet
  • Triclosan: an antibacterial chemical that is toxic and disrupts hormones
  • Formaldehyde: an antimicrobial preservative that has been linked to cancer, allergic reactions, and brain toxicity
  • Methylisothiazolinone: a chemical preservative that causes skin irritation and allergies

Pregnancy-safe lubricants

Sunscreen ingredients to avoid when pregnant

Pregnancy-safe lip balms

Hair styling product ingredients to avoid

  • Triclosan: an antibacterial chemical that is toxic and disrupts hormones
  • Cyclopentasiloxane: a silicone lubricant solvent that cannot biodegrade and disrupts the hormone system
  • Dimethicone: a silicone-based lubricant that cannot biodegrade
  • PVP/VA Copolymer: a synthetic vinyl polymer used as a binder, it is a toxic chemical derived from petroleum
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEGs): a silicone thickening agent classified as a toxicant that may interfere with fetal growth

Safe toothpaste and mouthwash for pregnancy

  • Sorbitol is an artificial sweetener that keeps toothpaste from drying out, but is also a laxative.
  • Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical that is toxic and disrupts hormones.
  • Carrageenan can cause gastrointestinal inflammation, ulcerations and lesions.
  • Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate is a synthetic surfactant that can break down into cancer causing chemicals, such as nitrosamines.
  • Hydrated Silica are abrasive particles added to toothpaste to polish and whiten the teeth; the same particles are commonly found in “Do Not Eat” packets.





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