How do you determine which skincare products are safe during pregnancy?
There are so many scary rumours about which skincare products are safe to use during pregnancy, and which are not. The internet is full of foods and ingredient to avoid during pregnancy and as usual, they get blown way out of proportion. How do you know which products are safe to use? Find a trusted source and do your research!
Take lavender for example. Is it safe to use during pregnancy? The short answer is yes.
Robert Tisserand, the “father” of aromatherapy says that there are 106,000 hits on Google stating lavender is an emmenagogue (uterine stimulant). He clearly sites scientific studies that refute this rumour.
“The online references to lavender oil as a uterine stimulant presumably originated from the few books (probably beginning with Valnet in 1964) that describe it as having an emmenagogic action. An assumption was then made that this was due to a uterine stimulant effect, and a further assumption was made that therefore lavender oil could pose a risk of miscarriage in pregnancy. However, there is no evidence that either lavender flowers or lavender oil stimulate menstruation.” – Robert Tisserand
What skincare ingredients to avoid during pregnancy?
According to the Motherisk program, at SickKids Hospital (here in Toronto): “Apart from hydroquinone (which has a relatively high absorption rate) and topical retinoids, skin care products are not expected to increase the risk of malformations or other adverse effects on the developing fetus.”
- Select essential oils (half of which you’ve probably never hear of: wormwood, rue, oak moss, camphor, parsley seed, sage, and hyssop).
I’d like to add the following ingredients to the list, not because they will cause harm to your baby, but because they can be irritating for the skin, especially during pregnancy when skin is more sensitive.
- Salicylic Acid
- Benzoyl Peroxide
- Essential oils that contain high levels of phenols (they can be irritating to the skin, particularly during pregnancy, and are not recommended. See the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists pregnancy guidelines to ease your mind and learn more about essential oil use during pregnancy.
* Pregnant or not, I don’t recommend the use of harsh synthetic skincare ingredients which can be harmful for the health of your skin long term. That said if you happen to use any of these common harsh ingredients, I hope this information puts your mind at ease!
When in doubt consult a practitioner you trust for advice. For essential oils, consult a licensed aromatherapist, for herbs and supplements consult a naturopathic doctor, for prescription drugs consult a medical doctor or pharmacist.
Safe Skincare products to use during pregnancy
Sensitive Skin & Redness during pregnancy
Holistic Vanity Redness Relief line is a fantastic option and very safe for anyone dealing with sensitive skin and dryness during pregnancy (which is very common because of hormonal changes).
Graydon’s The Putty (for dry skin) and the Super Sensitive Skin Stuff (for more oily, acne prone skin) are also great moisturizer option. For a cleanser, try a creamy, non drying cleanser, like Graydon’s Aloe Milk Cleanser.
Acne & Breakouts during pregnancy
Zyderma Clarifying Cream has been a saviour for me this pregnancy. It contains microsilver which is anti-microbial and helps to combats breakouts before they start. It also helps heal them within a few days after they pop up!
Province Apothecary Healing Eczema Balm contains zinc oxide, which is great to reduce redness and heal pimples!
Hyper-pigmentation during pregnancy
It’s so important to wear a daily sunscreen. During pregnancy the body produces more melanin making the risk of hyper-pigmentation higher. Even before my first son, I developed melasma, aka “pregnancy mask”, as a result of a hormonal change. Unfortunately this pigmentation under my eyes and on my upper lip darkens when I’m in the sun, and during pregnancy.
During pregnancy (and the summer) your best best bet is to keep hyper-pigmentation at bay by wearing a daily sunscreen, my favourite is Consonant’s The Perfect Sunscreen. You can also use Lactic Acid to exfoliate the skin 2-3 times per week and apply Seabuckthorn Berry Oil nightly to fade the pigmentation. Note: you’ll notice the biggest change after you give birth and your hormones normalize.
Stretch marks during pregnancy
Sorry to break it to you, but 75% of women get stretch marks and no one really knows why some get them, and some don’t. Genetics definitely play a role. If you’re prone to stretch marks, no amount of cream or oil can really do much. Use a rich oil, like avocado or coconut on a daily basis can help to moisturize the area which helps keep skin supple. It will also help with itchiness, as the skin stretches.
If you do end up getting stretch marks, you have a greater chance of reversing them if they are red (which means they are more superficial and new). They may fade on their own, but you can help the process by using a glycolic acid to exfoliate the area, followed by applying a vitamin E oil or Seabuckthorn Berry Oil to help reduce the “scar”. If they are really bugging you, Intense Pulsed Light therapy (IPL) may also help. Consult a cosmetic dermatologist to see your options. If the stretch marks are white or silver, it means that they are deeper and older, which have a greater likelihood of staying put.