4 Beauty Ingredients You Should Avoid During Pregnancy

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Post by: Jeanne Jarnot, founder of Beauty Heroes

There’s nothing like being pregnant to up the motivation to get your body clean and healthy. It’s one thing taking care of your own body, but having another little one growing inside that you have to protect can take you to a whole new level of awareness, making it an amazing time to embrace clean skincare and beauty products.

My own journey into clean began when I was struggling with infertility, having been diagnosed with an endocrine disorder. The endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood. When this system is compromised, it can lead to fertility disorders.

This led me to uncover and eliminate all of the beauty products in my cabinet containing hormone-disrupting ingredients. I got pregnant and never looked back. Now I spend my time educating women and pregnant moms about the hazards that are found in way too many of our everyday beauty care products. While it’s great for every woman do a complete beauty detox, I highly recommend that expectant mothers be especially vigilant in avoiding, at a minimum, the ingredients listed below that have been linked to hormone disruption, birth defects or other health issues.

FRAGRANCE: It sounds harmless enough but the word “Fragrance” on an ingredient list is often used (legally!) as a cloak to mask anything from chemical preservatives to toxic fragrance extenders. Fragrance is not just in perfume, (although most conventional perfumes contain ingredients I wouldn’t use when pregnant), it can be found in anything from sunscreen to shampoo and is usually listed toward the end of the ingredient list. U.S. labeling regulations do not require breaking Fragrance ingredients down. While some manufacturers and makers do list them – and demonstrate that they’re free of toxins – many do not and could therefore be hiding – and exposing you to – a cocktail of toxins.

RETINOL: Retinol, also known as Retin-A (prescription), is an over-the-counter form of Vitamin A that helps repair and regenerate skin. This ingredient is popular with dermatologists for treating acne, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. While there are studies that point to retinols being tied to birth defects, the FDA classifies Retin-A during pregnancy as a category C drug, which means it hasn’t been proven to be harmful but it also hasn’t been shown to be safe. I recommend avoiding Retinol while pregnant.

DIBUTYL PHTHALATE: Banned in the European Union, Dibutyl Phthalate is a fragrance extender, solvent and plasticizer often present that in perfume, nail polish and other personal care products. (This is one ingredient that can be hidden under “Fragrance” as noted above.) If you continue to polish while pregnant, check your bottles or those at your salon to make sure they’re either 3-free (Dibutyl Phthalate, Formaldehyde and Toluene) or 5-free (3-free + Formaldehyde Resin and Camphor).

SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE: Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), not to be confused with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, is a widely used foaming agent frequently found in soap, shampoo and toothpaste. When tested, SLES was found to contain traces of ingredients linked to cancer and birth defects. Check your hand soap, body wash, shampoo and toothpaste and look for products that say they are SLES free.

Get your Pocket Guide to Ingredient Intelligence here.


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Jeannie Jarnot is the proud founder of Beauty Heroes, the only non-toxic beauty subscription service that puts full-sized product into the hands of subscribers each and every month, providing a genuine opportunity to experience the very real benefits of clean ingredients. In her earlier career as a luxury spa director, Jeannie always viewed health and beauty as one and the same, applying rigorous ingredient standards to her client offerings. On discovering her own endocrine-based infertility condition, she became even more vigilant in her pursuit to eliminate toxic ingredients. The birth of her son several years later confirmed her conviction to clean beauty. A native Hawaiian with a deep appreciation for the Earth, Jeannie now lives in beautiful Marin County in Northern California with her husband and son.

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