Lindsey Garcia – Co-Founder of Skin at Peace
Pregnancy should be a time of joy, excitement, and preparing for a new baby. Unfortunately, new mothers are met with many concerns about their diet, environment, and health. The last thing new moms should have to worry about is toxic ingredients in their personal care products that could affect their baby.
The standard for personal care products in the United States is alarming and has no regulations. Many other countries have set laws to ensure chemicals linked to cancer and reproductive harm are banned from public consumption. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration does not require any safety testing of ingredients in personal care products before they’re used. This means companies can get away with using any ingredients they want and will usually use the least expensive option for mass production.
A closer look at pregnancy and postpartum skincare
What is safe? What is toxic?
Skin is the largest organ in the body and is made up of many layers. Absorption of topical products can reach different layers depending on their chemistry, and the current health of the skin. Due to hormonal fluctuation during pregnancy, there are often changes to the hair, skin, and nails. Melasma, (hyper-pigmentation, or dark spots) and hormonal acne are common during and after pregnancy. It may be tempting to use retinoids to solve these issues, but studies have proven they are not safe for the baby. Therefore, here at Skin at Peace, we use a natural retinol alternative called Bakuchiol. It is a plant and has be shown to have to same effect on the skin as synthetic retinol. We combine this ingredient with rosehip seed oil and niacinamide (vitamin B3) in the serum and moisturizer, Night, that is just as effective in clearing and calming skin, but with no side effects.
TOXIC INGREDIENTS during pregnancy or breastfeeding:
Phenols & Parabens
Avoid retinoids during pregnancy
Fetal retinoid syndrome
Fetal retinoid syndrome is a proven cause of certain birth defects, (congenital malformations) that can result from a mother taking oral retinoids during pregnancy. Studies are still being conducted of how many malformations are a result of using topical retinoids but is has been confirmed there is a chance of a connection.
Avoid hydroquione during pregnancy
Hyper-pigmentation toxic ingredients and alternatives
Another synthetic skincare chemical to avoid is, hydroquione. This ingredient is prescribed for treatment of hyper-pigmentation, or skin lightening. Research has shown that the skin absorbs between 35% and 45% of hydroquione in these prescribed topical products. Cited from article, “Hydroquinone” by Schwartz C, Jan A, Zito PM.
Skin at Peace recommends using a stable form of vitamin C, which is in the serum and moisturizer, In Day L-ascorbic acid and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding and are a great alternative for lightening hyper-pigmentation and brightening skin tone. They are stable forms of vitamin C that are also antioxidants that helps strengthen and protect the skin from future oxidative stress.
Avoid phthalates during pregnancy
Bad for thyroid and sex hormones
Phthalates are chemicals that make plastic soft and durable, or dissolve materials, and are in many personal care products. Prenatal exposure to phthalates can disrupt levels of thyroid and sex hormones, which can lead to preterm birth, preclampsia, glucose disorders for the mother, and birth abnormalities. In a study of 6,000 pregnant women in the United States, results found that women with higher concentrations of phthalates in their urine were more likely to deliver their babies preterm, which is three or more weeks before their due date. “Having a preterm birth can be so it is important to identify risk factors that could prevent it,” said Kelly Ferguson, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Avoid formaldehyde during pregnancy
Linked to cancer and pregnancy loss
A very dangerous ingredient to avoid during and after pregnancy is formaldehyde. This toxic ingredient is commonly used in beauty products as a preservative and is a carcinogenic. It has also been linked to pregnancy loss. It is a toxic gas, that when inhaled can be very harmful to humans. It is important to be aware there are also formaldehyde releasers that go by other names, so always check the labels and look up any ingredients you have not heard of.
Formaldehyde releasers are:
bronopol, also called 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol
Avoid parabens and phenols during pregnancy
Parabens and phenols are banned in Europe
Other preservatives to be aware of are parabens and phenols. “Exposure to phenol may cause irritation to the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and nervous system.” cited from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website, (cdc.gov) Although sources within the US determine them safe for skincare in small amounts, they are prohibited in Europe. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency of Denmark, (echa.europa.eu) for a complete list of banned ingredients. There is a high level of developmental and reproductive toxicity for phenols that result in small birth weight and viability and an increase in neurological symptoms. This is exactly why Skin at Peace offers a monthly subscription program, so there is no need for any harmful preservatives or chemicals.
Suncreens during pregnancy
Mineral-based are safe
Sunscreen is essential to prevent skin cancer and pre-mature aging, but it is important to choose a mineral-based formula. The FDA states that two sunscreen ingredients are, “generally recognized as safe and effective.” These ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are used in, Day, from Skin at Peace. Mineral-based, or physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin reflecting UV rays like a barrier, while chemical sunscreens absorb the rays and break them down within the body, which are then eliminated the same way toxins are. Clinical trials have proven these chemicals were detectable in the bloodstream for weeks after application.
Toxic chemical sunscreen ingredients are:
Conclusion about safe ingredients during pregnancy
Skin at Peace
Our purpose and promise at Skin at Peace is to provide fresh, safe, trustworthy ingredients that promote skin health and vitality. Although disturbing, it is important to provide this cautionary information for everyone. All our products are formulated by a medical doctor with cosmetic lab experience. Please contact the Skin at Peace team for any questions of further information.
professional medical sources – NOT sourced by other blogs:
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.“Skin Conditions During Pregnancy”
- California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment- https://oehha.ca.gov/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- Phthalates Factsheet- https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Phthalates_FactSheet.html
- Environ Res. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2017 Nov 1.Published in final edited form as:Environ Res. 2016 Nov; 151: 30–37.Published online 2016 Jul 21. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.07.002
- Hydroquinone, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539693/?report=reader#_NBK539693_pubdet_ -Schwartz C, Jan A, Zito PM.
- Kim K, Shin HM, Busgang SA, Barr DB, Panuwet P, Schmidt RJ, Hertz-Picciotto I, Bennett DH. Temporal Trends of Phenol, Paraben, and Triclocarban Exposure in California Pregnant Women during 2007-2014. Environ Sci Technol. 2021 Aug 17;55(16):11155-11165. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.1c01564. Epub 2021 Aug 4. PMID: 34347462; PMCID: PMC8405127.
- Makino ET, Jiang LI, Stephens TJ, Mikati M, Mehta RC. Pigmentation control in pregnancy-induced melasma: Clinical assessment of a non-hydroquinone, non-retinol pigment-correcting serum. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2022 Jun 16. doi: 10.1111/jocd.15165. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35708506.
- Mother to Baby- Topical Acne Treatments- www.mothertobaby.org
- National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences- News release- Preterm Birth More Likely With Exposure to Phthalates. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsroom/releases/2022/july11/index.cfm