Choosing pregnancy safe skincare need not be complicated or restrictive however it is definitely something that is important to be mindful of when trying to conceive and during pregnancy.
As a naturopath, I created the Edible Beauty skincare range specifically for my clients who were pregnant, planning pregnancy, and for females in general who were seeking a product range that was therapeutic and luxurious yet did not contain endocrine disrupting toxins. In summary, a range of skincare that was so natural that it does not interfere with the precious hormone balance. All of our pregnancy safe skincare products can be found here.
What changes should you make to your beauty regime if you are pregnant or planning pregnancy?
There are a few reasons why I recommend making changes to your skincare and beauty regime when you are pregnant.
Firstly, the placenta is not the solid barrier we once thought. In fact, over 287 chemicals have been found in the umbilical cords of babies, associated with chemicals being used by mum either in her personal care or household cleaning products. Women can use an average of 168 chemicals including reproductive and developmental toxins – they are found in the average of 12 personal care products women use daily.
Toxins found in beauty products have been linked to pre-term birth, low birth weight, developmental delays and altered gene expression. This is just what we know of – many of the toxins have not been necessarily been tested on pregnant women (for good reason). With an increased rate of autism, allergies and asthma in newborns and children it makes sense to start looking more closely at what we are putting on an in our bodies.
Secondly, hormones ramp up during pregnancy, which can lead to skin pigmentation in about 3 in 4 women and can also exacerbate acne. Having a natural skincare routine and pregnancy friendly beauty products is key in helping to prevent this by not creating further cause for hormone disruption, whilst nourishing the skin with effective botanicals to support an even, clear and luminous complexion.
Thirdly, the skin is being stretched during pregnancy, so collagen fibres may break of tear to allow for larger cells which can often result in stretch marks or cellulite. This means it is especially important to maintain the integrity of the skin with pure, plant-based oils and ingredients in your skincare so that it is more resilient to the physical changes that the body undergoes during pregnancy.
"When it comes to the ultimate beauty regime during pregnancy, think about how you would “feed” your body. Keep products as simple and pure as possible and emphasise firming and hydrating products which maintain the skin firmness and elasticity. My philosophy always includes inside out beauty principles- think about nourishing your skin internally with lots of hydrating alkaline foods, become mindful of consuming an abundance of clean protein sources (including those from whole grains, nuts and legumes) and ensure your diet also includes antioxidant rich foods and at least 2 litres of filtered water."
~ Anna Mitsios, Naturopath and Edible Beauty Founder
Key ingredients and products to avoid during pregnancy:
Preservatives found in many skincare products and an estimated 75-90% of cosmetics. They have been linked to reduced fertility, endocrine disruption and breast cancer. Look for paraben free skincare and makeup
Avoid all synthetic fragrances which can contain chemical compounds, often including phthalates (used to make products more flexible and to increased effectiveness of other chemicals in a formula), BHT and musks. Phthalates are ingredients which are used to make fragrances adhere to the skin for longer. Phthalates have been shown to disrupt the endocrine system, interfering with normal hormone production. Studies show exposure to phthalates could cause reproductive abnormalities, premature delivery and endometriosis in women. BHTs are used to preserve fragrances. Evidence that suggests BHT mimics oestrogen and can throw off hormone balance. Musks also used in fragrances have been linked to abnormal foetal development. In embryonic cells, musks have been shown to alter activity in nearly 3,000 genes, some of which are directly involved in development.
RETINOIDS / RETINOL
Avoid skincare and makeup containing retinol or retinoids which have been linked to an increased risk of birth defects in developing foetuses. They can also make the skin more sensitive to UV light, which is a greater risk when hormones are fluctuating so are definitely best avoided. Retinoids are commonly listed as: retinol, tretinoin (retionic acid, retin-A), istotretinoin and alitretinoin.
SALICYLIC ACID & BHAs
Look for skincare with less than 2% salicylic acid and avoid synthetic peels which may contain BHAs which leave the skin sensitive to UV exposure, in particular during pregnancy. Salicylic used in high doses have been shown to cause birth defects and pregnancy complications.
Mostly found in lipsticks and eye shadows are often are a source of lead. Over 60% of lipsticks contain lead which has been linked to miscarriage, reduced fertility. Lead has also been found in cosmetics such as foundation and toothpaste.
Found in nail polishes along with phthalates and formaldehyde. Together they are called the toxic trio and are a potent combination of toxins that you want to avoid at all times, especially during pregnancy.
Other ingredients to avoid include aluminium found in lipsticks and deodorants; ammonia, found in hair dyes and hair removal creams and DHA found in tanning lotions which is a known irritant to the lungs and skin.
Safe Beauty Regimes for Pregnancy
A few common questions I get asked about beauty regimes during pregnancy are below:
What essential oils can you use?
Some essential oils are highly concentrated and do not make the best alternative to fragrances. Avoid oils such as tea tree, rosemary, jasmine, clary sage. Essential oils such as sweet orange, ginger, grapefruit and spearmint are perfectly safe when used diluted externally.
What can be done to prevent hormonal acne and pigmentation?
When it comes to preventing hormonal acne, keeping pores unclogged and skincare pure and hydrated is the key. The Edible Beauty No.1 Belle Frais Cleansing Milk is a gentle milk-based cleanser which removes dirt and excess oil whilst keeping pores clean and unclogged without stripping the skin of its natural oils. It works effectively to combat acne and is often the first product I recommend in tackling hormonal acne. Looking after the “inside” by keeping fibre intake high, saturated fats and fried foods low is also crucial. See this post for more detail on combating hormonal acne.
Pigmentation can be addressed by keeping antioxidant levels high and using daily SPF50 protection. One of my go-to products for pigmentation is our No.3 Exotic Goddess Ageless Serum. Kakadu Plum, being the highest plant-based source of vitamin C works well to reduce and combat dark spots. It works wonderfully before & Snowflower Illuminating Face Oil which is equally abundant in brightening antioxidants. The native Snowflower Extract in this oil contains 50 times the antioxidant action of vitamin E and 100 times that of vitamin C. Using a safe sunscreen such as our SPF50 Basking Beauty Natural Sunscreen helps to protect the skin from UVA and UVB damage which can trigger pigmentation especially during pregnancy.
Are all Edible Beauty products safe during pregnancy?
Yes! All of our Edible Beauty Australia skincare range is suitable for pregnant women. As a naturopath working at a fertility clinic I created the range wanting to offer my clients a toxin-free, fertility, pregnancy and hormone-friendly skincare range that was also luxurious and highly effective. You can find the skincare range here.
What can be done with skincare to pre-empt stretch marks?
It is often stated that stretch marks are genetic or unavoidable, but there are a few things you can do! Keeping the skin hydrated is key. When it is hydrated when the skin’s moisture lipid barrier is intact, the skin is stronger and more pliable, causing less injury and trauma to the skin when slowly stretched over the course of nine months. Get into a routine with this so you are consistently hydrating and firming the skin without even thinking about. Most women do this after showering.
Step One: Massage with a nutrient rich oil –rich in vitamin A, and E (jojoba, olive oil, sunflower oil, almond oil all work great). These all help to promote skin elasticity and boost collagen production. Massage in a circular clockwise motion, which follows your stomach’s natural digestive tract. Our baby oil doubles as a stretch mark oil and works a treat due to its antioxidant/collagen boosting nutrients. Remember the tummy, thighs, lower back and legs. These can help to repair the skin’s protective barrier to help keep the skin strong and less resistant to injury of the skin tissue. Follow the massage with a sealing nourishing moisturiser.
Step Two: Moisturise using hydrating lotions such as shea or cocoa butter (found in & Velvet Coffee Body Butter), which are great emollients and work well to further nourish and seal the skin and keep it ultra-hydrated.
Step Three: Take care of the inside. Keeping well hydrated ensures a lot of water ensures the skin’s elasticity is kept intact. Keep up vitamin C rich foods such as kiwis, capsicums, berries and broccoli. They help to promote collagen production which helps to keep the skin elastic. Keep up your Vitamin A levels to assist in skin tissue and repair. My favourites are carrots and sweet potatoes. And don’t forget to keep up gentle exercise to ensure circulation is kept high and the skin is kept firm and elastic (take care not to take part in any vigorous exercise or exercise you have not done before falling pregnant).