All those years before pregnancy, I used all kinds of cosmetics with careless abandon, never even wondering about the impact of exposing my body to weird chemicals. However, once I became pregnant – my perspective changed completely. There was a life inside me, and any potential danger to the baby was something that kept me up. I made the choice and opted for safe cosmetics during pregnancy but even after pregnancy I have abstained from cosmetics that I knew contained dangerous chemicals. In this section, I present a simple but effective guide to pregnancy skin care products that are safe for your baby.
Here are some general observations
- The way we eat overall is extremely important to our skin elasticity. Eating for skin elasticity would include eating a diet rich in collagen (as we talked about) including bone broths and gelatin, vitamin A, C, and E, and keeping a good balance of omega 3:6 ratio. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects the collagen fibers in your skin from damage due to free radicals and promotes skin elasticity. To get the maximum benefit, eat foods high in vitamin E (almonds, olives, sunflower seeds, spinach, avocados, pumpkins, etc.) and massage your skin with vitamin E oil or cream several times a day. You can take vitamin E oral supplements as well. Minerals like zinc and silica are also useful, as zinc helps in collagen synthesis and silica helps produce collagen.
- For the skin and belly these are some natural moisturizers that you can use
- Bio Oil is a favorite but I would not recommend it. Instead of Bio-Oil, which contains retinyl palmitate (dangerous for pregnancy), toluene (found in nail polishes), artificial fragrance that may contain phthalates (and interferes with reproductive hormones) and mineral oil (a petroleum derivative), choose a natural oil rich in vitamin E.
- Coconut oil and olive oil are some commonly used oils that can be used to keep skin hydrated.
- Shea butter and cocoa butter are two of the best emollients out there. They are exceptional at keeping the skin moist and hydrated. Cocoa butter is a natural fat extracted from the cocoa bean. Shea butter is made from the nut of the karite tree. The fatty acids are extracted from the nuts shell. These work by stimulating the skin’s renewal process… Again preventing and also helping reduce stretch marks.
- Argan oil has been used to treat acne, stretch marks and skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis because it’s packed with vitamin E and fatty acids.
- Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help keep your skin hydrated. This keeps your skin supple and helps maintain elasticity, thereby making your skin layers less prone to tearing. For best results, drink at least two liters of water each day.
- Choose your soaps and washes wisely (see next section) and avoid hot baths. Use a humidifier in your room to add moisture to your room.
Here are some of my product recommendations
- Nails – Let us talk about concepts before diving into product recommendations. Nail polishes are a concoction prepared from mixing chemicals and t is highly likely that nobody analysed the impact of the chemicals before preparing the ingredients. It may not be possible for us to avoid nail polishes altogether but we can be cognizant of the most dangerous chemicals and seek to avoid them, especially during this critical period.
The chemicals deemed most dangerous are
- Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)
- Formaldehyde in the form of Methylene Glycol/Formalin
- Formaldehyde Resin (Tosylamide/TSFR)
Look for nail polishes that are free of these 5 chemicals – also called 5 free nail polishes. My recommendations are as follows
- Zoya – Recommended across sites and blogs, Zoya comes with a mind boggling 300 choices, so can’t complain at all. The only one you need to look at, in my opinion.
- Ella & Mila – This is another 5 free nail polish that has been well recommended by my friends and has great reviews as well.
- Off all nail polish removers I preferred the Ell& Mila as it seems to be only one without acetone and other chemicals.
Here is a list of 5 free(free of all the 5 chemicals listed above) nail polishes that I found from Wellandgood.com. You could try any of these and see. Priti, Tenoverten, RGB, Chanel, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics,Deborah Lippmann, and Zoya are some of the favorites here. Butter London is the first 7 -free nail polish – as it is free of DBP, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, and xylene. Truly the choice if you want to go obsessive.
- Acne Wash – Unless you are extremely lucky, with pregnancy comes hormonal acne. Most anti blemish cleansers contain Salicylic acid, something doctors recommend you avoid during pregnancy. Belli’s face wash is my top choice and I don’t really recommend anything else. Lemon peel oil, green tea extracts and cucumber leaves your skin feeling clean and refreshed.
- Hydration – Hormonal changes deprive the body of oil and elasticity, which in turn is responsible for the dryness that afflicts a lot of pregnant women. I would avoid hot showers and use sunscreens while venturing out. Any of the budget solutions that I have outlined for stretch marks can be used for other parts of the body as well. I also liked Aquaphor – which is essentially petroleum jelly but is enriched shea butter, soothing chamomile and Vitamins C and E while being fragrance-free, preservative-free, and dye free. Doctors have also recommended Cetaphil and Aveeno Skin relief cream. I personally like the aden + anais Mum Bub Skin Care Ultra Gentle Lotion as well.
- Night cream – My only recommendation is the Acure Night cream. It helps restore cells with argan stem celles so that you wake up with a moisturized skin and even skin tone.
- Sun block – Don’t be tempted to go for highest SPF you can find – SPF 30 is usually sufficient as it blocks 97% of the UVB rays and after that the improvement is marginal. SPF 30 is fine as long as it is reapplied every 2 hours. In addition, opt for broad spectrum sunscreens that block both UVA and UVB rays – UVA rays can cause discoloration of the skin as well. I would choose physical sunscreens (that sits as a layer over the skin) over chemical sunscreens that are absorbed into the body (see more in the section on sunscreen for babies). I would choose one of the EWG recommended Here are my top recommendations
3. STRETCH MARKS -Stretch Marks – As your belly stretches to accommodate the growing baby, the skin is unable to keep up and the elastic fibres just under the skin start to break resulting in stretch marks becoming evident on the outside. Stretch marks appear on the stomach and breasts, thighs, buttocks, and upper arms. Genetic predisposition can increase your likelihood of developing stretch marks.You should get into an early regimen of hydrating using oils and stretch mark creams, although I must warn you there is no sure-fire method to prevent this as a lot depends on your genes. Here are my top choices.
- Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter, 6.5 Ounce
- Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula with Vitamin E Cream – This relies on cocoa butter for its hydration. Palmer’s is a classic recommendation, and it’s also nice for moms on a budget. This product has been tested by dermatologists, and tested in clinical settings. It is recommended for stretch marks during and after pregnancy.
- Spoiled Mama Stretch Mark Creams -$36 for 4 oz – The Spoiled Mama’s Bump Gloss Stretch Mark Oil, rich with antioxidants and fast-acting collagen-building components. It will soothe your stretching skin and prevent scarring.
- Mama Mio The Tummy Rub Butter 4.1 fl. oz -$36 – This super-elasticising omega-packed blend of organic oils in an organic shea butter base is non-greasy and wonderful smelling.
4. Skin Lighteners – One of the unfortunate side effects of pregnancy is melasma (or “pregnancy mask”). Characterized by a discoloration or darkening of the face, it often disappears on its own after the baby is born. In the meantime, you can try to cover it up with organic tinted moisturizers, foundations, and creams – just avoid skin lightening products that contain hydroquinone or glutathione. Here is what you can do
- Protect – Stay away from the sun especially between 10AM – 2PM and use sunscreen with at least SPF 15.
- Tinted moisturizers – Physicians Formula Organic Wear Tinted Moisturizer
- Foundations – Bare Minerals Original SPF 15 Foundation
- All in one(foundation, tinted moisturizer and sunscreen) Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream Natural 05
5. Foot creams – Your feet are likely to get swollen and dry with cracks at the heels. I recommend one of these as they are safe
Are there any other pregnancy skin care products that you found really useful. Please share them here in the comments section.