You might have your skincare regime down to a fine art but, like almost every other aspect of your life, pregnancy may well throw it into chaos. So many skincare products contain complex lists of ingredients, and trying to discern which formulas are safe to use can be an arduous task. However, there are some hard and fast rules about what to avoid, says Rebecca Treston, founder and manager of Rebecca Treston Aesthetics, Euromed Clinic Dubai. Here’s what you should look out for and avoid…
Retin-A, retinol, and retinyl palmitate: These ingredients are all different names for various forms of vitamin A, often used in face creams, under-eye gels and exfoliators for their anti-ageing properties. While adequate amounts of vitamin A are important for embryonic growth, some studies have linked excessive intake to malformations of the baby’s head, heart, brain and spinal cord.
Salicylic acid: Present in exfoliating products, particularly cleansers, as well as in anti-ageing creams, and gels or lotions that treat acne and dandruff, there’s some concern about the effects of salicylic acid in pregnancy. It is definitely unsafe in its oral form and has been associated with an increased risk of intracranial bleeding. Over-the-counter topical forms of salicylic acid have not been proven to be unsafe, but there is more research needed. You may prefer to replace it with products that have glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acids – which can do a very similar job - instead.
Hydroquinone: This powerful skin lightener and brightener may be tempting to use—particularly when pregnancy brings on hyperpigmentation, dark spots or full-on melasma—but the ingredient is best avoided. While studies haven’t linked hydroquinone to any particular adverse effect, its high absorption rate — 35 to 45 per cent — is troubling to experts.
Essential oils: Not all oils are good for pregnancy and the problem is also that we don’t know how much of a specific oil is absorbed. Jasmine and clary sage have been known to trigger contractions, sage and rosemary oil can cause bleeding, and rosemary has been proven to increase blood pressure. Tea tree oil is very potent and toxic when ingested and its adverse effects include dermatitis, drug reactions, a blistering disease called linear IgA, and estrogenic effects. Meanwhile, rosemary oil can raise blood pressure and cause uterine contractions at high doses.
Sunscreen: Pregnant women should opt for a physical (or natural) sunscreen rather than a chemical one, which contains filters such as oxybenzone and avobenzone, which are possible hormone disruptors. It’s a controversial issue, but some studies show that those disruptors have been linked to childhood obesity, ADHD and developmental effects on the nervous system.
Parabens: A common preservative in cosmetics, these are known hormone disruptors and are easily absorbed into the skin. This is a tricky one since so many products – from your shampoo to your face wash – contain parabens, but you may want to detox and overhaul your beauty bag to be on the safe side. According to a 2016 study in the Journal of Chemistry, prenatal exposure to BPA (a type of paraben) has been linked to a host of pregnancy and childhood issues including miscarriage, low birth weight, obesity, impaired fetal growth and behavioural problems.