Pregnant? Beauty Products to Avoid

Decades ago, the belief was widely held that chemicals do not cross the placenta however we now know that mother's chemical exposure can affect her baby's chances for a normal, healthy life, especially in early pregnancy.  Should you worry? Well, don't let fears overwhelm your enjoyment of nine months of miracles. But do use common sense, and a little dose of facts, to help protect your little bundle of joy as much as you can.
 

Luxury Bath Products
This is good news for women who do not want to waste money buying expensive organic products for themselves during pregnancy: Tests by German green consumer magazine ├ľko-Test (Eco-Test) found that cheap shower creams were composed of safer ingredients. The high-end products used more exotic ingredients, frequently including chemicals that can cause allergies. So leave the stuff with the fancy names on the shelf and stick with a classic low-end soap for the shower.   
Safer Solution: Buy products especially formulated for infants and children. Manufacturers make more effort to avoid questionable ingredients in these products.

Nail Care 

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Working in a nail salon made Time magazine's list of the worst jobs in America. Health problems experienced by workers include stillbirths, birth defects, and developmental issues, although no studies have been published on birth defects among nail workers. A North Carolina study did find an increased risk of spontaneous abortion among nail salon employees. Consumer campaigns prompted by these concerns have forced suppliers to reformulate and reduce the "toxic trio:" dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde and toluene. But nail products continue to include many ingredients that are inadequately tested or which have raised concerns about reproductive toxicity. If you are just having your nails done once every couple of weeks, is that a "safe dose?" The fact is, no one knows. Better safe than sorry.  
Nicer and Safer Nails: Even if your friends know you for having the most flamboyant painted nails, wear naked nails with pride when you are pregnant. Treat yourself to a manicure and/or pedicure without using any chemicals. Be sure to select a well-ventilated salon if you have it done professionally.

Spray-on Tanning

The Food and Drug Administration has approved Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) for use in chemical tanning. The DHA works by reacting with the dead layer of surface skin in much the same way bread browns when toasted. It has been shown not to absorb into the living skin below the dead layer, and is therefore considered safer than suntanning -- which is known to cause cancer. However, these approvals do not take into account the risks of inhaling the particles of spray that get into the air during "tanning".  Studies suggest that DHA can cause primary DNA damage. There is no test data publicly available on development toxicity. Bottom line: spray-on tans may be healthier when applied with proper protections on healthy adults, but it's not worth the (mostly unknown) risk to your developing fetus. Elevated body temperature can also be dangerous to your unborn baby, so tanning beds are not a good option either. 
Safer Solution:  Let your skin show your pregnancy 'glow' and Spin your skin as "porcelain" not "pale."

Chemical Hair Removal
Some form of Thioglycolic Acid is usually the active ingredient in hair removal products. There are no studies showing that this chemical is unsafe on the skin during pregnancy. But there are also no studies showing it is safe. The Thioglycolic Acid reacts chemically with disulfide bonds in hair. Because these ingredients are aggressive enough to react chemically, and no studies have been done to detect potential reprotoxic effects, we recommend the precautionary principle: Leave these on the shelf until after the pregnancy.
Safer Solution:  Get your shaver out during pregnancy and way not get your partner involved. Create a special bond as he helps you shave those places you can no longer even see!

Heavy Fragrances
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Many fragrances contain phthalates as carriers. There are a wide range of phthalates, some of which are less harmful than others. But these ingredients are rarely disclosed on labels, hiding behind the general descriptor fragrance. If you are not certain the product is free of phthalates with potential for reproductive toxicity, it is better to avoid it during pregnancy. Phthalates can imitate natural hormones in the body responsible for the proper growth and development of a fetus. Because growth is very sensitive to small concentrations of these hormones, it is considered dangerous to have even low levels of exposure during pregnancy.
Safer Solution: Be fragrance-free.While you are minimizing perfumed beauty products, do away with air fresheners and any other product intended to release scent.

Tattoos
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Traditional tattoos involve needles, and therefore direct contact with your bloodstream. The risk of disease transmission is not high, but not worth taking at this delicate time in life. As usual, little information is known about the effects of the tattoo dyes on your baby's growth. The deliberate penetration of the skin's boundaries adds an additional level of exposure potential. The dyestuff used in the tattoo industry is not regulated in the same manner as cosmetics, and that so-called azo dyes may split into carcinogenic amines in the bloodstream in case tattoo removal by laser treatment is undertaken. Finally, some tattoo inks can cause allergies. It is rare, but when it occurs, a very severe reaction can arise since the dyes have entered the bloodstream.
Safer Solution: If you cannot resist some body art to celebrate the new arrival, get a natural henna tattoo (as illustrated above). This is not permanent, but celebrates the changes in your body. Leave this one for your third trimester to be really sure the risks are acceptable. But CAUTION: Be sure you are using natural henna, which is never black. Black henna is a synthetic chemical, para-phenylendiamine (PPD), and it is not safe for anyone.

Hair Care
 
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First, some good news. New studies seem to have overturned earlier studies that suggested a link to bladder cancer or miscarriage in hair salon employees. Nonetheless, studies continue to find links between occupational exposure in hair salons and birth defects. A couple of hours getting your hair done is certainly less than the long-term exposure your beautician faces, but it is one more vector for exposure that can be avoided.
Safer Solution: Skip the dyes and highlights. Buy a natural bristle hairbrush and enjoy a cup of tea while treating your hair to a hundred strokes. If you absolutely must freshen up your color, wait until at least the second trimester.











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