8 Beauty No-Nos When You're Preg-O

Which ingredients you should cut out of your regimen

True confession: While researching this story, I got scared reading just a fraction of the beauty ingredients that are potentially harmful to pregnant women and their babies. I obsessed over labels on moisturizer, nail polish -- everything in my bathroom -- to the point that in the shower one morning, I was afraid of my shampoo. And I'm not even pregnant. We narrowed down the list to find the top eight no-no ingredients. If you find them in products you use daily, consider cutting them out:

By Colleen Rush

No-no 1: retinoids Aliases: isotretinoin, tretinoin, acitretin, etretinate, adapalene, tazarotene Found in: prescription treatments for acne and psoriasis (including brand names Accutane, Retin-A, Renova, Amnesteem, Soriatane, Claravis, Sotret, Tegison, Differin, Tazorac) and certain types of cancer (Vesanoid and Targretin). What they do: unblock pores of oil glands that cause nodular acne and psoriasis. Limited research indicates they may reverse sun damage, reduce wrinkles and treat and possibly prevent certain types of cancer. Why the red flag: Retinoids are the big, bad no-no. Oral treatments containing them have been directly linked to miscarriages and birth defects. Although research suggests that topical retinoids (Retin-A, Renova) do not pose the same risk, enough concerns exist regarding their safety that you should seek the okay from your derm and OB/GYN before you even consider using them. Safe swaps: Topical antibiotics such as clindamycin, metronidazole, erythromycin and over-the-counter/non-prescription products containing benzoyl peroxide, alpha hydroxy acids and azelaic acid are okay. Must-haves: Belli Pregnancy Specialty Skin Care Solutions Acne Clearing Facial Wash ($22, dermstore.com ). FYI, this brand is the only line that screens ingredients to make sure they have no link to birth defects or reproductive toxicity. (Love it!) Also, DDF Benzoyl Peroxide Gel 5 Percent With Tea Tree Oil ($24, sephora.com ), and Philosophy On A Clear Day H2O2 ($20, sephora.com ). No-no 2: phthalates Aliases: dibutyl phthalate (DBP), diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) Found in: nail/cuticle treatments, lipstick, anti-aging products, fragrance What they do: They're plasticizers that add texture and luster to cosmetics, help fragrances last longer or absorb into the skin better, and make nail polish chip-resistant. Why the red flag: Research says exposure might be linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity, particularly to male fetuses. There's enough concern about the safety of DBP that Urban Decay completely discontinued the use of phthalates in its line of nail polishes. Even if a product contains phthalates, the label might not list it as an ingredient if it is a component of a fragrance because the ingredients in a fragrance are protected under trade secret laws. If this is a concern, buy "fragrance-free" products. Safe swaps: Hard Candy Vintage Nail Polish ($7, sephora.com ), Avalon Organics COQ10 Enzyme Facial Cleansing Milk ($11.95, avalonorganics.com ) and Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer ($4, burtsbees.com ) No-no 3: parabens Alias: sodium methylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben Found in: moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, anti-aging products, sunscreen, toner/astringent, makeup What they do: They are preservatives that protect products from bacte rial growth Why the red flag: Limited research indicates parabens may disrupt the body's hormone systems, and there is enough concern about methylparaben that it has been banned or deemed unsafe for use in certain cosmetics in the European Union. Safe swaps: Kiss My Face Obsessively Organic Under Age Ultra Hydrating Moisturizer ($19.99, kissmyface.com ), Juice Beauty Antioxidant Serum ($45, beauty.com ), Jason Organics Natural Apricot Super Shine Shampoo and Conditioner ($3.99 each, vitacost.com ), Jane Iredale PurePressed Base ($48, dermstore.com ) No-no 4: fragrances Alias: perfume, parfum, cologne, scent Found in: Just about everything from moisturizer, perfume and lipstick to self-tanner and deodorant What they do: Fragrance is generally used to mask the unfriendly odors of chemicals used in a product or to make the product smell more appealing. Why the red flag: Because individual ingredients in "fragrance" are protected by trade secret laws, companies are not required to divulge ingredients -- some of which may pose risks. There is no legal definition of the term "fragrance-free," so even if a product is marketed as such, it may still contain a masking fragrance. Safe swaps: Peter Thomas Roth Tinted Mineral Moisturizer ($42, glow.com ), Free and Clear Liquid Cleanser for Sensitive Skin ($7.75, dermadoctor.com ), and Tom's of Maine Natural Deodorant Stick ($4.29, drugstore.com ) No-no 5: toluene Alias: methylbenzene Found in: nail products What it does: It's an industrial solvent (liquid that can dissolve chemical substances) that allows nail polish to go on smoothly and stick to the nail. Why the red flag: There is a high risk for developmental and reproductive toxicity, including brain and cell damage, when exposed to large doses of toluene, particularly when it is inhaled. Although it is still found in nail products, it has been deemed unsafe for use in cosmetics by the International Fragrance Association Codes and Standards. Safe swaps: L'Oréal Paris PRO Manicure ($4.99, ulta.com ), Revlon Nail Enamel ($4.79, walgreens.com ), Paula's Choice Longevity Base and Top Coat ($7.95, paulaschoice.com ) No-no 6: formaldehyde Found in: nail-strengthening and cuticle treatments, hair color/bleaching, styling gel/lotion What it does: Formaldehyde is a preservative, disinfectant and hardener in cosmetic products Why the red flag: The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Council has recommend ed limiting the use of it in cosmetics because of proven links to cancer and reproductive/developmental toxicity toluene. It has been banned or found unsafe in cosmetics in Japan and is restricted in cosmetics in Canada. Safe swaps: Barielle Cuticle Replenisher with Mango Butter ($15, bathandbodyworks.com ), John Masters Organics Sweet Orange and Silk Protein Styling Gel ($17.50, johnmasters.com ), Light Mountain Natural Hair Color and Conditioner ($7.44, herbsmd.com ) No-no 7: p-phenylenediamine Aliases: PPD, PPDA Found in: hair color/bleaching, hairspray, shampoo and conditioner What it does: hair colorant Why the red flag: This is the chemical that started all of the worry about getting your hair dyed while pregnant. High exposure has been linked to reproductive/developmental toxicity and cancer, and there's strong evidence that it's neurotoxic (a substance that damages the nervous system). Safe swaps: Clairol Loving Care ($13.95, haircareusa.com ), Burt's Bees Hair Repair Shea and Grapefruit Deep Conditioner ($8, burtsbees.com ), Weleda Baby Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash ($10, shop.weleda.com ) No-no 8: oxybenzone Alias: benzophenone Found in: sunscreen What it does: absorbs ultraviolet light Why the red flag: While the risk is not as high as retinoids, there is limited research showing links to developmental toxicity and hormonal disruptions with high exposure. Safe swaps: Vanicream Sunscreen Sensitive Skin SPF 60 ($16.99, drugstore.com ), Lavera SPF 15 Sun Lip Balm ($7.88, lavera.com ), Belli Pregnancy Specialty Skin Care Solutions Anti-Chloasma Facial Sunscreen ($22, skincarerx.com ), 3LAB Perfect Lite Sunscreen SPF 30 ($45, saksfifthavenue.com ) More red flags Many cosmetic companies have phased out certain super no-no ingredients, but there are still a few lingering products that contain chemicals that could be harmful. They're rare, but it's worth checking the ingredients in your beauty goods to make sure the following chemicals aren't in your products: lead acetate, methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and selenium. Good resource Because many ingredients haven't been fully researched, and cosmetics companies aren't required to disclose certain ingredients, Jovana Ruzicic, spokesperson for the Environmental Working Group (EWG), recommends a better-safe-than-sorry approach. "Be aware of certain red-flag ingredients, read label s," Ruzicic says. To help, EWG developed the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database , which contains information on over 6,700 cosmetic ingredients and 22,000 products. Beauty to-do list 1. Make a list of your beauty stash and ask your OB/GYN to check over it. 2. When in doubt, avoid using a questionable product during your first trimester, when the fetus is most vulnerable. 3. Spot-test new and old products before using. Your skin and sense of smell are more sensitive during pregnancy, so even if you've used a product for years, you might have an adverse reaction. 4. Apply products in a well-ventilated room. Inhaled fumes are more readily absorbed into the bloodstream than topical applications. 5. Just because it says "organic" or "all-natural" doesn't mean it's safe to use during pregnancy. Read the label. Are Natural Products Better? How Old Is Your Skin? 17 Hairstyles That Take Less Than 10 Minutes Subject Subject Subject Message Message Message http://www.google.com /content/package/c_preg/
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WOW! I have been so overwhelmed with what I should and should not use during pregnancy. I am 10 weeks and PETRIFIED to use anything. Is the Burts Bees or Aveeno brands safe? Also, what about mascaras? I've been using ROC w/ retinol under my eyes, but have stopped since I found out I was prego. I'm also scared to continue using my favorite Vaseline Intensive Care lotion because it contains all the parabans they say to stay away from. Someone help me..PLEASE!

by cheryl_arguin Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 06:57PM Report as inappropriate

Am I the only one who really, really hates it when people say "Preg-O"?

by LittleBunny Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 10:01AM Report as inappropriate

Good info

by EricaF123 Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 11:55AM Report as inappropriate

This is really helpful. I really didn't realize all of this stuff was in these products!

by cheerio9551 Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 10:08PM Report as inappropriate

VERY scary, I'll probably be paranoid the whole time.

by nicky22 Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 08:37PM Report as inappropriate

I've unintentionally stayed away from these products throughout my pregnancy. Yay!

by Lamexicana1 Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 04:58PM Report as inappropriate

Very helpful!

by Nin Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 11:00PM Report as inappropriate

When I was pregnant, I was told by OB-GYN to steer clear of using products to treat pimples as they are due to hormonal imbalance...and I'm glad I did. :)

by charlize_adrienne Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 06:32PM Report as inappropriate

I know to stay away from chemical sunscreens and stick with physical blockers.

by beautybody Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 12:13PM Report as inappropriate

i'm not pregnant, but it seems like literally everything someone would use on an everyday basis is on here. i'm sure some products are better than others to use, but are people using that much of a certain product that it could be absorbed by the body that fast???

by LMarie27 Saturday, March 3, 2012 at 07:35PM Report as inappropriate

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