Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Mommy Beauty: What Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid While Pregnant (or Breastfeeding)

Skin care during pregnancy and during breast feeding

skin care, ingredients to avoid in pregnancy or breast feeding
It seems easy to imagine that if you are pregnant (or are trying to get pregnant) that you should probably start taking those prenatals and avoid the pregnancy no-no items like alcohol, tobacco, etc. Most of us don't think about our skin care items. The truth is that there are ingredients in your night cream and acne spot treatment that have not been proven safe for use during pregnancy, or even worse, have been linked to birth defects. However, it is very difficult to find out exactly which skin care ingredients you should avoid during pregnancy or while nursing.

Personally, I am going the conservative route and avoiding ingredients that have not been proven to be safe in pregnancy. You can decide for yourself (in conjunction with your OB or dermatologist) how conservative you want to be regarding ingredients. I'm lucky in that I can cheat and look up an ingredient's pregnancy category in a drug book (my favorite is Lexi-Comp if that makes a difference to you). Dermatologist Dr. Ellen Marmur, whose book Simple Skin Beauty I wrote about a few days ago, says "be on the safe side and ask your ob/gyn about anything that you think might be harmful." I also want to add that even if you've been reassured that something is safe, if it makes you uncomfortable, just avoid it. There are so many products on the market now, it should be easy to avoid an ingredient. It isn't worth losing sleep over!


My list of ingredients to avoid while pregnant:
Retin A/Accutane, Retinoids, Vitamin A: Yes, the big baddies here are definitely the 2 prescription drugs listed first. Accutane is a huge issue with pregnancy as it is linked to many different birth defects. In fact, most physicians won't even prescribe it to women of child bearing age unless they are also on birth control or sign a waiver. While Retin A and over the counter retinoids are not as strongly linked to birth defects as Accutane, they are all the same class of drug and as such are on pretty much every MD's list of no-no ingredients. The retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives, and I've seen quite a few lists advising to avoid topical Vitamin A as well, so it's made my list. Yes, there is still Vitamin A in your diet and your prenatal vitamin. It should be there and can take care of your needs. But, no need to add even more in skin care.

All Hydroxy Acids: From citric acid to salicylic acid, pretty much all of the hydroxy acids either are not safe or simply don't have enough information to say "sure, go crazy and rub this all over you." So, the official word is that all of they hydroxy acids, alpha and beta, have pregnancy categories that recommend avoidance, with 1 exception.

The exception is Lactic Acid, which your body makes on its own (I spend a lot of time in the PICU trying to prevent little bodies from making it, but that's a whole different issue). Lactic acid has been shown to be fine in pregnant animals, but we don't have evidence in humans. So, the official recommendation is to use with caution if really needed. Personally, I'm avoiding it in everyday skin care items but did let my esthetician use it in my facial a few weeks ago.

I've seen a few books that say Glycolic Acid is fine, and there are many physicians that tell this to their patients. However, its official pregnancy category is that there isn't enough info so should be avoided. The "correct" type of study to prove the safety of Glycolic Acid will simply never be done, so many physicians have looked at the current evidence and feel fine recommending it. I personally avoided it while pregnant and it's one I look for when recommending products as safe or not.

I also want to point out that Citric Acid is found usually in very small amounts at the very end of ingredient lists. It is typically there to help modulate pH in a product. You likely expose yourself to more Citric Acid in one glass of OJ than you would in a year of using such a product. I avoided it in my first 2 trimesters, but lightened up in my third trimester when I realized I was being a bit silly.

Dihydroxyacetone: Also known as DHA, this is the active ingredient in sunless tanners. The jury is still out on whether sunless tanners are safe. I've seen sources that say yes, some that say no. I can tell you that my skin has taken on some interesting dry patches while pregnant, and it would be pretty hard to get an even sunless tan. This is a great time to embrace the pale, so I'm going with that.

Hydroquinone: Though I found it in several drug references as safe in pregnancy, these ingredients were listed on enough lists of things to avoid due to unknown risks that I'm avoiding them.

Kojic Acid: This ingredient is sometimes used to help lighten the skin, but it has shown up on multiple lists of items to avoid. I can't find the reason why, but I'm thinking lightening my skin shouldn't be a priority now anyways.

Benzoyl Peroxide: Again, I can't find this in any actual drug reference books and a literature search didn't turn up anything of use, but it is listed over and over on lists of things to avoid while pregnant. Which is pretty horrible since that leaves pretty much nothing to treat blemishes during pregnancy.

Laser Therapy: I've seen laser therapy, whether for zapping away birth marks, tattoos or hair, listed over and over on lists of things to avoid while pregnant. Even my beloved Silk'n Sens Epil lists pregnancy as a contraindication for use. I had to stop using it as soon as I found out about the pregnancy. As well, most places that offer lasers refuse to treat you if you are pregnant. Personally, I can not think of a physiologic reason why lasers would be bad during pregnancy. A laser pointed at your shin isn't going to somehow bounce the light up to your uterus, and there aren't any known systemic effects of lasers. Dr. Marmur agrees with me, in her book she says "Lasers, however, are safe during pregnancy because they don't introduce a chemical into your body."

Salicylates: I'm adding this in as an addendum (7/6/2012) because it didn't really dawn on me to include these! I think of Salicylates as a medication to take orally (aspirin!) rather than a topical ingredient. Regardless, this should include topical willow bark and should be avoided.

Parabens and chemical sunscreens: since that seems to be asked over and over. They are currently considered safe by pretty much everyone except the EWG, who have a big propaganda machine and I don't think they interpret most studies correctly. If you disagree with me about that so be it, I'm just stating my opinion since I've been asked over and over. Both are also considered safe for pregnancy and breast feeding. BUT... if an ingredient makes you uncomfortable you should just avoid it. There are so many products on the market these days that it is very possible to do so without any issues.

Hyaluronic Acid use during pregnancy: Hyaluronic acid is basically the same thing as Sodium Hyaluronate. I can't figure out how this became an ingredient that is sometimes on no-no lists, because not only does your body already make a ton of it, but is a big molecule. Huge. It is so large that it just hangs out in the spot where it is made, much to large to get into cells, to pass through membranes or travel to other locations. Much is the same for any Hyaluronic Acid that you apply to the surface of the skin. Your skin has very tight membrane junctions between those cells on the surface. Hyaluronic Acid can't get through and just sits there. I'm always very suspicious when a company tells me that their HA is different and can get it. It's a big red flag. So, since it can't get in, and your body is already making it anyways, definitely feel that it is safe to keep using HA in your products. It just sits on the surface and helps hold moisture there. We need it to live up to pregnancy glow expectations!

Sulfur: This is often found in acne treatments, and I haven't really been able to find much info about safety in pregnancy. Be aware that if you're allergic to sulfa drugs you should avoid this ingredient, but I've seen it as the active ingredient in many "pregnancy safe" acne treatments and is probably fine.


To Avoid While Breast Feeding:
A great book for looking up whether you should avoid a particular medication during pregnancy is Medications and Mother's Milk, which is updated every 2 years. This was the book we used in my residency and our lactation consultant did carry it around everywhere with her! Luckily, most medications are fine to use, and this translates over to most topical products as well. L1-L3 are considered safe, L4 and above is not safe. I also looked up each drug in the book Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation, which is even more complete.

Retin A/Accutane, Retinoids, Vitamin A: Used topically, Retinoids are a category L3, but orally (as with Accutane) they fall to L4. So, topical is ok, systemic is not. The second book seemed to agree with this as well, though they were more complete in listing all of the systemic (oral and IV) retinoids, things I've never heard of. Many of those were fine, surprisingly enough. I'd check with your doctor if you're on anything other than just a basic, over the counter topical retinoid, but those found in skin care products should be fine.

Hydroquinone: While there is no data on Hydroquinone in humans, and no studies have found the levels achieved with topical use, hydroquinone is likely safe to use during nursing. Why? The ingredient is a strong base, which means the drug that actually reaches your bloodstream would be ionized and therefore unavailable to be excreted into breast milk. Which is great, because I have some Melasma to treat!

Pretty much everything else: Safe!


Check out all of my pregnancy skin care posts!
8 Pregnancy Friendly Skincare Lines over on Babble
Skin care ingredients that should be avoided during pregnancy
Skin care routine adjustments for pregnancy
My criteria for pregnancy safe skincare
Giant List of Pregnancy Safe Skin Care Products





31 comments:

Pammy said...

Thanks Christine for providing this great resource list!!! Wow, there really is not much, skin-treatment wise that one can use. So, no Differin for me whenever I get pregnant. I was surprised to read about the BP too! Thanks again!!!

Cynthia Bailey MD, Dermatologist said...

This is a fantastic post! It's clear, well supported and your perspective as both a beauty expert and neonatal expert are invaluable. You have done an amazing service for many women by posting this practical and understandable information on your blog.

Anonymous said...

Would witch hazel and/or green tea work to treat blemishes while still being safe?

Christina said...

Okay I'm not pregnant, but this is awesome and I might bookmark it/save it for that time in the future (far in the future) when I am pregnant. :D Thanks!

Spider Girl (Ana M.) said...

Being a cosmetic dermatologist I agree with everything you've listed; better safe than sorry as they say :)

Mrs. Fruticienta said...

Hi! this list is great, while i was pregnant I avoided all of that ingredients.

Mommy, Esq. said...

I've been looking forward to this post, so I'm so surprised that I'm just now seeing it!!! Thanks so much for such a great post. So informative!!! You're the best!

Christine said...

Mommy, Esq.- I'm so glad you saw it! I was thinking of you when I wrote it. Did you see the follow up? here it has what you then can use... which was not much :(

Kirsten said...

This blog is very helpful thank you for putting it together. I have started using products from Mario Badescu - this line has some masks and drying lotions that I believe are safe during pregnancy.
I like: Mario Badescu Drying Mask, Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion, Mario Badescu Healing & Soothing Mask and Mario Badescu Drying Cream

Anonymous said...

How about Rapid Lash (or similar eye lash enhancing) serums?
Ihave a new pack and would like to try it but not keen of the risk

Christine said...

Both Rapid Lash and Revitalash are fine. I actually used Revitalash during my pregnancy.

Trbobitch said...

What about Parabens? Here's a quick google I did just to have a link, but there are tons of data out there that say it's very harmful http://www.ehow.com/about_5453218_dangers-methylparaben.html.

Anonymous said...

The Mario Badescu Drying products have parabens in them. I don't know why everyone recommends t hem for pregnancy. Also, Glycolic Acid is fine; it's one of the few things that are. Don't take that away from women! My gyno also said it was fine and a researched it.

Christine said...

Parabens are a completely different story and they are NOT currently included in any lists of ingredients to avoid in pregnancy or nursing that have been written by OB/Gyns or pediatricians. Note that I do not include the EWG as a valid source of information as I do not believe that they are unbiased (their primary goal is to function as a lobbyist group in DC), and I have frequently disagreed with their conclusions of studies. They frequently have very different conclusions than even the authors of a study.

Glycolic Acid IS found on many of those lists and has not been proven to be safe, though it hasn't been proven to be harmful either. As it is included in many lists, I included it here. Note that since there is no "official" ACOG list, most of the lists you find out there have different philosophies on how restrictive to be. U of M was very conservative, as I was in my pregnancy. (However, they did not have parabens on their list, but they did include Glycolic Acid)

You can read more about how I compiled my list here: my philosophy about what is (or isn't) pregnancy safe

Anonymous said...

Hi Christine,

i wish to continue using Estee Lauder - Advanced Night Repair Eye Recovery Complex. But am pregnant right now.
The list of ingredients are as below:
Water (Aqua Purificata) Purified, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, Polysilicone-11, Bidifa Ferment Lysate, Isopentydiol, Petrolatum, Sucrose, Isoprypyl Jojobate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Extract, Poria Cocos Extract, Trehalose, Betula Alba (Birch) Extract, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile), Algae Extract, Yeast Extract (Faex), Caffeine, Morus Nigra (Mulberry) Root Extract, Cholesterol, Sodium RNA, Linoleic Acid, Hodrogenated Lecithin, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Potassium Sulfate, Dimethicone Copolyol, Phytosphingosine, Butylene Glycol, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Squalane, Jojoba Alcohol, Polysorbate 80, Polysorbate 40, Isohexadecane, Tromethamine, BHT, Benzyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Iron Oxides

It contains soybean too (which i read from another website, to be harmful). Erm, can I still proceed using this? Thanks.

Halima.75 said...

Are EStee Lauder products

Perfectly clean Face wash & Exfoliator
tIme zone
Safe to use during pregnancy?

Clinique super moisture foundation is safe to use during pregnancy?

tHank you so much for help

Anonymous said...

Hello

I have just found you blog and love it! I am 8 weeks pregnant and have been avoiding eye cream and my usual face creams as I have been too nervous about using them. However I have just ordered a batch of creams that are safe, which is great as I am sure that my skin is already suffering.

Having read your blog I have decided to use a facial dedicated sunscreen, and wondered whether the following ingredients are safe?

Aqua, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, Butylene glycol, Octocrylene, Butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, Tridecyl salicylate, Isononyl isononanoate, C18-36 acid glycol ester, Polyglyceryl-3 methylglucose distearate, Adipic acid/diglycol crosspolymer, Methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol, Bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine, Dimethicone, Butyrospermum parkii butter, Titanium dioxide, Phenoxyethanol, Diethylhexyl butamido triazone, Mica, Decyl glucoside, Parfum, Tocopheryl acetate, Potassium cetyl phosphate, Acrylates/vinyl isodecanoate crosspolymer, Polysorbate 20, Vitis vinifera seed oil, Glycerin, Dimethyl oxazolidine, Potassium hydroxide, Tetrasodium EDTA, Propylene glycol, Panax ginseng extract, Sodium ascorbyl phosphate, Xanthan gum, Manganese dioxide, Aminomethyl propanol, CI 77891

Once again thanks so much for your advice! Great blog!

Christine said...

Looks fine to me! Congrats on your pregnancy!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that Rapidlash is okay to use while nursing, I just bought some and have been trying to find info on if it is safe.
Ever since I had my baby I feel like my lashes have taken a turn for the worse lol.
Thanks for this post.

Alicia said...

Hi Christine, thank you for the informative article. I just wanted to make one thing clear. EWG IS a lobbying group (as part of the many things they do) but they lobby for the common consumer (you and I!) so that our makeup and products don't have dangerous toxins in them. Not all lobbyists are bad. We haw lobbyists to thank for the Clean Air Act and for low levels of lead and other chemicals in our drinking water! So yes, they are biased in that they want corporations to be accountable for the substances they sell to us. Lobbyists CAN be evil when they are large corporations (like big beauty companies like lancome) who can spend millions of dollars on a whim to pay lawmakers to sway the law making process and unfortunately money talks in this country. All in all though the EWG is working for the common good and I trust them tremendously.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great article! I recently gave birth to my beautiful little girl and, after going 9 mos. with a seriously pared down beauty routine due to concerns over many ingredients, I was looking forward to using all of my original products. Of course, as I'm nursing, I wanted to make sure that all ingredients were safe, and I've found contradictory information regarding salicylic acid... is this a truly safe ingredient to use while breastfeeding? If safe, I plan to use it in a cleanser, so it wouldn't be left on my skin to penetrate into the body more... My skin has gone without it for so long, and is in need of help, but my daughter's health and safety is my priority.

Also, is using nail polish without formaldehyde, toluene and DBP ok while breastfeeding? I don't make a habit of painting my nails, but it is sandal season...

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Wow just found your site! So informative! I'm breastfeeding and was told using a glycolic lotion was safe but there's another ingredient in this lotion I'm not sure of and that's ammonium hydroxide. Is this safe?

Anonymous said...

I am 5 weeks and am so upset as I have been using a shampoo with panax ginseng extract. now so worried as everywhere says you shouldn't use ginseng in pregnancy. or is it ok if its in shampoo?

Anonymous said...

Guys you have to understand that Christine is in the medical field and I can see that she is not concerned with unnatural products/products with chemicals and ingredients you can't pronounce. I totally see how she would not necessarily agree with EWG which personally I do refer to from time to time to gauge the safety of a product. She does serve as a useful resource to see which ingredients are shown to be safe and unsafe during pregnancy but personally for myself I also try to use natural products. Not to say that natural is always better and there are many natural things to avoid during pregnancy as well but I will look to find products that are as natural as possible while still being safe during pregnancy. I have some favourite products that are not completely natural and I fight with myself to stop using them but can't.. Just try to do the best I can!

Anonymous said...

Hi! Great post! Have you heard if the plantscription line from origins is safe?

Christine Mikesell said...

Hi!
I don't know anything about the line, they don't post the ingredients on the Origins website.

Unknown said...

Hi,
Just read you post - really interesting. However, I was on the EWG's site first and am completely freaked out. I'm 15 weeks pregnant- can you tell me how safe the following products are please?
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Recovery Complex serum & eyecream
Lancome hydra zen
Clinique superdefense
Liz earle - cleanser with hot cloth, toner and moisteuriser
Thank you so much,
Niamh

Christine Mikesell said...

Hi Niamh,
Of those products only the Liz Earle has ingredients on line, and it's fine. I can't give an opinion on the others.
Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

Hello! Thank you so much for doing this! You have no idea how helpful you've been! Can you help me see if these are ok to use during pregnancy?

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair:
Water, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Methyl Gluceth-20, PEG-75, Butylene Glycol, BIS-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Arabidopsis Thaliana Extract, Tri-peptide-32, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Lactobacillus Ferment, Cola Aciminata (Kola) extract, Pentethine, Caffeine, Glycereth-26, Triethanolamine, Sodium RNA, Squalane, Oleth-3 Phospate, Oleth-3, Oleth-5, Bisabolol, Choleth-24, Ceteth-24, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile), Sodium Hyaluronic, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, Trisodium EDTA, BHT, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Benzyl Alcohol, Green 5 (CI61570), Yellow 5 (CI19140), Red 4 (CI14700)



Estee Lauder Nutritious Vita-Mineral Moisture Creme:
Water, C12-20 Acid PEG-8 Ester, Caprylic / Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Coco-Caprylate / Caprate, Dimethicone, DI-C12-15 Akyl Fumarate, Glycerin, Coffea Arabica (Coffee) Seed extract, Cucumis Melo (Melon) Fruit Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Panax Ginseng (Ginseng) Root Extract, Sapindus Mukurossi Fruit Extract, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Peel Extract, Saccharomyces Lysate Extract, Algae Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Fruit Juice, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Caffeine, Astrocaryum Murumuru Seed Butter, Cholesterol / Potassium Sulfate, Propanediol, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate / VP Copolymer, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Ergothioneine, Diisostearyl Malate, Phytantriol, Dipotassoim Glycyrrhizate, Trehalose, Choleth-24, Ceteth-24, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Yeast Extract / Faex Extrait de Levure, Caprylyl Glycol, Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Silica, Sodium Hyaluronate, Pentaerylthrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Caesalpinia Spinosa Gum, Sodium Hydroxide, Fragrance (Parfume), Disodium EDTA, BHT, Phenoxyethanol

Anonymous said...

Estee Lauder Time Zone Anti-Line / Wrinkle Eye Creme:
Water, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Polyethylene, Butylene Glycol, Dicapryl Carbonate, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, cetyl esters, cetearyl Alcohol, Sucrose, Isostearyl Neopentanoate, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Hydrolyzed Rice Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Selaginella Tamariscina (Spike Moss) Extract, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Peel Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Juice Extract, Sigesbeckia Orientalis (St. Paul's Wort) Extract, Cucumis Melo (Melon) Fruit Extract, Centaurium Erythraea (Centaury) Extract, Argania Spinosa Leaf Extract, Polygonum Cuspidatum Root Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Methyl Glycose Sesquistearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Adenosine Phosphate, Cetearyl Glucoside, Caffeine, Trehalose, Creatine, Acetyl Glucosamine, Caprylic / Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Sodium PCA, Polybutene, Sodium Hyaluronic, Acrylates / C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Phytantriol, Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate, Cholesterol / Potassium Sulphate, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Phospholipids, Yeast Extract / Faex / Extrait de Levure, Phytosteryl Canola Glycerides, Caprylyl Glycol, Oleic Acid, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Phyto-Sphingosine, Triolein, Steareth-21, Cyclodextrin, Carbomer, Hexylene Glycol, Aminomethyl Propanol, Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid, Ethybisiminomethylguaiacol Manganese Chloride, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Titanium Dioxide



Lancome Blanc Expert Melanolyser Whiteness Activating Spot Eraser:
Qater, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Diisopropyl Sebacate, Methyl Gluceth-20, Dimethicone, Octyldodecanol, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Tocopherol, Sodium Hydroxide, Hydrolyzed Soy Flour, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Stearic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Faex Extract / Yeast Extract, PEG-100 Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, PPG-5-Ceteth-20, Ethylparaben, Ellagic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Polyacrylamide, Salicylic Acid, Helianthus Annus Seed Extract / Sunflower Seed Extract, Xanthan Gum, Benzyl Salicylate, Ginkgo Biloba Extract / Ginggo Biloba Leaf Extract, Linalool, Mentha Piperita Extract / Peppermint Leaf Extract, Benzyl Alcohol, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Acrylates / C10-30 Akyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Rosa Centifolia Extract / Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Cetyl Alcohol, Methyl Paraben, Tetrasodium EDTA, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Laureth-7, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Extract / Licorice Root Extract, Parfume / Fragrance, (F.I.L: B42572/1)


TIA once again! Appreciate it loads! XOXO

Christine Mikesell said...

Both of those are fine!

progrids