Beauty Ingredients to Avoid during Pregnancy

There are number of beauty products we use in day to day routine but is it safe to continue using those products during pregnancy? Use of beauty products with harmful ingredients in it may have harmful effects on your baby.


Pregnancy can be a wonderful experience of a women’s life. When the news comes out the first thing, we get is a list of do’s and don’ts from the things we do normally to the food we eat. We often follow the list because we don’t want to harm the little one at any cost. But is it the same when it comes to beauty? All of us comes across a situation when we look at the beauty ingredients present in product we use on daily basis. One needs to avoid use of harmful beauty ingredients before it affects baby’s health.

Hormonal changes taking place in a pregnant women’s body leads to many physical changes and there are times when it throws our normal skin balance hay via. Person can deal with everything but when it comes to skin care products, we are more than a bit lost. According to Dr. Tiina Meder, dermatologist and founder of Meder Beauty Science, it is very important to look at the beauty products we are using, because there are a variety of ingredients that could have harmful effects on mother as well as the younger one. This is the reason why we look for pregnancy safe beauty products. Because, it is very important for all of us to protect younger one and take advantage of natural beauty of pregnancy.

Here is a list of beauty ingredients to avoid during pregnancy


It may be listed on ingredient labels as retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde, adapalene, tretinoin, tazarotene, and isotretinoin. It is a derivative of vitamin A and it is important to consume an adequate amount of vitamin A for baby’s development. However, some studies have shown that excess consumption of vitamin A leads to birth defects. Whether taken as an oral pill or applied tropically, excessive intake causes malformations of the baby’s head, heart, brain and spinal cord. 

Salicylic acid 

It is common to have acne problems during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and increased androgen levels. Salicylic acid is an ingredient found in cleansers, toners, and exfoliants. Taking oral salicylic acid during late pregnancy may increase the risk for intracranial bleeding in the fetus. 


Tetracyclines are used in variety of conditions, such as acne and Lyme disease. These are antibiotics that should be avoided during last half of pregnancy, as they can cause permanent tooth discoloration later in baby’s life. Tetracyclines not only affect calcification (hardening) of the bones and teeth but also causes reduce growth of bones. 


A skin lightening agent; abstain from hydroquinone, Idrochinone and quinol/1-4 dihydroxy benzene/1-4 hydroxy benzene. Pregnancy brings on dark spots, melasma, etc. therefore, we tend to use skin lightening products. Hydroquinone is mainly present in skin lightening agents. Its absorption rate is found to be 35 to 45% therefore, it is highly recommended to avoid use of products with this beauty ingredient during pregnancy. As presence of high amount of any chemical in blood stream may not be good for fetus.

Formaldehyde and toluene

This is Present in personal care products such as hair straightening treatments, nail polish and eyelash glue, etc. It is a known carcinogen that is cancer causing chemical. Its spontaneous absorption leads to congenital malformations, and premature birth. It is advisable to seek out products that are formaldehyde-free specially during pregnancy. 


The trio of phthalate, formaldehyde and toluene is known as toxic trio. These are mainly present in nail polish. Phthalates have been linked to high blood pressure to diabetes and ADHD. Recent studies have shown that prenatal phthalate exposure may affect fetal development. 

Essential oils 

These are commonly used in almost all the beauty products and marked as safe to use. They do not follow strict labelling instructions. Many people use essential oils as a natural alternative for beauty products. However essential oils can be extremely harmful if not used appropriately. Commonly used essential oils are tea tree oil and rosemary oil. According to Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas Tea tree oil is very potent and toxic. Its adverse effects include dermatitis, drug reactions, a blistering disease called linear IgA, and estrogenic effects. Pregnant women need to be extra careful as hormonal changes may lead to premature contractions. Rosemary oil can raise blood pressure and high doses may cause uterine contractions. 

Aluminum chloride 

Aluminum chloride is a common ingredient in deodorants and antiperspirants. It is labelled as aluminum chloride hexahydrate or aluminum chlorohydrate. It affects the cells that produce sweat and is in FDA pregnancy category C, which means you must avoid products with this beauty ingredient during pregnancy. 

Chemical sunscreens 

Sunscreens may contain possible hormone disruptors like oxybenzone or avobenzone, which can interfere with baby’s nervous system development. 


Dihydroxyacetone is used in spray and self-tanners. This chemical reacts with dead layer of skin and adds color in such a way that we think it is safer than sun tanning. DHA is unhealthy for mother as well as younger ones. It is non absorb-able by the body, but can be inhaled during application. 

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Commonly present in almost all shampoo and soap as it acts as a foaming agent. This chemical has a penetrating power and our body is not able to break this chemical down. If it enters in body can cause issues with the nervous system, kidney and liver function. If ingested, it can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. 

The above list is based on common research done. However, it is difficult to figure out which beauty products are safe to use, as there is no final list of beauty ingredients to avoid during pregnancy. Therefore, it is advisable to take your doctor advice before using any beauty product. This will help in protecting baby’s health and have safer pregnancy.


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