Ingredients to Avoid while Pregnant


As if getting knocked up doesn’t change enough about your life, there are all sorts of things that you’re not allowed to have and do.  No more sushi, cold cuts, soft cheeses, and sadly, wine!!  You can’t do everything at the gym, you can’t use Latisse (bummer)… can’t, can’t, can’t!!!  It can be confusing and limiting.  In this series of blog posts, I’ll hopefully present some of the things we can do to get through pregnancy with a little grace.

Common Sense DISCLAIMER:  I am in no way a medical professional, before you listen to me, ask your doctor!

One thing that was a surprise to me with my first pregnancy was all the beauty products and services I had to take out of my rotation.  Yes, seriously.  I’m going to try to shed some light on how your beauty routine may change during this miracle of pregnancy.

Part 1: Skin Care

For me, pregnancy didn’t leave me with that gorgeous glow of maternal bliss.  I had greasy, flat, dull, limp hair.  I had greasy, zitty, dull skin.  I felt far from good about myself.  I needed some of my go to beauty remedies to make me feel normal.  Wait, what?  I can’t use over half of my skin care products?!?    That’s cool, I’ll go get a massage.. nope, not in the first trimester… ugh!

I’ve found some things that do work and make me feel and look better.  The grease pit that is my face every afternoon has become more manageable.  I’ve been using Avené mattifying fluid serum and Laura Mercier oil-free Foundation primer.  Either product goes under my Intellishade Matte tinted moisturizer and seem to be working pretty great.

For skincare products that are safe for pregnancy, I had to consult an expert.  I looked to Esthetician Extraordinaire, Rhonda Green at for the skinny on skin care.

Rhonda is brilliant and gave me the scoop.  Here is an extensive list of ingredients to be aware of, pregnant, or not.

Most pregnant women are concerned about what they put in their bodies, never realizing what they put on their skin  is just as important!  Because some topical ingredients get absorbed into the bloodstream, there are ones you want to avoid.  Always check your labels. If your product doesn’t have a label, that should raise a red flag. The following is a list of ingredients that should be avoided while pregnant or breastfeeding.  A lot of these ingredients aren’t only in your moisturizers but are also found in makeup, lipstick/lipgloss, and sunscreen!

Retinoids:  This ingredient may be listed on products as Retinyl Palmitate, Retinyl linoleate, Retinol, Retinoic Acid, Retin-A, Renova, Tretinoin, Adapalene (Differin), Tazorac (Tazarotene)

Salicylic acid or Beta hydroxyl acid (BHA):   In high doses these ingredients are a big no-no while pregnant.  Lactic and Glycolic acids however are safe because they are alpha hydroxy acids (AHA’s).  If you’re uncertain, check with your healthcare provider.

Soy:  This ingredient is most commonly found  in moisturizers and can cause pigmentation (pregnancy mask) to form or become darker.  If you had melasma before pregnancy, soy can exacerbate the pigmentation.  Check your label for phosphatidylcholine, soy and lecithin. This product is safe to use, but if pigmentation issues are a concern,  it’s best to avoid this ingredient.

There are many more ingredients that doctors recommend not using. Check out  for a more extensive list.

Amanda:  If it’s a prescription skin product, odds are it isn’t safe during pregnancy.  Always ask your doctor if you’re unsure.  For example: Latisse, AcZone, Epiduo all not to be used during pregnancy.


Studies have shown that up to 60% of what you put on your skin (face, body and hair) goes DIRECTLY IN YOUR BLOODSTREAM in just a matter of seconds.  This can accumulate in your body and affect organ function, hormonal activity, etc.  It is paramount to know what you are putting on your skin!  Below are some ingredients that should be avoided.

It is not known just what the effects of product layering does overtime, but it is a known fact that the more exposure a person has to an ingredient, the more risk of overexposure.  If you are using personal care products extensively, and are using multiple produts daily, then you need to start assessing the ingredients that you’re exposing yourself to. Some ingredients have proven to have effect on the reproductive system, and could even harm the health of the fetus if overexposure occurs. “

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate –  Highly irritating and dangerous. The same soap you will find in a car wash or a garage where it’s used to degrease a car’s engine.  Once absorbed into the skin, this ingredient mimics the activity of the hormone estrogen.  This may be responsible for several health problems from PMS and menopausal symptoms to increasing female cancers, such as breast cancer where estrogen levels are known to be involved.

Propylene Glycol – Very strong chemical, when handling must wear full body gear, because it absorbs into the skin causing brain, liver and kidney damage.  So powerful, that it is used to remove barnacles from boats.  Recent studies have shown mutation in vitro. This study proves it to be a strong skin irritant causing  allergies of the skin.  This is used in some products in concentrations up to 20%.  It’s also the main ingredient used in Antifreeze!

Butylene Glycol – Ingestion of this ingredient may cause transient stimulation of the nervous system followed by depression, drowsiness and vomiting, and cn lead to kidney damage. It is a petroleum based ingredient and must never be used in a higher percent than 5%. When thinking of penetration enhancers however, it could be easy for a person to overuse this chemical if being used in more than one product daily.

Glycerol Monostearate – Strong evidence of skin irritant, broad toxicity systemic effects on organs.  It’s a skin penetration enhancer, which can allow this and other chemicals to reach deep into the skin.

Mineral Oil – Contrary to popular belief, this is not a safe ingredient. It coats the skin like plastic, clogging pores and interfering with the skin releasing toxins. Causes premature aging and skin irritation.  Some test have shown it may be cancer causing. 

Parabens (Methyl, Propoly and Butyl) – Evidence of skin toxicity causing irritation and sensitivity. Also in vitro test have shown mutation.  Respiratory, brain    and nervous system effects and interferes with gene expression.

FD&C colourants – They contain heavy metal salts which are toxic to the skin. A lot of yellow FD&C colourants are known to cause allergic reactions. For example, FD&C yellow No.5 cannot be used by those allergic to aspirin. These are also synthetically derived.

Talc Powder (Baby Powder) – Applied to genitals frequently increased development of ovarian cancer

Sorbitan Laurate – Skin toxin, causes cancer, endocrine system disruption, gastrointestinal effects and a known skin irritant

Tocopheryl Acetate – Causes allergies and skin sensitivities

Retinyl Palmitate – Restricted in cosmetics, reproductive and developmental toxicity. When exposed to UV light, this compound breaks down and produce toxic free radicals that damages DNA

Fragrance – Could be any 4,000 ingredients that effect many parts of the body that cause skin irritation and sensitivity

Zinc Oxide – System toxicity, persistent bio accumulative in wildlife, test have shown mutation in vitro test. Animal testing have shown brain and nervous system effects.  Check out this website for more very important information on Sunscreen.

Benzoyl Peroxide – Linked to skin cancer for a number of years and many research journal entries states “ benzoyl peroxide is a free radical-generating skin tumor promoting agent”.

1,4 Dioxane (Diethylene Oxide) Will never appear on an ingredient listing, but it can help to avoid ingredients which are commonly contaminated.  Such as “PEG”, “polyethylene”, “Polyethylene glycol”, “polyoxyethylene”  – The Environmental Working Group ( states the following about ingredient contamination: “1,4-dioxane is just the tip of the iceberg. Our analyses show that 80% of all products may be contaminated with one of more of the two dozen recognized cosmetic impurities that are linked to cancer and other health concerns.  These trace contaminants in petroleum-based ingredients often readily penetrate the skin according to government and industry studies, and their presence in products is not restricted by government safety standards-thy are legal at any level.  In our 2004 online survey of the cosmetics and personal care products used by 2300 people, we found that impurities are so ubiquitous that one of every five adults is potentially exposed every day to all of the top seven carcinogenic impurities common to personal care product ingredients – hydroquinone, ethylene dioxide, 1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde, nitrosamines, PAHs, and acrylamide.”

Thanks, Rhonda, so much for all this great information!!!  This list is a great resource, and worth a copy and paste for sure.  It definitely helped me to clear out my vanity!  If you need help choosing safe products, don’t hesitate to contact Rhonda at JustGlo Studio (704)817-9330.

Next Post, I’ll delve further into the world of maintaining yourselves during pregnancy… until then, chin up, Momma, you’re GORGEOUS!

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