Cosmetics During Pregnancy

Makeup Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy
Chances are, seeing that positive pregnancy test has propelled you
into clean living mode—you’ve re-stocked your fridge with organic
foods and swapped regular cleaning products for toxin-free options.
But did you check the contents of your makeup bag?
The truth is, those innocuous-looking tubes and bottles in your
medicine cabinet could be filled with chemicals that might affect your
pregnancy and growing baby. Even products with labels like
“natural” and “organic” could contain harmful ingredients. And since
your skin absorbs about 60 percent of what you put on it, you’ll need
to be extra-careful. So what’s a mom-to-be to do?
Start by reading the fine print on packaging and labels. “Lists are
always ordered from largest to smallest in terms of ingredient
quantity,” says Mary Irwin, New York–based makeup artist. “Remember, the first three things listed will be the
most active. Also, the smaller the list, the less likely you are to have a reaction.”
Words like “triglyceride” and “retinyl palmitate” can trigger chem class nightmares, but you can easily decode the
scientific terminology on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database. Bonus: This organization has
evaluated almost 74,000 products, giving each a safety score, so you can check how your current skincare and
makeup products measure up.
Here’s a cheat sheet of the ingredients common beauty products often contain that you’ll want to skip, at least
until the baby is born—and some suggestions for pregnancy-safe products to try instead.

In this article:
Foundation, concealer and exfoliators
Lipstick and blush
Eye shadow and mascara
Nail polish
Foundation, Concealer and Exfoliators
The next 40 weeks can certainly wreak havoc on your skin. “During pregnancy the skin is often turning over more
quickly, so you can accumulate dead skin and sometimes require more foundation,” says Shilpi Agarwal, MD,
author of The 10-Day Total Body Transformation and board-certified family medicine physician in Washington,
DC. What’s more, some women deal with hormone-induced acne that will begin to be covered up. Camouflaging
distraught skin can be particularly tricky, especially when it’s sensitive.
Ingredients to avoid

  • Parabens. These preservative agents (also known as propylparaben, butylparaben, isopropylparaben and
    methylparabens) are used in foundation and lipstick to keep them from harboring bacteria. Parabens have been
    associated with developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune disruptions in babies because they can
    be passed to the fetus.
  • Retinol. This form of vitamin A (also known as retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinoic acid and tretinoin) can
    be found in foundations and lipstick, specifically those labeled as “anti-aging.” Too much vitamin A has been
    linked to fetal malformation and even early term miscarriages. It is best to avoid it completely.
  • Fragrance. Some companies lump potentially hazardous substances under the guise of the
    innocent-sounding “fragrance.” These are some examples of what could be lurking in your makeup undetected:
    phthalates associated with reproductive system defects in baby boys; octoxynol, another group of hormone
    disruptors; citral, eugenol, coumarin and geraniol—chemicals that may increase chances of allergies and contact

  • Products to try instead
    Say hello to BB creams and CC creams. Not only do the formulas tend to go on lighter, but according to
    Environmental Working Group research, these formulas have an average of 40 ingredients, compared with an
    average of 70 ingredients when foundation, concealer and moisturizing sunscreen are used separately. Juice
    Beauty Stem Cellular CC Cream uses no artificial dyes, complements all skin types and imparts a dewy glow.
    Incorporate a gentle exfoliator prior to your beauty routine. We like the honey-based Josh Rosebrook Active
    Enzyme Exfoliator with anti-inflammatory chamomile and turmeric. “Exfoliating sloughs off dead skin so you’ll
    need less makeup. You can get away with using just a paraben-free powder instead of foundation,” Agarwal
    says. Try Red Earth Why Worry Mineral Loose Powder; it’s made from
    silica, not talc, and goes on smoothly.
    Another trick is investing in a good concealer. “I can hide my blemishes
    without having to cover my entire face in makeup,” says mom-to-be
    Diane Elizabeth, founder of Skin Care Ox, an organic beauty advice
    website. She loves Omiana Adaptive Concealing Cream because it’s
    made with castor seed and coconut oils, which help hide blemishes
    without leaving a cakey residue.
    Lipstick and Blush
    When uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms are getting you down, a
    bright lip and a swipe of blush can brighten your look. But pick your products carefully—some makeup contains
    ingredients that can actually make your skin issues worse.
    Ingredients to avoid
  • Preservatives. Some stabilizing agents, like phenoxyethanol and benzyl benzoate, don’t pose harm to your
    reproductive system or to the baby, but they might aggravate your already sensitive skin.
  • Artificial dyes. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has reported that some of the most popular drugstore
    and department store brands of lipstick contain trace amounts of lead. The FDA says most color additives in lip
    products are very small and that incidental ingestion of up to 10 parts per million of lead cannot be measured in
    blood testing. But given the fact that lead ingestion causes neurotoxicity, fertility issues and hormonal changes,
    you may not want to risk any exposure. To brighten up your look, shop 100% Pure—their vivid lipsticks and blush
    palettes are made with fruit pigment, not mystery dyes.
  • Retinol. (See above) • Parabens. (See above) • Fragrance. (See above)
    Products to try instead
    Morning sickness and extreme fatigue in those first few weeks of pregnancy can dull even the brightest of
    pregnancy glows. “I suggest using blush to avoid that yellow-green look,” Agarwal says. To fake that natural
    rouge, try Amareta Natural Flush All Over Color. It comes in universally flattering shades that enhance your
    complexion without looking like you have a trace of makeup on.
    Agarwal also suggests a minty lip balm to calm the nausea. Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm with Vitamin E and
    Peppermint does the trick; it’s made with sunflower oil that helps lock in moisture to prevent lips from chapping.
    Eye Shadow and Mascara
    Eye makeup may not take up too much real estate on your face, but there are still ingredients you should watch
    out for. What’s more, some pregnant women develop eye irritation and itchiness, so you’ll want to invest in
    natural, hypoallergenic products.
    Ingredients to avoid
  • Aluminum powder. It may make your eyeshadow shimmery, but aluminum powder can be absorbed by
    skin, flagging neurotoxicity and respiratory concern. “Matte eye shadows are less likely to contain aluminum,”
    Agarwal says.
  • Talc. Its job is to prevent caking and it’s generally harmless on its own. The problem is small amounts of
    asbestos, a known carcinogen, may contaminate mined talc deposits and end up in your powdered eye shadow.
  • Diazolidinyl urea. This antimicrobial preservative is found in mascara and releases formaldehyde.
    Products to try instead
    If you’re still looking for a natural shimmer, give RMS Beauty Eye Polish
    a try. It comes in eight luminous shades from mica, a silicate material
    found in crystals. Another safe shadow that’s completely free of talc and
    artificial dyes is Nu Evolution eye shadow.
    There’s nothing like long lashes to make a mom-to-be feel super-sexy.
    For a pregnancy-safe mascara, try Inika Organic Long Lash Vegan
    Mascara, which is 100 percent plant derived.
    Nail Polish
    Manicures and pedicures during pregnancy can be tricky—and not just
    because you’ll have trouble reaching your toes. There’s no concrete
    evidence that polish during pregnancy will have lasting effects on the baby, so long as you stick to varieties that
    don’t contain the following toxic trio.
    Makeup ingredients to avoid
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP). This phthalate is a known hormone disruptor. Exposure to high concentrations
    may cause hormone production problems in a developing baby.
  • Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde can cause cancer. Enough said.
  • Toluene. This neurotoxin can have a severe impact on the nervous system. It’s also linked to dizziness and
    irritation to the body, including reproductive issues.
    Products to try instead
    Nail polish brands are jumping on the safety bandwagon and creating cleaner formulas with 5-free and 7-free
    promises. We like NCLA vegan nail lacquers—they span almost 200 colors—as well as the new purple Pantone
    Collection from butter LONDON, which stepped it up by nixing eight toxic ingredients.
    You already know to wear broad-spectrum sunscreen that shields UVA and UVB rays, but it’s even more crucial
    to boost your SPF application during pregnancy to avoid dark spots. Melasma, referred to as the “mask of
    pregnancy,” is a condition resulting from an increase in hormones that increase skin pigmentation—almost 50
    percent of pregnant women show signs on their forehead and cheeks. Just make your sunscreen selections
    carefully, as some contain ingredients that are less than ideal when you’re expecting.
    Ingredients to avoid
  • Oxybenzone. This popular sunscreen ingredient may absorb UV rays, but it’s soaked up by your skin more
    than other sunscreen ingredients. A Swiss study also found traces of sunscreen in breast milk. While an [animal
    study] showed that exposure to oxybenzone resulted in fewer egg hatchings in trout, a study in JAMA
    Dermatology did not find significant endocrine disruption in humans who applied oxybenzone. Still, you may want
    to skip it.
  • Avobenzone. A Dutch study showed that this ingredient may mimic the female hormone progesterone and
    possibly interfere with sperm function.
    Products to try instead
    To avoid dark spots, look for makeup with a SPF 15 or higher. “A tinted moisturizer with sunscreen will make a
    big difference in averting long-term discoloration,” Irwin says. We recommend Juice Beauty SPF 30 Tinted
    Mineral Moisturizer, not only because the EWG rates as a “1” on their toxicity scale (which is the safest rating),
    but also because it’s super hydrating, thanks to jojoba, sunflower and coconut oils.
    You might also want to invest in products that contain vitamin C, which may save you from melasma. “Look for
    products with squalane, a saturated and stable hydrocarbon found naturally in the skin,” Irwin adds. The luxe
    Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil fits the bill.
    Makeup products with SPF are great for daily low-exposure activities like driving and brief walks outside, but
    they’re not meant to replace sunscreen on longer outings with intense sunlight. “Use a zinc-based SPF for
    prolonged exposure,” Agarwal says. “It protects from sun rays more effectively and has no harmful effects on the
    baby.” La Bella Donna Sun SPF 50 is a translucent powder mineral face sunscreen that won’t clog pores and
    contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, both deemed safe during pregnancy