We are now living in a world where healthcare matters more than anything, from food to cosmetics to beauty regimens. With so much more access to education, more people are beginning to turn towards natural and organic products. Women in particular tend to go through more challenging changes in their skin and bodies during different seasons of their lives.
One of the biggest changes a woman’s body can go through is being pregnant. From there on women experience an increase in androgen levels. This often leads to an increase or worsening of acne and hair growth on different parts of the body. While struggling to still look their best in this important time, many women start using different types of skincare to help battle these conditions.
However it is important to realize that not every skincare treatment is safe for the baby. Apart from looking and feeling good, the baby’s health must also be held in high regard. Some skincare ingredients can be potentially dangerous for the baby. The 3 ingredients that all pregnant mothers should look out for are retinoids, hydroquinone and salicylic acid. These 3 are among those that pose a high risk in causing birth defects and are a common ingredient in cosmetic or skincare products.
Below we will take a closer look at how and why these ingredients pose such great risks to pregnant women.
Retinoids and retinol is a type of vitamin A that will ultimately be converted to retinoic acid in the body. It can be found in most over the counter treatments for acne or anti-aging. Other names for it can include Vitamin A, retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde, adapalene, tretinoin, tazarotene and isotretinoin (Phew, such a long list).
Oral consumption of any forms of retinoid while being pregnant should be avoided at all costs, as research has shown that it can lead to birth defects. This is due to an over supply of Vitamin A in the body. Although Vitamin A plays a role in foetal development, having extra pharmaceutical levels of Vitamin A in the body may interfere with the foetus’ development, leading to deformities. One of them is known as retinoid embryopathy, a birth defect caused by Vitamin A.
However when it comes to the topical application of retinoids, there has not yet been enough studies to prove the effects that it will have on the foetus. While the absorption rate of retinoid from the skin proves to be low, there are still 4 published cases of birth defects in literature which have been associated with topical tretinoin (a type of retinoid from the previous lost list) which are consistent with retinoid embryopathy. Although the topical application seems to bear a lower risk of birth defects, experts still suggest that pregnant women avoid applying these vitamin A-based formulations during their pregnancy.
Salicylic acid is related to the aspirin family, it is used to reduce inflammation and redness of the skin. It is also commonly used in chemical peels, however the doses needed for a chemical peel would be much higher. When being pregnant, the oral medication of salicylic acid is definitely out of bounds, it may not be safe therefore one needs to avoid it.
Yet again when it comes to topical application of salicylic acid, it is by far seen as a safer choice. With that being said, there are still not enough solid studies and researches on pregnancy usage. Topical salicylic acid is commonly found in a variety of cosmetics and acne products. To be on the safe side it is also best to avoid it to reduce additional potentially harmful chemical absorption into the skin and later the bloodstream. So it is still worth the time and effort to check out each ingredient in your existing or new facial routine to ensure the best health for both mother and child.
This ingredient is commonly found in skin-lightening agents and is used mostly to treat pigmentation. An increase in the hormones of pregnant women can sometimes lead to a skin pigmentation condition known as melasma, which is also known as the mask of pregnancy.
The scariest part of this ingredient is its high absorption rate into the skin, it can be as high as 35% to 45%. Although at the moment there is still no direct research to prove that hydroquinone has adverse effects on mother or child, the absorption rate is still something to be alarmed about.
To add on further to this issue, hyperpigmentation problems have recently turned into a money making industry with more and more skin-lightening scams that use non FDA approved ingredients. Never use any skin lightening or whitening product without first looking at its ingredients or consulting with a dermatologist or doctor.
Even more so if you are a new mother carrying a new life within you. It is still best to minimize exposure until there are more studies that can prove hydroquinone safe.
Pregnancy is a beautiful journey with just a few bumpy roads. As much as mothers would love to look radiant and have smooth skin during these magical months, it is far more important to ensure the health and wellness of the baby.
Therefore care must be taken with products that come in contact with the mother, be it orally or on the skin. If there are any needs to address skin issues, always talk to your doctor or dermatologist about the risks of taking any oral skin medication or even topical applications during pregnancy and while breastfeeding as well.
With much effort and care taken, a glowing skin and healthy baby will be your best reward in the end.