Primp for Pregs: Beauty Products That May Be Killing Your Chances To Conceive

Toxic Beauty Products And Trying To Conceive

Look, as much as I wish I could say "99 problems and a fine line ain't one," I can't, and like most women I know, I swear by a morning and night ritual of ceremonial priming, peeling and slathering. Wellness and fertility in mind, coconut oil is an AH-mazing multi-purpose beauty aid (swear by Sky Organics), and great for keeping all the good stuff in. But for getting the gunk out? And adding a bit o' color and or elasticity to the bod? Well then it's time for the big guns, and it's important to know which products may be working against you.

What Beauty Products Are Safe While I'm Trying To Get Pregnant?

  • Beta Hydroxy Acids. Most common form is salicylic acid. Safe at 2% or less in topical lotions and moisturizers, but avoid peels or masks (anything that sits on the face too long) containing the product.
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids. For example glycolic acid in lotion/moisturizers.
  • Hair Remover and Depilatories (woo-hoo!).
  • Hydrocortisone and Benadryl Creams. Short-term use of these are fine. Long term use of cortisone can begin to throw off menstrual cycles or ovulation.
  • Waxing. Go Brasil! 

What Beauty Products Are Not Safe While I'm Trying To Get Pregnant?

  • Salicylic Acid Peels or Masks. Facial treatments containing salicylic acid that sit on your face for an extended period of time are NOT safe. Salicylic acid has been associated with miscarriage in the first trimester. (-Holy nuts, this is Mo here, I did not know this, thanks for researching this Madeline, I did a peel this morning and here we are in our two-week wait, I need to run and check the label to make sure it doesn't have this in it!-)
  • Retinoids. Other names include retinol, isotretinoin, tretinoin, acitretin, etretinate, adapalene, and tazarotene. Oral retinoids, like Accutane (used to treat acne), have been linked to miscarriages and birth defects.
  • Botox (or what Mo calls BoBo), Collagen, Restylane and Other Injectables and Fillers. These can last for up to a year in the body, so plan accordingly. Due to lack of clinical studies, doctors recommend not using while pregnant or trying to conceive.
  • Phthalates. Aka dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). These bad boys mimic estrogen and tamper with the reproductive system. Phthalates are found in a myriad of products, including many lotions, shampoos, lipsticks, anti-aging products, soaps, fragrances, nail products and cuticle treatments.  When looking at labels be mindful of generalities- when a product lists “Fragrances” or "Perfume" as an ingredient, that means its individual ingredients are protected by trade secret laws and companies are not required to divulge ingredients, some of which may not be safe for fertility or pregnancy.  (-Mo here - for natural beauty products, I personally like and feel comfortable recommending these natural beauty lines: Pacifica (also vegan), Beauty Counter, and this new one I discovered at a womens circle in LA, True Botanicals. All are women-owned, which I also dig.)
  • Parabens. You'll notice that "Paraben Free" is about as commonplace as "BPA Free" these days, and that's a good thing. The paraben family includes methylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. Double check for these in your cleansers, moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners, anti-aging products, deodorants, sunscreens, toners, astringents, and makeup. Parabens mess with your hormones. In fact, methylparaben is banned in the European Union due to its toxicity. I personally swear by Mineral Fusion SPF 40 Moisturizer as my everyday sunscreen. It's 100% vegan and makes my face look oh so dewy. And don't forget the pits! After much stanky experimentation I can say that I 100% smell by (I mean, stand by) Schmidts natural deodorant. Trust.
  • Permanent Hair Dyes. The worst are those containing P-Phenylenediamine (PPD or PPDA). Ever get your hair did and felt your scalp burn while the color developed? That's the stuff. High exposure has been tied to reproductive and developmental toxicity and cancer. Best to wait on color and highlights while TTC or pregnant.
  • Keratin Hair Straightening Treatments or Brazilian Blowouts. Little research has been done to confirm these treatments 100% safe for fertility. Doctors generally don't recommend while pregnant. Good enough for us!
  • Dandruff Shampoos Containing Coal Tar. These include Aminophenol, Diaminobenzene, and Phenylenediamine. Coal tar is a byproduct of coal processing. so it's (you guessed it) a human carcinogen. Coal tar is known to negatively affect cellular turnover, which is essential to fertility.
  • Tooth Whitening. No studies have shown that peroxide-based tooth whitening products are harmful to the reproductive system, but dentists don't recommend it for pregnant women.
  • Skin Lighteners with Hydroquinone. Caused tumors in animal testing. *drop the mic*
  • Nail Polish and Removers with Toluene, Methylbenzene, Formaldehyde, Camphor, and DBP (dibutyl phthalate). You've smelled the stuff, yes? These pungent products are linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity, primary brain and cell damage.
  • Antimicrobial Soaps with Triclosan or Triclocarban. These are going to be most of your big name antibacterial soaps, which have been getting a backlash recently anyway. These have been known to disrupt thyroid function and reproductive hormones.
  • Formaldehyde. This nasty stuff usually reserved for the morgue has found its way into nail-strengthening and cuticle treatments, hair color/bleaching, styling gel/lotion.  Cancer and reproductive/developmental toxicity have been traced to Formaldehyde.
  • Glycol Ethers. This is a solvent often found in cleaners and paints. Glycol ethers has made its way into many shampoos, cosmetics, laundry detergents, and liquid soaps as well. Cases of birth defects have been linked to the solvent, as well as asthma and lung damage. DUDES: Glycol ethers lower sperm count.
  • Lead Acetate. This crystalline chemical compound is found in "progressive" hair dyes (treatments created for gradual color change over time). Lead acetate is categorized as a poison. Fun fact: Lead acetate was used as an artificial sweetener in Roman times, and was responsible for the death of hundreds of people.*
  • Methylisothiazolinone (MIT). A less common preservative used in some cosmetics and antibacterial products. MIT is disappearing from products as outcry concerning its nerve damaging qualities has surged.**



(No conflicts of interest present in the above sources)

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