Skincare and Cosmetic Safety During Pregnancy

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Let’s be real: pregnancy is often not the most glamorous time in a woman’s life. Yes, it’s rewarding, fulfilling and incredibly important. It’s also a time when your body goes through all sorts of changes, some less desirable than others, and sometimes doesn’t feel entirely like your own anymore.

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When I was in my last trimester with my first child, I remember wanting very badly to dress up and feel, well, pretty. At the same time, I began to see all the cosmetics and lotions and beauty products I normally used in a whole new light. What kinds of chemicals were hiding in those little bottles? Could my face lotion be dangerous? Would getting dolled up for an evening out with my husband somehow hurt my unborn child? I did some digging to find out what was safe to use without guilt and what needed to stay stashed away until after birth.

Wrinkle creams
Although they’re a part of many women’s beauty routine, some wrinkle creams contain a dangerous substance for pregnant women. Retinoids help improve skin tone and reduce fine lines, but they have have been linked to birth defects. Currently, there’s no evidence that shows that using retinoids on the skin will affect the fetus, but most physicians advise using extra caution and staying away from them altogether until you are finished breastfeeding.

Acne medication
Unfortunately, skyrocketing estrogen levels tend to wreak havoc with an expecting mother’s overall skin complexion. Normally pristine-faced women can suddenly find themselves reliving one of the less enjoyable parts of their adolescent years. If you wake up one morning splotchy and covered with pimples, talk to your doctor about what you can do. They should be able to prescribe a topical antibiotic that is safe for pregnant women. You can also use mild, over-the-counter cleansers. Stay away from face washes containing salicylic acid though. It’s considered safe in small doses (concentration of 2 percent or less), but has been linked to both birth defects and pregnancy complications. Avoid any leave-on gels, creams or lotions as well as at-home peels. You should also stay away from Accutane, a powerful oral medicine known to cause birth defects.

There’s no reason you can’t head to Koh Samet for a weekend while pregnant, or that you shouldn’t lather up with SPF30+ during your trip. Protecting your skin from UV radiation is just as important while pregnant and sunscreens are generally safe to use. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are particularly powerful sun-blockers that don’t penetrate the skin.

The good news is that most makeup is pretty safe for expecting mothers, which means you can get all dressed up for your shower with a clean conscience. Cosmetics labeled “noncomedogenic” or “nonacnegenic” are oil-free and present no danger to the fetus. To stay on the safe side though, avoid any cosmetics with retinoids or salicylic acids, which are sometimes tossed in for acne-prone skin. If you want to be extra careful, try all-natural mineral makeups, which stay on top of the skin and are benign.

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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