Pregnancy is a time for many disruptions, in the mother-to-come body as well as in her daily life habits. This deals also with cosmetic ritual. What precautions are needed? What are the peculiar needs of the skin that shall be answered? Some reminders and advice by the CosmeticOBS-L’Observatoire des Cosmétiques experts to live safely this precious period.
While the official definition of a cosmetic product states any substance or mixture intended to be placed in contact with the external parts of the human body, one may think that some substances it contains do not end their travel there: they can go through the cutaneous barrier and enter the human body.
Some of them, widely used in cosmetics, arriving in the future mother's blood stream, may have a detrimental impact on the fetus and his health.
Thus, it is possible to list the ingredients to avoid during pregnancy, if only as a precaution, without forgetting the specific needs due to this period of the life, which cosmetics could answer.
Ingredients to avoid
In the blacklist of the cosmetic substances to avoid when pregnant:
• Endocrine disruptors
They are able to affect the hormonal system. Some of them mimic a hormone, or block its receptor. Others impair the transport, the production or the degradation of the hormones in the body. It is known they are especially harmful during the fetal development and in infants and young babies. Then, the development and the future functioning of the organs may be disturbed, with dramatic consequences, mainly on the sexual organs: deformities and/or dysfunctions. Additionally, they could be a major cause of the important drop in fertility seen more and more in Western countries.
> Go to the list of the endocrine disruptors in this article
• Some essential oils
hough they have been used for millenniums for therapeutic purposes, as well as for cosmetic applications, the presence of essential oils in daily used hygiene and care products is far from always being harmless, especially during pregnancy. Most often allergenic and very active, they may be linked to sometimes very serious undesirable effects (some of them are neurotoxic, or abortive …). On the other hand, some of them may be recommended, only by experienced aromatherapists, to treat some tiny ailments due to pregnancy. If any doubt, unless there is a physician's advice, caution should be used.
> Look at the main essential oils used in cosmetics, and their properties, in this file
• Ingredients suspected of being harmful
Their harmfulness toward health is questionable, or it is for sure; then, they are used in cosmetics with such restrictions that they assure users of their innocuousness … adult consumers. However, if used by a pregnant woman, they are prone to arrive down to the fetus; then, no longer any guarantee about its safety.
Among the most often used:
> BHA and BHT, potential carcinogenetic; go to this article
> Formaldehyde-releaser preservatives, carcinogenic through inhalation: go to this article
> Aluminium salts, and the alum stone, suspected to cause neurotoxic effects, bone damages or anemia: go to this file
> Alcohol: used in cosmetics, it is similar to drinking alcohol: go to this article
This list seems to be rather long? Don't worry. The cosmetic products' range is full of cares well suited to pregnancy that may be used without any risk.
The requirements to be fulfilled
During nine months, the body adapts to welcome and "put up" a new living body: a deluge of hormones and body transformations have major consequences on the skin. Cosmetics may help minimizing their least advantageous effects.
• Avoid the pregnancy mask
Hormones and sun exposures are not good friends: as of the 4th month in pregnancy, their association may lead to a hyper-pigmentation and the occurrence of spots on the face, mainly on the forehead, the temples and the cheeks.
A good protection is unavoidable to prevent this "pregnancy mask" appearing, for instance, by using a high-SPF sunscreen, regularly applied to the face when exposed.
• Prevent stretch marks
Stomach, thighs, legs, bosom never stop enlarging during the nine months of pregnancy. Skin tissue, distended, is weakened, and their distension may lead to the break-up of the epidermis elastic fibres. Beware: it is very difficult, even impossible, to get rid of these skin damages, called stretch marks, once they exist. Hence, the importance to avoid them by moisturizing and regularly nourishing the skin during pregnancy, to keep it supple and resilient. For this, suitable milks, creams, balms or oils shall be used every day.
• Relieve heavy legs
An increased body weight and a modified hormonal balance may also have an impact on the veinous flow. This may be felt as a heavy legs feeling; sometimes, oedema or varicose veins appears. A veinotonic treatment may be prescribed by the gynecologist in the most critical cases. Some precautions (do not stay up or sit for too long periods; avoid tight clothes, hot baths …) may alleviate symptoms.
It is difficult to find a "special heavy legs" cosmetic suitable for pregnant women: in fact, most of them base their efficiency on a high percentage of alcohol, or on essential oils advised against when pregnant …
• Mildness, mildness and mildness
For any of the other cosmetic moves (wash, make-up …), the key words are: mildness, hypo-allergen, as much as neutrality as possible, avoiding everything that could seem somewhat aggressive or allergenic. Even if it means using, at least for a time, products designed for sensitive or reactive skins, or…for babies' skins!