The average adult uses nine personal care products every day. If I think about my own beauty routine, it adds up to much more. In the shower alone I use a face wash, body wash, exfoliator, shampoo, and conditioner. Once I'm out, the lotions, face creams, sunscreen, perfume, hair products, and makeup come into play. I can't even seem to choose just one lip color, instead opting to blend a few to get the perfect shade.
It often takes the responsibility of growing another life for us to take a serious look at our personal care products.
Does that sound familiar? Unfortunately, there are potentially toxic chemicals hiding in our makeup, sunscreen, skincare products, and everything else we slather on. The risks associated with each are potentially more hazardous for pregnant women — which is why it often takes the responsibility of growing another life for us to take a serious look at our personal care products.
"We should avoid risky ingredients at all stages of our lives," said Paul Pestano, a senior database analyst for the Environmental Working Group, an organization that researches and educates consumers about toxins in personal care products. "However, pregnancy may be a period in which women should be particularly careful."
Pestano notes that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine warn that exposure to toxic chemicals before conception and during pregnancy can have significant and long-lasting effects on reproductive health. Problems can include infertility, low birth weight, and preterm birth.
EWG suggests that pregnant women try to minimize their exposure to all ingredients that have been associated with adverse health effects, especially those known as endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors can interfere with the body's normal hormone functions and potentially affect the development of the unborn child.
Luckily, there are quality brands out there making nontoxic cosmetics. As a pregnant woman myself, I find it's easier to make responsible choices if I understand the reasons behind each warning. So I decided to do some research into the cosmetic ingredients I should avoid. I spoke to Tata Harper, the founder of her own safe and natural skincare line, and Gregg Renfrew, the founder of Beautycounter, which bans more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals from its products.
If you're expecting, too, here is a list of the ingredients, where you're likely to find them, and an explanation of why they are potentially harmful. And don't worry, you won't have to go cosmetics-free for nine months — I also have some recommendations for safe options you can turn to.