There’s something about being pregnant that can make you suddenly and acutely aware of the products you’re using in your everyday beauty routine.
On average, we use nine different products a day, and 25% of women use 15 or more. Your skin is your body’s largest organ and cosmetic products are designed to penetrate it.
First the bad news: The ingredients used in cosmetics and other beauty products are not tightly regulated – it’s like the wild west out there. Many of these products contain ingredients like carcinogens and hormone disruptors. Scientists have found certain preservatives in tumours and in fat tissue in consumers, and there are links between phthalates and the abnormal development of male reproductive organs. Sounds scary, right?
Here’s the good news: Companies are required to disclose all ingredients on product labels. You have the power to decide what goes on and in your body. Still, those aisles full of products can be overwhelming so I’ve broken it down for you.
1. Read the label.
Your single best defense against toxic contaminants in your products is reading the ingredient labels. However, making sense of them can be like trying to read a foreign language. “Labels often use scientific terms even for natural ingredients,” says Emma Rohmann, Founder of Green at Home. What’s a consumer to do? Check out this list of fantastic, printable wallet guides that tell you what to avoid. A good start is to avoid the ‘dirty dozen’ of cosmetic ingredients and to buy products with shorter ingredient lists.
2. Avoid products that list ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ as an ingredient.
“These words are often code for a combination of chemicals, many of which are known hormone disruptors,” says Rohmann.
3. There’s an app for that.
Download the Think Dirty app. It has a barcode scanner so you can scan with your phone as you shop. It ranks the safety of different products on a scale of one to 10.
4. Beware of ‘greenwashing.’
As the beauty industry is largely unregulated, labels are often meant to be misleading instead of honest. Terms that often appear on the front of product packaging like ‘natural,’ ‘non-toxic,’ and ‘pure’ are usually nothing more than marketing gimmicks and tell you nothing about the actual product.
5. Do your research.
If you have a few favorites in your beauty routine, your best bet is to research them yourself. The U.S. Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep is a cosmetic safety database that is searchable by product name, company name or ingredient.
6. Skip the salons.
Many nail polishes contain chemicals that have been linked to cancer and developmental disorders. If you love your mani/pedis, use polishes that are ‘five free’ which means they don’t contain dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and camphor. Do it yourself at home or find a salon that is well-ventilated.
While the jury is still out on the safety of hair dyes in pregnancy, the fact is that they contain chemicals that penetrate your skin like coal tar, ammonia and cancer-causing P-phenylenediamine (PPD). If skipping the dye for nine months isn’t an option for you, there are safer hair dyes you can use, namely those without PPD. Find a salon that’s educated in these chemical prefixes.
Can’t figure if those ingredients in your lip balm are safe? Host a DIY party and make it yourself! It’s actually easy and fun to make luxurious feeling lip balm, body butter, and sugar scrub. Check out these great, simple recipes from Green at Home.