Certain ingredients can be harmful to pregnant women. When placed on the skin or scalp, those ingredients have the potential to absorb into the bloodstream and affect the baby.

One example of this is phthalates, a harmful chemical found in common household and beauty items, such as hairspray. Phthalates are known to disrupt hormones, including hCG, a pregnancy hormone that can impact a male baby’s reproductive development. Exposure to phthalates also increases the risk of miscarriage and gestational diabetes.

Other potentially harmful chemicals to avoid include:

Formaldehyde: found in hair straightening treatments and nail polishes

Diethanolamine: found in hair and body care products
Beta hydroxy acids: found in skincare products like exfoliants
Parabens: found in makeup, moisturizers and shaving products
Retinol: found in lotions such as anti-aging and wrinkle creams

If you’re unsure if a product is safe, even after reading through the list of ingredients, be sure to consult with your doctor. They’ll be able to offer the best advice on which products you should use and which you should avoid.

Safe Products to Use While Pregnant

Luckily, if you want to avoid any type of potentially harmful chemical or ingredient, there are plenty of alternatives you can turn to for a safe and effective beauty regimen.

1. Hairspray

Hairspray might be used as part of your morning routine, but it can also pose risks. What’s bad about using this product while pregnant is that it often gets inhaled. Unfortunately, many hairsprays contain phthalates.

A small amount of hairspray from time to time won’t likely cause damage. As an alternative, search for sprays free from phthalates. Avoid any products that contain synthetic fragrances. When using hairspray, find a well-ventilated space to prevent inhaling overspray. Since breathing in some is inevitable, you should ultimately consider using gel or mousse as an alternative, which won’t get into the air.

2. Moisturizer

We all have a variety of moisturizers lining our bathroom shelves — hair revitalizing serum, face cream, foot therapy and more. We’re always trying to achieve the softest skin and hair possible. When you’re pregnant, though, certain moisturizers are no longer safe to use.

Two common ingredients to avoid include retinoids and salicylic acid, both of which have been linked to birth defects. A little here and there isn’t likely to cause harm, but prolonged exposure could be risky. Mineral oil can be a good substitute because it’s noncomedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores. It also has cleansing and moisturizing properties for skin and hair.

3. Hair Treatments

Many women think they can no longer get hair treatments once pregnant due to the chemicals and dyes. The most common types avoided include coloring, curling, bleaching, and perms. However, you don’t have to forgo your next appointment at the salon just because you’re pregnant.

Studies have shown that often chemicals and dyes used in hair treatments are safe to use during pregnancy because the skin only absorbs small amounts. Therefore, the chances of any chemicals reaching the fetus are slim. The same is true during breastfeeding — there’s little chance of chemicals from hair treatments entering the milk.

Feel Beautiful Using Safe Hair Care During Pregnancy 

The good news is avoiding potentially harmful chemicals is much easier than it sounds. There are plenty of alternatives available made with non-toxic and natural ingredients. You may even find you prefer them to your routine regulars. If you’re ever in doubt about the safety of a product, talk to your doctor. They have the expertise to answer any questions you may have.

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Emily Folk DrGreene.com contributor