Many pregnant patients ask about skin care and what is safe to use during their pregnancy. I have women sifting through their purses during exams to find their lotions and vitamins to verify labels and ask me if it safe. The easy answer is not so easy. All medications in pregnancy or lactation get a rating of safety, but cosmetics are not regulated by the FDA, so no such rating exists. Cosmetics do not just have one ingredient, but hundreds so showing us a anti-aging cream in hopes for an easy answer sometimes takes some more detective work.
Sadly the U.S. has not done a good job of making sure our skin care regimens are clean either and so we have to try our best to use safer products especially during pregnancy and lactation. In contrast the European Union, has banned over 1,000 ingredients in their cosmetics. But in the U.S. only a handful of known harmful ingredients have been banned. I advise patients to read their labels and use a resource called Skin Deep by the Environmental Working Group. They have an easy to use website database of approximately 60,000 products that you can check to see if your product is safe in regards to cancer risk. allergen and reproductive risk.
Hopefully with this knowledge, you can make safer choices. The other tricky business of labels is that natural or organic does not mean it is safe to lather on your thin skin. There is no standard for companies able to label themselves “natural” and many cosmetics with organic in their label contain only ten percent of organic ingredients. On average women use twelve skin care products daily and dads are using six per day so all of us should be more aware of what coats your skin. So the take home message is not to avoid all soaps, perfumes and sunscreens while having babies, but to be smart and do your homework. I have been seen in CVS scanning products to find a safer lotion for my newborn son, the ease of Skin Deep helps to educate me and start to minimize chemicals on our family’s skin.