Can Chemicals in Your Personal Care Products Affect Your Pregnancy?

Personal care products that we use every day may have ingredients that disrupt our hormones and can be unsafe to use during pregnancy. Read on to find out more about chemicals that are wise to avoid when you have conceived.

By Sahajiya Halder
21 Dec 2021

Pregnancy is a time of changes, and your entire life undergoes a transformation to ensure the best for your child and you during these months. While you may be vigilant about safety and well-being in many different aspects of your life, from lifestyle habits to diet, switching things up to cater to the needs and in the interest of your pregnancy, there is one thing you might have missed–what is on your vanity.


A 2021 research article on a study by Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA, published in the journal Environmental Research, suggests that the use of certain personal care products–health, beauty and cosmetic products such as hair dye, skin protectants, makeup–may interact with and affect hormone systems, which are especially vulnerable during pregnancy. This is due to the presence of chemical ingredients such as phthalates, parabens, bisphenol A (BPA) and toxic metals, which can be endocrine disrupting. The study examined the use of personal care products and prenatal sex-steroids and thyroid hormones levels in pregnant Puerto Rican women and found that use of hair products such as hair dyes and bleach, relaxers, and mousse was associated with lower levels of all sex steroid hormones compared to non-use. Variations in levels of these hormones may contribute to complications in pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes.


Related Story: Should You Be Worried about Phthalates-the Chemical that is Everywhere?


This does not mean you have to completely give up on taking care of yourself while you are pregnant, of course. Being mindful and aware about what you are using and in what quantity, and keeping an eye out for certain ingredients, can help you curate a personal care regimen that allows room for both safety and self-care. It is important to follow your doctor’s advice about what is safe for use during pregnancy.


Related Story: How to Eat Right During Pregnancy


Some Things to Watch Out for in Personal Care Products During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  1. Phthalates: Some phthalates are endocrine disruptors, and can affect the growth of the foetus, as well as negatively impact other aspects of the wellness of your pregnancy. Commonly labelled in cosmetic products as “fragrance”, avoid products that have artificial fragrance.
  2. Hydroquinone: Hydroquinone is found in skin-lightening products, aimed at issues such as melasma. It has a relatively high systemic absorption rate, and animal studies have shown potential adverse effects on foetus.
  3. Tretinoin and other Vitamin A derivatives: It is wise to avoid ingredients such as isotretinoin, retinol, and other retinoids, especially in oral form, during pregnancy. Commonly found in anti-aging products and products aimed at addressing acne, these Vitamin A derivatives can be harmful to your body when you are pregnant. Isotretinoin, in particular, can cause loss of pregnancy, premature birth, and congenital defects.
  4. Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing ingredients are used as preservatives in personal care products. Formaldehyde contributes to the risk of fertility problems and miscarriage.


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