Pregnancy is unlike any other experience in a woman’s life. Equally taxing and beautiful, pregnancy is all about changes — in your mood, your health, your tastes and preferences, your behaviour — basically your life. So, why would your skincare routine be any different? It, infact, *demands* mindful tweakments – you don’t wanna be using ingredients that come along with a potential risk for your baby. Yes, some ingredients can. While no one’s asking you to skip on the good ol’ TLC, you must be careful about what you’re putting on your skin; during these nine months the ‘what goes on the outside, affects the inside’ rule applies more than ever. But, don’t you worry, segregating the safe from the not-so- safe isn’t that tough after all. We’ve got Dr Niketa Sonavane, founder Ambrosia Aesthetics and celebrity dermatologist to help us map our way through.
Retinol is any which way known to be one of the more potent, strong and kinda harsh ingredients. So, it’s no surprise that it’s a no-no during pregnancy. “The topical application of retinol and retinoids may contribute to elevated vitamin A levels in the body,” tells Dr Niketa. “The condition foetal retinoid syndrome (FRS) is caused by the use of retinoids during pregnancy,” she adds. “Topical retinol is less likely to harm an unborn child. However, it should not be used during pregnancy or by women planning to have a baby as a precaution. On average, it takes up to one day for most topically absorbed retinol to be eliminated from the body in healthy adults. However, it is generally not advised to use tretinoin during pregnancy,” suggests Dr Niketa. As an alternative, you can use bakuchiol, a plant-based retinol.
“Salicylic acid is another potent ingredient that can pose a number of risks and side effects when used excessively while pregnant,” warns Dr Niketa. With the kind of hormonal hurricane taking place in your body, your skin becomes prone to acne more than ever before. But, that does not mean you switch to salicylic acid. “During pregnancy, you can safely use products containing low-strength salicylic acid once or twice a day. Cleansers, serums, and toners are examples of these. Use salicylic acid products with a concentration of no more than 2%,” the skin expert clarifies. However, “It is best to avoid salicylic acid chemical peels which contain a higher salicylic acid concentration,” she throws in a caveat.
An unappreciated ingredient in general, the whitening ingredient doesn’t seem to be very pregnancy-friendly. “The use of hydroquinone during pregnancy does not appear to be linked to an increased risk of major malformations or other negative effects. However, due to significant absorption compared to other products, it is best to limit exposure until further research can confirm safety,” reveals Dr Niketa. She furthers, “Topically applied products, such as hydroquinone, are designed to pass through this barrier and into the epidermis, where they are easily absorbed into tiny blood vessels and eventually pass through your bloodstream.
There aren’t enough scientific studies to say whether hydroquinone is passed on to the baby during pregnancy, but the molecule’s molecular weight and size are small enough that it could theoretically pass through the placental barrier easily.”
Say yes to SPF, no to chemical SPFs. Atleast, while you’re pregnant. The skilled dermatologist agrees, “Chemical sunscreens frequently contain oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, and avobenzone, all of which should not be used during pregnancy. Pregnant women should always use paraben-free and fragrance-free sunscreens because they are the least irritant to the skin.” To explain her advice, she adds, “A study discovered a link between oxybenzone, an organic compound used in chemical sunscreens that convert UV rays into heat and then releases it from the body, and Hirschsprung’s disease, a rare birth defect that affects the large intestine of an infant. She suggests, “A mineral sunscreen is the best option if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. In particular, look for titanium dioxide or zinc oxide in the ingredients.”
“When essential oils enter a pregnant woman’s bloodstream, they are thought to metabolise into toxic compounds,” — a truth bomb dropped by Dr Niketa. “Aside from that, you should avoid using essential oils in early pregnancy because they may cause uterine contractions or harm your baby during their early developmental stages. During the first trimester, avoid using essential oils. The first trimester of pregnancy is the most critical time, and any risk of exposing the foetus to a toxic substance should be avoided at all costs,” states the doctor. She names a few essential oils that are absolute red flags:
“Contraction-inducing oils, such as cinnamon, clove, rosemary, and clary sage, are strictly prohibited. Fennel, caraway, cedarwood, basil, parsley, camphor, wintergreen, marjoram, birch, aniseed, tarragon, mugwort, hyssop, tansy, wormwood and pennyroyal are other oils to avoid.”