Skincare for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers
Pregnant and breastfeeding women still need their beauty fix, especially now that their bodies are undergoing hormonal changes that come with the birth of a new life. Occasionally, these hormonal changes can increase acne breakout, photosensitivity, and hyperpigmentation. While there are a lot of products on the market that can help regulate and even eliminate these concerns, certain ingredients should be avoided during the pregnancy because they are potentially harmful to babies. Here are some that you should avoid:
Many whitening products use hydroquinone as an active ingredient. However, while it can be effective in reducing pigmentation in conditions like melasma, some countries have banned or limited its concentrations in cosmetics. Only ointments prescribed for medical conditions are allowed to have hydroquinone in the UK, and only concentrations less than 2% are deemed safe in the US and New Zealand. This is because hydroquinone can cause uneven bleaching of the skin, and in some cases, extreme irritation. While there is no data yet on whether hydroquinone can cause birth defects, most doctors would prefer to err on the side of caution, especially when there are babies involved.
Retinol, also known as Vitamin A1, increases cell turnover and fades signs of aging. However, this ingredient is not safe for pregnancy and is known to increase risk of birth defects, disabilities, premature births and/or miscarriages. As Vitamin A1 is found secreted in breastmilk, doctors also avoid prescribing products with retinoid active ingredients.
Sun protection is essential during pregnancy, particularly because many pregnant women become more prone to melasma and skin discoloration. However, chemical sunscreens such as oxybenzone, octocrylene, octisalate can be systemically absorbed through the blood stream, and oxybenzone has been linked to rare birth defect Hirschsprung's disease. Hence, it is suggested to replace chemical sunscreens with a safer and more environmentally friendlier option that is available in physical or mineral sunblock.
The better options
Our two cosmetic products, Enzyme Rescue and Brightening Angelica, were developed to avoid retinol and hydroquinone, and do not contain any chemical sunscreens. Our other active ingredients at current concentrations are unlikely to be absorbed into the bloodstream and does not pose any risk to a developing baby.
For acne problems, we suggest using the Enzyme Rescue with gentle toners and cleansers. Made with stabilized papain, stabilized bromelain, and oil-soluble vitamins C, E and hyaluronic acid, this moisturizer helps reduce breakouts and renew the skin.
For hyperpigmentation concerns, it is recommended to keep away from the sun, use mineral sunblock and apply safe brightening products only at the areas of hyperpigmentation. The Brightening Angelica cream contains arbutin and Angelica dahurica extract that brightens the skin. It also has Vitamin B3 to help reduce wrinkles.
For more information on salicylic acid, glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sunscreens, tanning agents, skin lightening agents, hair removal and bleaching agents, one may refer to Motherisk article below (Bozo et. al, 2011) published in the Canadian Family Physician.