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Prenatal Pampering: Cosmetic ingredients to avoid during pregnancy

Pregnancy: exciting and daunting in equal measures.  
With the flood of dos and don’ts from the mother-in-law, midwife, friend and anyone else who cares to chip in, expectant mothers can often struggle to separate fact from fiction.
 
But while it is easy to become preoccupied with what you are putting into your body, too often less consideration is given to what you are putting onto it.
 
I always encourage customers to read ingredients lists and look up anything they don’t recognise. At no time is this advice more important than during pregnancy.   To give all you soon-to-be Mums a hand I thought I’d highlight some of the key cosmetic ingredients to avoid.
 
Alcohol
 
As I mentioned last week, many women experience rosacea or spider veins when pregnant. As well as stripping away your skin’s natural oil, alcohol triggers these conditions. Remember not all alcohols are bad though – it’s the ethyl alcohols you need to watch out for.
 
Hair Dye
 
Although there are no concrete links between hair dye and pregnancy complications, it is thought that harsh chemicals used in dye can be absorbed into the scalp. Permanent hair dyes tend to be the worst as they contain both the colour itself and a ‘developer’. The developer contains strong chemicals like ammonia and hydrogen peroxide which allow the colour to penetrate the hair shaft. If you are craving colour, maybe opt for semi-permanent colour instead or a few highlights so the dye does not come into direct contact with the scalp. 
 
Essential Oils
 
Massages – we all love them, but for bodies with bumps they provide much needed relief for those swollen ankles and aching limbs.
 
Scented massage oils should be given a wide berth as they contain a high concentration of essential oils (typically five times more than a cream based product). Ask your beautician to use an unscented vegetable oil in place of a fragranced one.
 
While essentials oils are a great alternative to artificial fragrance, they should always be handled with care and used in the right dilution.  
 
Some essential oils can have adverse side-effects for pregnant women. Rosemary, for example, is considered an ‘emmenagogue’ – a substance that promotes menstrual flow and stimulates the uterus. This unnatural stimulation can potentially cause miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy.
 
The following are just a few of the oils that are ‘emmenagogues’, and should be avoided throughout pregnancy*:

Cedarwood
Majoram 
Sage 
Thyme
Rosemary
Clary Sage  
Vetiver

* This list is not exhaustive, so be careful to research the properties of any essential oil you may come into contact with.  
Don’t panic!
 
This advice is purely precautionary – most essential oils are perfectly safe in the right proportion, and aromatherapy, if practiced safely, has many beneficial effects. 
 
With regards to the products you are already using, most scented natural creams will contain minimal amounts of essential oil (typically less than 0.5-1%).
 
Ingredient quantities are not easily deduced from the label though, so it is often advised to avoid all essential oils for the first trimester, and then continue to avoid ‘emmenagogues’ after that.
 
Knowledge is everything. So long as you check those ingredient lists and stay informed, there’s no reason why you can’t continue to beautify right up until birth!

Sarah’s Organic Skin Care Blog – http://blog.paiskincare.com

Sarah is the founder of Pai Skincare, an organic skin care line for sensitive skin.

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