15 Most Harmful Ingredients Hiding in Your Cosmetic and Beauty Products

15 Most Harmful Ingredients Hiding in Your Cosmetic and Beauty Products

15 Most Harmful Ingredients Hiding in Your Cosmetic and Beauty Products

Now that you're pregnant, and carrying a new growing life inside you, you tread cautiously. You would be staying away from the usual suspects when it comes to toxins- be it passive smoking, pesticides, fumigators, and so on. Not just this, your doctor must have also advised you to stay away from most medications too, and use only Natal-Safe medicines.

But there's one entire range of products that you might have never suspected to cause harm to your little one, because you might have seen them on glossy magazine pages, and they might have even helped you look better. But a lot of women are not aware that they need a natal-safe range when it comes to skincare and haircare if they are pregnant. Your body is subjected to a lot of changes during pregnancy. The skin stretches and becomes very sensitive. And whatever is applied onto the skin can get absorbed and further passed on to the growing baby inside through the bloodstream. In the case of lactating mothers, ingredients from a topical application can get passed on to the newborn through the milk. 

At Takecaremom, we have listed down the harmful ingredients to which you must bid adieu while pregnant. Taking care of your little one starts with taking care of yourself first. Keep reading, to find out what those ingredients are: 

The Dirty Dozen to throw Away During Pregnancy

1. Parabens 

Studies have found that pregnant mothers who had been exposed to parabens had a greater chance of having preterm birth and that their babies had decreased gestational age at birth, lower birth weight, and decreased body length. Furthermore, research also indicated increased weight gain in infancy and obesity in adulthood. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) like parabens and phthalates have been linked to probable dangers during pregnancy, including reproductive difficulties, in some animal studies. Parabens should be a total no-no during pregnancy. Maternal paraben exposure, according to one study, may contribute to childhood overweight development by altering POMC-mediated neural appetite regulation.


2. Phthalates

According to the study, there is increasing evidence concerning the potential endocrine-disrupting of phthalate exposure during pregnancy. Prenatal exposure to phthalates can disrupt the levels of thyroid, sex hormone, and 25-hydroxyvitamin D in pregnant women or offspring, which results in the shorter anogenital distance in newborns, maternal glucose disorders, preterm birth, infant cryptorchidism, preeclampsia, and infant hypospadias. It can also lead to lower IQ levels and poorer social communication skills in the newborn. Furthermore, these children are also more likely to develop ADHD and behavior problems.


3. Chemical Sunscreens 

Most chemical sunscreens use oxybenzone and its derivatives to protect one from harmful UV rays. Although they're great in preventing UV rays from penetrating your body, there are a plethora of unfavorable effects due to oxybenzone. 

In general, oxybenzone is known as an endocrine-disrupting substance. Moreover, when a pregnant woman uses it, it causes damage to the mother and the baby. According to a 2018 animal study, oxybenzone disrupted the mammary glands. While other animal studies reported fetal damage and neurological disorders in the baby. So, make sure you consult your dermatologist before using the chemical sunscreens. According to a 2018 study, using Oxybenzone products during pregnancy causes serious harm to the mammary glands, which we know are critical to the health of your infant after birth. Even if the woman is no longer pregnant or breastfeeding, this strong effect on lactation could be hazardous.


4. Formaldehyde

Skin, eyes, nose, and respiratory tract irritation can be caused by preservatives such as DMDM hydantoin, Quaternium-15, Diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, bromol, and glyoxal. Over time, these preservatives release small amounts of formaldehyde. From children to the elderly, most women love nail polishes. But what most people fail to observe is the chemicals used in nail polish. It has formaldehyde that swiftly penetrates the body and negatively affects the baby's growth. In worst cases, the effects of formaldehyde go unnoticed and cause severe complications. It even leads to miscarriage and fertility issues. So, it's an ideal choice to ban nail polish from your beauty kit until your pregnancy. Or else, use nail polishes with "3-Free" or "5-Free" labelings with no formaldehyde. 

5. Hydroquinone - The Whitening Agent

Hydroquinone is highly used in skin pigmentation medications such as chloasma and melasma. There isn't strong evidence to back up the severity of hydroquinone during pregnancy. But your skin absorbs almost 25% to 35% of hydroquinone. This is why experts advise limiting or completely avoiding this ingredient in your pregnancy. 


6. AHAs and BHAs

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) include acids such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, magic acid, and tartaric acid. AHAs are chemical exfoliants that work on the surface of the skin and dissolve dead skin cells. Most AHAs are considered unsafe in pregnancy. This is why we recommend switching from an AHA chemical exfoliation to an alternative physical exfoliator in pregnancy, like a pumice stone. Many specialists affirm that Glycolic acid and Lactic acid are AHAs that are safer to use in pregnancy. But we recommend choosing products with modest concentrations of these acids.

You would have heard that BHAs or beta hydroxy acids are great for congested skin - acne, clogged pores, whiteheads, blackheads, rosacea. Salicylic acid is the famous BHA used everywhere in this modern beauty world, from exfoliating products to critical acne medications. Using Salicylic Acid during pregnancy can be risky despite the long list of benefits it offers. It can get absorbed via the skin, and may potentially cross the placenta causing salicylism in the fetus. Salicylism can lead to serious symptoms for the mother, including tinnitus, nausea, dizziness, or even coma. Small research also suggests that salicylism could cause fetal death, antepartum and postpartum bleeding, or prolonged pregnancy and labor.

7. Benzoyl Peroxide 

Like Vitamin-A derivatives, Benzoyl Peroxide also falls under FDA Category C. This means these chemicals exhibit adverse effects on the fetus, preventing its healthier growth. Unfortunately, most pregnant women tend to overuse benzoyl peroxide in pregnancy acne medications. 

Typically, the human skin absorbs 5% of benzoyl peroxide and metabolizes it to benzoic acid. It finally leaves your body via urine. So, what's the big deal? The high concentration of benzoyl peroxide causes skin inflammation and prevents the blood flow to the baby. 

8. DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), & TEA (Triethanolamine)

We recommend strictly avoiding diethanolamine, oleamide DEA, Lauramide DEA, and cocamide DEA. According to a study conducted by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), Diethanolamine (DEA), an ingredient found in many shampoos and other personal care products has the capability of disrupting the normal brain development in baby mice upon applying to the skin of pregnant mice. 

Staying away from UV rays is also crucial. Use traditional methods like carrying a parasol, using hats, and staying away from the afternoon direct rays of the sun whenever possible.


9. Retinoids, Retin- A, & Retinyl Palmitate

Retinol, retinoic acid, tretinoin, isotretinoin, retinyl palmitate, retinyl propionate, retinyl acetate, and other forms of vitamin A are commonly utilized in cosmetic products. Vitamin-A derivatives are the foremost ingredients to avoid during pregnancy. Albert Sassoon (An obstetrician-gynecologist in Manhattan) suggests avoiding these products. According to him, Vitamin A has a crucial role to play in fetal development. But overusing ingredients like Retinoids or Retin-A, may cause serious birth defects. Often, it’s related to liver toxicity. 

Retinoids that are administered to the skin (topical application) are less likely to harm an unborn kid. They must not, however, be used during pregnancy or by women trying to have a kid as a precaution. Hence, it's recommended to completely skip retinoids, retinyl palmitate, or Retin-A products in your beauty kit.  


10. Ethoxylated Agents 

Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs), Ceteareth, Oleth, and Sulfates are examples of ethoxylated agents. Bubbles and lather are created by Sulfates in cleansers like shampoo. Some Sulfates are synthetic, while others come from natural sources like coconut and palm oils, as well as Sulfur and petroleum. Hair products, as well as several moisturizers and base products, use PEG compounds as thickeners, solvents, and softeners.

The issue: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a harsh cleanser that has a terrible reputation in the hair care industry. It will strip your hair, but it is not toxic in any way. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is sometimes transformed into Sodium Laureth Sulfate through a process known as ethoxylation to save your hair. The chemical 1,4-dioxane, which is listed as a potential human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is a by-product of this method. The FDA says it "periodically monitors the levels of 1,4-dioxane in cosmetics products" and that "changes made in the manufacturing process have resulted in a significant decline over time in the levels of this contaminant in these products". Beauty giant Sephora has mandated that companies test for the presence of 1,4-dioxane as of July 2019.

11. Phenoxyethanol 

Several investigations have shown that phenoxyethanol is hazardous, with effects on the brain and nervous system occurring even at low concentrations. Phenoxyethanol decomposes into phenol and acetaldehyde, with the latter converting to acetate. The immune system's principal response mechanism can be disabled by phenol. Acetaldehyde is a carcinogen that is produced when ethanol is broken down. Eye, skin, and respiratory tract irritation have been observed in inhalation tests.

Accidental intake of phenoxyethanol should be avoided, according to the FDA, because it is poisonous and hazardous to newborns. Ingestion can cause central nervous system depression, as well as diarrhea and vomiting. Furthermore, if a mother is breastfeeding, she should avoid using skin care products that include phenoxyethanol to avoid passing the chemical on to her kid. Infants should never be exposed to phenoxyethanol-containing creams or lotions.


12. Talc

Talc is an ingredient made up of magnesium, silicon, hydrogen, and oxygen that is commonly used in face powders and eye shadows. The issue is that unpurified talc can contain asbestos, which is a recognized human carcinogen. The FDA discovered asbestos contamination during normal talc monitoring in early 2019, prompting a recall of eye shadow and contour palettes marketed to girls from Claire's boutiques. Following the event, the FDA requested that Congress establish new cosmetics safety laws. According to a Reuters report released in December 2018, Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos had been identified in its talcum-based baby powder products. In high-profile instances linking Johnson & Johnson baby powder products to cases of ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, juries have awarded millions of dollars.


13. Toluene

Toluene has been used as an ingredient in nail products and hair dyes due to its ability to help dissolve other substances, such as resins and plasticizers. It is found unsafe for use in cosmetics by the International Fragrance Association Codes and Standards. Toluene abuse can lead to neonatal effects such as premature delivery, congenital malformations, intrauterine growth retardation, and postnatal developmental retardation.

14. Silica

The issue: The science around silica is, to put it mildly, perplexing. Amorphous silica is the only type of silica allowed for use in cosmetic formulations. So why is crystalline silica, a recognized human carcinogen, showing up in respirable-size particles in laboratory studies of various bath and cosmetic products? According to certain research, amorphous silica can be contaminated with crystalline silica, which could explain why it's still detectable in cosmetics. There are also environmental problems, particularly with silicone, a slippery silica by-product included in almost every popular face primer. Silicones that have been refined are not biodegradable.


15. Aluminum chloride hexahydrate

Most Deodorants and antiperspirants in the market use chemicals that contain aluminum because of their ability to block the release of sweat. But too much aluminum is harmful and can result in anemia (decreased red blood cells or hemoglobin), bone disease, and memory changes. As for pregnant women, one case report suggests that daily exposure to large doses of antiperspirants that contain aluminum causes bone damage and extreme tiredness. Frequent and long-term use of such antiperspirants should be avoided by pregnant or nursing women.

Key Takeaways 

Just like many restricted OTC drugs, several beauty ingredients should be strictly kept at bay since they are capable of causing serious harm to you and your baby. Even if your beauty products seem to contain these above-mentioned ingredients in smaller quantities, they still can inflict adverse impacts on fetal health and growth. Thus, you need to embrace Natal-Safe alternatives during pregnancy.  Even the teeny tiny mistakes may result in substantial destruction. So, be conscious of your choices before using any topical products in your skincare or beauty regime. Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider if you have any further questions or concerns about the safety of certain products.

Further citation references:







About Me

Hi, I am Ekta Dharap, a mom of a tiny tod. I have learnt that to take optimum care of your little one, it's imperative to first take care of your own wellness and well-being. Besides, our children look up to us, and how we treat ourselves. This makes putting self care as top priority, without an ounce of guilt.

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