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Beauty Ingredients Pregnant and Nursing Moms Should Avoid

Get expert information on the dos and don'ts of pregnant, nursing, and new mom skincare routines!

When shopping for beauty products, you've most likely come across the warnings "not for pregnant or nursing mothers" on labels more than once before. While the general population isn't pregnant or lactating, it is good to know and understand and heed these warnings should you ever be in said positions—or, better yet, help warn a loved one you know who may be unaware of such.


To help us understand this better, we asked for help from one of Instagram's most sought-after dermatologists, Dr. Jarische Lao-Ang, a.k.a. @thedermamamaph to help us navigate these warnings on labels. Dr. Jarische, or Dr. Jaja to some, is a mother herself, so she knows a thing or two about these mama-related things. Read on and get educated!





Metro.Style: What are the skincare and makeup ingredients nursing and pregnant moms should avoid?

Dr. Jarische Lao-Ang: So first for the ingredients to be avoided while you're pregnant versus while you're nursing. Actually, it differs. So for those pregnant moms, expecting moms, it's really important to avoid retinoids, like retinol, retinal, adapalene, tretinoin, and tazarotene, also ingredients like hydroquinone. Both these ingredients are no-nos when you're pregnant because they can harm your baby. But then again, if you've already given birth, nursing, lactating, breastfeeding, these ingredients—application of retinoids, application of hydroquinone, are already okay to be used as long as you are not pregnant. So I think this is really a common misconception also among my patients who are breastfeeding. They still avoid the use of retinoids because they're afraid that these are still not safe.


But then again, once you are not pregnant, just breastfeeding, nursing, applying retinoids, and applying hydroquinone can already be done. But it should be properly guided by your doctors. But then again, when it comes to oral medications, much like when you are pregnant, it's really important to ask and consult first with your doctors if they are safe to be taken while you're breastfeeding.

I think another thing to tackle here is the use of sunscreen. It's just really a debatable topic because some pregnant moms are afraid to use chemical type of sunscreen because this may harm their baby. So actually, there's still inconclusive data right now with the use of chemical type of sunscreen when you're pregnant. As for me, while I was pregnant as well, I also used chemical sunscreen before. My pregnancy went smoothly, my kid is okay. So I think right now it's really important to know first if you if you're pregnant and you're not sure if a certain chemical sunscreen may react on your skin, it's better to shift to those physical type of sunscreens to avoid any irritation or sensitivity on your skin because while you're pregnant your skin tends to be more sensitive. So it's really important to avoid first but then again if you're using chemical sunscreen be it hybrid type of sunscreen or physical sunscreen and your skin is okay and you're pregnant then you may continue doing so because right now the data with regards to chemical sunscreen is still inconclusive.


If you're pregnant, what ingredients are safe for you to use especially if you're tackling textured skin or breakouts?

So there are safe ingredients to be used while you're pregnant namely glycolic acid, azelaic acid, even benzoyl peroxide. As for salicylic acid there's a certain percent they just recommend using 0.5 to 2 percent when you're pregnant. If the salicylic is on the high percent it's better to avoid first while you're pregnant. So don't lose hope because there are ingredients that are safe to be used while you're pregnant.

MS: What are the reasons for avoiding these ingredients?

DJA: Like I mentioned earlier because these ingredients are known to have harmful effects on the baby. Of course also when it comes to taking oral medications while you're pregnant, it's still better to ask your OB to be able to know if a certain oral medication is safe to be taken or not, especially when it comes to the intake of oral iso-thretinoin, because it is really known to be a teratogenic wherein it really can cause birth defects. That's the reason why for people, for females who are taking in oral isotretinoin, it's really important to practice proper birth control because we really recommend avoiding getting pregnant while you're on oral isotretinoin.


Some moms who are nursing and lactating breastfeeding also ask regarding the procedures, specifically injectables like Botox, if they're safe to already have that done. Actually, while you're breastfeeding, it's still not allowed for you to have Botox, but then for certain lasers, you may have lasers done already once you are not pregnant. But if you're pregnant, better avoid these procedures first.

MS: Do you have any other tips for new moms who are navigating a brand new beauty routine? What are some dos and don'ts?

DJA: Now for the new moms out there, congratulations on your new bundle of joy! So some tips when it comes to new moms out there. So first of all, it's really important to keep your skincare routine simple. Stick to the basics first—a good cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. These are the basics. Now if you have sensitive skin, you may opt to look for gentler types of formulations. Especially for those who are sensitive to fragrance or other formulations in the product because pregnancy is a state where in our skin tends to be more sensitive. So it's really important to choose gentler products. And some may offer those fragrance-free products because some of us are more sensitive while you're pregnant to these fragrances.


Now aside from that, avoid trying new products if you're not sure. It's better to ask and seek guidance from your doctors to know first if what you're using is safe for you. Be it just creams or ointments, although they are just being applied, it's still better to err on the safe side.


And then third is to have self-pampering. Give time for yourself because I know motherhood is really a new phase and it's really a challenging phase in one's life, but remember to take time to self-pamper, take time to take good care of yourself, not just in your skincare routine, but also in your overall health. So I think also another good tip will be to don't forget your body care as well, not just the skin on your face. So usually for body care while you're pregnant or after delivering, your skin may tend to be dry. So don't forget to also keep your skin well-moisturized by applying body cream, body lotion. 


For more skincare tips, follow Dr. Jarische Lao-Ang on Instagram at @thedermamamaph


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