Q&A: Safe Skincare in Pregnancy

The best advice on organic skin care, good-for-you fragrance (essential oils only, please!) and natural makeup for moms-to-be.


Q: Is mineral makeup safe?

A: Mineral makeup is a good choice during pregnancy, when skin may react unexpectedly, says Joanna Schlip, a Los Angeles makeup artist. That's because it doesn't contain ingredients that can irritate skin, such as fragrance or preservatives. Mineral makeup also contains titanium and zinc, which act as a natural SPF to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays.

Q: Now that I'm pregnant, should I switch to organic skin-care products?

A: "If you're using a conventional product and it's working, I don't see any reason to switch," says Diane Madfes, M.D., a New York-based dermatologist. However, some experts advise erring on the side of caution when you're expecting. The pesticides used on the botanical ingredients in beauty products have not been shown to reach the skin. But, according to Alan Dattner, M.D., a holistic dermatologist in New York, "since we don't know how the pseudo-estrogens in pesticides may affect your baby's development, you may not want to put those chemicals on your body."
Even if you decide to go organic, check the ingredients. Stay away from products containing retinols, vitamin A or salicylic acid (often listed as willow bark); all are known to cause birth defects.

Fragrance is in everything—perfume, soap, lotion. Is it harmful to my baby's health?DO Avoid phthalates, industrial chemicals shown to affect hormone production in boy babies.

DON'T Toss everything. The problem is not one product, but the layered effects of phthalates over time.

DO Use fragrance-free products or look for perfumes and skin-care products with essential oils.

DON'T Look for phthalates on the label; they aren't listed. Check consumer-safety site safecosmetics.org.

Find out which essential oils are safe to use during pregnancy and which ones to avoid.