Skin Care and Cosmetics
Beauty may only be skin deep, but the products you place on your skin to make yourself more beautiful go all the way into your body and your baby. Your skin is your largest organ and roughly 60 percent of the products you apply to your skin are absorbed directly in to your bloodstream. The average person uses about ten different skin care products in the form of lotions, soaps, toners, and moisturizers on her body every day. Sound familiar? If so, then you are likely absorbing the nearly 130 chemicals found in those products on a daily basis.
Cleansers. Just how clean is your bar of soap? Not only will the soap you use be absorbed into your body, but it will also run off of your body, down the drain, and directly into your local waterways. So, look for natural, plant-based soaps to get you clean without leaving a chemical residue. Choose bar soap over liquid soap to save money and packaging. Try skin cleansers from Dr. Bronner (www.drbronner.com), Evanhealy (www.evanhealy.com), or Nude Skincare (www.nudeskincare.com).
Also, avoid the waste that comes with disposable cleansing products like sponges, tissues, or cotton balls. Instead, use a quality organic facecloth that can be washed and reused over and over again.
Are self-tanners safe to use during pregnancy?
No. Self-tanners contain ingredients such as parabens, phthalates, and petroleum-based derivatives that are unhealthy for anyone, especially pregnant women. Most self-tanners also rely on dihydroxyacetone (DHA) to change the color of the skin by reacting with the skin's amino acids. This chemical increases the production of damaging free radicals in the skin, thus potentially increasing the risk of premature aging and skin cancer.
Lotions and oils. Many moisturizers use petroleum and petroleum derivates in their formulas. Look for healthier, greener products made from fruit and nut oils instead of petroleum. Ecco Bella (www.eccobella.com) and Dr. Hauschka (www.drhauschka.com) both make luscious moisturizing lotions that are as good for your skin as they are for the planet.
For stretch marks, try Erbaviva Stretch Mark Oil (www.erbaviva.com), Tummy Rub Bitter by Mama Mio (www.mamamio.com), or Mambino Organics Oh Baby! Belly Butter (www.mambinoorganics.com).
Sunscreen. According to the Environmental Working Group, 86 percent of sunscreen products offer inadequate protection from the sun or contain ingredients with significant safety concerns. Some may increase the production of free radicals that lead to premature aging and skin cancer. Look for a mineral-based sunblock that will protect your skin from the sun without exposing it to dangerous chemicals. Try Alba Botanica, (www.albabotanica.com), Avalon Organics (www.avalonorganics.com), Burt's Bees (www.burtsbees.com), California Baby (www.californiababy.com), or Jason Natural (www.jason-natural.com).
Bubble bath and bath salts. It goes without saying that a water-hogging bath is not nearly as eco-friendly as a shower; a regular size tub uses twenty gallons of water compared to the three gallons used to take the average shower. But when you are pregnant, the weightlessness of a bath is often a welcome relief for sore muscles and aching joints.
For a natural, cleansing bath, try adding Epsom salts to warm water. Epsom salts are made from a combination of two minerals: magnesium and sulfate, which can help lower your blood pressure, alleviate head-aches, and flush toxins from the body.
Pregnant women should avoid using hot tubs or getting in a bath tub with water that is over 98°F. And unless you plan on giving birth at home and have prepared a special bath to do so, do not take a bath after your water breaks, or you risk introducing toxins to your baby during birth.
Cosmetics. Every woman has her favorite must-have product; for some it is mascara, for others it's lip gloss, and still others won't leave the house without a swipe of blush. Many women think that green beauty means going without cosmetics, but there's no reason why you cannot enjoy your favorite must-haves and still be eco-friendly. Just choose your products carefully.
Most commercial cosmetics contain some combination of toxic chemicals, parabens, phthalates, synthetic dyes, and harmful additives and preservatives. Look for nontoxic plant-based cosmetics in recyclable and/or reusable containers, like those from Honeybee Gardens (www.honeybeegardens.com), Afterglow Cosmetics (www.afterglowcosmetics.com), Josie Maran Cosmetics (www.josiemarancosmetics.com), and Iredale Mineral Cosmetics (www.janeiredale.com).