9 Chemicals to Avoid During Pregnancy

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When you’re pregnant, everything you put into your body takes on a whole new level of significance. This includes not only the food you eat, but also the skincare products you use on your body.

The reality is, the ingredients found in skincare products and cosmetics often do enter our bodies. These substances can end up in our bloodstream after we inhale them, swallow them, or when our skin absorbs them, where they can then cross the placenta and possibly affect your developing baby.

Instead of worrying about exposing your child to chemical ingredients, you can choose to only use natural, botanical-infused products as you learn what to avoid during pregnancy. Stay healthy, radiant, and pure – inside and out – by staying away from products that contain the following synthetic skincare ingredients that may be harmful to both yours and your baby's health.

Skincare Chemicals to Avoid During Pregnancy

These ingredients are regularly used in personal care products and cosmetics. To avoid them, read the ingredient list of any beauty product before buying. Because they can build up in the body over time and are associated with problems like a low birth rate and hormone disruption, you may want to avoid these chemicals even if you are not yet pregnant.

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate

This chemical ingredient is found in a variety of personal care products such as bubble bath, shampoo, toothpaste, and soaps. When it interacts with your skin, it’s easily absorbed by the body where it can mimic the hormone oestrogen. Research also links sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) with developmental toxicity, endocrine disruption, and cellular changes.

Try to avoid skincare products with SLS during pregnancy to be on the safe side. You may also want to cross it off your list of acceptable beauty ingredients after pregnancy. SLS is known to irritate the skin and eyes and it can even be contaminated with known carcinogens.

Parabens and Phthalates

Also known as hormone disruptors, stay away from all skincare products, cosmetics, and perfumes containing phthalates and parabens if you can. Australia has already banned some phthalates because of their hazardous effect on the human body, especially for children, newborns, and developing teens.

Parabens are still found in many skincare and cosmetic products because they act as effective preservatives. When looking at the ingredient list to see if a product contains parabens, look for ingredients like butylparaben, methylparaben, or isoparaben. Or, stick with products that are listed as ‘paraben-free.’


During pregnancy, be choosy when picking your nail polish. Many nail polishes contain a toxic combination of toluene, dibutyl phthalate, and formaldehyde. Toluene, in particular, is somewhat frightening. It impacts the nervous system and, with repeated exposure, it’s linked to problems with mental development. It can also have a negative effect on the kidney, liver, and immune system.


Like toluene, formaldehyde is commonly found in nail polish. As a preservative, you may find it in other cosmetics as well. This chemical is one you definitely want to avoid during pregnancy and beyond. It’s linked to birth and developmental defects, and can also affect fertility if you’re in the process of trying for a pregnancy.


This chemical is used for its anti-bacterial properties, so you’ll find it in soaps, deodorant, and other personal care products. The body does naturally flush out some triclosan but studies have found that the substance builds up over time, eventually reaching dangerous levels. The concern is that this chemical may lead to developmental problems in humans – research shows that it has already caused similar developmental issues in animals. It’s also known to transfer to foetuses during pregnancy.


DHA, or dihydroxyacetone is the main active ingredient in self-tanners. Some pregnant women turn to self-tanners to maintain a golden glow without exposing their skin to too much sun. However, there isn’t enough evidence to indicate that DHA is definitely safe during pregnancy. Research has shown that DHA can affect gene expression in animals.

Synthetic Colours

During pregnancy, be wary of cosmetic products such as lipstick and blush. Where there is colour, there may also be toxins. Synthetic colours may contain harmful heavy metals, which can be seriously damaging to your health and to that of your unborn child. If you want to wear lipstick, look for lighter shades and avoid the bright reds, berries, and deep browns, which are more likely to be heavy-laden with artificial colours.


Retinoids, either taken orally or used on the skin, are a type of chemical you should probably avoid when you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or hoping to conceive. The European Medicines Agency recently put out a report confirming that retinoids can harm unborn babies and suggesting strict avoidance. The fear is that the chemicals could cause birth defects.

What Skincare Products Can You Use During Pregnancy?

Once you know what to avoid during pregnancy, you can start creating your healthy pregnancy skincare routine. Look for natural products and always check ingredient lists to stay aware of any of these harmful or potentially harmful chemicals.

Keep in mind, even when a skincare product is labelled as natural, this doesn’t mean that all of the ingredients are safe. Sometimes beauty product manufacturers use a few natural ingredients, but do not ensure that their products are free from the chemicals you’d want to avoid during pregnancy.

Edible Beauty offers only botanical-based and toxin-free skincare products so you can feel safe whenever you choose anything from us. We won’t mix in dangerous fragrances, preservatives, or other chemicals. You’ll only find nature’s pure goodness with ingredients that are safe for you and baby. If it's not pure and good enough to eat, we won't put it in our products - that's our "edible standard" promise to you.

Browse our pregnancy-safe skincare products and feel good about your skin!


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Anna Mitsios

Adv. Dip. Naturopathy. Adv. Dip. Nutrition. B.Com (Honours)

Anna is a certified naturopath and nutritionist and founder of leading Australian natural skincare and wellness company, Edible Beauty Australia. Anna has been featured in various publications including Mind Body Green, Women’s Health and Allure. She is committed to the natural transformation of her client’s skin using proven botanicals, nutrients and herbal formulations, both on the inside and out.  

Anna’s career began in the corporate sector, where she specialised in corporate finance and private banking for over ten years working in Sydney and New York for a large Australian bank. Anna’s career change was sparked by her own health journey, following a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes at 18 years of age.  Her diagnosis triggered her intense study of botanicals and nutrition to manage auto-immune condition and assist others in attaining optimal health. Anna’s naturopathy career has included working as a naturopath within a reputable natural fertility clinic in Sydney, within a pharmacy and health food store and running her own naturopathy practice. 

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