It may seem like another pattern to break or drop while pregnant: first, smoking; then, wine sipping; and now – cosmetics? According to the evidence from independent researchers and lab analysts, the price of enhancing beauty with most commercial cosmetics goes beyond dollars and cents. The cosmetic pay-later plan involves risking one’s health and the health of one’s unborn baby.
Toxic chemical and heavy metal content exists in almost all commercial cosmetic products. You’d have to go to a health food store and purchase the good, clean stuff at a higher price maybe. Still, even there, reading the labels and knowing what to avoid is worth it if you use underarm deodorants, cosmetic potions and lotions, as well as scalp and skin care products.
Consumer activism and awareness raising
Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition in Manila, the Philippines, has raised concerns that cosmetic chemical toxins and heavy metals affect both mother and baby. She thinks this may be part of the reason why umbilical cord blood from birthing mothers contains up to 300 contaminants.
To prover her point, EcoWaste had some members scatter into outer Manila, buying up cosmetic samples from different manufacturers and bringing them in for heavy metal analysis. EcoWaste discovered that all of them contained traces of heavy metals, but some even exceeded the limits on heavy metals in cosmetics set by ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations).
Many had levels of mercury, lead, and arsenic too high for ASEAN’s Cosmetic Directive limits. Other heavy metals discovered in many cosmetics gathered in EcoWaste’s dragnet were chromium, barium and cadmium. Lucero warned, “Pregnant or lactating women may expose developing foetuses and infants to the risk of toxic metals poisoning when they use these tainted products.”
Here in mainland USA, another group has adopted the mission of policing cosmetic products for chemical toxins and heavy metals and gathering that data for consumer protection. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a complete database for rating cosmetic products here (http://www.ewg.org). Below are summaries of their lists.
EWG scientists recommend avoiding products with these ingredients:
* Fragrance and dyes
* DMDM hydantoin and imidazolidinyl urea
* Methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone
* Parabens or “-paraben”
* Chemicals ending in “-eth”
* Sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate
* Triclosan and triclocarban
* Triethanolamine (TEA)
EWG’s list of products to avoid:
* Anti-aging creams with lactic, glycolic, AHA and BHA acids
* Hair dyes containing ammonia, peroxide, p-phenylenediamine, diaminobenzene and all dark, permanent hair dyes.
* Liquid hand soaps with triclosan
* Nail polish and removers with formaldehyde
Formaldehyde may not be listed as an ingredient, because many cosmetic manufacturers are switching to formaldehyde-releasing chemicals that break down slowly under solution to produce formaldehyde. This is a sneaky method of adding the preservative formaldehyde without saying it’s there, because it’s not added initially, but the listed chemical ingredients’ releasing activity brew formaldehyde on and on.
If you don’t want a product that contains a formaldehyde-releasing chemical, you have to play detective and scrutinize the product label.
Chemicals in this category include:
* DMDM hydantoin
* Imidazolidinyl urea
* Diazolidinyl urea
* Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol)
Actually, abstaining from cosmetics during pregnancy may be easier for many than giving up smoking or alcohol completely. Of course, all manner of avoiding heavy metals and chemical toxins should be part of the lifestyle of expectant mothers.
Finding up to 300 contaminants in umbilical cord blood indicates that the mother inadvertently passes on these toxins to the fetus. Avoiding as much heavy metal and additive chemical toxins as possible can reward you a safe birth with a healthy baby whose growth continues in health.
Sources for this article include: