Safer Household, Body Care, and Cosmetics
With so many unknowns in the cleaning and beauty industries, it’s easy to feel confused about what products may or may not harmfully impact reproductive health when you are trying to conceive. Below are some resources to help make sense of the information out there.
Commercial cosmetic products in the US are not regulated by the FDA. This means that companies that produce beauty care products are “self-regulated”. So educating yourself about ingredients used in products is especially important.
Additionally, household cleaning products often contain dyes, fragrances, and preservatives. Even “natural” cleaning products often use harmful allergens & irritants. Because manufacturers aren’t required to disclose all of a product’s ingredients on labels, it’s sometimes hard to know what’s hiding in a cleaning product.
Multi-purpose household cleaners:
One product that we think is worth mentioning is Force of Nature. This one product can replace anything with bleach, as well as glass cleaners, deodorizers, bathroom and kitchen cleaners. Here’s the amazing part that’s so unique – it contains only 3 ingredients, water, salt & vinegar that are then electrolyzed to create a powerful disinfectant. It has been thoroughly tested and given the highest ratings. It’s even gentle enough to use without gloves. Force of Nature kills 99.9% of germs, including Salmonella, Norovirus, Listeria, STAPH, MRSA, Pseudomonas & Influenza, and it exceeds the EPA standard as an anti-microbial disinfectant. You can also use this code: BYEGERMS20 for 20% off the Starter Kits, plus free shipping.
For an alternative to regular cleaners (not disinfectants) we recommend trying Branch Basics for cleaning in the kitchen, bathroom, mirrors, laundry, and really anywhere that you can think of. This non-toxic and environmentally conscious product is safe to use without ventilation or gloves! It is a biodegradable multi-purpose cleaner that won’t dry out your skin or leave behind harmful fumes.
Look for products that primarily use “physical” barriers (these are zinc and titanium dioxide) to protect from the sun rather than chemical ones. Chemicals used in sunscreen products have been linked to endocrine disruption and can irritate sensitive skin. Minerals like Zinc and Titanium dioxide act as reflective barriers and remain on the surface of the skin, rather than being absorbed.
Also avoid spray and powder sunscreens, which often contain “micronized” particles that can be inhaled and be damaging to the lungs. Products with an SPF listed as higher than 50 are also not recommended.
The EWG Cosmetic Safety Database has an excellent sunscreen guide here: EWG
Nail Polish and Remover:
Look for products listed as “5 Free” or “3 Free”
“3 Free” are nail polishes without Dibutyl Phthalate, Toluene, and Formaldehyde.
“5 Free” are nail polishes without Dibutyl Phthalate, Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, and Camphor.
If you are visiting a nail salon, consider the ventilation and general hygiene of the salon. Look for salons that emphasize clean air filtration systems and use healthier nail products such as regular polish and non-toxic gels. “Dip” or powder manicures are particularly problematic as they can be unsanitary and use a chemical called cyanoacrylate (which also happens to be the main ingredient in krazy glue!)
The biggest ingredients to look out for in body cleansers are artificial fragrances and dyes. If you have especially sensitive skin you may need to avoid even natural fragrances as they can cause skin irritation in some individuals. In that case, look for products that are labeled “fragrance-free” the terms “hypoallergenic” or “tested by a dermatologist” are very ambiguous in the cosmetics industry so don’t rely on that alone.
Fortunately, there are many options for gentle cleansers that are natural and or fragrance-free.
One easy to find option is Dr. Bronner’s soap –This famous multi-purpose soap is often available at both natural food stores and mainstream stores, and can also be diluted and used for household cleaning and even pets!
Extra Gentle facial cleansers and moisturizer:
The same rules apply when looking for facial products. While different skin types have different needs, on thing to always look out for is fragrance or “parfum” in the ingredients list on your face products. We love essential oils for natural scents, but do be extra cautious with essential oils in facial products. Avoid facial products containing citrus oils if you will be out in the sun as these can be photosensitizing and may increase the risk of skin damage.
**Why avoid fragrances? Because perfumes and fragrances are composed of many different chemicals and are not regulated, it’s impossible to know what potential effects they may have on us during trying to conceive or during pregnancy. Many fragrance molecules are known to have effects on the endocrine system, and potentially can impact hormones as well.**
Many products can be replaced with simple gentle ingredients found at home or available at Natural foods stores.
A simple facial mask for acne-prone skin (and great during pregnancy):
Plain unsweetened organic yogurt can be used as a facial mask and then rinsed off. The probiotics and natural lactic acid act as gentle natural exfoliants and can help with hormonal breakouts.
A homemade toner for hormonal acne:
Make a strong infusion of organic green tea, and apply with a cotton pad to problem areas like you would a toner. Store what is remaining in your refrigerator and use up within a few days.
Gentle facial exfoliatents:
Konjac vegetable fiber sponges provide gentle facial exfoliation and can be used for several months. They are a great alternative to a Clarisonic Brush for those wishing to avoid plastics!
Ground organic oats moistened with water or yogurt or rose water can also be used on the face for gentle exfoliation.
Natural Organic Oils:
Extra Virgin Coconut oil, Sweet Almond, Sunflower Seed or Jojoba oil all make great all-purpose makeup removers, gentle massage oils, and moisturizers for the face/body. They can also be used smooth frizz and soften hair. Those with acne-prone skin should avoid coconut oil on the face and use jojoba instead.
It’s important to avoid harsh chemical processes when trying to conceive or during pregnancy. There are many differing opinions on whether or not hair dye is safe during pregnancy, but it makes sense to limit chemical processes such as dyes, and hair relaxers *especially* during an IVF cycle or through the delicate first trimester.
Resources on the Web:
The EWG Cosmetic Safety Database is a great resource to check the safety of products and ingredients, great for new moms!
Consumer Affairs (safer body care and cosmetics resources)
Budget-Friendly Natural Products:
*These stores carry many of the same products as Whole Foods and other retailers at a lower price.
Note: I recommend *against* shopping for skincare products on Amazon unless they are an authorized retailer as there is a problem with quality and authenticity.