Happy Spring! I love this season because everything that was once seemingly asleep is now coming back to life. The trees have started to bloom, the flower bushes are budding once more, spring fashion is upon us, and this mama-to-be is 28 weeks along!
There were certain things that came along with pregnancy that surprised me. For example, the changes in my hair and skin! My hair has become much thicker during the first two trimesters. A lot of the places where I had previously lost hair [in the baby hair area around my scalp], welcomed new growth. My skin on the other hand, became extremely dry and flaky. I have combination skin which is oilier in the T-Zone and dryer in all of the other areas. Pregnancy turbo-charged the dryness to a whole new level.
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I knew that I wanted to continue taking care of my skin and hair during this time, but I was also very conscious of the products that I was using. I wanted to be as natural as I could possibly be, while still using beauty products that were effective. It definitely took some time and trial and error to figure out what worked and what didn’t.
BEAUTY TOOLS [APPs]
Two tools that I used throughout this process were the EWG Healthy Living and Think Dirty apps. Both of these apps allow you to search for cosmetic products to see their rating of ‘toxicity.’ They rate their products on a scale of 1 – 10, 1 being the least toxic and 10 being the most. In addition, they list the ingredients for most of the products and specify which ones pose a health concern. Now, I personally like to use these two apps as additional tools to help me make decisions on what skincare products to use, especially during pregnancy. Do I treat them like the bible and avoid a product they deem a 4? No. Everything in moderation. 🙂
While these sources have provided me with invaluable information on the cosmetics that I was using, there are some downsides to them. For instance, Think Dirty compares beauty products that do not have all of their ingredients listed with those that do. This could lead to skewed results. It also does not take percentages into account when deeming an ingredient unsafe. For example, up to a certain percentage, a preservative in a beauty product could be safe, necessary even. However they could deem the ingredient higher on the toxicity scale without regards to how much of it is actually being used in the product. So, my point is to take these apps with a grain of salt. Use them for informational purposes and potential guidance, but don’t go too crazy about their ratings!
[Sidenote: there might’ve been a time when my maximizer self went a little nuts and only bought 100% all natural products with a toxicity level of 1. I ended up not using a lot of the products because they were either wrong for my skin type or just didn’t work! Thank goodness I always eventually find my balance… :)]
US BEAUTY REGULATION
What surprised me most during my deep-dive into the natural beauty product world, was the lack of regulation that we have in the US over cosmetic products. For example, the European Union has banned approximately 1400 products from use in cosmetics and Canada has banned 600. And the US? Only 30. [I’m not here to preach government oversight or the lack thereof. I just feel that it’s important we bring awareness to the situation and make the right decision for us as a country.] The current US law overseeing the industry was passed in 1938 and does not require the FDA to review cosmetic products before they are released to the market. Companies conduct their own internal approvals as to what they deem is safe for the general public. Companies are under no legal obligation to report issues with their products to the FDA. And to top that, the FDA has no power to recall the product even if it wanted to. Crazy, right?! That’s why companies such as Beautycounter have become increasingly more popular over the last 5 years. Beautycounter’s entire business model is to create the safest cosmetic products by avoiding the banned chemicals restricted in other countries.
After the last 6 months in which I have tried various natural products, I have found my top 5! Now, I have listed them as pregnancy beauty products, but you can certainly use them pre- and postpartum. Some of these I used before pregnancy and plan on doing so afterwards as well. The only one that you might want to swap out before or post-pregnancy is the Belli acne spot treatment. The reason for that is because it is super mild and you’ll be able to use something stronger once you’re no longer carrying said baby.
Hopefully my experimentation and trial and error can save you some time when you’re trying to pick out the best products to use during your pregnancy!
TOP 5 PREGNANCY BEAUTY PRODUCTS
1. Belli Acne Control Spot Treatment
When I got pregnant, I knew I immediately started to look for a safe yet effective way to keep my hormonal acne under control [it primarily appears on my chin and some on my t-zone]. After extensive googling and checking out this Belli spot treatment on EWG [toxicity rating of 1], I decided to give it a go. It has no salicylic acid, which is the leading ingredient used in most anti-acne topical treatments. Some schools of thought claim that you should limit your topical salicylic acid treatment to products that have 2% or less of the ingredient while pregnant. Other medical professionals say it’s completely safe to use if it comes from topical creams that are sold over-the-counter. I personally decided to forego the salicylic acid altogether and therefore went with the Belli spot treatment. Some added benefits of this product are that it is free of parabens, fragrance, artificial dyes, benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid. Is it the strongest acne-fighting product there? No, of course not! And you don’t want it to be during this special time. Does it do the job of minimizing acne breakouts while being gentle on your skin? Yes! I’ll take it. 🙂 I use it both morning and night right after washing my face. I apply it to my chin, cheeks and forehead.
Ohh, tummy butter…how I love thee! Before I found the Mama Mio, I used an all natural oil-based product on my stomach/chest/thigh area that did not absorb into my skin for a very loooong time. I had to wait anywhere between 15-30 minutes before I could put on my work clothes so that they wouldn’t get all oily. I’m way too impatient for that! 😉
Needless to say, the Mama Mio is nothing like that! It’s a fairly thick cream that absorbs quickly! I can put it on right after the shower and get dressed immediately. I love it and so far, it has helped keep the stretch marks at bay! Let’s pray for that same effect in the third trimester!
Before I found this incredible facial oil, I was using a different oil that was causing me to break out quite a bit. I was under the impression that I had to use a heavy oil or moisturizer to combat my dryness and flakiness, which I thought was one of the causes of my breakouts. What I later realized was that the heavy oil that I was applying [while helping with the dryness] was actually contributing to my breakouts.
I stumbled across Annie Lawless’ post about oils and it was eye-opening. She explained that facial oils get rated on a comedogenic scale of 0 – 5, 0 being the least likely [non-comedogenic] and 5 being the most likely to clog your pores. She recommended argan oil, which is non-comedogenic, and I decided to try it. What can I say? I love it! This oil is so much lighter than any other oil I’ve used on my face and it doesn’t clog my pores!! Hallelujah. I also notice a significant difference in my skin when I wake up in the morning – the redness subsides, breakouts appear smaller and my skin is hydrated. [While it’s definitely not as moisturizing as a heavier oil, the trade-off is worth it for me personally if it doesn’t cause breakouts.] I use it both morning and night after my moisturizer.
I have been using this shampoo and conditioner for the last year – year and a half and my hair has never felt better! It’s rated a 3 on the ThinkDirty app and is paraben, sulfate, phthalate, petrochemical, silicone and gluten free. Most importantly, it actually works! It has helped thicken my hair, so much so that my hairdresser asked me what I had been doing differently. I buy mine from Central Market but you can also get it on Amazon.
I have gone through “all-natural” product phases in the past, but this one re-surged once I found out I was pregnant. One of the products I had previously tried [and sadly failed with!] was natural deodorant. I tried at least three different kinds in the past and none of them worked! They either didn’t mask the odor [sorry, TMI] or left yellow stains on white shirts in the underarm region. Either way, I ended up going back to regular deodorant.
Well six months ago, I decided to give Native Deodorant a try when one of my favorite bloggers, Katey McFarlan, wrote a post about it. Katey does such a great job of being thorough in her product testing and she convinced me to try it. I got the Coconut and Vanilla scent, per her recommendation, and I was blown away. FINALLY – an all natural deodorant that works for me!! 🙂 No more stains and no more foul odors.
Well, I hope that this post helps you ladies pre-/post- and during pregnancy! I’d love to hear if you have any all-natural products that you use that you absolutely love! Let me know in the comments below.