Potentially Unsafe Chemicals to Avoid in Your Skin Care Products While Pregnant

There are certain things that are pretty obvious to avoid while pregnant. Smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs are at the top of every pregnant woman’s list of things to avoid. However, as an expecting mother, it’s not only ingesting chemicals that you need to worry about. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, just being exposed to toxic chemicals in your environment can have “significant and long-lasting effects on reproductive health.”

Since simple exposure to chemicals can have adverse effects on your developing fetus, it’s important to choose your household cleaners wisely, and it’s also important to avoid chemicals in your skincare products. Skin care products that can expose you to potentially unsafe chemicals include shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, face wash, acne treatment, sunscreen, sunless tanners, makeup, and stretch mark lotions. Below are some potentially unsafe chemicals to avoid while pregnant:


Commonly used to treat acne, Accutane has been linked to so many cases of birth defects that the FDA has imposed rules around its prescription that require women to have two negative pregnancy tests prior to the drug being prescribed as well as to agree to use two forms of birth control for the duration of time that Accutane will be used.

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA)

DHA is an ingredient commonly found in sunless tanners. Some studies have shown that DHA may be safe when applied as a lotion or cream during pregnancy because it will not penetrate the skin, but it can be dangerous when applied as a spray because of the likelihood of inhaling the chemical during spray application. However, since safer means of tanning are available during pregnancy, DHA is probably best avoided in all forms.

Diethanolamine (DEA)

DEA is a petroleum-derived chemical that is commonly found in shampoo, hand soap, hairspray, and laundry detergent. In studies of the chemical’s effects on pregnant women, it has been shown to inhibit brain development in fetuses and may also cause miscarriage.

Other Chemicals

Many other chemicals have been questioned as to whether use is safe during pregnancy or not. Questionable chemicals include parabens, benzoyl peroxide, and hyaluronic acid. The effects of these chemicals when used by pregnant women is unknown, so it’s best to check with your doctor to find out if your preferred skin care product is safe for use during pregnancy or not.

Stretch Mark Cream

One skin care product you’ll likely want to use frequently during your pregnancy is a stretch mark lotion or cream. Because these products help prevent stretch marks at a time when you’re at high-risk for stretch mark scarring, most women apply them at least once per day during their pregnancy to help prevent stretch marks. Because of the frequency of application, it’s important to avoid potentially unsafe chemicals in your stretch mark cream. Find prevention products that do not use the chemicals listed above.

Choosing the Best Stretch Mark Removal Treatment

Stretch marks can feel like a life sentence. While they made fade in color over time, they will never go away on their own. Stretch marks will impact your self-confidence. They will limit your wardrobe: you probably won’t want to wear a bikini if you have them on your stomach, and you won’t want to wear sleeveless tops or dresses if you have them on your arms. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Stretch marks are not a life sentence, but in order to go back to a life without stretch marks, you’ll need to have your stretch marks treated. Stretch mark treatments can be expensive and grueling—for some treatments, you’ll have to go to the doctor for months of recurring procedures—but they don’t have to be. To choose the best stretch mark treatment for your needs, read more about the ins and outs of the treatments below before making a decision on which treatment is best for you.

Deep Chemical Peel

A deep chemical peel for treatment of stretch marks is the process of applying an acidic solution to the areas of skin over your stretch marks in order to burn the damaged skin in that area and promote skin regeneration. The average cost of a deep chemical peel is $6,000, and only one treatment is needed. A deep chemical peel does carry some serious risks because it requires you to be put to sleep with anesthesia.

While a deep chemical peel may result in a slight improvement in the appearance of stretch marks, it is not considered a highly effective treatment. Learn more about chemical peels for stretch marks.


Microdermabrasion is the process of sanding skin with a crystalline spray in order to exfoliate and remove the topmost layer of skin, eliminating dead skin cells and damaged skin in the process. A single session of microdermabrasion costs, on average, between $75 and $200, but as many as a dozen treatments may be needed in order to reap the full benefits of the procedure.

Microdermabrasion may create the illusion of diminished stretch mark visibility by improving the overall appearance of your skin, but because the procedure does not impact the middle layer of skin that houses your stretch mark scars, it does not have any impact on your actual stretch marks. Learn more about microdermabrasion for stretch marks.

Stretch Mark Removal Lotion

Stretch mark removal lotions contain ingredients that encourage skin regeneration and may reduce the visibility of stretch marks by promoting new skin growth over the areas of damaged and scarred skin. This treatment method is the most cost-effective and least intrusive since the lotion can be applied at home—there’s no need to go to the doctor for repeated treatment sessions.

A stretch mark removal lotion can reduce the appearance of stretch marks and is an inexpensive and easy way to take the first step to a life without stretch mark stress. Browse a list of stretch mark removal products.

Is Vitamin E Safe to Use for Stretch Marks While Pregnant?

Most women are aware that the things they take in to their bodies while pregnant can affect their unborn babies. Drinking alcohol, smoking, and taking over the counter medicines or prescriptions should obviously be avoided unless approved by your OB/GYN.

However, did you know that simple exposure can also affect your baby? Products and chemicals applied to the skin or inhaled can be just as damaging as those you consume. Because of this, it’s critically important to fully investigate the beauty products you use while pregnant.

Generally popular for pregnant women because of their increased risk are stretch mark prevention products. A common product for preventing stretch marks is Vitamin E oil. Below, we discuss one study’s findings on the potential dangers of Vitamin E intake during pregnancy. Keep in mind that this is intended to be informational only; you should always check with your doctor when making a determination on whether or not a product is safe for use during pregnancy.

Potential Dangers of Vitamin E Use During Pregnancy

A study published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in February of 2009 found that high consumption of Vitamin E during pregnancy resulted in an increased risk of infant congenital heart disease.

The study was conducted by surveying 757 mothers: 351 were mothers of children suffering from congenital heart disease, and 406 were mothers of healthy children. Each mother completed a food frequency questionnaire, answering questions about their food intake for the previous 4 weeks. The mothers were also asked if their diet had changed since they’d given birth, and mothers who said their diet was different after pregnancy than during pregnancy were removed from the study.

What remained were 600 valid study participants: 276 who were mothers of children suffering from congenital heart disease, and 324 who were mothers of healthy children. The researchers then evaluated the surveys in order to determine potential factors leading to congenital heart disease in infants.

What they found was that the mothers of children with congenital heart disease had a significantly higher daily intake of Vitamin E than the mothers of healthy children. The study concluded that higher-than-recommended levels of Vitamin E consumption could lead to congenital heart disease in infants, with the highest risk periods being just before conception and during early pregnancy.


While this study covered intake of Vitamin E and not application of it, the findings are worth considering when determining the safety of Vitamin E oil use during pregnancy because of the ability for exposure to have an impact on fetus development. While it may be possible that Vitamin E applied to the skin isn’t absorbed into the body in the same way that it is when ingesting it, it’s still worth careful consideration when choosing a stretch mark prevention product.

If you have concerns about the safety of Vitamin E and other ingredients in beauty products during your pregnancy, make sure to consult with your doctor.