Q: I’m pregnant or am nursing. Can I still use my favorite VMV Hypoallergenics®products?
A: There are no conclusive studies that show that typical cosmetics can affect fetal or infant development. But it is understandable to be extra cautious. Every person (and baby!) is an individual so make sure to check with your obstetrician and pediatrician before following any of the following suggestions.
• Most topically-applied products have a molecular size that is too large to penetrate the epidermis, much less the dermis. This makes it highly unlikely for most cosmetics to make it to your bloodstream, uterus, and fetus. Because cosmetics aren’t ingested, this makes it also unlikely for ingredients to make it to your breast milk.
• There are exceptions like topical steroids which can penetrate the dermis. If your dermatologist prescribes a topical steroids, make sure they know that you are pregnant or nursing and follow their instructions. Other products that are not recommended at all are those that contain retinoic acid and salicylic acid. This is especially true of oral medications.
• To be extra safe, at least until the 3rd trimester but ideally for the entire pregnancy, do not use skin care products with active ingredients that are not washed off quickly. Continue reading for our list of products to pause and products you can continue.
• Because hormones can cause skin to go a little nuts (dryness, acne, darkening, stretch marks, etc.) we suggest focusing on prevention: no allergens, irritants, or comedogens. We also suggest choosing formulations that are the least stressful on skin.
• When nursing, something to keep in mind regarding skincare is that, when feeding or carrying, baby’s skin comes into contact with whatever you use on your skin. If you notice redness or other irritations on baby’s skin, check your own products for allergens or irritants. The same can occur with airborne allergens like bleaches and fragrances.
This simple regimen can help address some of the more common skin concerns during pregnancy and nursing. Many of them can be shared when baby is born, too!
- Grandma Minnie’s Coo & Clean Baby Wash
- Essence Skin-Saving Conditioner
- Essence Skin-Saving Toothpaste
- Essence Skin-Saving Antiperspirant
STEP 1: CLEANSE
- Any Facial Cleanser or Scrub. Overwhelmed? Choose a can’t-go-wrong SuperSkin Care Cleanser or Scrub for your skin type (dry, oily, or combination).
STEP 2: FOR BUMPS
- Kid Gloves or Id Monolaurin Gel or on face, neck, chest, back, back of the arms, thighs, posterior and/or other affected areas.
STEP 3: MOISTURIZE + BARRIER REPAIR
- Mommycoddling All-Over Lotion.
- For very dry skins or conditions like atopic dermatitis (and for massages with baby and diaper cleanup and many, many more uses, follow with Oil’s Well.
- On extremely dry patches of skin or scalp, or to help hold off a flare-up, apply The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm.
STEP 4: PROTECT + PREVENT HYPERPIGMENTATION
Products to PAUSE:
Following the suggestion to not use skincare with active ingredients that are not washed off quickly, these are the specific VMV products that we would suggest pausing during pregnancy:
- 1635 Invigorating Aftershave Gel
- 1635 Smoothening Aftershave Solution
- Id Bump-Free Toner
- Id Oil-Free Clarifying Lotion
- Illuminants+ Axillight Treatment Antiperspirant
- Illuminants+ Cream: Advanced Brilliance Moisturizer
- Illuminants+ Cream: First Brilliance Moisturizer
- Illuminants+ Face-Hand-Body Lotion
- Re-Everything Cream: Primary Anti-Age Moisturizer
- Re-Everything Cream: Advanced Anti-Age Moisturizer
- Re-Everything Eye Serum
- Re-Everything Face-Hand-Body Lotion
- Re-Everything Treatment Toner
- Red Better Calm-The-Heck-Down Balm (unless prescribed by your doctor)
- Red Better Daily Calming Moisturizer
- Red Better Spot Corrector
- Superskin 1: Monolaurin + Mandelic Acid Toner for Dry Skin
- Superskin 2: Monolaurin + Mandelic Acid Toner for Combination Skin
- Superskin 3: Monolaurin + Mandelic Acid Toner for Oily Skin
Products to PROCEED WITH:
These are the specific VMV products that we can suggest continuing during pregnancy — with the guidance of your OB-GYN at all times, of course:
- All Grandma Minnie Mom & Baby products
- All Armada Sun and Light Screens
- If you and/or your OB-GYN are uncomfortable using protection products with organic (“chemical”) sunscreens, or if you are allergic to organic sunscreens, choose our purely inorganic (also called “mineral” or “physical”) sun and light screens: Armada Baby 50+ or Armada Post-Procedure Barrier Cream 50+.
- All Essence Skin-Saving Shampoos, Body Washes, Hair Care + Body/Bath Care products
- All Facial Cleansers and Scrubs
- All Moisturizers except those listed above (Id, Illuminants, Re-Everything, and Red Better)
- All Skintelligent Beauty Makeup and Makeup Removers
- Id Monolaurin Gel
- Superskin Fine Finish Pore-Celain Effect Mattifier for Oily Skin
- Virgin Coconut Oils
Additional Information on
Pregnancy/Lactation and Active Ingredients
While there are no conclusive clinical studies showing that the typical active ingredients found in cosmetics, especially at the concentrations used in most cosmetics, can (positively or negatively) affect fetal development or breast milk when applied on the skin, research is always progressing. Your OB-GYN (obstetrician-gynecologist) and pediatrician would be your best resources regarding the latest studies available and how they apply to you and your baby in particular.Some information that we can share as accurate as of this writing:
• Barring exceptions that do penetrate the dermis such as topical steroids, there are no conclusive studies showing positive or negative effects on fetal development or milk content from topically applied products.
• Historically, the active ingredients that have caused the most concern when taken internally are retinoic acid and salicylic acid, not glycolic acid, kojic acid, or mandelic acid. Retinoic acid is teratogenic (it affects growing cells, which blastocysts are). However, the concentrations used in cosmetics are so small that it is still considered unlikely that enough of it can penetrate to cause any damage. Still, retinoic acid is, by far, the active ingredient that causes the most red flags for pregnant women and it probably should be avoided altogether regardless of the concentration.
• The percentage of actives in most cosmetics is usually very low. We use concentrations that are proven to be effective, but even these concentrations are quite controlled. Many of our active toners, for example, contain about 2.5% of the active ingredient in a 120mL solution. Even if the active ingredient could penetrate the bloodstream (unlikely due to the relatively large molecular size) and make it to the fetus (even more unlikely), the percentage of the active ingredient that would get this far during each individual application is minuscule. This is because the ingredient:
…is present in low concentrations;
…is further diluted in a solution of much greater volume; and
…is applied in small amounts on the skin (and, again, because the molecular size makes penetration past the dermis unlikely).
For example: 2.5% of an active ingredient mixed in a 120mL solution of a toner means 3g of the active in the solution. Let’s assume that the toner is finished in 30 days. To estimate, dividing 3g by 30 days results in around 0.1g of the active ingredient getting to the skin per application. Because of the molecular size of the active, much of this 0.1g cannot penetrate beyond the dermis into the bloodstream, and even less could therefore possibly make it to the fetus.
This is NOT a recommendation to use active ingredients during your pregnancy — as we stated at the start of this article, we follow the safer recommendation to discontinue the use of active ingredients during pregnancy and nursing. We follow this guideline as an extra precaution because while studies are inconclusive, research is always revealing new discoveries. Avoiding active ingredients that are not immediately washed off provides an added degree of safety.
PLEASE FOLLOW THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF YOUR OB-GYN AND PEDIATRICIAN.
Data regarding the effects (positive or negative) of topical skin treatments on fetal or infant development at this point may be inconclusive; but for anything taken orally, you should be conscientious and always consult your doctor beforehand. You’ll be seeing your gynecologist soon and regularly, then your child’s pediatrician. These visits, more than anything, will help you best monitor your baby’s healthy development. This information should not be considered medical advice. Particularly if you have a medical condition, before you change anything in your skincare or other practices related to pregnancy or nursing, ask your doctor.
Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)