Guest Blog: Parabens, Phthalates, Sulphates, Oh My!


Most moms-to-be try to stay away from unpasteurized cheese, undercooked meat and unwashed fruits and veggies while pregnant. But, many are unaware of the other big offenders – those that lurk in our cosmetic drawers – that can be equally as harmful during pregnancy. In other words, what we smother and rub and paint on our bodies could be just as important as what feed them.

I am a self-described and self-confessed cosmetics junkie. I can spend hours at department store cosmetics counters and even longer in French pharmacies, sampling lotions and potions, reading labels and checking ingredients. I call it a hobby; my husband thinks it’s more like an obsession.  For a number of years I have made a conscious attempt to limit my own exposure to things like parabens, phthalates, sulphates, animal-testing, artificial fillers and colors and GMO products, but only within reason. I was never able, for example, to find a paraben-free replacement for my favourite Natura Bisse “the Cure” tinted moisturizer, nor have I transitioned to formaldehyde-free nail polish. And until I found out I was pregnant, I didn’t really think I had to.

I’m currently in my second trimester as a first time mom, and I have spent a lot of time reading books like “Origins: how the nine months before birth shape the rest of our lives” and “The Complete Organic Pregnancy”. These books finally convinced me to remove all potentially harmful and toxic chemicals from my daily cosmetics routine while pregnant. But, I was lucky enough to decide to start this transformative process while on vacation in the South of France a few weeks ago! And, who doesn’t love French pharmacies?! For a cosmetics junkie like myself, it was actually a lot of fun. The French pharmacists were quick to point out that many of the organic or “bio” brands, as they are called in France, are excellent all-natural options (for non-pregnant women), but contain concentrated essential oils that can interfere with hormones and cause early contractions, bleeding or even miscarriage.  It turns out finding pregnancy- safe products wasn’t as easy as “going natural” or organic!

After a few weeks of (happily) sampling a number of products, I have shared below some of my favorite, must-try, safe-for-pregnancy cosmetics, most of which are widely available in drug stores like Duane Reade or specialized cosmetics stores like Blue Mercury, Barneys and Henri Bendels.  None of the products are geared specifically toward pregnant women, but they are free of the lion’s share of the harmful artificial and chemical additives and preservatives that I am trying to avoid during my pregnancy.

Must try: Deborah Lippman nail polish

Free of:  formaldehyde, toluene, DBP and animal testing

Great for: bright, sparkling summer fingers and toes (before your bump blocks your view of your pedicure, that is). Deborah Lippman has a Summer 13’line out now with fresh, pastel-inspired colors.

Must try: Biotherm Aquasource, 24H deep hydration replenishing cream

Free of:  parabens and mineral oil

Great for: a  versatile facial moisturizer, perfect for both night and day. Acquasource provides an instant dose of hydration without leaving skin greasy. I find it also balances out skin tone and reduces redness. I would use it pregnant or not.


Must try: Ren Active 7 Radiant Eye Gel

Free of:  parabens, sulphates, mineral oil, petrochemicals, silicones, synthetic fragrance and colors

Great for: daily use as an under eye moisturizer. This cooling gel soothes under eye fatigue, stress and reduces the appearance of dark circles. Put it in the fridge for an added cooling effect during hot summer evenings. Eye cream is a must-have now that you are getting up in the middle of the night for multiple bathroom breaks

Must try: La Roche-Posay Lipikar Milk

Free of:  parabens, sulphates, mineral oil, petrochemicals, silicones, synthetic fragrance and colors

Great for: lipid-replenishing all over body moisturizer. This body milk helps hydrate skin and restore suppleness. It works best on dry or very dry skin. Lipikar Milk is also fragrance free and won’t irritate your newly acquired heightened sense of smell.


Must try: Nuxe Bio Silky Perfecting BB Cream

Free of:  mineral oil, comedogenic products, animal testing and parabens

Great for: replacing your favorite foundation or tinted moisturizer. This is a miracle product. You can apply simply using your fingers for instant coverage that leaves you with glowing, natural looking skin. Perhaps my favorite pregnancy find of all.


Must try: Christophe Robin Antioxidant Cleansing Milk and Antioxidant Conditioner

Free of:  silicone, parabens, SLS and colorants

Great for: Light, silky soft hair. Just a dollop of Antioxidant Cleansing Milk creates a robust lather and a soft, sensual smell that isn’t overbearing. The Antioxidant Conditioner works to untangle ends and nourish dry and color-treated hair. The duo work so well that no additional untanglers, masks or sprays are needs. Just wash and go.


Do you have any other great-for-pregnancy beauty products that you love? Send your recommendations to!

Margo is a self-professed cosmetics junkie who would happily spend a few hours sampling products at any of the world’s top department stores or pharmacies. But, most of the time she can be found in Cape Town, South Africa, where she works at the renewable energy investment arm of one of the country’s largest asset managers. She and her husband Jonathan are expecting their first child in January 2014!

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4 Responses

  1. Great points raised! Medically, people are only starting to realize that toxin avoidance should be practiced during pregnancy. That is why I created our line of safe, nontoxic makeup for pregnancy. You can find out more at, there is also alot of pregnancy medical information, makeup tips, and which ingredients are bad for you and why during pregnancy. We are also listed in Weespring under WeeLove

  2. Karen says:

    I just came across this review and wondered if you have found something that you like as much as the Natura Bisse Cure Sheer Cream – that is the one product I have not been able to replace with a natural alternative!

  3. Anna says:

    Is the Nuxe Bio Silke perfecting BB cream what you would replace Natura Bisse Cure sheer cream? I was doing a search for a replacement as I want to eliminate most parabens and found this post-would love to find a good replacement!

  1. December 13, 2013

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