As awareness around clean beauty & natural lifestyle products grows many of us have considered making the switch. With more education and options than ever before it would seem like an easy swap although if you are like me pre-Nourished you are still holding onto a few of your conventional mainstream favourites for dear life! The idea of changing from a product you have known and loved for many years, that the clean alternative won't be as effective or leave you looking as 'fresh' or that the cleaner alternative is more expensive are all fears that hold us back. And let's be honest, it's probably not harming me that much right??
And then comes pregnancy. And the very reality that what you do no longer only impacts yourself, but potentially also your baby, and all of a sudden the importance of making different choices when it comes to the products we use on ourselves and in our homes often slides right up to one of our top priorities.
When we interviewed Chloe Leenheer for our Women Of Nourished spotlight series she was in the last days of her pregnancy. It was so interesting to hear about how being pregnant and researching the ingredients in her regular sunscreen had been the impetus for her to make the switch to natural products.
So are we just being paranoid or is there scientific reasoning for the importance of making the switch to clean beauty & natural lifestyle products?
In their article 'Environmental Influences on Reproductive Health, the Importance of Chemical Exposures' authors Wang, Padula, Sirota et al noted that "Chemical exposures during pregnancy can have a profound and life-long impact on human health."
And in another article authored by Kelley, Banker, Goodrich et al, it was reported that "pregnancy is a sensitive window for toxicant exposure. Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals may disrupt the maternal immune system, which may lead to poor pregnancy outcomes." And that exposure to these chemicals particularly in the first trimester can increase inflammatory changes for both mother and baby.
THE study you want to read
Let's not forget the famous study spearheaded by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) where researchers found a total of 287 chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of tested babies. The detected chemicals included pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage.
Of the 287 chemicals that were detected in umbilical cord blood, it was reported that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. The dangers of pre- or post-natal exposure to this complex mixture of carcinogens, developmental toxins and neurotoxins have never been studied. (4)
And so whilst not all chemicals used in cosmetics have been found to be dangerous or to put mother or baby at risk it appears that the recommendations of researchers & experts is "to avoid unnecessary and potentially dangerous use of cosmetics women should be encouraged to use them less often and to decrease the amounts applied. Certain beauty products such as nail polish, nail polish remover and hair dye could be eliminated altogether during pregnancy. Others could be replaced by products that contain fewer chemical substances or are less readily absorbed" (5)
Not sure where to start? Check out our Pregnancy Collection of clean beauty & natural living products at Nourished.
1. Mitro SD, Johnson T, Zota AR. Cumulative Chemical Exposures During Pregnancy and Early Development. Curr Environ Health Rep. 2015;2(4):367–378. doi:10.1007/s40572-015-0064-x
2. Kelley AS, Banker M, Goodrich JM, et al. Early pregnancy exposure to endocrine disrupting chemical mixtures are associated with inflammatory changes in maternal and neonatal circulation. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):5422. Published 2019 Apr 1. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-41134-z
3. Wang A, Padula A, Sirota M, Woodruff TJ. Environmental influences on reproductive health: the importance of chemical exposures. Fertil Steril. 2016;106(4):905–929. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.07.1076
4. Body Burden: The Pollution In Newborns. The Environmental Working Group, https://www.ewg.org/research/body-burden-pollution-newborns
5. Marie C, Cabut S, Vendittelli F, Sauvant-Rochat MP. Changes in Cosmetics Use during Pregnancy and Risk Perception by Women. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016;13(4):383. Published 2016 Mar 30. doi:10.3390/ijerph13040383