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Products to avoid while pregnant

As much fun as skydiving, raw eggs, and industrial-grade pesticides are, unfortunately, during pregnancy we have to cut out some of these items and activities in order to help baby grow as healthily as possible. Check out our list of products to avoid during pregnancy.

Expensive bath products

High-end bath products may contain chemicals that aggravate the skin and cause allergic reactions. Your skin will be troubled enough during pregnancy, so stick to the economical brands.

Safe alternative: Bath products designed for babies and young children are usually gentler on the skin, and do not contain harmful chemicals.

Skin whitening

Skin whitening should be avoided at all costs during pregnancy, as it increases the risk of sun exposure, something expectant moms cannot afford. Hydroquinone can also cause cancer and hinder fetal development.

Safe alternative: There's really no alternative to skin whitening during pregnancy, and it should be put off at least until you are no longer breastfeeding.

Chemical hair removal

Hair removal products contain thioglycolic acid--its effects on pregnant women and their babies are unknown, so healthcare providers recommend that you avoid chemical hair removal products while you are pregnant.

Safe alternative: What's wrong with the natural way? Plucking, shaving, and even waxing are all safe ways to remove unwanted hair during pregnancy.

Heavy fragrances

Your nose will be more sensitive while you are pregnant, so avoiding overly powerful scents might be a good idea. Heavy fragrances may also contain toxic phthalates, which can disturb fetal development.

Safe alternative: Healthcare provider suggest using less intense, natural perfumes and fragrances rather than the irritating, heavily chemical ones. You'll still smell great, and it won't upset your nose!

Sticky or stinky beauty products

Any product with an overly chemical smell should be avoided, as there are a number of irritants they could contain.

Safe alternative: Natural scents are preferable for pregnant women because they don't contain as many airborne, irritating chemicals as the stickier and stinkier products.

Prescription acne medications

Acne is a common symptom of pregnancy, but you should not treat it with harsh chemicals. Accutane, and products containing tetracycline, are known to cause miscarriage, birth defects, or stunted development.

Safe alternative: Gently washing your face with an oil-free wash on a daily basis can help treat and prevent acne, even when caused by pregnancy. Refraining from picking, scratching, or excessively touching your face could also help prevent acne.


Even if you're an ink addict, it's best to avoid getting new tattoos while pregnant, as healthcare providers aren’t totally sure what effects ink might have on baby.

Safe alternative: Although getting permanent tattoos is discouraged during pregnancy, getting henna tattoos, which usually last a few weeks, is perfectly safe. They are completely safe to get while pregnant, so long as the ink is not black.

Hair care

Pregnant women should avoid getting too involved in their hair care, due to the possible risk posed by chemicals in salon products. If abstaining from hair care is not an option, make sure you're using non-toxic substances.

Safe alternative: It's super important to get your hair done in a well-ventilated space and wash the chemicals off of your hair as quickly as possible to reduce your risk of sinking into your bloodstream.

Bug spray

Some bug spray contains the chemical (DEET), and its effects can lead to many pregnancy complications. Bug spray can be used while pregnant, but follow the directions to a tee, and stop applying the spray if it irritates any part of your body.

Safe alternative: Non-chemical insect repellents like special lights and candles can help ward off annoying bugs without the harmful chemicals found in bug spray. Insect repellant that doesn't involve aerosols is probably your best bet.

Lead products

Lead products can be extremely poisonous, and should be avoided while you’re pregnant. Stunted fetal development and premature birth are just two of many possible effects of lead poisoning during pregnancy.

Safe alternative: It's definitely a good idea to avoid everything made from lead while pregnant--look for safer, less poisonous metal products.

Hair dyes

Although hair dyes can frequently contain some unsavory chemicals, the amount of pollutant actually absorbed into the body is extremely low, so hair dying during pregnancy is usually perfectly safe.

Safe alternative: Moms-to-be might want to opt for vegetable dyes, wear gloves, and maintain proper ventilation when coloring their hair, to keep your hair vibrant, safely.

Electric blankets

In most cases, electric blankets are safe to use during pregnancy, but in rare cases, if they're set high enough to raise body temperature, they have been linked to serious health concerns for developing fetuses.

Safe alternative: When using an electric blanket while pregnant, it might be a good idea to heat the blanket up before getting in bed, and unplugging it once in bed so it will cool down throughout the night and prevent you from overheating.


Pesticides contain various chemicals that damage the nervous system, so it is very important to avoid exposure to these substances when you are pregnant, as the chemicals could irreparably damage your baby's developing neural tube.

Safe alternative: A combination of hot water, hydrogen peroxide, and vinegar is an effective, pregnancy-safe way to keep your garden bug-free.


Pregnant moms are highly discouraged from using Botox, a localized bacterial injection known for its anti-aging effects, as the bacteria's ability to infect breast milk and baby is not well known.

Safe alternative: Skin gets super gorgeous during pregnancy - ever hear of "pregnancy glow"? There's no safe alternative for Botox, but there's really no need for one!


Chemical-based fertilizers may contain substances that could lead to stunted development or miscarriage, so when pregnant, it is wise to handle only natural fertilizers.

Safe alternative: Moms-to-be should only use explicitly marked natural fertilizers for their gardening needs.


Many paints contain glycol ethers, a group of chemicals that act as solvents and range in toxicity. Ethylene glycol can lead to a host of developmental problems for your baby, so make sure the paint you are using contains safe compounds.

Safe alternative: Painting is usually okay, but you should make sure that your particular brand of paint does not contain glycol ethers.

Paint thinners

Many paint thinners emit fumes that have not been tested on pregnant women, so the effects are unknown. They could also factor in to allergic reactions or irritate the skin.

Safe alternative: Water-based paint thinners are a safe alternative and shouldn’t be as irritating.

Industrial cleaning products

Many industrial cleaning products contain certain chemicals whose effects on pregnant women are not well known enough to approve their use.

Safe alternative: There are lots of safe alternatives, like natural cleaning products, that are less likely to cause harmful side effects.

Overly tight clothing

Pregnant women should not wear clothing that is too tight, as these items could restrict blood flow, increase swelling, and possibly reduce nutrient distribution to your baby.

Safe alternative: Wearing loose clothing should help keep you comfortable, and Baby safe.


In rare cases, tampons have been known to create infections that can lead to miscarriage in pregnant women. You should use pads instead of tampons to deal with spotting or bleeding.

Safe alternative: Pregnant women do not get their periods, but panty liners are safe to help deal with discharge.

Herbal supplements

Unless explicitly directed by your healthcare provider, you should avoid herbal supplements during pregnancy, as their ingredients are not regulated by the FDA.

Safe alternative: Your prenatal vitamin has all of the vitamins you and Baby need.

Read more
  • P Bozz, A Chua-Gocheco, A Einarson. "Safety of skin care products during pregnancy." Canadian Family Physician. 57(6): 665-667. Web. 6/11/2015.
  • Belanger K, Leaderer B, Hellenbrand K, Holford TR, McSharry J, Power ME, Bracken MB. "Spontaneous abortion and exposure to electric blankets and heated water beds." Epidemiology. 9(1):36-42. Web. Jan-98.
  • Lawrence E. Gibson. "What's the best way to treat pregnancy acne?" Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 1/15/2014. Web.
  • "Exposing the Cosmetics Cover-up." EWG. Environmental Working Group, 10/10/2013. Web.
  • Roger W. Harms, M.D. "Is it OK to use hair dye during pregnancy?" Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 6/03/2016. Web.
  • "Effects of Disasters on Pregnant Women: Environmental Exposures." CDC.gov. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, n.d. Web.
  • "Lead and pregnancy." March of Dimes. March of Dimes, 7/14/2015. Web.
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