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Just because you’re pregnant, it doesn’t mean that you have to stop caring about your appearance. It just means giving up beauty products that might be harmful to your baby, but don’t worry, there are plenty of alternatives to try. And no matter whether a product is deemed safe, you’re always best to choose a natural product that’s free of phthalates, parabens and sulfates. These products are both better for your baby and you!

Retinoids

You may have heard that retinol is like the holy grail of anti-aging products. The vitamin A product helps skin cells to regenerate faster and helps retain collagen, leaving skin looking younger. But high amounts of vitamin A can be harmful to unborn babies. This goes for both anti-aging and acne products containing retinol or vitamin A ingredients. And it most definitely goes for oral acne medication, which definitely causes birth defects.

Instead, try exfoliating with a physical scrub regularly to improve cell turnover: Pure and Simple Organic Vanilla Cleansing Powder, $24.95, pureandsimple.ca

Salicylic acid and other acne products

Although topical use of salicylic acid hasn’t been proven to be dangerous per se, oral forms definitely cause birth defects and lead to pregnancy complications, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Salicylic acid is what you’ll find in many acne products and chemical peels. Beta hydroxy acid is also another form of salicylic acid that you may find in skincare products and should be avoided.

Instead, try natural acne remedies like tea tree oil (but use sparingly) and try peels with alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid or glycolic acid: Pure and Simple Lactic Acid peel, $54.95, pureandsimple.ca

Spray Tans

The active ingredient in spray tan products is called DHA and it has been proven to cause DNA damage. So, yeah, it’s probably best to avoid visiting the spray tan booth when you’re expecting. Besides, think of all the extra spray you’ll need to cover your belly!

Instead, try a self-tanning lotion or bronzer: Dr. Perricone No Bronzer Bronzer, $45, sephora.com

Teeth whiteners

Avoid teeth whitening products like strips and gels while pregnant because of the high levels of peroxide found in them. Experts aren’t sure what kind of effect the peroxide could have on a fetus, but they recommend that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Instead, try a whitening toothpaste: Arm & Hammer Extra Whitening Complete Care, $2.99, well.ca

Skin Whiteners

While most skin brightening products should be safe, it’s best to avoid those that contain ingredients like hydroquinone and glutathione, which have been proven to cause birth defects in animals.

Instead, try a brightening moisturizer or serum with vitamin C: Ole Henriksen Truth Crème Vitamin C Advanced Hydration, $56, sephora.com

Hair spray, nail polish and heavily scented products

Although phthalates were mentioned above, this potentially harmful ingredient has been shown to specifically interfere with male sexual development and it’s found in many products, including hair spray, nail polish and anything with a heavy scent. However, that doesn’t mean that you should go wild with polish if you’re having a girl. Be on the safe side and choose phthalate-free products. They’re not that hard to find. And avoid anything with strong scents because beauty producers don’t have to list the secret ingredients found in their fragrances, and many usually contain phthalates.

Instead, try phthalate-free hair products and nail polish and natural fragrances Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Working Hair Spray, $32, sephora.com; Trust Fund Beauty 5-free nail polish, $15, trustfundbeauty.com; Lavanila The Healthy Fragrance Fresh Vanilla Lemon, $58, lavanila.com

Chemical hair removal

There’s an ingredient in hair removal products called thioglycolic acid with unknown effects and experts recommend that you take caution with these items if you’re with child. While it may be easier to use a hair removal cream when you can’t see your own legs, it’s not worth the risk. Instead, try visiting a salon to have your legs waxed, shave for as long as you can or just go natural.

Hair dye

Getting your hair coloured either professionally or doing it at home is considered to be safe, once in a while. That means following the instructions on the box and only colouring your hair once every five to eight weeks. Hair colour should be avoided during the first trimester if possible, and choosing an ammonia-free product is best. Highlights are a great way to get some colour without the risk as the hair colour rarely touches the scalp, meaning no chemical absorption occurs at all. Try: Garnier HerbaShine Hair Colour Cream Ammonia-Free, $14.49, well.ca