Pregnancy safe Makeup – do I really need to change?

You are pregnant, congratulations! You now have a loooonnng list of all the things you are not allowed to eat and drink from your doctor, your mother, her friend, her friend’s friend…a random lady in the supermarket….! It’s exhausting, speaking from recent experience this is only the beginning…you are going to get sooo much more advice from EVERYONE about everything!

Something you might already be thinking about yourself (or could have come from someone’s advice!) is what about pregnancy safe makeup? Is what I put on my skin really going to harm my unborn baby? Have you ever heard of endocrine disruptors…nor had I until I was trying (and failing) to get pregnant. They are chemicals found in LOTS of things that upset our hormones….pretty crucial when it comes to baby making and growing!

What you absolutely want to avoid:

Endocrine disruptors

Specifically for fertility and pregnancy you should ban endocrine disrupting products from your makeup bag. The main offenders in terms of cosmetics are Phthalates, Parabens and Triclosan but watch out for sun cream too.

  • Phthalates have been linked to hormone changes like thyroid irregularities, lower sperm motility and count as well as birth defects in the male reproductive system.
    • Found in: plastic food containers and toys but also in personal care products so check the ingredients list for Phthalates. Also, importantly for “fragrance” because this invariably means hidden phthalates.
  • Parabens are preservatives used in many cosmetic products and have been found to have oestrogenic effects. The European Commission on Endocrine Disruption lists parabens as a category 1 substance, shown to be an endocrine disruptor.
    • Found in: Foundation, moisturisers, most personal care – some estimates have had parabens in about 75% of all our cosmetics. Check ingredients list for propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl- and isobutyl-parabens.
  • Triclosan is an antibacterial compound that interferes with thyroid hormone and is oestrogenic . It also has a possible link to antibiotic resistance.
    • Found in: toothpaste, hand wash, deodorant, shaving gel, cleanser, shampoo
  • Sun cream can contain some chemicals that have been linked to developmental, reproductive and thyroid issues, including widely used octyl methoxycinnamate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC) and benzophenone 3. Avoid sun cream or foundation, moisturizer with SPF in it unless it uses zinc oxide instead of the above chemicals.

The USA NGO EWG – Dirty dozen Endocrine disruptors has much more detail on endocrine disruptors in cosmetics, food and more. Also, you can use their skin deep database to check product safety ratings.

Retinyl palmitate and Retinol (Vitamin A)
Retinyl palmitate and Retinol (vitamin A) is best avoided because it can potentially lead to birth defects, it can also interfere with the development of the fetus’ skin.

    • Found in anti-aging skincare products, skin lightening, nail polish removers, sun cream, hair products and some prescription acne or skincare creams.

Some great safer options – my makeup essentials

One thing I found so difficult when I wanted to switch to pregnancy safe makeup was finding anything that met my super strict criteria – I wasn’t pregnant when I made the switch but I had been struggling with infertility for quite a while and had been advised to “act pregnant now to get pregnant later” – it did mean that I spent a lot of time researching product ingredients. Everything I suggest rates below a 3 on EWG’s skin deep database – either the product itself or if it is not in their database then the ingredients individually.

  • Foundation is crucial for me at least! Especially during pregnancy when the baby seems to take over your body and consequently your skin breaks out in ways it never has before, or maybe you just can’t sleep so want something to cover it up!
    • Liquid foundation – Inika organic is my current favourite. It has enough coverage to even your skin tone and hide imperfections but it will not be obvious. For heavier coverage used loose powder on top.
    • Loose powder or compact – Zuii foundation has great coverage for those who want to cover up a bit more.
    • Concealer – RMS “un” cover up is great. It is in a handy recycled glass package and the texture is easy to apply with your finger when you are out and about.
  • Lipstick is something I can not live without. Lip balm just doesn’t cut it, it might taste nice but I need a bit of colour! Although lipstick only covers a small surface area it is the product most of us need to reapply several times a day because we eat it! So please change your lipstick – there are lots of great non-toxic ones out there!
    • Bold: 100% Pure uses fruit pigment to create vibrant, strong colours that has a colour payoff that is sure to give your current lipsticks a run for their money!
    • Glamorous: Axiology’s lipstick range will give you that shot of confidence that you might have previously sought from some big name brands. The packaging is understated and glamorous and the formulation is luxurious and long-lasting.
    • Versatile: lip2cheek is a versatile product that can be used on your cheeks to give you a lovely healthy glow. It is mositurising and the colours are lovely and subtle.
  • Mascara may seem less important as it doesn’t go directly onto the skin and most women are deeply attached to their mascara…it was one of the last products I changed. But it is important as it is used near your eyes!

If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant and want to change your makeup I hope this post helps highlight some things to avoid but also gives you somewhere to start to make the switch less painful. I promise there are products out there that are first and foremost effective but they also happen to be pregnancy safe makeup as well!







  • Lauren Kinghorn

    March 14, 2018

    Hi Allie, I really related to your opening paragraph because I can remember how suddenly strangers dished out unwanted advice when I was pregnant. And there were so many don’t’s in the food department that I never stopped to consider the dangers of the cosmetics I was using at the time. Fortunately, after a couple of miscarriages, I managed to give birth to a healthy boy. Thanks for this informative post and for including safe cosmetics to use. I will have a look and see which of these are available in South Africa. I have shared your post with a friend who is trying to get pregnant.

    • Allie

      March 14, 2018

      Thanks Lauren, so glad to hear you have a healthy little boy. One of the challenges with these smaller brands is their availability in different markets. I will look into doing a post to help people outside the US & Australia where they are widely available.

  • Darmendra

    March 14, 2018

    Hi Allie,

    First of all, I want to say than you for such a great article! When I came across to your article, I did not know what I could expect since I never heard that makeup could hurt the baby in a pregnant woman or even can hurt when a woman is trying to get pregnant that is my case. So thanks to your article now I know I have to check the ingredients in my makeup, and definitely, I will have in mind your suggestion on this post.

    Thanks again.

    • Allie

      March 14, 2018

      I am so pleased you found the post! My aim is help people live cleaner, healthier lives. Let me know if you have any specific questions as you start to change your cosmetics – very happy to help!


Leave a Reply