You were so careful during your pregnancy to eat all the right things and use only the right products on your skin--after all, you were eating/caring for two then! Now that you’re breastfeeding, it’s still crucial to make sure that nothing in your skin care can harm your baby because you still are caring for two. Whatever you eat, drink, or use on your skin can get into your breastmilk, so it’s important to make sure you’re not using anything that could potentially harm your child.
Of course, as with anything related to your or your baby’s health, you want to be sure to check in with your doctor as this is not medical advice, nor is it necessarily a comprehensive list. It’s just a starting point to talk about how best to take care of your skin while breastfeeding.
IN A NUTSHELL
Main Takeaways: If you’re currently breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed soon, it’s crucial to make sure the skincare products you’re using are safe.
Good to Know: Not only can mommy transfer ingredients to their little ones through milk, it can happen topically if the baby ingests something on the skin, which is why it’s so important to be extra careful!
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Skincare While Breastfeeding
Part of the reason it’s so crucial to watch what you’re ingesting when you’re pregnant is that whatever you eat or absorb is transmitted to your baby via the bloodstream. The same thing is true of breast milk — if it can be absorbed by your skin, it can be transmitted to your baby via your breast milk, so it’s important that you monitor not only what you eat, but what goes on your skin. If a product is on your skin, a baby could end up absorbing it that way as well, which is why you need to be extra careful.
Keep in mind that we’re erring on the side of caution here. There might be ingredients in this blog that your doctor might tell you you can use in small doses; but unless you receive a go-ahead from your doctor, we recommend staying away from them. When you think about what a relatively short time period you need for breastfeeding, it’s really not a big sacrifice to rule out any skincare ingredient.
Skincare Ingredients to Avoid While Breastfeeding
As we mentioned above, there are certain skincare ingredients that are best to avoid when it comes to using while breastfeeding. Here are a few on that list, but please keep in mind- this isn’t comprehensive and any decisions you make should be made with the help of your doctor.
- Formaldehyde - Yes, it’s hard to believe that this is actually used in skin care products at all (especially given that it’s used in the embalming process), but it is. Frankly, all of us should stay away from formaldehyde, but for breastfeeding moms in particular, it should be completely out of the question.
- Parabens - Parabens really should be in the “out-of-the-question” category for all of us as they are known to cause serious health issues (like cancer). Although some medical professionals feel the amount of parabens ingested by breastfeeding infants is relatively low, why even take the chance given the seriousness of the issues they cause? Consider, too, that it’s recommended that pregnant women avoid parabens because they can cause growth and weight issues in babies. Keep in mind that parabens are also found in a lot of other beauty products like shampoo, as they are used as preservatives.
- Retinol - If you’ve ever asked your dermatologist for a prescription for a retinol product, chances are they asked you if you were pregnant or if you were planning on becoming pregnant. That’s because retinol and products in the retinol family (Retin-A, retinoids, etc.) are known to cause birth defects. Although the jury is still out on just how much retinol can be passed from mother to baby, most doctors will still advise against using retinol while breastfeeding because of the risks it poses.
- Salicylic acid - Strangely enough, even though Salicylic acid is thought to cause Reye’s syndrome in babies and children, not everyone agrees that it should be avoided during breastfeeding. If you’ve never heard of it, this is a serious and potentially fatal disease that affects the liver, amongst other things. What’s particularly scary about salicylic acid, is that although we’re talking about using it in skincare here, it is also in aspirin, so it can be ingested by a breastfeeding mother that way as well. We recommend avoiding it or at least talking to your doctor about this one.
- Certain spa treatments - We’re putting this one under a big umbrella because the range of treatments and ingredients is so big. Just make sure that before you have any treatment, that you know exactly what ingredients are going to be used and talk to your doctor about whether or not they’re safe. You probably also want to check in with your doctor about the actual physical procedure as well.
Ingredients That Are Safe to Use While Breastfeeding
Of course, there are plenty of ingredients that are safe to use while breastfeeding. Here are just a few ingredients you can feel perfectly safe using while breastfeeding!
- Vitamin C - Vitamin C, which is known to brighten the skin, is perfectly safe to use while breastfeeding. In fact, while this doesn’t happen through skin care, vitamin C taken orally is said to increase milk supply to nursing mothers. It’s also super important for nursing moms to get enough vitamin C to pass on to their little ones.
- Vitamin B - Aside from the fact that vitamin B can be used in skincare while breastfeeding, it’s also crucial that pregnant and breastfeeding moms get enough of it via foods! Vitamin B3, otherwise known as niacinamide, is wonderful for strengthening the skin, smoothing it out, and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Glycerin - You may traditionally think of glycerin as a moisturizing ingredient but in fact, it does so much more! In addition to moisturizing the skin, it also helps firm it, smooth it, and even brighten it! Not only that, it helps calm it, which is what every new mom needs!
- Squalane - If you’re not on the squalane train, hop on and climb aboard, because when it comes to skin care ingredients, squalane is a champ! This non-comedogenic ingredient helps control oil (which can get a little out of control during pregnancy), helps moisturize the skin and even helps fade the look of dark spots. It also helps control redness which can be a big issue for some new mothers. As if that all weren’t enough, it also helps diminish the look of fine lines and wrinkles — what more could you ask for in a skin care ingredient?
We hope this helps clarify some of the skin care ingredients that are and are not safe to use while breastfeeding. This is such an important time in both your and your baby’s life, which is why it’s so important to stay healthy!