Beauty & Skincare

Decoding Your Beauty and Skincare Products: Pregnancy-Safe Ingredients and Those to Avoid

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Glyclodex– what? The beauty industry is turning into a bewildering landscape, with often baffling jargon and confusing descriptions – especially if you’re a pregnant mama who’s just trying to pick the best pregnancy-safe products!

With a greater move towards clean beauty, it’s become a matter of increasing importance for expecting mothers to select products with safe and natural ingredients. According to Rahne Putri, Head of Branding for mum and baby brand, Mama’s Choice, mothers-to-be should take specific care to double check the ingredients list in their beauty and skincare products to avoid ingredients that could potentially pose a threat to a developing fetus, or a newborn. 

“Every decision in our life has a big impact on our baby or kids. Usually, when mothers start to know they’re pregnant, they are really cautious with the safe food and vitamins to eat. But when it comes to ingredients in the personal care that they put on their skin every day, many mums are not as well-informed, or are unsure if they should change their products.”

Mama’s Choice’s Head of Branding, Rahne Putri

Keeping it clean

Mama’s Choice strives to ensure that the health and safety of both mum and bub remain their number one priority – carefully (and ethically) crafting each of their products, and conducting thorough checks of the safe, natural and halal-certified ingredients used by them.

As Malaysia’s first halal pregnancy brand, Mama’s Choice’s products are not tested on animals, are free from alcohol and animal-derived ingredients, and are in compliance with Islamic law. All of the processes in their product development follow the moral and ethical principles of Islam, and keep to the brand’s ethos of valuing transparency in their ingredients list and avoiding harmful chemicals – just the thing needed to alleviate expecting mamas of #OneLessWorry during their pregnancy journey!

If you’re wondering what nasties you should be steering clear of during your pregnancy, read on for the ingredients to avoid (and those you can trust):

Source: Unsplash

Ingredients to Avoid

  • Retinoid

Commonly found in:  Anti aging and anti acne skincare.

Derived from Vitamin A, retinoids can come in many forms including retinoic acid, tretinoin, palmitate and retinaldehyde. Experts recommend that pregnant mums avoid topical retinoids.  Oral retinoids (remember Accutane for your teenage acne?) are known to cause birth defects.

  • Hydroquinone

Commonly found in: Skincare products that treat hyperpigmentation (such as acne scars and age spots). 

Hydroquinone is an effective skin-lightening agent, but has limited research on its usage during pregnancy.  This ingredient is absorbed through the skin at fairly substantial amounts and it has been categorised as by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as being a Category C pregnancy risk. What this means is that adverse effects on fetuses have been noted in animal reproduction studies conducted, and ingredients under this list should only be used if the benefits outweigh the risks.

  • Formaldehyde 

Commonly found in: Nail polish, eyelash glue, hair gel and hair-straightening products.

High doses of formaldehyde in cosmetic products are a safety concern, and there are limits set on European personal care products by the EU Cosmetic Products Regulation. Overexposure to this ingredient has been linked to fertility problems and miscarriage, so do exercise caution when you’re picking up that bottle of nail polish or choosing your hair products. 

Ingredients to Watch Out For

It’s easy to assume that if a product is dangerous, it won’t make it to the shelf. Right? Not so. Did you know that the EU has banned or restricted more than 1,300 chemicals, while the US has outlawed or curbed… just 11? With such diverse regulations across the world, there is often a distinct lack of clarity when it comes to products that impact pregnant mamas. 

To be on the safe side, pregnant mamas should also try and limit their exposure to the following ingredients:

  • Parabens

Commonly found in: Lotions, sunscreen, antiperspirants, mouthwash, makeup and hair products.

Parabens are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetic products. However, studies suggest that parabens may be linked to negative effects if used during pregnancy, such as an increased risk of overweight development in your child.

  • Phthalates

Commonly found in: Shampoo, perfume, nail polish, hairsprays and sanitary pads. 

Studies have linked phthalates during pregnancy to possible risks, such as reproductive or endocrinal issues. Although the FDA’s findings remain inconclusive as to the effect of phthalates on human health, certain phthalates have nevertheless been banned in Europe for potentially causing hormonal and developmental issues.

  • Sulfates

Commonly found in: Shampoo, body wash, face cleansers and toothpaste

Sulfates can give us that lather that makes us feel oh-so-clean, but has developed a bad reputation due to their production process. Given the irritation that sulfates can sometimes cause to the eyes, skin, or scalp, it might be best to avoid this, especially is your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy. 

  • Salicylic Acid

Commonly found in: Skincare products, such as cleansers, toners and spot treatments (especially for those targeting oily and acne-prone skin).

Salicylic acid is a form of beta hydroxy acid (BHA), a chemical exfoliant that removes dead cells from the skin’s surface  – and is the only BHA that has been studied in pregnancy. High doses of this acid in its oral form have been shown in studies to cause birth defects and various pregnancy complications. Whilst the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists has found topical salicylic acid to be pregnancy-safe, others still advocate caution and more conclusive research when it comes to the use of salicylic acid in products during pregnancy or nursing. 

Pregnancy-Safe Ingredients 

Want to keep you and your baby safe, without having to sacrifice great skin or your much-needed self care? Here are some safe and natural ingredients – along with top product picks from Mama’s Choice – for a less worrisome pregnancy journey:

  • Lipobelle Soyaglycone 
Source: Mama’s Choice

Naturally derived from soybeans, this powerful hydrating ingredient is intended to enhance collagen production and improve skin elasticity and smoothness. Found in Mama’s Choice Stretch Mark Cream (the first halal-certified stretch cream in Malaysia), this secret weapon serves to deeply moisturise stretch mark-prone skin and soothe itching. Gentle enough for the most sensitive skin, it provides comfort whilst also firming up the skin around a growing belly, and the hips and breast areas. Stretch marks, be gone! 

  • Natural Ingredients
Source: Mama’s Choice

If you can eat it, you can use it!  Breastfeeding mums will be happy to know that Mama’s Choice’s Intensive Nipple Cream contains just 5 natural, food-grade quality ingredients – namely, Lanolin, Date Extract, Shea Butter, Coconut Oil and Vitamin E. Completely safe if your baby ingests it!

It’s always a good idea to be more cautious with products that will stay on our skin all day, due to their higher absorption rate. To keep your skin safely hydrated and protected from UVA/UVB rays throughout the day, choose a 2-in-1 toxic-free moisturiser with zinc oxide. Mama’s Choice’s Daily Protection Face Moisturizer comes with mineral sunscreen ingredients, making it a safer natural alternative than its chemical sunscreen counterparts. 


And there you have it! We hope that the information above empowers you to make more informed choices, and makes the hunt for pregnancy-safe and non-toxic products much easier -as Mama Choice has done, with its safe, natural and halal-certified ingredients and ethical processes to ensure greater transparency.

We wish all of of our mamas a smooth pregnancy journey. Here’s to keeping that skin of yours (and your growing bundle of joy) healthy and happy!

Please note that the information above does not constitute as a form of medical opinion, or take the place of professional medical advice. Kindly consult your primary care physician, in the event of doubt.

This is a sponsored post by Mama’s Choice.

As the first halal pregnancy brand in Malaysia, Mama’s Choice offers an entire range of safe, halal and natural maternity and postpartum products. Their products are ethically produced and halal-certified to provide expecting mothers with greater peace of mind. Mama’s Choice values safety and transparency in their ingredients used, striving to empower mums to make the best choices in their pregnancy journey. Their products are available for purchase on their website, Shopee and Lazada

Elaine is a mummy of two who moved from the financial world to become an early childhood educator. She loves travelling, books and her cup of tea to unwind after a long day of diapers, school runs and pretend play.