My son was born in 2007, and I was either pregnant or breastfeeding for the entirety of that year. Sometimes it seems like only yesterday, but a lot has changed in the last 7½ years. As consumers, we’ve become more aware of ingredients and thoughtful about what we choose to put in or on our bodies. The beauty industry is constantly innovating to meet new demands, developing improved formulas and rediscovering ancient remedies.
While I may have had no idea what a phthalate was in 2007, I was still pretty concerned about limiting my exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals. A lot of people may have described me as “paranoid,” but I prefer “extremely cautious.” I traded many of my favorite beauty products for more natural choices, which at the time felt pretty limiting.
In the past year or so, I’ve come across a few products that had me thinking, “Where was this when I was pregnant and breastfeeding?” This is not a roundup of beauty lines marketed to pregnant women. I figure anyone can Google a list of those. These five gems also aren’t mom-specific and you certainly don’t have to be with child to appreciate them. But I really wish I had known about each back when I was a soon-to-be, and new, momma.
1. Cocovit Coconut Oil
When I was pregnant, coconut oil hadn’t yet hit the mainstream as a beauty cure-all. I’ll confess that even when it did, I was a bit skeptical. I filed it away in the back of my mind as another home remedy that while probably effective enough as a moisturizer, seemed unpleasant, oily, and messy. It wasn’t until I sat down with Rikita Kapadia, owner of Cocovit — a raw, organic coconut oil — that I began to see the enormous benefits.
Cocovit is a nourishing moisturizer and treatment with a plethora of uses, including many I hadn’t thought of for a mom or baby. For example, did you know that coconut oil is great for soothing cracked, sore nipples? Cocovit is an amazing solution since it is not only safe for your baby to ingest but actually offers health benefits. Additionally, its natural anti-fungal properties can help ward off thrush, a hard-to-kill fungal infection that causes shooting pains during and after feeding. I speak from experience, here. I had thrush and it was awful. The medication I was prescribed to treat it gave my son hives and I was forced to stop breastfeeding when he was just 2 months old.
Coconut oil is also an all-natural body moisturizer, massage cream, and hair conditioner for both mom and baby that can prevent or treat stretch marks, eczema, and cradle cap. Cocovit Coconut Oil is unique in that it’s 100% raw, which keeps the full nutrient content intact. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it absorbs quickly, leaving my skin soft and moisturized without feeling greasy. The full list of uses for mommy and baby can be found here.
Available at Cocovit, $25-38
2. Madison Reed Hair Color
Over my career as a hairstylist, a lot of women have asked me if it’s safe to color your hair during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. I did the research and found that there is no major evidence that hair color is unsafe for your baby. Unfortunately, however, there isn’t definitive proof that it’s harmless either. I chose to wait until after the 1st trimester to color my hair and did my best to avoid over-exposure at work.
New hair color lines have been developed in the past few years that effectively cover gray without some of the more offensive ingredients. These alternatives are better choices for people with allergies, sensitive skin, and anyone looking to avoid contact with potentially harmful ingredients.
Madison Reed is an at-home, permanent hair color that is formulated without ammonia, resorcinol, PPD (the tint responsible for most allergies to hair color), or added parabens. It covers gray beautifully and leaves hair looking healthy and shiny without the offensive smell. While I do feel confident that most current hair color lines are safe during pregnancy, the ammonia aroma was just too much for my heightened senses and I would have loved having this option.
Available at Madison Reed, $24.95
3. Kure Bazaar Nail Lacquer
While I’ve noticed many expecting mothers have questions about hair color, they get manicures and pedicures without a second thought. I hate to be a buzz kill but … nail polish is actually pretty toxic. I remembered that little inconvenient truth from beauty school and let my fingernails go bare. Alas, I was pregnant in the summer and couldn’t bear unpolished toes. I picked up a non-toxic polish in a basic red from a health food store and wore that one color all summer long.
Kure Bazaar offers nail lacquers free of formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate, and synthetic camphor in lots of amazing, fashion-forward shades. The formula is up to 85% natural, with ingredients derived from wood pulp, wheat, cotton, potatoes, and corn. Though the chemical content is reduced, there is no sacrifice in quality. These polishes are brilliant, shiny, and long-lasting.
Available at The Detox Market, $16
4. Scar Away C-Section Silicone Scar Sheets
I couldn’t have known that my son would flip to a breach position in the 11th hour, requiring an emergency C-section. In fact, I was confident I was going to have a natural birth. So a post-op infection and the resulting ugly, uneven scar weren’t exactly in my plans.
Luckily, there are treatments that can help. Scar Away Silicone Scar Sheets are clinically proven to diminish scars and restore skin to a more natural look. They are drug-free, safe for nursing moms, and are available specifically for C-section scars. If I had known about these inexpensive, easy-to-use sheets, I would have started using them as soon as my incision had healed to speed fading and improve the appearance of my scar.
Available at Drugstore.com, $24.99
5. Rahua Voluminous Spray
Hair styling aids are yet another beauty staple that may contain some questionable ingredients including propylene glycol, phthalates, and formaldehyde. I was particularly wary of hairspray while I was pregnant due to the high probability of inhaling and ingesting toxic fumes.
Innovative companies like Rahua are creating fantastic health- and environment-conscious styling products that actually work. Their Voluminous Spray is 100% natural, organic, and alcohol-free. It relies on lemongrass for flexible hold and citric juices to absorb oils and refresh your locks.
Available at Rahua, $28More On