Nothing feels better in pregnancy than a long, warm shower and shampoo after a long day being pregnant. Women rarely check soap and shampoo ingredient labels because they are not consuming the products.
The scalp and skin absorb chemicals found in soaps and shampoos, most importantly known and potential carcinogens.
Two sodium based ingredients found on the back of soap or shampoo bottle may be sodium laurel sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. These sodiums can be difficult to tell apart, but pregnant women need only remember “laureth”. Sodium laureth sulfate is a potential carcinogen. OSHA and the American Cancer Society claim the ingredient is safe. The Environmental Protection Agency, however, lists the ingredient 1,4-dioxane as a “probable” human carcinogen. Some products containing sodium laureth sulfate also contain 1,4-dioxane.
The Food and Drug Administration knows soaps and shampoos contain sodium laureth sulfate and 1,4-dioxane. While they claim to be monitoring 1,4-dioxane levels, the FDA has not banned the ingredient or forced manufacturers to remove the ingredient from human products. Instead, they suggest manufacturers remove 1,4-dioxane and leave it at that. The Organic Consumers Association completed testing for 1,4-dioxane, in 2008, with alarming results. Children’s shampoo, raw cosmetic materials, and finished cosmetic products all tested positive for 1,4-dioxane.
Pregnant women need to stay away from soaps and shampoos containing sodium laureth sulfate as the product could also contain 1,4-dioxane. Natural products are available with organic, safe ingredients perfect for use during pregnancy. The general rule of thumb is – “If you can’t pronounce it, don’t use it!”
When choosing soap and shampoo products during pregnancy, it is also important to watch out for oxybenzone. This ingredient is commonly used to increase absorption of ingredients into the skin and is known to cause cell damage and potentially birth defects in male infants.
Beauty care is an important part of feeling beautiful during pregnancy, but the brass facts are that some products contain ingredients that could be harmful to the mother and fetus, including those used in soap and shampoo.