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Beauty Treatments for Pregnancy: Are Soap and Shampoo Safe During Pregnancy?

Nothing feels better than a long, warm shower after a long day of pregnancy. Women rarely check soap and shampoo ingredient labels because they don’t consume the products. The scalp and skin absorb chemicals found in soaps and shampoos, the most important known and potential carcinogens.

Two sodium-based ingredients found on the back of your soap or shampoo bottle can be sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate. These sodium can be difficult to tell apart, but pregnant women just need to remember “laureth.” Sodium laureth sulfate is a potential carcinogen. OSHA and the American Cancer Society state that the ingredient is safe. However, the Environmental Protection Agency lists the ingredient 1,4-dioxane as a “probable” human carcinogen. Some products that contain sodium laureth sulfate also contain 1,4-dioxane.

The Food and Drug Administration knows that 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 that manufacturers ditch the 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, cosmetic raw materials, and finished cosmetic products tested positive for 1,4-dioxane.

Pregnant women should stay away from soaps and shampoos that contain sodium laureth sulfate, as the product may also contain 1,4-dioxane. Natural products are available with safe organic ingredients, perfect to 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 be careful with oxybenzone. This ingredient is commonly used to increase the absorption of ingredients into the skin and is known to cause cell damage and possible birth defects in baby boys.

Beauty care is an important part of feeling beautiful during pregnancy, but the reality is that some products contain ingredients that could be harmful to mother and fetus, including those used in soap and shampoo.

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