Selecting clean products for fertility and pregnancy can be time consuming and confusing. I remember when we first started trying for a baby, I wanted to choose and use products that were healthy for my body so I focused on choosing “clean” products and cosmetics. I did a lot of research to find products without ingredients that could potentially do harm to me, my fertility, or my baby. Researching ingredients and products has become a passion of mine. I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned with other moms who also want to focus on choosing cleaner products.
I want to share some tips on how to choose healthy body care products and cosmetics during conception and pregnancy. I’ll also share some of my favorite clean products. Please note that everyone has different sensitivities and risk tolerance for certain ingredients. If you see a product you like, please double check to see if the ingredients are suitable for your own skin and health condition.
The “Natural” Label on Clean Products
In North America, there are no regulations for packaging claiming that a product is “clean” or “natural.” Many products actually contain ingredients that are not so “clean” which makes it important to research the products you use.
The definition of a clean product can look different from person to person and company to company. For me, clean means few artificial preservatives or colors, no hormone-interrupting agents and no fragrance among other things. In my research, I learned that there is more to fragrance than just a lovely scent. Frangrance can be irritating to skin, and some companies “hide” harmful ingredients in the scent. Since scent ingredients are considered a trade secret, companies can add harmful ingredients this way without disclosing them to the consumer.
I have learned not to necessarily trust labels that tout clean and natural or even “safe for babies”. Knowing where to look for clean products and key ingredients to avoid will help you feel less overwhelmed with this process.
Where to Find Clean Face and Body Products
I have discovered that I have better luck finding clean products for fertility and pregnancy from smaller, independent companies. These companies are more passionate about providing clean products than they are about their bottom line.
Smaller companies often don’t have the capacity or scale to be sold in bigger retailers. I usually find clean products directly online, or at local specialty drug stores, independent shops, baby shops, or natural-food grocery stores like Whole Foods. Having stores you trust to carry clean products makes it much simpler to find things you are comfortable using.
My Favorite Local and Online Shops For Clean Body Care Products:
- Finlandia Pharmacy
- Whole Foods
- Carina Organics
- Harlow Skin Co.
- Soap Dispensary
- Sage Natural Wellness
- WestCoast Kids
Will Using Clean Ingredients Increase My Fertility?
Every mother-to-be wants the best possible chance of conceiving a baby. Many women use generic products every day and have no problem getting pregnant. My road to motherhood was quite different so I wanted to do everything within my power to have a successful pregnancy. Choosing clean products was a proactive way for me to better my overall health as I journeyed towards motherhood.
Products made with natural ingredients may not increase fertility, but they can provide peace of mind. I felt empowered choosing the best, and least harmful, products available. I was comforted with knowing if I had any unexplained infertility issues, harmful products were not a contributing factor.
Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy
After months of research, I made the decision to stop using products that contain the following ingredients. These ingredients are to be avoided during pregnancy according to Canada’s Global News :
- Parabens: A common preservative in makeup that has been linked to prenatal problems. Because it is 1) easily absorbed and 2) a hormone disruptor. A study in 2016 linked prenatal exposure to parabens with “miscarriage, low birth weight, obesity, impaired fetal growth and behavioural problems.”
- Retinol: A derivative of Vitamin A. Retinol can cause “malformations of the baby’s head, heart, brain, and spinal cord.” Look for this ingredient in acne products, as well as anti-aging lotions and face washes.
- Hydroquinone: Over the counter topical treatments containing this ingredient are used to lighten skin (especially for melasma). The absorbency rate of hydroquinone is 35-45% and although it isn’t lined to a particular problem, it is not a product recommended for pregnant women.
- Aluminum Chloride: This is an ingredient in antiperspirants that isn’t harmful in the small concentrations found in regular antiperspirants (3-6%). However, more powerful prescription antiperspirants contain anywhere from 15-30% aluminum chloride and should be avoided during pregnancy.
- Oxybenzone/avobenzone: The ingredients act as chemical filters in sunscreen. They are hormone disruptors that can cause fetal problems.
- Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid: These ingredients are commonly found in acne medication. While they are acceptable in small quantities they should be used cautiously.
- Essential oils: Improper use can cause unexpected problems with blood pressure, bleeding and early contractions. Products containing essential oils are typically diluted and therefore safe during pregnancy. Pure essential oils can pose problems and should be thoughtfully considered.
- Formaldehyde, Toluene, Dibutyl phthalate: According to the David Suzuki Foundation, these ingredients, commonly found in nail polish, are linked with health and environmental concerns, including cancer, reproductive disorders, asthma and severe allergies.
Clean Body Products I Used For Conception and Pregnancy
After learning about products to avoid, I carefully researched beauty products. I tried a variety of clean body products until I found my favorites. These are the clean products for fertility and pregnancy that I most enjoyed.
Clean & Affordable Shampoo, Conditioner, Face Wash, Face Cream & Toner
For shampoo, conditioner, face wash and toner, I enjoy the clean products from Carina Organics. Carina Organics focuses on “replacing chemical and synthetic ingredients with natural and organic plant extracts, essences, and oils.” They are local to me and source their ingredients from the nearby Pacific Northwest.
I have found Carina Organics products to be affordable and of high quality. It’s one of the only lines to be almost completely devoid of any ingredients that were of a concern to me. The only issue I had was with some of the natural plant extracts in the formulas. I was told by a sales rep that they are present in such low quantities that it’s similar to putting a tea bag on your skin.
I found the unscented shampoo worked moderately well to give my hair that “squeaky clean” feeling. It might seem disconcerting that it doesn’t lather up like traditional shampoo, but considering that it doesn’t have Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), it’s a good trade-off.
The conditioner works like most average priced conditioners. It does the job of detangling hair but it doesn’t do much more than that. I have low maintenance hair that doesn’t require special products. (If you need extra rich conditioning you may want to try a different clean conditioner.)
The Carina Organics face wash is a bit on the milder side. I use it alone on days when I haven’t worn any makeup. Even though it doesn’t lather, it can still get most of my makeup off. However, I need to use a makeup remover first if I am wearing foundation or mascara. See below on a clean makeup remover I love.
The Carina Organics toner comes with a spray pump but I use it with a cotton pad after washing my face. It helps to prepare my skin for other treatments and takes off any remaining debris. It doesn’t have any alcohol in it so it doesn’t sting.
As you can see, I really trust all of Carina Organic’s products and still buy them to this day, all the ones I chose worked well for me except the body lotion. I tried using it but it was just not rich enough for the skin on my body which has slight eczema. My skin was terribly irritated and I had to go back to my regular body lotion which I’ll go over below.
A Green Makeup Remover
The Carina Organics face wash featured above is pretty mild. If I am wearing makeup, I will use a makeup remover to get as much of the make up off as I can before using the face wash. For makeup removal, I absolutely love Green Clean Cleansing Balm from Farmacy Beauty. Green Clean’s key ingredients are sunflower, ginger root oils, turmeric, moringa extract, papaya enzymes. All of their products follow Farmacy Beauty’s six “Clean Commandments.”
I am a big believer in cleansing balms now that I tried this product. To use, apply it to the face without water, gently massage it all over and then rinse off. It removes all the makeup easily and leaves my skin soft and hydrated. Another great thing is that it doesn’t sting your eyes. It is helpful that I can still open my eyes to check on Bibi if we are showering together. I also love that the ingredients have long-term benefits for my skin.
Missha is a Korean skincare company known for producing the Time Revolution Face Essence; a dupe of Japan’s famous and more expensive SKII. I use this essence after toning my face. It gives my skin a softer texture and helps my skin more readily absorb other products. This is not a clean product per se but I didn’t find any ingredients in there that I had issues with.
I have to admit, I was never able to find a body lotion that worked well for my skin. With slight eczema, all the natural creams and oils I tried were just not cutting it for me. I tried coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, and shea butter but none of them could soothe my irritated skin. I also had a difficult time with the strong smell of the natural ingredients during pregnancy.
After suffering weeks of itchy dry skin, I went back to my trusted Aveeno body lotion again. It contained a few ingredients I was hoping to eliminate from my routine. However, I discovered that Aveeno’s Soothing Night Balm for Babies was the perfect solution. It worked for me as well as their body lotion doesn’t contain the ingredients that I was worried about. The night balm is a thick cream that is so soothing and protective. I ended up using it on Bibi’s eczema as well.
A Natural Hand Cream
For dry hands and feet, I used the Daydream body balm from Harlow Skin Co. This is another local company that uses whole and pure ingredients, in fact every product uses 12 ingredients or less.
The body balm hydrates and protects hands and feet very well. The natural ingredients worked wonders on my heels that normally crack. I still use it to keep my feet smooth and hydrated. The fragrance from the essential oils in the Daydream blend is so relaxing. Using the balm feels like a calming spa experience. Harlow Skin Co told me the balm has a low concentration of essential oils and can be safely used during pregnancy.
I use 2 different clean lip balms, one with SPF for use during the day and one without for night.
The SPF 15 lipbalm from The Green Beaver Company is Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB and contains Zinc Oxide as an active ingredient. I do like that it contains all natural ingredients but it can be streaky if you apply too much. It does leave behind white streaks so I do check how it looks in the mirror after application.
For nighttime use, I use a beeswax lip balm from Burt’s Bees. It contains Vitamin E and I find it to be very nourishing. It’s also pretty affordable and accessible, it can be found in most grocery stores or pharmacies.
Safe Mineral Sunscreens
For sunscreen, I specifically sought out mineral sunscreens containing titanium oxide or zinc oxide as active ingredients. They are part of the “physical sunscreen” family which acts as a shield that deflects the sun’s rays.
On the other hand, “chemical sunscreens” work as a sponge, absorbing the sun’s rays. Active ingredients in chemical sunscreens have been shown to be absorbed into the bloodstream and include: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. The FDA is currently investigating chemical sunscreens to determine if they can be considered to GRASE or “generally regarded as safe”.
These are my favorite mineral sunscreens:
- Badger Organic Sunscreen: Zinc oxide is the only active ingredient in this amazing sunscreen. It also includes plant oils, aloe and beeswax. This formula is thick and leaves a white cast. It is different from other brands I’ve used because of how matte it is, a plus for those with oily skin.
- Kiss My Face Baby Sunscreen-This is another broad spectrum sunscreen and uses non-nano mineral only actives blended with nourishing aloe. This formula is a little more nourishing than the Badger one above so it leaves the shinier.
- Little Hands Hawaii: Developed in Hawaii to protect both skin and the environment, this sunscreen is made with non-nano zinc oxide, natural oils and shea butter. It prides itself in being reef-safe and marine life-friendly. I use this sunscreen on both Bibi and I and I personally love the scent which reminds me of eucalyptus and coconut oil. It’s one of the most luxurious smelling sunscreens I’ve ever used. The formulation is glides on easily but is not sheer. They have tinted version of this which is colored with iron oxide minerals.
Clean Cosmetics I Used During Pregnancy
I usually wear light make up and chose to wear minimal make-up during pregnancy. I made a deliberate switch to cleaner cosmetics then, whereas, I switched to clean body care products when I started trying to conceive.
I’m one of those lucky people who gets asked if I am tired or sick when I don’t wear makeup. I would only use it on days when I knew I would have more social interactions. Since I wasn’t wearing it every day, all my make-up choices aren’t as natural as my selections for body care. However, I tried to choose the best possible options and am satisfied with the products that I chose.
For regular days I used the concealer from Lavera. Lavera is a company that led the natural makeup movement. Started in 1987, they have been creating innovative and “effective cosmetics with a 100% natural basis.”
I found the concealer to have light to moderate coverage. It was good for concealing light blemishes to give an overall even skin tone. For special events when I needed more coverage, I opted for NARS Complete Concealer. You can layer this concealer to create full coverage and a little goes a long way. I only use it on the spots that need it.
Clean Blush Stick
I love the way blush pulls a look together. I searched for a long time for a blush that didn’t contain titanium dioxide in powder form. Finally, I found this creamy blush “Multi-stick” from ILIA. ILIA is a company that seeks to combine the best of natural ingredients into products that are versatile and simple. Their products are formulated from scratch, using a mix of natural, organic botanics and safe synthetics.
At first I was a bit hesitant to use a cream blush. I was worried about the lack of application control but it is very easy to apply. I could apply it with only the stick and didn’t need any brushes. This made it easy to carry around for touch-ups as well. The multi-stick is also a lipstick, giving me two clean and beautiful products in one.
I ended up re-purchasing this product many many times and I’m still using it to this day. It goes to show you how much I love it but also highlights the one drawback of this product; its size. It is quite small at .15 oz.
On the rare days when I used foundation, I chose one from COVER FX. COVERFX seeks to provide people of all skin tones with high-performance customizable products made with clean ingredients.
This foundation gave excellent coverage and blended easily. It went on smooth and it didn’t cake easily. It’s a “Clean at Sephora” product. Sephora’s definition of “clean” includes products formulated without ingredients such as sulfates, parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates, oxybenzone, hydroquinone, triclosan, undisclosed fragrances and many more.
Clean 10-Free Nail polish
The clean nail polish I used for special events during pregnancy was from Butter London, a popular brand known for their 10-free formula. 10-free means it is devoid of these 10 harmful ingredients: Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, DBP, Toluene, Camphor, Ethyl Tosylamide, Xylene, Parabens, Gluten or TPHP.
Clean Nail Polish Remover
For nail polish remover, I chose this acetone-free formula from Mineral Fusion. It contains only Methyl Acetate, Isopropyl Myristate and fragrance. It works like a regular nail polish remover so I have no complaints except for the smell. It still possesses the scent of a regular nail polish remover.
I really love the performance of this formula. It’s triangular shaped brush provides more application control. It’s also gives excellent full coverage with using only 2 coats. Butter nail polishes are about double the price of most good drugstore nail polishes but the clean aspect, it’s performance and longevity makes it well worth it. Bibi is now over one years old and I still use this nail polish once in a while. To my surprise, it hasn’t hardened up even after this long.
We all want what is best for our babies and that should include a mom who is healthy and happy. I hope that my research and recommendations on clean products for fertility and pregnancy are helpful for you. If you have any finds of your own, please share them with me below. I am always looking for clean products for Bibi and I.