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babies

Family Blog, Featured, Skin

What Skincare Is Safe To Use While Pregnant & Nursing?Featured

Q: I’m pregnant or am nursing. Can I still use my favorite VMV Hypoallergenics®products?

A: There are no conclusive studies that show that typical cosmetics can affect fetal or infant development. But it is understandable to be extra cautious. Every person (and baby!) is an individual so make sure to check with your obstetrician and pediatrician before following any of the following suggestions.

Best Practices:

• Most topically-applied products have a molecular size that is too large to penetrate the epidermis, much less the dermis. This makes it highly unlikely for most cosmetics to make it to your bloodstream, uterus, and fetus. Because cosmetics aren’t ingested, this makes it also unlikely for ingredients to make it to your breast milk.
• There are exceptions like topical steroids which can penetrate the dermis. If your dermatologist prescribes a topical steroids, make sure they know that you are pregnant or nursing and follow their instructions. Other products that are not recommended at all are those that contain retinoic acid and salicylic acid. This is especially true of oral medications.
• To be extra safe, at least until the 3rd trimester but ideally for the entire pregnancy, do not use skin care products with active ingredients that are not washed off quickly. Continue reading for our list of products to pause and products you can continue.
• Because hormones can cause skin to go a little nuts (dryness, acne, darkening, stretch marks, etc.) we suggest focusing on prevention: no allergens, irritants, or comedogens. We also suggest choosing formulations that are the least stressful on skin.
• When nursing, something to keep in mind regarding skincare is that, when feeding or carrying, baby’s skin comes into contact with whatever you use on your skin. If you notice redness or other irritations on baby’s skin, check your own products for allergens or irritants. The same can occur with airborne allergens like bleaches and fragrances.

Simple REGIMEN:

This simple regimen can help address some of the more common skin concerns during pregnancy and nursing. Many of them can be shared when baby is born, too!

PREVENTION:

STEP 1: CLEANSE

STEP 2: FOR BUMPS

STEP 3: MOISTURIZE + BARRIER REPAIR

STEP 4: PROTECT + PREVENT HYPERPIGMENTATION

Products to PAUSE:

Following the suggestion to not use skincare with active ingredients that are not washed off quickly, these are the specific VMV products that we would suggest pausing during pregnancy:

Products to PROCEED WITH:

These are the specific VMV products that we can suggest continuing during pregnancy — with the guidance of your OB-GYN at all times, of course:

Additional Information on
Pregnancy/Lactation and Active Ingredients

While there are no conclusive clinical studies showing that the typical active ingredients found in cosmetics, especially at the concentrations used in most cosmetics, can (positively or negatively) affect fetal development or breast milk when applied on the skin, research is always progressing. Your OB-GYN (obstetrician-gynecologist) and pediatrician would be your best resources regarding the latest studies available and how they apply to you and your baby in particular.Some information that we can share as accurate as of this writing:
• Barring exceptions that do penetrate the dermis such as topical steroids, there are no conclusive studies showing positive or negative effects on fetal development or milk content from topically applied products.
• Historically, the active ingredients that have caused the most concern when taken internally are retinoic acid and salicylic acid, not glycolic acid, kojic acid, or mandelic acid. Retinoic acid is teratogenic (it affects growing cells, which blastocysts are). However, the concentrations used in cosmetics are so small that it is still considered unlikely that enough of it can penetrate to cause any damage. Still, retinoic acid is, by far, the active ingredient that causes the most red flags for pregnant women and it probably should be avoided altogether regardless of the concentration.
• The percentage of actives in most cosmetics is usually very low. We use concentrations that are proven to be effective, but even these concentrations are quite controlled. Many of our active toners, for example, contain about 2.5% of the active ingredient in a 120mL solution. Even if the active ingredient could penetrate the bloodstream (unlikely due to the relatively large molecular size) and make it to the fetus (even more unlikely), the percentage of the active ingredient that would get this far during each individual application is minuscule. This is because the ingredient:
…is present in low concentrations;
…is further diluted in a solution of much greater volume; and
…is applied in small amounts on the skin (and, again, because the molecular size makes penetration past the dermis unlikely).
For example: 2.5% of an active ingredient mixed in a 120mL solution of a toner means 3g of the active in the solution. Let’s assume that the toner is finished in 30 days. To estimate, dividing 3g by 30 days results in around 0.1g of the active ingredient getting to the skin per application. Because of the molecular size of the active, much of this 0.1g cannot penetrate beyond the dermis into the bloodstream, and even less could therefore possibly make it to the fetus.
This is NOT a recommendation to use active ingredients during your pregnancy — as we stated at the start of this article, we follow the safer recommendation to discontinue the use of active ingredients during pregnancy and nursing. We follow this guideline as an extra precaution because while studies are inconclusive, research is always revealing new discoveries. Avoiding active ingredients that are not immediately washed off provides an added degree of safety.
PLEASE FOLLOW THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF YOUR OB-GYN AND PEDIATRICIAN.
Data regarding the effects (positive or negative) of topical skin treatments on fetal or infant development at this point may be inconclusive; but for anything taken orally, you should be conscientious and always consult your doctor beforehand. You’ll be seeing your gynecologist soon and regularly, then your child’s pediatrician. These visits, more than anything, will help you best monitor your baby’s healthy development. This information should not be considered medical advice. Particularly if you have a medical condition, before you change anything in your skincare or other practices related to pregnancy or nursing, ask your doctor.


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Featured, Skin

What Does "Suitable For Children" or "For Eczema" Mean In Skincare?Featured

Marcie Mom from EczemaBlues.com interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to find out more about product claims and why they’re important when choosing your skin care…particularly if you or your child has eczema.

Understanding Baby Skin and Eczema

Q: “Suitable for Children with Eczema.” These are the most important words for a parent looking for products for their child with eczema. When a product is labeled (and prominently so) as specifically for the use of infants with eczema, we feel so much surer. Can you explain to us what “suitable for infants” and “suitable for eczema” really mean, and if there is a regulatory body that governs the use of these terms on product packaging?

A: It’s totally understandable that seeing that claim on a package would make a parent feel more at ease about choosing the product for their child. They’re not regulated terms, however. What might help is knowing a little bit more about baby skin.

Baby skin is formed and functioning from a very young age: neonatal and even younger — in utero by the end of the 1st trimester. But during the first few months of life, immunological functions are still undeveloped. For example, atopic dermatitis (aka eczema) is not often seen until after the 3rd month of life because it is an allergic disease that needs immune-forming cells to make IgE immunoglobulin. Because infant skin is newer to the world, building up its defenses, and as the surface area of skin is greater in babies (they absorb anything topically applied more than adults), baby skin care should be very safe yet still protect against micro-organisms.

At VMV Hypoallergenics, when we claim that a formulation can be used on young skin, this means that the product takes into account baby skin’s newness and absorption, and is as safe as we can make it. It would, for instance, contain zero (or close to zero) of all common contact allergens. It would also not contain other ingredients that elicit irritant responses or that have other safety issues. We would also include baby skin-compatible ingredients like a very safe, broad-spectrum (and non-drug) coconut-derived antimicrobial and organic virgin coconut oil. Monolaurin is present in breast milk and virgin coconut oil is sometimes used as an additive to some infant supplements.

In terms of something being “suitable for eczema,” it helps to first know what eczema is, which is atopic dermatitis. I left the more detailed definition to my mother, Dr. Verallo-Rowell, as this is her forte and I believe you and your readers would appreciate a doctor’s definition:

“Eczema is actually a more generalized term for any skin eruption characterized by edema (swelling) within the epidermis and dermis clinically seen as tiny itchy bubbles that ooze and become little bubbles or vesicles, even blisters. Then, exposed to the air, they dry up and become crusts. With chronicity, this wet phase may not be as obvious, and becomes replaced more by dry, thickened, very itchy patches and plaques. Atopic dermatitis is the prototype example of this process but it may be seen in other conditions such as allergic and irritant contact or photocontact dermatitis, eczematous drug eruption, and secondary reactions to a primary diagnosis.”

Because “eczema” is such a general term, a specific diagnosis can be a powerful tool towards consistent and sustained management. A specific diagnosis usually also comes with an identification of the possible triggers for an individual’s flare-ups. Children can be patch tested but not infants. The alternative is frequent and controlled observation of what seems to cause eruptions and to practice strict prevention. This is also why it is so important to use few products…so it’s easier to observe what the trigger/s might be.

The many conditions that can fall under the mantle “eczema” all benefit from the same ultra safety that we would do for hypoallergenic baby products, i.e. ZERO of all known allergens, etc. plus the inclusion of a very safe antibacterial-antiviral-antifungal in all formulations. Why? With eczema, when the skin develops fissures or cracks, this becomes welcoming to opportunistic microorganisms to enter the skin, which can lead to or exacerbate itching and further dryness…which can lead to more cracks (which can lead to more infection) and more scratching (which can spread infection)…more risk of microorganisms, etc. in a vicious cycle. This is why we put the skin-safe but powerful antibacterial-antiviral-antifungal-anti-inflammatory (monolaurin) in all these products.

More information can be found in “What Is Eczema” and My Baby Has Eczema has excellent tips for babies in particular, including a great daily care regimen!


This article was originally published in eczemablues.com as one of a multi-part series focused on understanding and using products for sensitive skinInspired by her daughter Marcie who had eczema from two weeks old, Mei (aka MarcieMom) started EczemaBlues.com with the mission to turn eczema blues to bliss. In this series of interviews, MarcieMom interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to learn more about product claims when choosing products to care for skin with eczema.