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Dear Fig+Sage :: Which Essential Oils Should I Avoid In Skin Care During Pregnancy?

Posted Feb 28 2011 11:56am


Q: I would like to ask you if you have any recommendations for facial skin care lines/products (cleanser, toner, moisturizer, etc.) that would be safe to use during pregnancy? I notice a lot of natural/organic lines  though very good, contain some essential oils that seem to not be recommended for pregnant women.

A: Because we're not essential oil experts we asked someone who is to answer this question from one of our readers.  Hope Gillerman of H. Gillerman Organics is a highly regarded Aromatherapist who we trust and we LOVE her essential oil blends :


Essential oils can be very effective for skin care because they are strong antioxidants and promote healing and tissue regeneration (anti-aging). They are one of nature’s best anti-inflammatories and are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal as well. While most essential oils commonly used in natural skin care products are safe for pregnancy, some are not recommended. As a general guide, avoid essential oils that are referred to in herbology and Chinese medicine as “moving” oils. These oils may stimulate circulation and give you more energy but they are counter-indicated for pregnancy. Moving oils are used during labor to promote childbirth or after childbirth to help the over stretched tissues tighten and bounce back. 

Reading the ingredients before selecting a skin care product is highly recommended. Here are some guidelines for what to avoid and what to look for while you are pregnant:

1) Avoid “moving” and warming SPICE oils often found in skin care such as Rosemary, Coriander and Basil.

2) Oils used for oily skin or acne like Eucalyptus or Cedarwood are also too  “moving” and should be avoided during pregnancy. Instead, look for products that use oils from citrus fruits (orange, mandarin orange, bergamot) or petitgrain. Citrus oils are highly recommended during pregnancy for their immediate and unique affect on mood—uplifting without stimulating. Note: avoid citrus oils when sunbathing as they increase your sensitivity to the suns rays.

3) Hormonal balancing oils that are often found in skin care are not recommended during pregnancy. Choose products with Geranium and avoid those with Clary Sage, Marjoram, Myrrh, Fennel and Anise. However, save Clary Sage for the time of delivery or to promote lactation.

4) Above all, the oils that are best suited for skin care during pregnancy are the cooling, calming oils that are about growth, beauty and transformation while promoting happiness, relaxation, sleep, and calm state of mind. Those are the attributes of essential oils that come from flowers petals such as rose, neroli, lavender, roman chamomile and ylang ylang. Note: Products that use Jasmine, one of nature’s best anti-depressants, are better used during childbirth. For body oil, the uplifting effect of Palmarosa and Patchouli and the relaxing effect of Sandalwood are recommended.

6) Low percentage of essential oils in the formulation (2% or less) is also important. Avoid overpowering scents. Be careful to choose products without synthetic fragrance (if you see “fragrance” in the list of ingredients you are getting a synthetic). You may see a product that lists essential oils that also includes synthetic fragrance. Always select products made with organic and wild-crafted ingredients when ever possible.

7) And what is recommended during pregnancy will also be suitable while caring for the newborn. Note: Rose is especially good for bonding between mother and child. 

After reading through Hope's advice above, a good place to begin your search is our Best in Natural Beauty Awards for Skin Care and check the ingredients before purchasing. Also, you may be interested to know that H. Gillerman Organics is going to be launching their Skin Care called HGO Lab Skin Care very soon and they contain 1-2% essentials oils in organic and wild-crafted formulations.  We will be trying the line out soon, but from her line, Hope recommends the following products to use during pregnancy:  

+ HGO Lab Face Wash with grapefruit, aloe and natural apple fruit acids to cleanse and balance skin skin without stripping oils.

+ HGO Lab Neroli Face Oil a calming, regenerating oil for even the most sensitive skin made with organic rose, neroli, chamomile in a base of nutritive, regenerative, skin balancing vegetable oils: avocado, evening primrose, meadowseed, jojoba oil and rose hip seed oil.


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