Retinol is a vitamin A derivative hailed to have wrinkle-preventing properties. It is a popular ingredient in serums and moisturizers and is recommended by dermatologists and those in the skincare industry.
However, because retinol is very potent, medical professionals generally advise that it is unsafe to use during pregnancy or postpartum. Retinol is also unsafe to use while breastfeeding - we take a look at why in this blog.
Although the amount of Retinol absorbed into the bloodstream may be minimal, it is known that using retinoids during pregnancy and nursing can result in multiple effects on the child.
What is retinol?
Despite its prevalence in department store beauty counters and pharmacies, retinol is a poorly understood ingredient. The confusion is partly due to the fact that retinol is part of a larger family of ingredients. Retinoid is the prescription form, while retinol is the over-the-counter variant. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, there is in fact a difference between retinoid and retinol. Retinoid is the umbrella category of vitamin A derivatives which convert into retinoic acid to increase the rate at which skin cells are renewed and shed.
Retinol converts to retinoic acid within the body by binding to retinoic acid receptors in the skin. When these receptors come into contact with retinol and convert it into retinoic acid, they can affect gene expression and significantly alter the skin's appearance, from improving acne scarring to wrinkles.
Retinols are a subcategory of retinoids, and are the less concentrated form of the ingredient available in many skincare products offered by brands like The Ordinary or The Inkey List.
Why you shouldn't use retinol while breastfeeding
Retinol is considered to be unsafe during pregnancy and breastfeeding by the American Academy of Dermatology.Systemic retinoids can cause birth defects, so it's wise not to use any retinoids during pregnancy or breastfeeding, even if absorption into the skin is minimal.
Although more research is needed to better understand the amount of retinol absorbed into the bloodstream, it is known to have very harmful effects on the fetus during pregnancy, including the risk of miscarriage. It can also negatively impact the development of a nursing child.
Risks of retinol use during breastfeeding
Since retinol is a harsh ingredient, it always brings certain risks, but there are a whole set of additional risks for your baby if used during breastfeeding or pumping sessions.
As retinol use during pregnancy has been found to cause birth defects, it's advisable to refrain from using it during breastfeeding or pumping. While it remains unknown how much retinol is passed to your baby through breast milk, it's best to avoid it to prevent any risk of passing it onto the baby.
Although there is no evidence that retinol can be passed onto the baby through breast milk, there is also no evidence for its safety. Ultimately, it is not worth the potential risks.
There are safer alternatives to retinol that have similar effects, such as plant-based Bakuchiol, Vitamin C, and Azelaic Acid, all of which are safe to use during pregnancy. However, if you have any concerns about products used during or after pregnancy, don't hesitate to speak with your lactation consultant or other healthcare providers.
Limerick breast pumps - hygiene and comfort
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