Category Archives: Pregnancy & Nursing

Ask Dahlia: Cleaning With Essential Oils During Pregnancy

“Thank you for your post on Essential Oils to Avoid While Pregnant and Breastfeeding, extremely helpful. I was wondering if it is okay to use peppermint and/or lavender oils during pregnancy and after for household only, e.g. cleaning, disinfecting, air-freshening, laundry etc. etc. i use them quite extensively around the house, including vinegar, and cannot not think of any better and natural alternatives.”


Hi! Thanks for the great question. So there are 3 ways to get exposure to any chemical whether it’s an essential oil or something synthetic. 1. ingestion (swallowing), 2. skin absorption and 3. inhalation. Check out the article I wrote, “READ THE LABEL [CHAPTER 2] How Substances Enter Your Body.”

Unless you’re allergic or have other respiratory ailments, inhalation of the oils you mention, should not be detrimental or increase risk. Excessive amounts could cause irritation to eyes and lungs, but beyond that, I’m not worried.

There are so many resources out there on aromatherapy, but nothing that evaluates or compares each of the exposure types I mention, and whether each of these types has different impacts for pregnancy. It is my personal belief, others may argue, that these oils you’re wanting to use (lavender and peppermint) will be harmless as aromatherapy while pregnant. And these oils (and vinegar) have been used for centuries for disinfecting and cleaning. The quantities you’d be using are likely to be less than 1% anyway.

My only concern about using essential oils in cleaning is the unknown impact on household pets. Many animals are allergic to various types of essential oils; e.g. lemon and cats. So just be mindful. -Dahlia

Do you have your own question for Dahlia? Let us know! You can ask Dahlia yourself here. Your question may even be featured in the next newsletter!

Written by Dahlia Kelada
SALVE and © 2015 All Rights Reserved

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Essential Oils to Avoid While Pregnant and Breastfeeding

Expectant and new moms are always careful to eat and do the right things to protect the health of their babies. We often take for granted that the many products we put on our body can affect the fetus and breast milk as well. This is because skin care product ingredients are absorbed instantly through our skin and directly into the blood stream impacting the health of both mommy and baby.

Even if you’re seeking an all natural skin care line while you are pregnant or breastfeeding (which is recommended), you should also know that certain essential oils should be avoided.

essential oilsWhat are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are a concentrated liquid that are derived from a plant by using the flowers, leaves and/or roots in a distillation process. The term “essential” signifies the aroma or “essence” of that plant. They are found in a variety of products more commonly including skin care, perfume, cleaning products, soaps, and food flavorings. Traditional and alternative medicine may incorporate essential oils into medical and healing applications, and have various regulations for use depending on the country. Generally speaking, essential oils can be infused in products, used directly on the skin, or used in a nebulizer to diffuse the essence into the air. Not all essential oils are created equal. This means, some oils shouldn’t be used directly on the skin, and some should only be used as aromatics.

Essential Oils to Avoid While Pregnant & Breast Feeding
While some would say approach with caution, we say, “Why take the risk?”

On a side note, it’s important to understand that the amount of time, concentration, method of absorption and other considerations need to be made. Check out our article on How Substances Enter Your Body  and How We Accumulate Toxins in our Bodies.

Below is a list of some ingredients that should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding (partial list). While pregnant and breastfeeding, always consult with your medical doctor before using these or any essential oils. Consult your physician before using any essential oil in a diffuser while pregnant.

  • Aloe (drinking juice): Do not use during pregnancy, lactation.
  • Anise (essential oil): Avoid internally and externally in pregnancy, breast-feeding.
  • Basil (essential oil): Avoid during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
  • Bay (essential oil):  Avoid during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
  • Bergamot (essential oil):  Avoid during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
  • Cassia (essential oil): Should be avoided during pregnancy.
  • Cedarwood (essential oil):  Avoid during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
  • Dandelion (root, tincture): Do not use during pregnancy or nursing.
  • Roman Chamomile (essential oil):  Avoid chamomile in the first trimester of pregnancy.
  • Cinnamon (essential oil):  Avoid during pregnancy, breast-feeding.
  • Clary Sage (essential oil):  Use with caution during pregnancy.  Only use after the first trimester.  Do not use when lactating.
  • Clove (essential oil):  Use with caution in pregnancy; externally, only after the first trimester.
  • Cypress (essential oil):  Avoid in pregnancy, breast-feeding.
  • Elemi (essential oil):  Avoid in pregnancy, with infants and young children.
  • Fennel (essential oil):  Avoid in pregnancy.
  • Garlic (essential oil):  Do not administer essential oil to babies. Best to avoid in pregnancy.
  • Geranium (essential oil):  Contraindicated in the first trimester of pregnancy.
  • Ginger (essential oil, teas):  Should not be used for morning sickness.
  • Jasmine (essential oil): Avoid during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
  • Juniper (essential oil):  Contraindicated during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
  • Lavender (essential oil):  Only after first trimester.
  • Lemongrass (essential oil): Avoid during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
  • Marjoram (essential oil):  Has the potential to stimulate menstruation, do not use during pregnancy.
  • Nutmeg (powder):  Avoid in pregnancy.
  • Parsley (leaf): Avoid in excess during pregnancy and breast feeding.
  • Peppermint (essential oil):  Do not use during the first trimester of pregnancy or while breast-feeding.  Do not use with children younger than two years old.
  • Pine (essential oil): Contraindicated during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
  • Red Clover (tincture): Avoid during pregnancy.
  • Rose (essential oil):  Contraindicated during the first trimester of pregnancy.
  • Rosemary (essential oil):  Contraindicated in the first trimester of pregnancy and should not be administered to babies or children younger than the age of four.
  • Sweet Basil (essential oil, leaf): Contraindicated for use while pregnant, breast-feeding, and with infants or toddlers. Do not use the essential oil during pregnancy or nursing.
  • Thyme (essential oil):  Contraindicated during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
  • Yarrow (essential oil):  Contraindicated during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
  • Ylang Ylang (essential oil):  Avoid during pregnancy and breast-feeding.

Using Naturally Unscented Skin Care
Naturally unscented skin care is quite easy to find. You can even make your own with some basic carrier oils such as grape seed, olive, sunflower and coconut oils. You can also use butters such as shea, jojoba, almond, macadamia, Brazil nut, and others. offers a natural and organic line of unscented body care products including scrubs, face care, and soap. You can always go online and search for additional unscented skin care manufacturers.

Written by: Dahlia Kelada


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What is the difference among perfume, eau de toilette, eau de perfume, and fragrance?

natural skin care with no artificial fragranceAt some point or another, we’ve all used any variety of perfumes, eau de toilettes, fragrances and essential oils. They come in fancy colored glass bottles, fine mists sprays, tiny vials, and  even roll-on applicators. They range from $1 all the way up to hundreds of dollars. They all smell nice, but what are they really made of?

The truth – just because your $150 perfume smells like orchids doesn’t mean it is made of orchids.

A Brief History
The art of making herb- and spice-infused oils to mask body odor started thousands of years ago in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. Then a Persian chemist discovered distillation, taking oil directly from the flower (essential oil). This art of making scents then spread throughout Europe where the French improved on the process. They discovered advanced methods of scent creation, and even till now France remains at the epicenter of perfumery. The word “perfume” comes from Latin “per fumum,” which literally means “through smoke.”

Perfume, Eau de Perfume, Eau de Toilette, and Body Splash
Perfume as we know it today contains a concentration of aromas which may come from an often undisclosed blend of essential oils or synthetic odorants (smells not found in nature). These aromatic compounds are typically mixed with an ethanol (alcohol) and water to create a sprayable perfume.

The concentration of the aromatic ingredients determines whether the finished product will be a perfume (20-30% aroma), eau de perfume (11-19% aroma), au de toilette (6-10% aroma), or body splash/eau de cologne (3-5% aroma).

The higher the concentration, the longer the smell will last when applied. Perfumes last 6-8 hours or more; eau de perfumes last 4-6 hours; au de toilettes last 2-4 hours; and body splashes last 2-3 hours.

Where do the smells come from?
Aromatic ingredients found in nature can come from flower blossoms, fruit, tree bark, twigs, seeds, leaves, plant roots, moss, seaweed, natural resins, and wood. Some scents, particularly musks, may come from animals, but are becoming more rare as synthetic musks replace them.

Synthetically created scents (artificial fragrance) are not unusual in the world of perfume. Take “white musk” for instance or “orchid.” These scents are not naturally found, and neither are marine type scents. You’ll find artificial fragrance in MOST perfumes found in your favorite department store; in body care products such as shampoo, body wash, and soaps; and in detergents and room sprays.

What is artificial fragrance made from?
What if I told you 95% of artificial fragrances are made from chemicals found in natural gas and petroleum? The petrochemicals commonly used to create these fragrances are benzene, toluene, xylenes, and methanol. Phthalates (diethyl phthalate or DEP) is another chemical commonly used in artificial fragrance to dissolve oil and fragrance. With continuous exposure to these chemicals, there’s a risk of potentially disrupting our hormone and endocrine system, which can impact fertility and development in both men and women, and impact fetus development. Not to mention, it can increase cancer risks.

By the way, it’s worth mentioning that DEP is an ever-present pollutant of the human body, found in 97 percent of Americans tested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Umm— time for a reality check!

How do you know when an artificial fragrance is used?
Read the label! If you see “fragrance,” or “artificial fragrance,” or “fragrance-free,” there’s a chance of exposure to these chemicals. By the way, just because a product may say “fragrance-free,” doesn’t mean it doesn’t have other chemicals masking to make it appear to have no smell. Also, stay away from “musks.”

“There is evidence that exposure to synthetic musks can have hormone disrupting effects. Galaxolide and Tonalide can bind to and stimulate human estrogen receptors, and both musks have been shown to affect androgen and progesterone receptors. Tonalide has also been reported to increase the proliferation of estrogen-responsive human breast cancer cells. Further, Tonalide has been identified as a photosensitizer, a chemical that becomes more toxic when exposed to sunlight on the skin and has been linked to liver toxicity..

Due to the ubiquity of these chemicals, synthetic musks are pervasive in people’s bodies—even in newborns. Environmental Working Group tests of umbilical cord blood found 7 out of 10 babies had been born with Tonalide and/or Galaxolide in their blood. Another study detected Galaxolide in the blood of 91 percent of Austrian students.”

What Should I do?
Safest to find products that say, “no artificial fragrance.” Use products with pure essential oils or distillations. Find a skin care line that offers no artificial fragrance and phthalate-free products. Make your own scents by blending vodka, distilled water and essential oils. Use natural infused flower water as a body mist, e.g. rose water or orange blossom water.

Learn more at:

Article: Avoid Artificial Fragrance
Report: “Not So Sexy” (2010)
Report: “A Little Prettier” (2008)
Report: “Not Too Pretty” (2002)
Science: Phthalates
Skin Deep product search: Fragrance-free cosmetics 

Skin Deep topic: Fragrance 

Analysis: Scented Secrets

Quote Source:
Science: Synthetic musks

Bitsch N, Dudas C, Körner W, Failing K, Biselli S, Rimkus G, Brunn H. 2002. Estrogenic activity of musk fragrances detected by the E-screen assay using human mcf-7 cells. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 43(3): 257-64.

Seinen W, Lemmen JG, Pieters RH, Verbruggen EM, Van der Burg B. (1999). AHTN and HHCB show weak estrogenic but no uterotrophic activity. Toxicol. Lett. 111, 161–168.

Schreurs RH, Sonneveld E, Jansen JH, Seinen W, van der Burg B. 2005. Interaction of polycyclic musks and UV filters with the estrogen receptor (ER), androgen receptor (AR), and progesterone receptor (PR) in reporter gene bioassays. Toxicol Sci. 83(2): 264-72.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). 2009a. Inventory Update Reporting (IUR) Data for 2006. Available:

Written by: Dahlia Kelada

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