Most of Doctor’s Guide to Pregnancy Safe Skincare is most important for every pregnant woman. When you’re pregnant, there are a lot of things you have to temporarily remove from your daily routine beyond just alcohol and copious amounts of caffeine. I mean, it’s not common knowledge that you can’t eat bean sprouts or go in a hot tub while you’re pregnant, right? Another thing you might not consider is your skincare products. There are a lot of skincare ingredients that are beneficial when you’re not pregnant, but not considered safe when you’re expecting. Always check with your physician before introducing a new product into your own rotation, but today, I wanted to share with you my a.m. and p.m. pregnancy skincare routine.
Pregnancy-Safe Skincare: Everything You Need to Know
Safety First and foremost, like many of you, at the very top of my priority list, was the health of my growing baby (and myself!). What’s normally considered safe for me could be harmful to a fetus, so I made sure to vet everything with my doctor. Since everyone is different, always check every ingredient list with your doctor to ensure it’s OK for your pregnancy. I literally copy/pasted all ingredient lists for my skincare products into an email for my doctor to make sure she gave me the thumbs up.
How to Care for Your Skin During Pregnancy
So what can you use? Don’t let that list of products to avoid discourage you from creating a solid skincare routine that’s still safe for pregnancy—there are still plenty of skincare products out there that will help you fight breakouts and dryness and keep your skin feeling clean and healthy:
Gentle, fragrance-free cleansers and moisturizers
Hyaluronic acid (a moisturizer with pregnancy-safe anti-aging properties)
Benzoyl Peroxide (safe in limited amounts, but it is recommended to check with your dermatologist first before using)
Vitamin C serum (used for its brightening, anti-aging, and antioxidant properties; apply in the morning before sunscreen)
Salicylic acid in low doses, usually found in over-the-counter face washes (not safe in high doses, in masks, or when taken orally)
Skin Care While Breastfeeding
while breastfeeding, most topical skincare products are safe as long as not place near the breast/nipple,” says Dr. Laura Scott. However, there’s still a sizable lack of research on the safety of using certain skincare products while breastfeeding, “so it is still best to be cautious and avoid the use of unnecessary products.”
Products like Botox, retinoids, and hydroquinone (skin lightener) haven’t been studied for safety in breastfeeding, so it’s recommended they be avoided entirely while you’re nursing. But if you’re ever unsure about a skincare product and whether it’s safe to use while breastfeeding, always contact your OB or dermatologist.
Using Sunscreen While Pregnant
Sunscreen is always super important whether you’re pregnant or not, but because your skin might be more sensitive to sun damage during pregnancy, you’ll want to be more mindful about how you use sunscreen.
You don’t necessarily need to use more sunscreen, Dr. Laura Scott says, “but you should try to use it diligently because of the increased risk of developing melasma (the skin-discoloring condition caused by pregnancy hormones). Pregnant people should apply sunscreen daily in the morning with their normal moisturizer, and then again every two hours if you’re going to be outside for long periods of time.” That might mean setting an alarm on your phone that goes off every two hours, especially if you’re planning things like long days at the beach or all-day hikes.
Are face creams safe during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, you must avoid retinoids, or vitamin A derivatives, such as Retin-A or Renova, as well as salicylates, including products containing salicylic acid (also known as beta-hydroxy acid). These can all cause potential harm to your developing baby.
How can I glow my skin during pregnancy?
Nurture the radiance. Moisturize daily and gently exfoliate your skin once or twice a week to keep your skin glowing and smooth. Protect your skin now more than ever from the sun’s harmful rays by using gentle sunscreen on your face and all exposed body parts whenever you’ll be out in the sun.
What skincare is safe during pregnancy?
So now we’ve covered what’s not so safe, here’s the good stuff. Thankfully there are still lots of options for skincare products safe for pregnancy. Generally speaking, products that are naturally derived and fragrance-free, with sensitive formulas, will be good.
If you’ve got a particular pregnancy skincare woe, we’ve got your back. And your front. And, well, all of you.
Acne and hyperpigmentation
If you’re getting pimples to rival your 15-year-old self, we feel ya. And developing dark spots, or “the mask of pregnancy” known as melasma, can make you feel like you don’t even look like you anymore. But it’s not the end. Products containing vitamin C and azelaic acid, which are derived from the wheat plant, can help brighten and clear up your skin tone.
Whether or not you’ve suffered from dry skin or eczema before getting pregnant, now can be the time for a giant flare-up of dry, itchy skin that keeps you up at night. It’s best to run this one past your doctor, and you may need a prescription, but low-dose cortisol steroid creams can sometimes be used. If not, natural ingredients like aloe vera can help.
While your usual go-to products might not be pregnancy safe, formulas including hyaluronic acid, vitamins E, K, and B3 are usually good to go, as is green tea, a great natural antioxidant.
It’s heavily debated whether you can avoid stretch marks using moisturizers alone, but there’s no harm in trying. Cocoa butter, shea butter, and coconut oil are all super hydrating, but so is a big old glass of water, so don’t forget to drink up!
Thanks to a surge in melanin-stimulating hormones (like estrogen) you might find yourself catching a tan much easier than usual. Mineral-based sunscreens (look for zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) act as a physical barrier, reflecting UV rays right off the surface of your skin, and should be liberally applied before heading out, as should the ever-stylish wide-brimmed sun hat. Yes, you look like a movie star.
What skincare brand is best for pregnancy?
Look for natural brands specifically catering to the pregnant and nursing mama sector of the market. Some faves include Belli Skincare, Burt’s Bees, Earth Mama Organics, and Palmers.
Belli Healthy Glow Facial Hydrator
Cerave Moisturizing Cream for Normal to Dry Skin
Glytone Enhance Brightening Complex
SkinCeuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier
SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47 (4 oz.)
What face creams are safe during pregnancy?
Avoid those ingredients we’ve talked about and focus on what specific issue you need resolving, whether it’s acne, dry, or oily skin for example. Different issues will need different formulas, but generally speaking, lighter gels can suit pregnant skin better than thicker creams.
Is it safe to use products containing retinol while breastfeeding?
No, it’s best to avoid products containing retinol, which can also be listed in ingredients like vitamin A and retinoids, until you have fully weaned your baby.
What skincare products should be avoided during pregnancy?
while we want to get down to the good stuff and talk about pregnancy-safe skincare products, it’s just as crucial to know what you might want to avoid. These are top of the naughty list:
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) — generally used as chemical exfoliants, some can be safe at low dosages, but generally best to avoid.
Retinol and retinoids — derivatives of vitamin A, these are often found in prescription acne and anti-wrinkle products. If you routinely use these products, it’s advisable to stop the treatment before trying to conceive.
Oxybenzone — along with a whole host of other scary-sounding chemical names, is commonly found in sunscreens.
Salicylic acid — while it may be safe to use products containing salicylic acid topically (i.e. creams or lotions) for acne, it’s one to avoid taking orally or in high-dose facial peels.
Hydroquinone — regularly an ingredient in skin lightening treatments, this is readily absorbed by the skin, which can pose a threat to your baby in utero.
Formaldehyde — a known carcinogen, this can still be found in some nail hardeners and polishes.
Benzoyl Peroxide — commonly found in acne treatments, some will say it’s safe to use topically, but it does pose a possible risk, so probably best to avoid.
Parabens and phthalates — ingredients in cosmetics to stabilize and preserve products, the most commonly used compound to look for on the ingredients list is diethyl phthalate (DEP).
BPA — an unstable chemical used in plastics, this can leach into the product held within, so it’s worth checking the packaging of your products too.
Those are the big ones, but this list is by no means exhaustive (we’d probably need a whole other website for that!). So, if you’re concerned about any of the products in your usual skincare line-up, speak to your doctor, dermatologist, or OBGYN. Another great source is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, where you can search for a safety rating for your skincare products.
If you have any concerns about a skin product, it’s a good idea to discuss it with your doctor. If you have used a product that contains a potentially harmful ingredient, don’t panic. Simply stop using the product now and pick one with safer ingredients.