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Pregnancy-Safe Skincare: What You Need to Know

Article last updated: June 9, 2024

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Pregnancy brings a whirlwind of changes to your body and skin. Suddenly, your go-to skincare routine might not be the best fit anymore. In this article we’re guiding you through the maze of pregnancy-safe skincare, ensuring you glow safely and stunningly during these special months!

Understanding Skincare Safety During Pregnancy

When you’re expecting, your body goes through incredible changes, and so does your skin. Hormonal fluctuations can lead to unexpected acne, pigmentation, and sensitivity. What worked wonders for you before might suddenly cause irritation or be potentially harmful to your developing baby. This is why it’s crucial to rethink your skincare regime.

Pregnancy hormones can cause a range of skin issues. You might notice your skin becoming oilier, leading to breakouts reminiscent of your teenage years. Or, perhaps your skin feels drier than the Sahara, begging for extra hydration. Melasma, also known as the “mask of pregnancy,” might introduce dark patches across your face, while increased sensitivity could make your skin react to products it previously tolerated without a hitch.

Adding to the complexity, some skincare ingredients, though safe and effective under normal circumstances, might pose risks during pregnancy. Retinoids, for instance, are renowned for their anti-aging benefits but are linked to birth defects when used in high doses. Similarly, salicylic acid, a favorite for acne treatment, is best avoided in strong concentrations due to potential risks to the baby.

Understanding what’s safe and what’s not is the first step to maintaining your radiant glow without compromising your or your baby’s health. It’s not just about avoiding harmful ingredients; it’s also about choosing products that support your skin’s changing needs during this unique time. You’ll want to focus on gentle, nourishing ingredients that cater to your skin’s new sensitivities and conditions.

Ingredients to Avoid

While some ingredients in your skincare stash might be holy grails, they can turn into villains during pregnancy. Here’s a quick rundown of the top ingredients to avoid and why:

Retinoids (Vitamin A derivatives):

Why to Avoid: These anti-aging powerhouses are highly effective at promoting cell turnover and reducing wrinkles. However, high doses of retinoids have been linked to birth defects and developmental abnormalities. Even topical applications can carry risks, so it’s best to steer clear during pregnancy.

Salicylic Acid:

Why to Avoid: Commonly found in acne treatments, salicylic acid is great for exfoliating and unclogging pores. However, high concentrations, particularly in oral forms, have been associated with pregnancy complications and birth defects. Even though topical use is less risky, it’s prudent to avoid high concentrations to be safe.


Why to Avoid: This potent skin-lightening agent is used to treat hyperpigmentation and melasma. Due to its high absorption rate, a significant amount can enter the bloodstream. While there’s limited data on its safety in pregnancy, the potential for high absorption warrants caution, making it better to avoid during pregnancy.


Why to Avoid: These chemicals are often found in fragrances, nail polishes, and various personal care products. Phthalates have been linked to developmental issues and endocrine disruption. Research suggests they can affect fetal development, particularly in the male reproductive system, so it’s wise to avoid products containing them.


Why to Avoid: This chemical is used in some nail polishes, hair treatments, and preservatives. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and can cause respiratory issues and skin irritation. Exposure during pregnancy has been linked to adverse effects on both the mother and the developing fetus, making it a definite no-go.

Safe Skincare Ingredients

Now, onto the good news! There are plenty of safe and effective ingredients that can keep your skin healthy and glowing throughout pregnancy:

Vitamin C

Benefits: This powerhouse antioxidant is excellent for brightening skin, reducing hyperpigmentation, and promoting collagen production. It helps combat free radicals, which can damage skin cells and accelerate aging. By incorporating Vitamin C into your routine, you can maintain a radiant complexion and even skin tone during pregnancy.

How to Use: Look for Vitamin C serums and creams. Apply in the morning before sunscreen to boost its effectiveness against UV rays.

Hyaluronic Acid

Benefits: Known for its incredible hydrating properties, hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. It helps to keep your skin plump, smooth, and well-moisturized without any harmful effects. This ingredient is especially beneficial if your skin becomes dry or sensitive due to hormonal changes.

How to Use: Use hyaluronic acid serums or moisturizers twice daily, morning and night, to keep your skin hydrated.

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)

Benefits: This versatile ingredient helps with inflammation, improves the skin’s barrier function, and reduces redness and blotchiness. Niacinamide is also effective in minimizing the appearance of pores and fine lines, making it a gentle yet powerful addition to your pregnancy skincare routine.

How to Use: Incorporate niacinamide into your routine with serums or moisturizers. It pairs well with other active ingredients and can be used both morning and night.

Glycolic Acid

Benefits: In low concentrations, glycolic acid is safe for exfoliation and treating acne. It helps to remove dead skin cells, revealing a brighter, smoother complexion. This alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) can also help with mild pigmentation and texture issues, which can be common during pregnancy.

How to Use: Opt for products with glycolic acid concentrations of 5% or less. Use it in the evening and follow with a moisturizer to avoid dryness. Always use sunscreen during the day, as AHAs can increase sun sensitivity.

Natural Oils (Coconut, Argan, Rosehip)

Benefits: These oils are excellent for hydration and nourishment. Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids that help moisturize and protect the skin. Argan oil is packed with antioxidants and vitamins that enhance skin elasticity and smoothness. Rosehip oil is high in essential fatty acids and vitamins A and C, promoting skin regeneration and reducing scars and stretch marks.

How to Use: Apply these natural oils directly to your skin or mix a few drops into your moisturizer. They can be used on the face, body, and even hair for added hydration and shine.

Consulting with Your Healthcare Provider

While it’s great to have a go-to list of safe ingredients, always remember to consult with your healthcare provider before making significant changes to your skincare routine. They can offer personalized advice based on your skin’s unique needs and ensure that both you and your baby stay safe and healthy.

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