Pregnancy and skin care: What skincare products are safe to use?

Pregnancy and skin care: What skincare products are safe to use?

When you learn you're pregnant, everything in your life changes. And that may also apply to your skin care products. There’s a proven link between pregnancy and skin care, as skin care products can be really harmful for babies as well as the mother when directly absorbed. So, it’s always important to know some safe skin care for pregnancy to safeguard yourself and your baby.

While giving up your favorite wine is more commonly known (sorry!), giving up your go-to skin care products might come as a complete shock. But there's a viable reason why everyone is watching what you put on your skin: Some substances can get into both your body and your developing baby's body through absorption.

Although the majority of over-the-counter (OTC) body care products are absolutely safe for your baby, there are a few substances you should be aware of. The good news is that you may find the right balance between keeping your glow as an expectant mother and safeguarding your child.

This explanation of what a healthy pregnancy skin care routine looks like—as well as which particular substances to avoid—is for you whether you're looking for a safe solution to reverse an unwanted skin change caused by pregnancy (yes, they do, unhappily), or you're checking up on the safety of your present regimen.


Pregnancy skin changes

Let's face it: Many women have skin changes connected to pregnancy. Hormones may be to blame, or you may choose to write it off as another one of those "natural" side effects of being a future mother.

While some lucky women have nine months of flawless skin, others eventually deal with at least one unfavorable new or escalating skin problem. The most typical are:

  • dry skin
  • skin darkening (a condition called melasma or cholasma)
  • acne

People who already have eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea on their skin could possibly develop new symptoms (for better or worse).


Additionally, since your body is "all in" during pregnancy, bothersome skin changes can also occur in other areas of your body. Consider stretch marks, spider veins, hair growth, and even hair loss.


Top ingredients to avoid in your skincare while pregnant

Before getting into our list, it is important to note that there is a limited amount of evidence-based information regarding the safety of particular products during pregnancy. Clinical studies on pregnant mothers that could reveal and prove that specific components are dangerous are dangerous and almost always unethical.

However, a few popular components in skin care products have been linked to very significant fetal consequences in some animal, anecdotal, or case-specific research. That serves as the foundation for our recommendations.

Cosmetic products do not require FDA clearance in order to be sold on the market, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that those products to be "safe" based on their specific uses and labeling.

All of this raises serious concerns regarding which cosmetics are actually safe to use and what's the most advisable Skincare while Pregnant. Due to this, the majority of experts (including ourselves) are on the side of caution.



An essential nutrient called vitamin A is needed for good skin, immunological, reproductive, and eye health. Your body converts it into retinol after consumption or skin absorption.

Some anti-aging skin care products contain retinoids, a special kind of retinol that has earned a reputation for its ability to treat acne and lessen fine lines. Retinoids accomplish this by accelerating the exfoliation of skin cells at the surface and increasing collagen synthesis to renew skin.

Prescription drugs, such Retin-A (tretinoin) and Accutane (isotretinoin), contain far larger doses of retinoids than over-the-counter alternatives. Although the amount of retinoids absorbed by topical treatments is probably small, higher doses have been associated with birth abnormalities. As a result, it is advised avoiding using any retinoids-based skincare while pregnant.


It has been extensively reported that using prescription retinoids like Accutane increases the chance of serious congenital abnormalities by 20 to 35 percent and can cause neurocognitive difficulties in up to 60% of children.

Therefore, it is advised that females of childbearing age taking Accutane to:

  • utilize two methods of contraception
  • be regularly checked for pregnancy and compliance by their doctor
  • Cease taking the medicine 1-2 months before attempting pregnancy.


Salicylic acid at high doses

Salicylic acid, which has aspirin-like anti-inflammatory properties, is a frequent chemical used to treat acne. However, a 2013 study found that salicylic acid-containing products, such as peels and oral medicines, should be avoided during pregnancy.

However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has determined that topical OTC medicines containing salicylic acid in lower doses are safe (ACOG).



A prescription drug called hydroquinone is used to lighten skin or lessen skin pigmentation caused by chloasma and melasma, both of which can be caused by pregnancy.

Hydroquinone and serious birth abnormalities or adverse effects are not causally related. However, because hydroquinone is more readily absorbed by the body than other substances (25 to 35 percent, according to this study), it is recommended to avoid exposure completely with any Hydroquinone-containing products or Skincare while Pregnant.



Endocrine-disrupting compounds called phthalates are present in a lot of cosmetic and personal care items. In research on animals, exposure to phthalates has been associated to severe hormone and reproductive abnormalities.


The FDA and specialized medical groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics are increasingly researching endocrine disruptors for their potential role in adversely altering congenital reproductive health, while there are few human studies to support this.

Diethylphthalate is the most prevalent phthalate you'll find in cosmetics, which are the main cause of phthalate exposure (DEP).



Given that it is a recognized carcinogen and can raise the risk of infertility and miscarriage, formaldehyde is no longer frequently used as a preservative and disinfectant in cosmetic products, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, there are formaldehyde-releasing substances that are frequently included in cosmetics and have a comparable, possibly hazardous effect. The Environmental Working Group has recognized the following among these:

  • quaternium-15
  • 5-bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane
  • bronopol
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • diazolidinyl urea
  • hydroxymethylglycinate
  • imidazolidinyl urea


Chemical sunblock

The UV filter that is most frequently used in sunscreens are oxybenzone and its variants. Although oxybenzone has been shown to be beneficial for skin protection, its possible negative effects on human health and the environment are making people less inclined to use it.

Because oxybenzone is a recognized endocrine disruptor, using it during pregnancy raises concerns that it might mess with hormones and harm both the mother and the child permanently. Thus, using any oxybenzone-containing products or Skincare while Pregnant is not advisable. 

According to a 2018 animal study, breastfeeding and mammary gland function were permanently altered by oxybenzone exposure during pregnancy at levels comparable to those used by humans. Other animal studies have connected the substance to prenatal damage that is irreversible and may be connected to adult brain diseases like Alzheimer's disease.


Safe alternatives skin care ingredients

Here are a few safer options for treating pregnancy's most prevalent (and unpleasant) skin issues.


Hyperpigmentation and acne

There are several safer alternatives to utilizing retinoid-based products or skincare while pregnant if you have acne-prone skin or experience abrupt memories of your teenage years. Glycolic acid is one of the most efficient.

Large doses of glycolic acid aren't advised during pregnancy, but smaller doses, like those used in over-the-counter beauty products, are probably safe. Glycolic acid and related substances, including azelaic acid, can also aid in the reduction of fine wrinkles, skin brightness, and increased skin pigmentation.

Along with topical benzoyl peroxide and topical salicylic acid, the ACOG recommends glycolic and azelaic acid as safe treatments for acne while pregnant. Additionally, a person could use products that include shea butter, coconut oil, aloe vera, antioxidants, such as vitamin C or E, and cocoa butter.



Topical antioxidants like vitamin C can safely improve the vitality of your skin by shielding it from harm and preserving collagen, just as they function like magic to strengthen your immune system and fight off free radicals in your body.

Other safe antioxidants to try in your skin care for pregnancy include:

  • vitamin B3
  • green tea
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin K


Stretch marks and dry skin

It goes without saying that pregnancy puts a lot of demands on your body; hence, if your unborn child ever needs additional water, it will draw it from you. That can cause dry skin in addition to hormonal changes.

Hyaluronic acid (HA), cocoa butter, peptides, and other moisturizing products with these ingredients might help you stay hydrated in addition to drinking lots of water. Additionally, constantly hydrating areas that are prone to stretch marks will help the skin naturally expand as your bump (and baby) grow.


Sun protection

One of the most crucial things you can do to prevent wrinkles and skin cancer over the long run is to shield yourself from the sun. The key question, though, is how to safely protect your skin while expecting and What skin care is suitable for pregnancy.

Try mineral-based sunscreens, which protect the skin by causing UV rays to completely bounce off of it, as the safety of chemical broad-spectrum sunscreens is still up for debate. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are two components included in mineral-based sunscreen. Don't forget to wear a trendy hat with a wide brim as well.


How to verify the safety of your skin care products

Anyone who has concerns regarding the safety of their skin care regimen should consult a dermatologist. Additionally, an OB-GYN can discuss the safety of specific skin care products.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) created a database of over 87,000 personal care products and provided a safety assessment for each because personal care goods aren't widely regulated. The safety rating is produced by comparing the referencing of each product with more than 60 toxicity and regulatory databases.

The EWG's Skin Deep® database is accessible online, or you can download the app (available for iPhone or Android). You may instantly scan a product's bar code in the app to find out how safe it is.


Overall, there hasn't been much research done on the safety of certain skin care compounds during pregnancy. Most research is based on anecdotal, particular cases, or animal models.

The best course of action is generally to exercise caution. To avoid any risk to the fetus, this may entail switching skin care products or discontinuing some treatments while pregnant.


Use this safe skin care routine during pregnancy.

Pregnancy and skin care are somewhat connected to each other. There are various skin changes that occur during pregnancy that require applying certain products. However, since some products contain ingredients that can be harmful to you and your baby, it is always recommended to speak with a healthcare professional first before doing so. They may also recommend some safe skin care for pregnancy for you.

There is no need to change a regular skin care routine during pregnancy as long as each product is safe.


The (American Academy of Dermatology) AAD suggests:

  1. Taking a shower or cleansing your face with lukewarm water 
  2. Applying a mild, alcohol-free cleanser with the fingertips
  3. If you're using a body scrub, gently massage it into your skin in circular movements.
  4. Using lukewarm water to rinse
  5. using a towel to gently pat the skin dry as opposed to rubbing it
  6. when using a moisturizer, be very careful not to tug the skin around your eyes.
  7. covering any exposed skin with a mineral-based sunscreen



It's difficult to give up your favorite skin care routine, but we know you'll do anything to safeguard your child.

During pregnancy, you should avoid using any products that could harm you or your child. Any products containing retinoids, hydroquinone, formaldehyde, or phthalates should be avoided.

You might be able to use azelaic acid, glycolic acid, topical salicylic acid, or topical benzoyl peroxide-containing products or skincare while pregnant, but it is recommended to speak with a healthcare professional first.

Aloe vera, shea butter, coconut oil, cocoa butter, and antioxidants like vitamin E or C are some components that are safe to use.

Pregnancy shouldn't require a person to dramatically change their skin care routine, as long as all of the products are safe.

Pregnancy and skin care are connected to each other because what you put on your body can affect you and your baby. While it is always advisable to consult to a healthcare professional, Skincarable also offers safe skin care for pregnancy that we recommend to our pregnant customers. Contact us today and we’ll be happy to assist you.