If you’re on the hunt for pregnancy safe skin care, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know to build a natural skincare routine that keeps you and your baby safe.
In this guide, we’ll cover how your skin changes and common issues during pregnancy, skincare ingredients to avoid while pregnant, the perfect pregnancy skin care routine, and your frequently asked questions, too.
Just remember, it’s best to consult your doctor before changing anything about your routine.
IN A NUTSHELL
Main Takeaways: Your skin changes while you’re pregnant. You may experience clogged pores and blemishes, changes in pigmentation, and stretch marks. Because your skin changes, your skin care routine may need to change as well.
Good to Know: Retinol can cause birth defects, so it’s best to avoid it while pregnant.
Pregnancy Skin Issues
When you've got a bun in the oven, your body changes — including your skin. As the largest organ, shifts in blood flow and hormones mean your skin might show some noticeable differences through the duration of your pregnancy.
Thanks to hormonal changes and increased oil production, many women deal with clogged pores during pregnancy. They’re likely to get better after you give birth, but in the meantime you can utilize products that contain ingredients designed to balance your natural oils like jojoba oil, squalane, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid.
Melanin, the dark brown pigment that dictates skin color, increases during pregnancy, so you can get hyperpigmentation, meaning, dark or discolored areas. One such condition is called melasma, or “mask of pregnancy,” which commonly causes blotchy dark areas on your face. To avoid pigmentation issues as much as possible, be sure to wear sunscreen, avoid strong sunlight and cover up when outdoors.
Because your skin stretches to accommodate your new arrival, it’s common to get stretch marks — or light pink or red lines — on areas like your chest and stomach. While they are likely to fade after you give birth, using a body moisturizer specifically designed for stretch marks can help keep them at bay.
It’s not all bad news! When you’re pregnant blood flow increases, which means your skin gets an extra boost of oxygen that can lead to that famous mother-to-be glow.
Skincare Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy
In order to keep you and your little one super safe, there are certain ingredients you’d do well to avoid. When creating a pregnancy skin care routine, skip these:
Retinol (retin-a, retinol and retinyl palmitate) and retinoids
Retinol is essentially a stronger form of vitamin A. Topical retinol is available over the counter, while oral retinoids are available only by prescription, typically for severe acne. In particular, oral retinoids (usually going by the brand names Tazorac or Accutane) can cause birth defects and should never be taken by anyone who is pregnant or planning to get pregnant.
Instead: Look for vitamin C (its most stable form is Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate), vitamin E, rose flower oil, tea tree oil and other natural ingredients that decongest pores.
Chemical sunscreens create a chemical barrier against UV rays, and those chemicals can easily be absorbed into skin. The main ingredient in these sunscreens, oxybenzone, has even been linked to a rare birth defect.
Instead: Stick with zinc oxide, which provides a physical barrier against the sun’s rays. This is found in mineral sunscreens.
This healing herb has lots of skin soothing benefits — just not for pregnant women. It can easily be absorbed through the skin and has been linked to birth defects.
Instead: Look for other natural, soothing alternatives like aloe vera, gotu kola and green tea.
This skin lightening ingredient can cause skin to become more sensitive, leaving you more susceptible to side effects and other issues.
Instead: Opt for vitamin C or vitamin E to help diminish the appearance of dark spots.
Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid
These acne-fighting ingredients may cause issues during pregnancy, and are also known for making skin more sensitive. Steer clear in order to avoid falling prey to side effects or other issues due to increased sensitivity.
Instead: Choose vitamin C, hyaluronic acid or lactic acid to help balance natural oils and unclog pores.
This metal element is usually found in deodorant, where it blocks the sweat glands. It’s been linked to increased cancer risk, so opt for aluminum-free deodorant while pregnant.
Instead: Look for ingredients like tea tree oil and arrowroot.
Granted, this one should be avoided by everyone– always! Used as a preservative, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen when inhaled and can trigger allergies.
Instead: Go for sodium benzoate, a natural preservative often found in foods, or potassium sorbate, a safe potassium salt that prevents icky mold and bacteria from forming.
The Perfect Pregnancy Skin Care Routine
When creating a pregnancy safe skin care routine, your top priority should be keeping you and your other half safe, protected and healthy with the right products. Here are the key pregnancy safe skin care products:
Cleanser — The first and most important step in your pregnancy skin care routine is cleanser. It’s the foundation for keeping your skin clean, free from toxins and ready to absorb the nutrients from your other products.
Toner — A toner is a great way to control any excess oil you may be dealing with, as well as cleaning impurities and leaving a renewed base for nutrients.
Serum — If you’re dealing with dark spots or other discoloration issues, a vitamin C serum is your best bet. It can help reduce the appearance of dark spots and improve your skin’s overall texture and glow.
Moisturizer — Using a moisturizer is a must for your pregnancy skin care routine. It’ll help keep your skin supple, soft and hydrated, as well as help protect your skin against environmental stressors.
Eye Cream — Eye cream can help mask the look of any sleepless pre-baby nights. It can help reduce the appearance of dark circles, soften the look of fine lines, and keep your delicate eye area properly hydrated.
Sunscreen — Wearing sunscreen is more important now than ever! Gotta stay healthy for your new arrival. Make sure you’re wearing a zinc oxide sunscreen every day and covering all areas of your skin that see the sun.
Masks — When you need a little extra TLC, masks can be a great way to give your skin some extra nutrients while also engaging in self-care. Pregnancy is tough — you deserve it! A mask should be used after face wash and before toner on the days you choose to use it.
Here’s how to apply your pregnancy skin care routine:
- Cleanse your skin with a natural face wash.
- Apply toner.
- Put a few drops of serum on your fingers or directly onto your face. Smooth onto skin. Let absorb for five minutes.
- Apply eye cream.
- Apply moisturizer.
- Apply sunscreen (in the a.m.).
We’ve put together skincare kits that include all your basics (other than sunscreen), taking the guesswork out of building a clean, pregnancy safe skincare routine. Our 5-step Deluxe Set includes a cleanser, toner, vitamin C serum, eye cream and moisturizer.
Other Frequently Asked Questions About Pregnancy Skin Care Products
Is hyaluronic acid safe during pregnancy?
Yes. Hyaluronic acid is one of the pregnancy safe skin care ingredients. It’s found naturally in the body and helps keep skin looking plump and youthful.
Is glycolic acid safe during pregnancy?
There’s some debate as to the safety of glycolic acid during pregnancy. In general, concentrations of 7% or lower are safe to use while pregnant, but it’s always best to speak to your doctor if you have any concerns with using a product with glycolic acid.
Is retinol safe during pregnancy?
No, avoid retinol or retinoid derivatives as they can be unsafe for unborn children. Oral retinoids have been linked to birth defects and should not be used by anyone who’s pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
Is vitamin c serum safe during pregnancy?
It depends on the ingredients. vitamin C itself is one of the pregnancy safe skin care ingredients, but be sure to check the label on any serum and make sure it doesn’t contain any of the ingredients listed above.
*Remember to consult your doctor for answers to any of your pregnancy skin care questions.
Get Glowing Skin While You’re Preggers
Now that you know what to avoid — and what to slather on — you can get going on that gorgeous pregnancy glow! Just be sure to steer clear of the icky ingredients we discussed. Your little one will thank you later.