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Do you know that “pregnancy glow” many people rave about? We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s not something that happens to everyone. Achieving a magical, mythical radiance while expecting isn’t as simple as you might think, nor is finding pregnancy-safe skincare you can trust.
There are many things to keep track of when you’re expecting a baby. Just because you’re busy with to-do list items like budgeting for baby and writing a birth plan, doesn’t mean it’s time to forgo your skincare routine.
In addition to all the weird things that happen during pregnancy, many of us will struggle with annoying skincare issues that demand more attention than they did when we were prepubescent preteens.
So while you’re creating a morning and nighttime skincare regimen to combat hormonal pregnancy acne, remember the importance of picking pregnancy-safe skincare products. Not every item on the market is safe for expecting or breastfeeding folks
So, before you make a pit stop at your local Ulta or Sephora, keep reading for a moment because here you’ll find everything you need to know about caring for your skin during pregnancy, including expert advice, unsafe ingredients, and trusted products you’ll love!
Note: Always ask your OB or dermatologist before you begin a skincare routine, or if you have any questions along the way! This article is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice.
Does Pregnancy Change Your Skin?
Some pregnant people might not experience any skin changes during pregnancy. Your face may look better than ever before, and everyone might compliment your “glow.” If that’s you, I’m turbo jealous. Many of us might suddenly struggle with skin conditions like melasma or pregnancy acne. In fact, studies suggest that 43% of pregnant folks experience acne during pregnancy.
If you’re concerned about skin-related troubles during pregnancy, don’t hesitate to ask your OB/GYN or make an appointment with your dermatologist. They can approve your pregnancy-safe skincare regimen and let you know about other solutions you may not have researched yet.
What Skincare Ingredients Should Pregnant People Avoid?
These days, it seems like we use everything but the kitchen sink when creating skincare formulas. Many of these ingredients are fine when you’re expecting–others, not so much.
Some products, like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, might be okay if you use them in limited amounts. Since there’s potential for them to adversely affect your baby, though, you should avoid them as much as possible.
The ingredients below, however, are on a pregnancy no-fly list. Doctors agree you should avoid them:
- Retinoids: Can cause problems with your baby’s development and possible congenital disabilities
- Tetracycline: Known to negatively impact a pregnant person’s liver and cause discoloration of your baby’s teeth
- Hydroquinone: Possible effects aren’t fully understood, but experts believe they can cause problems with fetal development
- Phthalates: Several potential side effects, including high blood pressure, ADHD, and Diabetes
- Formaldehyde: Possible development of infertility and increased risk of miscarriage.
- Licorice root herbs: Could negatively impact an unborn baby’s future IQ. While more studies are needed, it’s best to edge on the side of caution and avoid this ingredient.
That might seem like a lot to keep track of, but here’s the silver lining – TONS of pregnancy-safe skincare products don’t include any of these ingredients! You will be able to find great products your skin can rely on during the next nine months, including the suggestions below.
Makeup Removers You Can Trust During Pregnancy
At the end of the day, when it’s time to wash our faces, we don’t want to deal with annoying makeup residue that our normal cleansers can sometimes leave behind.
That’s why we love adding a makeup remover to our skincare routine. Some of my favorite pregnancy-safe skincare options for makeup removal include:
- Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water
- Burt’s Bees Sensitive Skin Face Wipes
- Farmacy Green Clean Natural Makeup Remover Balm
The Best Pregnancy-Safe Skin Cleansers Available
Okay, now that your makeup has melted away, it’s time to bust out the face wash. Whether you want a vegan formula or need a product to deal with pregnancy acne, the list below has some of the top options on the market.
1. Gentle Formula: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Face Cleanser
La Roche-Posay products are a skincare darling among dermatologists, including mine! The brand focuses on clean ingredients that are nourishing and appropriate for sensitive skin.
These include antioxidant-rich thermal water and barrier-protecting Ceramide-3.
Drunk Elephant is a personal favorite, so don’t look shocked if it pops up on here more than once! Their jelly cleanser is a vegan and cruelty-free formula that breaks down every trace of makeup, oils, and grime at the end of the day.
It’s also jam-packed with luxurious nutrients for your skin, such as cantaloupe extract, antioxidants, and Omegas 6 and 9.
3. Exfoliating: Acure Brightening Facial Scrub
Developed using natural ingredients like lemon peel, sea kelp, and green clay, the Acure facial scrub is a popular exfoliant option on Amazon. This face wash clears off dead skin and detoxifies any impurities left in your pores.
A couple of notes on this product: 1) It’s super affordable, which we love! 2) Be careful, some reviewers did mention this product can be a bit harsh. Be gentle; there’s no need to try and scrub off your top three layers of skin!
4. Anti-Aging: Derma-E Hydrating Facial Cleanser
The star of the Derma-E facial cleanser show is hyaluronic acid. This ingredient works hard to plump and moisturize your skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
This formula also includes Vitamins A & E for moisture and to enhance your skin’s overall texture.
5. Acne Prone Skin: Cetaphil Pro Oil Removing Face Wash
Cetaphil is a brand dermatologists rely on time and time again, and I personally use their full skincare line every day.
Cetaphil Pro Oil is a fantastic option if you’re searching for a pregnancy-safe acne face wash.
It includes a pH-balanced formula that controls oil production without drying your skin.
Skin Toners that Are Safe While You’re Pregnant
Gone are the days when toners were skin-depleting formulas that left our faces dry and stripped. Today, companies are creating nourishing blends that prep our skin for the rest of our skincare routine and makeup application.
Whether you’re currently using one or you’d like to give it a try, the following pregnancy-safe facial toners are excellent options:
Serums You Can Use During Pregnancy
Skin serums–’ve always thought the phrase sounded so fancy and important. But what are they? Harvard’s experts say facial serums are “highly concentrated formulations designed to sink into the skin quickly, delivering an intensive dose of ingredients.”
What I love about these products is how you can use them to address various skin-related problems. Whether you’re trying to get rid of pesky wrinkles or need an extra dose of brightness for your skin, the following serums are safe to use during pregnancy.
1. Anti-Aging: Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum
Unfortunately, retinoids (a popular anti-aging ingredient) are off-limits during pregnancy. This can make it challenging to find alternative products that work. Thankfully, though, Vitamin C is still very much an option.
Vitamin C is a wrinkle-reducing, skin-smoothing heavyweight.
That’s why we’re thrilled to include Vichy’s LiftActiv Vitamin C serum on our list of pregnancy-safe skin products.
2. Brightening: Honest Beauty Vitamin C Radiance Serum
Not only do the hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C in Honest Beauty’s Radiance Serum help plump skin and minimize fine lines, but it also includes diglucosyl gallic acid, which illuminates the skin.
Some reviewers did mention that this can leave a bit of a sticky residue, and others experienced a tight feeling in their skin after application.
These aren’t dangerous by any means but could be annoying for some people.
3. Exfoliating: The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA
The main active ingredient in this product, lactic acid, is an excellent choice for clearing up your skin.
In fact, it’s a trusted pregnancy-safe skincare product for treating blemishes and breakouts.
It exfoliates the top layer of your skin while unclogging pores, reducing oil, and correcting hyperpigmentation.
4. Hydrating: Summer Fridays Dream Oasis Deep Hydration Serum
Is your skin oily, sensitive, dry, or acne-prone? It doesn’t matter what your epidermic layer is dealing with; this hydrating facial serum by Summer Fridays will nourish it back to health!
Not only does this serum include moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, but it also includes calming products, such as colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera. These will reduce redness and enhance your skin’s texture.
Look no further if you want a spa-like serum to add to your pregnancy-safe skincare routine!
Can You Use Mighty Patch During Pregnancy?
Mighty Patch has quickly become a fan-favorite when treating pimples and breakouts. But are they still a good option when irritating pregnancy hormones wreak havoc on your skin?
The only condition is that you choose the original, non-medicated version that doesn’t include any salicylic acid. The original Mighty Patch is simply a hydrocolloid sticker that you use overnight. It traps gunk, which means less popping/picking for you.
Forewarning, though, these patches can be pricey–especially if you have a lot of pimples, but it’s worth it!
Which Facial Moisturizer Should You Use During Pregnancy?
Putting on moisturizer is one of my favorite parts of my skincare routine. It feels like the cherry on top that leaves my skin buttery soft and ready to face the day (or night).
But which product should we choose when we’re shopping for a moisturizer for our pregnancy-safe skincare routine? Check out the abundance of choices below!
1. Sensitive Skin: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer
This unscented formula is free of harsh chemicals, is restorative, and is super nourishing for dry, sensitive skin. It also contains niacinamide, a.k.a. Vitamin B3, a nutrient that reduces pore visibility, increases moisture in the skin’s barrier layer, and diminishes redness and brown spots.
You’ll probably love this product if you like to use a high-quality moisturizer safe for sensitive skin.
2. Deep Hydration: Honest Beauty Deep Hydration Face Cream
This dermatologist-tested moisturizer from Honest Beauty eliminates all the extra ingredients many skincare products have and brings things back to basics. Using buttery soft products like shea butter and baobab seed oil, you can feel confident you’ll receive a dose of intense, long-lasting moisture every time you apply this cream.
However, one downfall can be the smell. Some reviewers mention it’s too strong for them.
3. Anti-Aging: Belif: The True Cream Aqua Bomb Moisturizer
Have you ever used a moisturizer that felt like it sat on your skin for hours before finally absorbing? Well, you won’t have to worry about that with Belif’s Aqua Bomb! It provides quick-absorbing, reliable moisture and anti-aging elements to help slow down the race of time.
Side note: Our editor has skin drier than the Sahara (her words, not mine) and absolutely swears by Belif products, especially this one!
4. Vegan: Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream
Drunk Elephant’s Polypeptide Cream is a staple in my morning skincare regimen. If you’re interested in a vegan moisturizer that offers many benefits, this is it.
Within a few days of starting this face cream, I noticed a firmer feel to my skin. It also smooths out my texture and provides intense moisture, which is crucial in the hot Florida sun.
If you want a pregnancy-safe moisturizer, you won’t find many products that can measure up to this one!
The Best Eye Creams for Pregnant People
Are you starting to sprout fine lines around your eyes? Do you wish you could do something about your dark undereye circles? It might be time to add an eye cream to your pregnancy-safe skincare regimen.
1. Wrinkle Reducing: Mad Hippie Eye Cream
If you want a trustworthy eye cream that will help with fine lines, puffiness, and dryness, look into Mad Hippie. Advanced peptides, niacinamide, and ceramide make this an ideal blend to combat typical signs of aging.
To add to those ingredients, this eye cream also includes caffeine, which stimulates the delicate skin around your eyes and reduces dark circles and crow’s feet.
Who doesn’t need that??
2. Brightening: Eight Saints All-In Eye Cream
The philosophy of the Eight Saints company is simple – create natural, effective products that consumers can trust. Instead of loading their skincare items with unnecessary ingredients and fillers, they stick to eight staple products:
- Glycolic Acid
- MSM (a natural form of organic sulphur compound)
- Hyaluronic Acid
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Once they narrowed down the major skincare players, they began mixing formulas that were basic enough for anyone to use but powerful enough to yield impressive results.
Try Eight Saints All-In Eye Cream if you’re looking for a dependable eye cream for dark circles!
Pregnancy Safe Sunscreen You Need to Know About
Now for the finishing touch of your pregnancy skincare routine– sunscreen. Each day, it’s crucial to protect your skin from harmful UV rays by applying sunscreen to your face. With so many harmful chemical sunscreens on the market, how are you supposed to find a safe sunscreen for pregnancy?
Look for mineral sunscreen products that don’t contain dangerous ingredients like oxybenzone. Many safe alternatives include active ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
If you want to take the guesswork out of your selection, though, you can always go with one of our favorite pregnancy-safe sunscreen choices:
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Sunscreen
- SunBum Tinted Mineral Face Lotion
- EltaMD UV Clear Sunscreen
- Super Goop Unseen Sunscreen (This one is a family favorite in our house because of how lightly it goes on!)
Skincare for Your Belly: Belly Balms, Oils, and Butters
Okay, I’m glad you’re still reading because we’ve saved one of the most important pregnancy-safe skincare aspects for last: skincare for your baby bump! Taking care of the skin on your stretched-out tummy is important, too!
Even more important is making sure you’re putting safe skincare anywhere near that bump. The following suggestions are from companies we know to be safe and that sell products we personally have used and LOVE.
So find yourself some great belly balm from the list below, and feel good about lathering up.
You know that feeling when your skin is tight and stretched and deeply itchy? If you’re pregnant, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about, or you certainly will when you’re past 4 or so months along!
This belly butter is so luxurious, but the best part is that it immediately stops the itch of dry, stretched skin.
It’s dermatologist-tested and clinically tested for irritation!
Are you more of a fan of oil for healing desperately dry skin? If so, Earth Mama has you covered there too with this fantastically healing belly oil. This oil is great for any part of you that’s currently expanding–hips, belly, and sore breasts.
Use it after a shower and before bed to feel like the pregnant queen you are! And if you’ve read the descriptions for both their belly balm and oil and can’t decide which one you can’t live without, then try their bundle!
You’ll save 10% on both with the bundle.
I know the current body positivity movement has made us all more aware of loving our bodies as they are (and I love that, obviously), but it’s okay to admit that you’re a little scared of developing tiger stripes as your pregnancy progresses.
Yes, stretch marks are normal and natural, and you will probably get some! But what if you could possibly get fewer? Or prevent them? Irene Organics (a woman-owned company) has created a belly balm just for this purpose!
It’s completely pregnancy-safe and formulated with calendula, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, and lots of other natural, organic ingredients to penetrate into your skin and prevent stretch marks.
You can also use it postpartum to treat any stretch marks that you get or fade your c-section scar!
Okay, friends, I need to introduce you to an entire skincare company for pregnant people! It’s called The Spoiled Mama, and it is indulgent AF!
We’re talking about belly balms/butters/oils in this section, so I’m going to try and keep it to that one product, but that will be hard for me.
The Spoiled Mama Belly Butter for Stretch Marks is a little pricey, but I need you to hear me out: this stuff has over TWO THOUSAND reviews, a 5-star rating from those views, and 97% of pregnant people who use it report NO NEW STRETCH MARKS. Whaaaaaat!
And of course, it’s OBGYN-approved, rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, and essential fatty acids. These key ingredients penetrate your skin to keep you itch-free and stretch mark-free. It’s also fast-absorbing, which means that you won’t feel sticky or have your clothes stick to you after application.
If you’re been preparing your baby registry, you’ve probably seen a ton of baby products by Frida mom (we love them!). The great news is that they make products for moms, too!
This Stretch Prep Balm is actually for your “boobs, belly, and perineum,” making it one of the most flexible products on this list! It will soothe your irritated breast and belly skin, and you can also use it to massage your perineum to prepare for birth (doing so helps prevent tearing during vaginal birth).
We love how flexible this product is!
Ask Your Dermatologist for More Information About Creating a Pregnancy-Safe Skincare Routine
All the items above are fantastic options for safe skincare products during pregnancy. However, they’re not the only ones available!
We’re lucky to live in a time when skincare companies prioritize clean, safe ingredients more than ever. Throw a rock, and you’ll find an option that probably works for your daily regimen. The most important thing is to keep your eyes out for those nasty ingredients we discussed earlier.
Everyone’s skin is different, and what works for one might not be a success for another. Call your dermatologist if you try the products above and they’re not cutting it. They can help you find alternatives that suit your skin type.
Have you tried any of these pregnancy-safe skincare products? What did you think?
Taking Care of Yourself During Pregnancy: Link Round-Up
Would you like more information on how to nurture yourself mentally and physically during pregnancy? Take a look at the articles below:
- Pregnancy Essentials
- Keeping a Pregnancy Journal
- Maternity Style
- Plus Size Maternity Clothes You’ll Love
- How to Calm Pregnancy Anxiety
- Safe Cold Medications for Pregnancy
- Having a Baby on a Budget
- Prenatal Vitamins for Pregnancy
- Weird Things that Happen During Pregnancy
Kristen Bergeron is a freelance writer from Florida. In addition to writing, she is a wife, mother of two beautiful girls, Hadley and Scarlett, and a part-time photographer. After overcoming infertility and having two successful IVF cycles, she’s made it a personal goal to help educate men and women on the realities of fertility struggles. She is passionate about supporting fellow women who are trying to navigate the complicated world of conception, pregnancy, and learning to be the best mothers we can be.