Pregnancy Safe Skincare: An Overview
Navigating all things pregnancy is time-consuming and overwhelming. From weight gain and morning sickness to body aches and nesting, the last thing we need added to the list of changes is hormonal skin. Oh… but wait, lucky us! Due to hormonal changes in our body, our skin goes haywire as well. For me, my skin seemed to be exacerbated by the climate – aka, it was extraordinarily dry in the winter and overly oily in the summer. I also dealt with quite a bit of hormonal acne later in my pregnancy. Products I would normally turn to to help solve these problems, I couldn’t use because of the harmful ingredients. After talking with my doctor, I wanted to put together a helpful guide for you to navigate the ins and outs of pregnancy safe skincare.
I used the following products on my face and body during pregnancy (and beyond!). Keep in mind, every pregnancy is unique, so consult your doctor with any new product you want to add to your routine. Make a list before appointments and go through it with your doctor to be safe.
Ingredients to Avoid
In terms of general advice I’ve heard from doctors and research I’ve done personally, here are the ingredients that usually make the list of what to avoid while pregnant:
- Retinoids (Retin-A, retinol, and retinyl palmitate): can cause birth defects and liver toxicity. Used in skincare for skin cell turnover, exfoliation and collagen stimulation.
- Hydroquinone: Used in dark spot treatments!
- Salicylic acid: Traditionally used for acne, this acid is now seen in a lot of exfoliators and cleansers! Sub for glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acids (AHAs) that are all considered safe for pregnancy use.
- Benzoyl peroxide: A common ingredient in skincare that helps fight acne.
- Chemical sunscreens (Oxybenzone, Homosalate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, Octocrylene and para-aminobenzoic acid): Stick to mineral sunscreens that use ingredients like zinc oxide.
- CBD – I personally chose to stay away from anything that used this as an ingredient, just to be on the safe side.
Remember: I’m not a doctor, so please be sure to check all ingredients with a medical professional! Safety first.
For the Face
The two brands I used the most during my pregnancy were Tata Harper and Biossance. I used Biossance mainly through my 1st and 2nd trimesters. They use great ingredients like squalene (a good retinol substitute) and lactic acid (a safe acid) in their products which make them super effective. I used their facial oil, resurfacing night cream, eye cream, dark spot corrector and lip treatment. My favorite lip treatment on the market right now is their lip treatment – sooo obsessed.
I introduced Tata Harper’s new line into my routine during my 3rd trimester. Recently, they launched a newer line of skincare for super sensitive and reactive skin, so the ingredients are super gentle. I used their 3-step essential system, which includes a cleanser, fortifying moisturizer and a radiance mask.
Some other clean / pregnancy safe skincare brands I recommend:
- Naturium – This brand is super transparent about the ingredients they use and very clean.
- Beauty Counter – I love their makeup remover, moisturizing cream and foaming cleanser. My absolute #1 pick by them is their Vitamin C (the best on the market in my opinion!).
- Laneige – Their lip treatments are fantastic.
- Sunday Riley – Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment is fine to use, but make sure to avoid their retinoids!
- Augustinus Bader – The Rich Cream is safe to use during pregnancy, but avoid their Body Cream, Hand Treatment and Cream.
- Josie Maran – Have been using her products for years! Love her cleansing oil and Milk hydrating treatment for the face.
Stay away from chemical sunscreens during pregnancy (and in general, TBH). Chemical sunscreen uses chemicals to filter out the sun’s damaging UV rays, while mineral (also known as physical) sunscreen physically blocks UV rays with ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Chemical sunscreen absorb into the blood stream. Ingredients to look for and avoid in Chemical sunscreens: Oxybenzone, Homosalate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, Octocrylene and para-aminobenzoic acid
Note: Depending on the brand, mineral sunscreen is a bit thicker and harder to rub in. Some leave a white cast on your skin.
For the Body
It is easy to remember to take care of the skin on our faces, but don’t forget your body, especially your belly, during pregnancy.
Evereden and Hatch are two brands that I fell in love with during my pregnancy. All of Evereden’s products are awesome (and they even have a skincare line for babies). They carried my favorite belly oil and belly mask. Their stretch mark cream was fine, but not life changing. Hatch came in a close second with their belly masks. They are super hydrating! Their belly oil is more watery than Evereden’s. I preferred the thicker one because it wasn’t as runny or messy.
Other body oils I like are Josie Maran’s body serum & oils (I swear we’re always running out), Osea’s body oil (ended up using this a lot toward the end of my pregnancy), and Necessaire’s body serum (I love using this in combination with a belly oil). Summer Friday’s belly balm was also pretty descent when I tried it!
Doctors also recommend avoiding the ingredient aluminum chloride, which is often found in deodorants and antiperspirants. While this is debated, I chose to just avoid it because there are such great deodorant brands out there now that don’t include this ingredient.
In the Shower
Because our skin gets even more sensitive when pregnant, body scrubs and exfoliants can actually cause micro-tears on your skin. This can make it easier for chemicals to be absorbed into it, which is another reason why it’s so important to know what ingredients to avoid! You’re better off using a soft washcloth for a gentle exfoliation. Brian and I love Necessaire’s body wash. All the scents are luxe and unisex. They also have a fragrance-free option. We also use Native’s body wash and shampoo / conditioner. We love the cucumber mint scent. I keep a Josie Maran oil cleanser in the shower, which heats up in your hands, which is so relaxing and effective!
I hope this helps you navigate pregnancy safe skincare and body care more easily! During my pregnancy, I also switched a lot of my makeup to clean beauty brands. Would you want to see a round up of products? If so, let me know in the comments below!
If you need help narrowing down what you need for your newborn, head to my Newborn Essentials blog!