Pregnancy-Safe Skin Care: What You Should (And Shouldn’t) Be Using

Pregnancy-Safe Skin Care: What You Should (And Shouldn’t) Be Using

Despite the final outcome delivering the greatest gift of all, there are a lot of things to give up during a pregnancy. From sashimi and spicy margaritas to retinol and Botox, it’s hard to keep track of what you can and can’t enjoy over the nine month period. 

And while we can’t assist you in naming every soft cheese to give a wide berth (excuse the pun), we can point you in the right direction of the skin care treatments and ingredients to sub out (and in) over the course of your pregnancy. 

As if swelling ankles, nausea, and back pain weren’t enough, pregnancy can often lead to acne, melasma, and pigmentation. Which is why omitting one brightening or acne-fighting ingredient from your regimen may call for it to be replaced with another gentle and pregnancy-safe alternative. 

So, to remove the guesswork from pregnancy skin care and kick your pregnancy glow into gear, here are the skin care ingredients you can and can’t use:

Botox and fillers. Even though the effects of Botox on a fetus have not been extensively studied (and we do not expect them to be, for obvious reasons), there is a very real possibility that birth defects could occur. 

Switch to:  Hyaluronic acid. With deep hydration, you’ll plump out thirsty skin and fill in fine lines. Better yet? The plumping and swelling of our cheeks and lips during pregnancy produce a natural Botox and filler effect. 

bh loves: La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Acid Anti-Ageing Serum, $69.95 at Adore Beauty, CeraVe Foaming Cleanser, $14.99 at Chemist Warehouse

Salicylic acid. This acne-fighting BHA is typically recommended to be excluded from any pregnancy skin care routine, both oral and topical. While some doctors deem anything less than two percent to be safe, you should always consult your own physician first.

Switch to: Mandelic or lactic acid. Both AHA exfoliators will effectively resurface and slough away dead skin, however are far gentler than salicylic acid.

bh recommends: Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment, $121 at MECCA

Retin-A and retinol. As a vitamin A derivative, this active ingredient is commonly used for its anti-ageing and acne-fighting properties, and while it’s one of our most-loved ingredients, it’s not safe for pregnancy.

Switch to: Azelaic acid. As well as keeping hyperpigmentation in check, it also controls hormonal breakouts.

Chemical sunscreen. Although the rules around sunscreens aren’t entirely black and white, chemical sunscreens work by being absorbed into our skin, therefore posing a risk of getting into our bloodstream. In general, SPF products containing oxybenzone are to be avoided since they may interfere with hormonal function and cause allergic reactions.

Switch to: Physical/mineral sunscreen. Instead of being absorbed into the skin, these sunscreens sit on the surface and redirect UV rays, causing fewer reactions and sensitivities.

bh recommends: Skin O2 Natural Mineral Sunscreen 30 SPF, $49.95 at SkinO2

Hydroquinone. Known to lighten dark spots and pigmentation, this chemical ingredient has not been approved for use during pregnancy.

Switch to: Vitamin C. When applied topically, a vitamin C serum is a safe and effective method to brighten skin, minimise pigmentation and boost collagen production.

bh loves: Alpha-H Vitamin C, $79.95 currently $60.76 at Adore Beauty

Main image credit: @ashleygraham

Do you have any pregnancy skin tips of your own?

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Comments 34

  1. So just a thought if there are safety issues or potential for safety issues with pregnancy then perhaps some of those products are best not used at all e.g chemical sunscreens or other products mentioned in the article?

  2. That’s great so many Wonderful Products that Pregnant Women can use, so they don’t have to miss out on using things like Retinol and swap it for Azelaic acid Thanks so much for your Informative on these Products.

  3. I wish I knew all this when I was pregnant with my children.
    For anyone who is pregnant though I recently discovered on the esmi Skin Minerals website when you select a product it will tell you whether it’s safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding or not which I think all brands should disclose. It just makes it so much easier and gives you piece of mind knowing it’s safe.

  4. Many years since I needed anything like this and while much of the masses of information these days is wonderful I’m sure lots could be misleading. Ask a trusted professional if concerned, please!

  5. Well years ago DermalMD’s stretch mark serum was recommended to me, of course we now know that stretch marks occur when there is not enough elastin and collagen in the skin to accommodate stretching in times of rapid growth like pregnancy, so this serum encourages To cells to create more collagen and elastin can prevent the formation of stretch marks or drastically decrease the number that are produced.

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