Skincare During Pregnancy

Skincare pretty much goes out the window when women are pregnant. Not only do we have to worry about mask of pregnancy, broken capillaries and blood vessels in our face, and darkened freckles and brown spots, but we also have to put aside most of our effective skin care treatments. The more powerful and targeted products get, the more we need to be careful about what we have in our skin-care regimens during pregnancy, because they contain ingredients considered potentially harmful to a growing baby. What do we need to stay away from?


Retoinoids. These powerful substances, found in the best anti aging moisturizers, are lauded for helping reduce wrinkles and improve skin tone. Retinoids are a type of vitamin A that speeds up cell division (quickening your skin’s renewal) and prevent skin collagen from breaking down, but some studies have shown that high doses of vitamin A during pregnancy can be harmful to an unborn child. And oral retinoids, such as isotretinoin (Accutane, an acne treatment), are known to cause birth defects. Look for, and avoid, these words on a skincare label. – Differin (adapelene), Retin-A, Renova (tretinoin), Retinoic acid, Retinol, Retinyl linoleate, Retinyl palmitate, and Tazorac and avage (Tazarotene).

Salicylic acid. This mild acid is used to treat certain skin disorders, including acne, and you can find it in a number of skin products, such as cleansers and toners. It can penetrate facial oils to get deep into pores and clean out dead skin cells. But salicylic acid is another no-no for pregnant women. High doses of the acid in its oral form have been shown in studies to cause birth defects and various pregnancy complications. Doctors are erring on the side of caution by declaring topical products with Salicylic acid unsafe for pregnant women. But I agree, better to be safe than sorry. Look for, and avoid, these words on a skincare label. – Salicylic acid, Beta hydroxy acid, and BHA.

Acne products. Many women have breakouts in the first trimester because of changing estrogen levels, even if they’ve always had clear skin. And the only thing you can do about it is use a mild, over the counter facial cleanser. Consult with a dermatologist first, of course.

Hydroquinone. It is used to lighten the dark-colored patches of skin (also called melasma, liver spots, age spots, freckles) caused by freckles, birth control pills, hormone medicine, or injury to the skin. Can’t use it when you’re pregnant.

Botox. Don’t even think about it.

Laser. See above.

Stay Away From Soy! While soy-based lotions and facial products are generally safe to use, Soy can make the ‘mask of pregnancy’ (dark splotches on facial skin) worse, as can oil of bergamot, which is in many organic products. Soy has estrogenic effects, which can make those dark patches, also known as melasma or chloasma, worse.

Below are images of fairly common pregnancy related skin problems, but don’t worry, it doesn’t happen to everyone, and these images are probably extreme. But the reality is that though you are preparing for life’s greatest gift, you will not look good doing it.

mask of pregnancy

broken capillaries on cheeks and nose

acne on pregnant woman