Use or Skip: Here's Your Guide to Pregnancy-Safe Skincare
When you’re pregnant (or nursing), you can expect a lot of things about your routine to change. Besides the upcoming sleepless nights and money spent on daycare, you have to be extra careful about what you put in your body—and we’re not just talking about avoiding sushi and cold cuts. The products you apply to your skin have a chance of absorbing into your bloodstream as well. And while many ingredients are totally harmless, there are a few that have potential risks to you and your baby. But that doesn’t mean your skin has to suffer.
If you're shopping Versed, steer clear of The Shortcut Overnight Facial, On the Rise Firming Serum, and Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum—they all have forms of vitamin A, a no-no ingredient. Ask your doctor before trying Weekend Glow Daily Brightening Solution, Doctor's Visit Instant Resurfacing Mask, Keep the Peace Acne-Calming Cream Cleanser, and Back-Up Plan Acne-Control Body Mist. And read on for 3 ingredients to avoid and what to use instead.
Probably the most-talked about product on the pregnancy no-no list is retinol. While the anti-aging ingredient is a derivative of Vitamin A, studies show that too much of the vitamin may impact fetal development and cause birth defects.
Use instead: Azelaic Acid
This natural retinol alternative is made from rye, wheat, and barley but mimics retinol’s redness-reducing, pore-diminishing impact.
This skin-lightening ingredient is popular in bleaching creams, brightening serums, and products targeting hyperpigmentation. It also, however, comes with many potential health risks including organ system toxicity and cancer. Not to mention the fact that it can also have an adverse effect on darker skin tones, which is why the ingredient landed on our no list.
Use instead: Vitamin C
One of the most powerful brightening ingredients out there, Vitamin C gets double points for being naturally effective, yet pregnancy-safe. Stroke of Brilliance is a great serum to add to your routine if a brighter complexion is on your agenda.
3. Chemical sunscreen
Sunscreen is always an essential part of any skincare routine, pregnant or not, but those expecting need to be extra cautious. Besides protecting your skin from cancer, moms-to-be tend to experience ultra-sensitive skin during their pregnancy and should use sun protection to guard against discoloration, melasma and more. Studies, however, show that chemicals (such as oxygenzone, which is found in 60% of non-mineral sunscreens), can cross into the body’s bloodstream and cause Hirschsprung’s disease.
Use instead: Mineral sunscreen
Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are two FDA-approved ingredients that are equally effective at blocking UVA and UVB rays—a.k.a. broad-spectrum—but are naturally occurring minerals. You'll find non-nano zinc oxide (the safest SPF active available for our bodies) in our Guards Up Daily Mineral Sunscreen. Because it’s so gentle, the Natural Eczema Foundation even recommends using mineral sunscreen if you suffer from eczema.
Ask Your Doctor:
There are some common skincare ingredients that are largely deemed safe for pregnancy by dermatologists, but because there are limited studies on its impact, the ADA recommends using them only in small amounts. Consult with your doctor before continuing use of:
AHAs and BHAs
Both are acids that exfoliate the skin and both are generally accepted as safe (minus those in-office chemical peels), but check with your doctor to be sure. Note: This isn't to be confused with HA (hyaluronic acid) which is 100% safe for pregnancy. If you're avoiding AHAs, skip our Daily Brightening Solution.
If you’ve ever dealt with acne, you’re probably familiar with this zit-zapping ingredient that’s found in many over-the-counter treatments. None of our blemish-fighting products have benzoyl peroxide.
This color additive is an active ingredient found in many self-tanners. Your health care provider may recommend waiting until after the first trimester before using.
Read more about how your skin may change while you're pregnant, then shop a few of our favorite bump-friendly products below.