Wondering what products to avoid in pregnancy or what can help with melasma, breakouts and dullness? Read this post for more information about my pregnancy skincare routine to help you make the right decisions for you.
I’ve been really blessed to not experience many issues with my skin during pregnancy. I was worried about the common issue with hormonal acne since I used to have HORRIBLE acne in my mid to late 20s, but the worst I’ve had is an occasional breakout and some dryness. And I give a LOT of credit to having a good skincare routine in place long before I got pregnant.
Since I announced I’m pregnant and because my followers know I love all things skincare, I’ve been asked a lot if I changed my skincare routine. I’ve also been asked if I stopped using any products while pregnant, but I’ve kept everything exactly the same. Since all of my skincare is Beautycounter or Primally Pure, I know they’ve done rigorous research and testing of ingredients to ensure their products are safe. And they specifically evaluate how they impact vulnerable populations like pregnant or nursing moms. And I trust both brands.
When I got pregnant, my doctor sent me home with a handout of products and ingredients to stop using. I was thankful I didn’t worry about anything I used. But, I know getting pregnant and getting that handout is how a lot of women first start to learn about some of the potential negative side effects of products they are using. And doing that research may have led you here! So, I hope this post is helpful so you have more information about what to look for in your skincare products and what you may want to ask your doctor. (If you’re looking for safe beauty products, you can see my makeup routine here.)
Here’s what I currently use.
Countertime Lipid Defense Cleansing Oil or Countermatch Foaming Face Wash – I like having a non-glass option to keep in the shower, which is why I sometimes use the Countermatch lotion. Both are hydrating options that don’t leave a heavy film on my face.
Mineral Boost Hydrating Essence – this helps balance my skin after cleansing so it’s not too try and helps the products that follow absorb better
Tripeptide Radiance Serum – this helps tighten and firm skin and improve hydration.
Antioxidant Soft Cream – this day time moisturizer helps prevent fine lines and also provides ample hydration without causing makeup to pill
Ultra Renewal Eye Cream – the ONLY eye cream I’ve ever liked. Amazing for dark circles, puffiness and fine lines.
Countertime Lipid Defense Cleansing Oil or Cleansing Balm – I LOVE the cleansing balm but it’s too heavy for daytime for me. So I often use this at night, alternating with the Cleansing Oil. Both are very hydrating!
Mineral Boost Hydrating Essence – same prep step as my morning routine
Tripeptide Radiance Serum – same prep step as my morning routine
Tetrapeptide Supreme Night Cream – I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT THIS. It’s amazing for dry skin! It’s incredibly thick, but absorbs quickly without a greasy finish. A little goes a long way too, so it lasts forever
I occasionally use the Primally Beauty Cream in place of this if I really need some extra hydration.
Ultra Renewal Eye Cream – same eye cream as my morning routine
The hard thing about pregnancy and data is that it’s hard to do really thorough studies because it’d be an ethical issue to subject certain women to potentially harmful ingredients. That applies to skincare, diet, drinks, everything! For example, some doctors will say a sip of alcohol here and there is fine and others say absolutely don’t touch a drop. The same applies to skincare and specific ingredients. Some doctors will say certain ingredients are fine, while others take a more conservative approach.
And remember that every pregnancy is different. There may be additional products or ingredients that your doctor tells you to avoid so if you have questions, check with your OBGYN. But, these are ingredients that are typically recommended to be avoided while pregnant and some that are debatable.
All of these are vitamin A derivatives and may lead to birth defects. Most doctors will tell you to stop using those. I used retinol for years before switching to the Overnight Resurfacing Peel came out. It’s a safer alternative to a retinol product with similar results (review here).
Accutane and Tazorac can both cause major birth defects if used while pregnant. Generally doctors will require a pregnancy test before they prescribe Accutane and will often require you to take them throughout your course of Accutane. I believe they do the same for Tazorac too. (I’ve never personally used either.)
Hydroquinone is an ingredient used to brighten skin. It’s often used to address melasma or skin spots. While some say it doesn’t have negative impacts, it is known to have a higher absorption rate than other types of ingredients. That means it could eventually make its way into your blood stream and affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about the risk and benefit for your situation.
Most conventional sunscreens use a chemical based sun protection like oxybenzone or avobenzone. These may cause hormone disruption and/or interfere with your baby’s nervous system development (source). (They also damage coral reef and are banned in Hawaii.)
I switched to mineral sunscreen, one that’s zinc oxide based, years ago and haven’t looked back. I use this one for my body and this one for my face. (Beautycounter’s sunscreen even made the cut in a Women’s Health article about safe sunscreens.)
There are LOTS of opinions on this without a clear answer. Definitely talk to your doctor about your situation.
Acne during pregnancy is common. Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are the most common treatments for acne. But, those ingredients are controversial when used during pregnancy.
If you do use salicylic acid, most doctors will recommend that you use products no stronger than 2%. (All of Beautycounter’s acne products contain 2% or less.) When applied topically, Benzoyl Peroxide is believed to be safe during pregnancy (source), but some people still have concerns. So check with your doctor regarding your situation on both ingredients.
If you’re struggling with breakouts, be sure to read this post with more tips for clear skin.
This is yet another ingredient that’s highly debated. While it’s only supposed to penetrate to the top layer of skin (i.e. doesn’t absorb into your bloodstream or make it to your baby), some medical professionals advise to stay away out of an abundance of caution.
Note that this is different from hyaluronic acid, which is safe for pregnancy.
Again, everything I use is either Beautycounter or Primally Pure and that was the case even before pregnancy. But I’m particularly grateful for those brands now that I’m expecting! Below is that answer from each brand’s website about their products and pregnancy. I trust both brands. (I haven’t tried Drunk Elephant but that’s another brand that tests for pregnancy safety.)
At Beautycounter, we craft all of our products with safety in mind, especially for those who might be extra vulnerable – like pregnant women and babies. We carefully screen and assess each of our ingredients for 23 distinct, safety endpoints, including reproductive toxicity. That said, as pregnancy affects everyone differently, check with your doctor before beginning the use of any products if pregnant, nursing, or planning to become pregnant.
And here’s the FAQ from Primally Pure.
We feel confident that all of our products (aside from Fancy Face Serum for which we offer a pregnancy-safe version) do not pose a risk for pregnant/nursing women. However we always recommend that you check with your healthcare provider since he/she can advise you best.
The moral of the story is that every pregnancy is different, every doctor is different and every woman’s comfort level with various things in pregnancy is different. And that’s true for everything, not just skincare!
For example, the Overnight Resurfacing Peel contains glycolic acid and this SOS Spot Treatment contains 2% salicylic acid. I’m comfortable using both of those since I know the rigorous testing that Beautycounter does on the safety of their products, with special consideration for those who are pregnant.
But, you may not be comfortable using those. And I’m sure there are things you use that I wouldn’t. So again, you have to do what’s right for you! Educate yourself and go with your gut.
While I listed my full skincare routine above, below are my absolute favorites since I got pregnant!
While my skin is always dry, it’s been just a bit more dry during pregnancy. This night cream is a lifesaver. I look forward to using it every night!
I use this multi-purpose balm 2-3x a week in place of my oil cleanser and then in place of my night cream as an overnight moisture mask. It’s incredibly hydrating! It’s also great for any dry patches, like a super itchy belly or dry elbows. (Read my review here.)
This is my new favorite product, especially since melasma has started to creep up on my cheeks and hairline in my third trimester. This serum has been doing wonders for my complexion, brightening it and give it a glowing-from-within look. (See my review with before and after photos here.)
This body lotion is one of my pregnancy must-haves! (And it’s actually recommended in an article titled How to Handle Pregnancy Skin, According to Dermatologists. The BEST way to reduce stretch marks is by moisturizing frequently. I also really like the Body Butter (and it smells amazing). Even if you don’t see stretch marks happening, it’s always great to moisturize and avoid dry skin.
I hope this helps you figure out a solid pregnancy skincare routine. As with everything I share on my blog about pregnancy, I’m sharing my personal experience. Talk to your doctor, be your own advocate and go with your gut on any decisions you make throughout your pregnancy.