Tips on pregnancy skin care

Tips on pregnancy skin care


Besides having to bear in mind what to drink and eat while pregnant, you have to also be mindful of the types of skincare and beauty products you are using. This is because there are certain ingredients that are considered a no-no when expecting.

pregnancy skincare

That being said, you do not have to radically alter your skincare routine. As long as you are aware of a few harmful ingredients pregnant people should avoid, you do not have to make drastic changes to your regimen. We explore some tips on pregnancy skin care in this article below. 

Your skin alters during pregnancy

First and foremost, we must face the reality that your skin would change during your pregnancy. The internal environment of your body would change during pregnancy due to hormonal shifts, changes to blood vessels, the metabolism, and the immune system. Therefore, these changes can be most visibly observed in changes in your skin [1]. 

Although this rise in hormones and blood flow can occasionally result in that famed pregnancy “glow,” you may suffer from acne, stretch marks, eczema, spider veins, itchy skin, and/or melasma.

The most prevalent symptoms experienced by pregnant women are:

  • dry skin
  • darkening skin (melasma) 
  • acne

If you have preexisting skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea, your symptoms may either subside or worsen [2]. That being said, your skin change experience would not be exactly the same as another pregnant woman. You may experience excess oil and acne whereas your other pregnant friend may encounter dryness. This is because every woman experiences pregnancy differently. Moreover, you may also encounter varying symptoms within the different trimesters [1]. 

Consequently, ingredients in your skincare routine that may be still pregnancy-safe could result in a novel and unexpected reaction when you are pregnant [1]. These safe ingredients could be more irritating to the skin once pregnant. When unsure about the products you are using, check in with a trusted medical professional.

Skincare Ingredients to Avoid

Studies that examine the effects of most skincare ingredients in pregnant women are not extensive, thus doctors have to base their predictions on animal studies, or by looking at the way something works in the laboratory [1]. 

However, there are certain notable ingredients that have been proven to be harmful when consumed orally. These harmful ingredients include retinols/retinoids, some antibiotics, and hydroquinone. Below, we examine a few harmful ingredients to avoid at all costs when pregnant. 


Many doctors will recommend that you avoid any Vitamin A derivatives (like retinol, Retin-A, and retinyl palimitate) treatment when pregnant as these products have been associated with birth defects in children.That being said, sometimes retinoids such as adapalene will be prescribed during pregnancy. Be sure to consult your medical professional for alternative, natural treatments as much as possible to err on the side of caution.


Generally found in “bleaching creams” and products that claim to reduce hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and melasma,hydroquinone should also not be used during pregnancy. This is because it can be absorbed by the skin at a faster rate than other ingredients, implying  that the baby can consume it in larger amounts.


Parabens like BPA are typically used in items from skincare to shampoo as preservatives to increase their shelf-life. These substances can function as endocrine disruptors and can be absorbed by the skin readily. Research exists that implies that BPA may have adverse effects in pregnancy.

Chemical Sunscreens

Avoid chemicals like oxybenzone in sunscreens that have been associated with hormone disruption in studies with mice.This is because some people may find this substance irritating especially when their skin often becomes more sensitive during pregnancy.

Instead, use physical sunscreen which contains mineral ingredients like zinc oxide that physically shields the skin from both UVA and UVB rays.


Fillers to reduce the appearance of wrinkles would generally not be injected into pregnant patients by doctors. The safest option would be to reschedule  your treatments until after you have given birth(1) .Furthermore, avoid other types of treatments involving injections, lasers or peeling. 


A prominent carcinogen, formaldehyde is rarely used as a preservative and disinfectant in beauty products anymore. Yet there are formaldehyde-releasing chemicals commonly found in cosmetics with a similar potentially dangerous effect [2]. These chemicals can be found here: 

  • bronopol
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • diazolidinyl urea
  • hydroxymethylglycinate
  • imidazolidinyl urea
  • quaternium-15
  • 5-bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane

If you unknowingly consume these products your risks of infertility and miscarriage would rise. 

Use These Skincare Ingredients Instead

For Melasma and Sun Damage

Use a zinc oxide-based mineral sunscreen to reduce the effects of sun damage and skin darkening due to melasma. 

Avoid the sun as much as possible. Besides, you can wear a hat and/or protective clothing to protect your skin.

You may want to experiment which baby sunscreen to use on your baby. Choose a baby sunscreen that is ideally chemical free, fragrance free, gluten, and dairy free.

For Acne

Usually, most over-the-counter acne products are fine to combat acne, such as topical benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, topical salicylic acid, and topical glycolic acid in moderation. Be mindful of any potentially harmful ingredients in these acne products as these products usually contain other ingredients. If you want to stay clear of such anti-acne products, simply avoid touching your face, keep your skin clean and keep bedding fresh and clean during your pregnancy to reduce breakouts. 

What to Use for Melasma

Melasma is a typical symptom during pregnancy and usually surfaces as gray or brown patches on the face.It is a product of increased melanin production due to hormones. Hence, wear a hat in the sun and minimize sun exposure to address this condition. 

Although there are also lasers to reduce melasma after giving birth, be patient and wait till your  hormones revert to normal levels before using the laser option. 

Stretch Marks

Moisturizer has been touted by doctors as a useful prevention for stretch marks. Everyday, use oils or creams on your stomach, hips, thighs, and breasts to keep your skin hydrated. 

Spider Veins/ Varicose Veins

Increased blood pressure on your veins as well as changing hormones could lead to spider veins or varicose veins . Move and exercise regularly and avoid being cross-legged for too long. You may want to try wearing a support hose or compression socks [1]. 

How to check if your skin care products are safe

Always examine the safety of your skin care products with your dermatologist and OB/GYN. If you are consuming prescription medications or have a pre-existing skin condition, be particularly mindful of what goes into your skincare routine.

When pregnant, avoid certain ingredients like Vitamin A derivatives like Retin-A and retinol, as well as hydroquinone. Also, lasers, fillers, and Botox should be postponed until after pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Consult a trusted dermatologist about what skincare to use while pregnant.


[1] D. Zayas, “A complete guide to pregnancy-safe skincare,” Verywell Family, 09-Sep-2022. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 13-Sep-2022]. 

[2] N. Jablonski, “Pregnancy-safe skin care: What to use and what to avoid,” Healthline, 30-Jun-2020. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 13-Sep-2022]. 


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