When it comes to pregnancy, there’s no telling what gifts those hormones will bestow upon you. From mood swings to morning sickness, they can wreak havoc on every single system. And your skin? Well, that’s where things get even more interesting.

When you’re pregnant, of course there’s the glow everyone talks about. Unfortunately, hormone surges can also manifest as new and exciting skin issues like acne, dark spots, dry or greasy patches, dullness, redness or extra sensitivity. And while you may have a pre-pregnancy skincare routine in place, there’s a good chance not everything you’re currently using is one: suited to your newfound needs or two: safe for baby.

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What skincare ingredients should you avoid during pregnancy?

Well, first and foremost, talk with your doctor about what’s best for you. However, as a general rule you should nix the following:

  • Hydroquinone—A skin lightener that’s used to treat dark spots and melasma. Research is limited and it’s very easily absorbed, so best to avoid for now. As a pregnancy-safe alternative look for products with niacinamide and Vitamin C to help combat that “pregnancy mask.”
  • Benzoyl Peroxide—Another common acne-fighter, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests it’s safe to use sparingly but consult your doctor first.
  • Retinoids—Topical retinoids like Avage, Differin, Renova, Retin-A, retinols, retinyl palmitate, and Tazorac should be avoided throughout pregnancy. Despite the fact that just a small amount of the chemical is absorbed via the skin, various research has revealed a link to birth abnormalities.
  • Salicylic acid—Found in many acne treatments and peels, the jury is out on this one too. Some suggest that it’s ok in small doses, but check with your doctor to determine what’s safe for you.

More pregnancy-safe skin care products

Safe Face Washes for Pregnancy

Maintaining a clean and healthy complexion is essential during pregnancy. However, it’s important to choose face washes that are safe for both you and your baby. Here are some face washes recommended by experts:

  1. Salicylic Acid Washes (Less than 2%): These face washes can help exfoliate the skin and manage acne during pregnancy. Some recommended products include Natrium Niacinamide Cleansing Gelee 3%, Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Salicylic Acid, The INKEY List salicylic acid cleanser, and La Roche-Posay Purifying Foaming Facial Cleanser.
  2. Niacinamide and Zinc Face Washes: Niacinamide and zinc are safe and effective ingredients for anti-inflammatory and anti-acne care. Look for products like The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%, and Glytone Enhance Brightening Complex.

Remember to always follow the instructions on the product packaging and discontinue use if you experience any adverse reactions.

Treating Acne and Rosacea During Pregnancy

Acne and rosacea are common skin concerns that can occur during pregnancy. While some ingredients should be avoided, there are safe alternatives that can help manage these conditions:

  1. AHAs (Azelaic Acid, Glycolic Acid): Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as azelaic acid and glycolic acid can help with pigmentation and rosacea. Look for products like The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%, and Glytone Enhance Brightening Complex.
  2. Niacinamide and Zinc: Niacinamide and zinc have anti-inflammatory properties and can be effective in managing acne and rosacea. Products like The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% can be beneficial.

Always consult with your dermatologist or healthcare provider for personalized recommendations based on your specific skin concerns.

The Benefits of Vitamin C During Pregnancy

Vitamin C is a powerhouse antioxidant that offers a range of benefits for the skin, including protection against UV damage and treatment of melasma and hyperpigmentation. Here are some recommended vitamin C products:

  1. Skin Ceuticals Phloretin CF: This vitamin C serum is designed for acne-prone skin and provides antioxidant protection.
  2. Skin Ceuticals CE Ferulic: This popular vitamin C serum helps brighten the skin, improve fine lines, and protect against environmental damage.
  3. Skin Better Alto Defense Serum: This serum combines vitamin C with other antioxidants to provide comprehensive protection against free radicals and environmental stressors.

It’s important to note that vitamin C is generally safe for use during pregnancy, but it’s always best to consult with your healthcare provider before introducing new products into your skincare routine.

Pregnancy Safe Anti-Aging Alternatives

While retinol and other vitamin A derivatives are not recommended during pregnancy, there are alternative ingredients that can provide anti-aging benefits. Consider the following non-retinol options:

  1. Bakuchiol: Bakuchiol is a plant-based alternative to retinol that has been gaining popularity in the skincare world. It offers similar anti-aging benefits without the potential risks associated with retinol. Look for products like Alastin Restorative Skin Complex, Colorescience Pep Up, Skinbetter Intensive Treatment Lines, and The INKEY List Bakuchiol.
  2. Peptides: Peptides are amino acids that can help stimulate collagen production and improve skin elasticity. Look for products containing peptides to address signs of aging.

Always consult with your healthcare provider or dermatologist for personalized recommendations based on your specific skin concerns.

Nourishing Eye Treatments for Tired Eyes

Pregnancy can bring about tired and puffy eyes due to hormonal changes and lack of sleep. While taking care of the delicate skin around the eyes, it’s important to choose safe and effective products. Here are some recommended eye treatments:

  1. Colorescience Total Eye: This product helps improve the appearance of tired eyes and provides sun protection.
  2. Skinfix Remedy 911 Ointment: This ointment can help soothe and moisturize the delicate skin around the eyes.

Remember to use sunscreen and moisturizers around the eyes to protect and nourish the skin.

Hydration and Moisturization During Pregnancy

Maintaining hydrated and moisturized skin is crucial during pregnancy, especially as hormonal changes can lead to dryness and discomfort. Here are some recommended moisturizers for pregnancy:

  1. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream: This moisturizer contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and nourish the skin.
  2. Vichy Mineral 89 Skin Fortifying Daily Booster: This lightweight moisturizer contains hyaluronic acid to instantly hydrate and fortify the skin barrier.
  3. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5: This serum combines hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 to provide intense hydration and improve skin texture.

Remember to avoid retinol-containing moisturizers during pregnancy and consult with your healthcare provider for personalized recommendations.

Pregnancy-safe cleansers

Motif Plumping Phytoceramide Cleanser


Plumping Phytoceramide Cleanser


To call the Motif Plumping Phytoceramide Cleanser just a cleanser is like calling a gorgeous, gold dusted French macaron a cookie. The dermatologist-developed and tested formula, which has accurately been described as a “facial in a bottle,” turns washing your face into a mini ritual–with maximum payoff. Unlike a traditional cleanser which you wash right off, apply a thin layer and leave on for about 60 seconds. Texturally, it reminds me of a whipped clay mask and leverages tiny bits of dried luffa fruits to help exfoliate. As it sits, a collection of exotic, but effective ingredients go to work. Monkey fruit wood and fermented rice help brighten while white orchid and licorice root can assist in fading pigmentation. A powerhouse of pineapple ceramides plumps and hydrates, and what you’re left with is the softest skin you’ll get outside of time in your facialist’s chair.


Pleni Naturals

Enzyme Cleansing Oil


​This holy grail oil cleanser is EVERYTHING. The thick, honey-like formula (which emulsifies to a creamy consistency once you add water) is made with natural fruit oils including enzymatic papaya that cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize. Not only does it effortlessly take off every bit of make-up—mascara included—but it leaves skin feeling soft and supple. We love that it can also be used as a 10-minute mask for an extra dose of softness.

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser


Hydrating Facial Cleanser


This super popular drugstore cleanser is a gentle but effective way to wash the day off (or get it started!) and a favorite among folks with reactive or sensitive skin. It’s formulated with three essential ceramides to help reinforce your skin’s barrier and lock in moisture without making your face feel tight the second you dry off. The addition of hyaluronic acid helps to improve skin texture and keep it looking fresh, plump and ready to glow.



Skin Care The Cult Classic Purifying Face Cleanser


It’s called the cult classic for a reason. Developed by a gastroenterologist, Tula’s beloved skincare line harnesses the power of probiotics to achieve a healthy and balanced complexion, no matter what issues you’re battling. Along with probiotics, this gentle but effective purifying cleanser soothes with natural ingredients like chicory and turmeric root, making it a great match for mamas-to-be who are dealing with breakouts and blemishes.

Pregnancy-safe facial oils

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil

The Ordinary

100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil


It’s hard to overstate the miracle that is rosehip oil. Loaded with antioxidants, vitamins A, C and E, and fatty acids, it works hard to fight acne, hydrate, brighten, soften wrinkles and even fade scars while evening skin tone. (Which also makes it a great stretch mark solution as well!) It’s suitable for sensitive skin, and we’ve even used it to help calm angry flares of eczema. As far as oils go, it does sink in nicely, but if you’re more on the oily side or don’t love that dewy look, you may want to stick to using it at night only.


Sunday Riley

Juno Antioxidant + Superfood Face Oil


This obsession-worthy face oil is one you’ll turn to long after pregnancy to recreate that mama-to-be glow. It’s loaded with skin-soothing botanicals and antioxidants to instantly moisturize tired, dehydrated skin, leaving behind a healthy, vibrant complexion. If you find that oils leave you too greasy, stick to using them at night only. And given all the Vitamin E and Omegas it packs, it makes a great belly oil as well!


Josie Maran

100 percent Pure Argan Oil


A nourishing multi-tasker, Josie Maran’s pure argan oil is great for hydrating skin and hair. A few drops all over your face will visibly hydrate and smooth, and if you’re dealing with particularly flaky patches, spot treating works wonders. Additionally, your wallet will appreciate the budget-friendly trial size which IMO more brands need to offer. After all, what’s more disappointing than dropping serious coin on something that doesn’t agree with you?

Non-retinoid pregnancy-safe serums for brightening & treating discoloration

Gentle Actives Clarity Crème-Serum + Azelaic Acid


Gentle Actives Clarity Crème-Serum


From the gorgeous packaging to the divine formulas, it’s not hard to fall in love with Versine. Launched by a mom who struggled to find clear guidance on what exactly was considered safe when it came to caring for her skin while pregnant, their multi-tasking Gentle Actives Clarity Crème-Serum addresses a host of common pregnancy and nursing-related skin issues without a drop of worry about the ingredients. The lightweight formula is really a hybrid between a traditional serum and a moisturizer and meant to be used AM and PM to refine and moisturize with pregnancy safe and efficient ingredients like vitamin c, kakadu plum, niacinamide, sodium hyaluronate and squalane. (If you’re battling oily or acne-prone skin, opt for the Gentle Actives Clarity Crème-Serum + Azelaic Acid formula instead!) Besides the fact it offers your skin exactly what it needs to stay balanced and happy, we LOVE that it’s truly scentless. An important but often over-looked detail when it comes to skincare! (Especially when just about anything can make you nauseous, right?)

Australian Emu Apple - Dreamy Glow Drops

Australian Emu Apple – Dreamy Glow Drops



Forget Florida oranges—Australia is where it’s at when it comes to natural Vitamin C sources. Australian skincare brand Sand & Sky leverages local heroes Kakadu Plum and Emu Apple to create their Dreamy Glow Drops—a bi-phase serum (which means it’s got both oil and water) that sinks in instantly to deliver hydration (thanks to the addition of five types of hyaluronic acids), plumpness and all-over glow. The consistency is more water than oil, so it works fabulously under makeup and doesn’t leave you feeling greasy or weighed down.

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic (1 fl. oz.)


C E Ferulic (1 fl. oz.)


Skinceuticals best-selling serum is arguably the gold star of Vitamin C, recommended by countless dermatologists, beauty editors and skincare junkies like myself. The reason? Its efficacy is undeniable. The patented formula combines three powerhouse ingredients: 15% L-ascorbic acid, a super potent form of pure vitamin C that can help reverse sun damage and offers anti-aging benefits; 1% alpha-tocopherol, the pure form of vitamin E that works when paired with vitamin C to neutralize free radicals and replenish skin; and 0.5% ferulic acid, a plant-based antioxidant that protects the skin and enhances the benefits and stability of vitamins C and E. It’s a great choice for all kinds of skin but works particularly well for sensitive complexions due to its higher PH levels which allows it to penetrate without disrupting the protective barrier.

Ursa Major Mountain Glow Serum

Ursa Major

Mountain Glow Serum


The all-in-one Mountain Glow Serum from Ursa Major is like superfood for your face. Launched this summer, it’s a true powerhouse that we’ve been hooked on since the first application. The expertly-crafted formula is packed with 44 clean active ingredients you’ve probably never even heard of including Star-Tipped Lichen, Honey Locust Seed and Golden Aspen Bark to smooth away those fine lines, gently exfoliate and nourish skin day or night. The cream to oil consistency is easily absorbed and can even help restore and repair your skin barrier. The result? A truly glowing complexion that is bound to get you more than a few compliments.

Brighten Up Vitamin C Serum

Brighten Up Vitamin C Serum

Ursa Major


A sheer serum with a soft, citrusy rose scent, Ursa Major’s Brighten Up Vitamin C serum is a lifesaver for fatigued skin. (We can’t pick just one from Ursa Major, sorry, they’re that good.) It contains all-natural ingredients and none of the bad guys (sulfates, parabens, synthetic fragrance, etc), which is perfect if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. You’ll find Ascorbic Acid Polypeptides delivering your Vitamin C kick along with Rose hip, Aloe and Edelweiss to intensify the antioxidant and hydration factor.

Element Mom Dose of Radiance Serum Pads

Element Mom

Dose of Radiance Serum Pads


Boost hydration and help reduce the dark spots and melasma that can pop up during pregnancy with the efficient and convenient pads from Element Mom. Formulated specifically for pregnancy with niacinimide and licorice root to help reduce hyperpigmentation as well as ginger root and baikal skullcap root to even skin tone and reduce inflammation, you can swipe or leave on for a few minutes as part of your daily routine.

Best of all because truly caring for mamas is at the heart of everything Element Mom, each purchase provides the same product to another mom in need. (They also make supremely nourishing belly masks!)

Pregnancy-safe moisturizers

Volition Celery Green Cream


Celery Green Cream with Hyaluronic Acid + Peptides


Pregnant or not, this is one of my favorite moisturizers ever. The lightweight gel formula calms and hydrates skin without feeling sticky or greasy and blesses you with a perfectly plumped fresh face courtesy of hyaluronic acid—one of the most effective ingredients available for moisturizing. Like a blast of green juice for your face, it also packs natural hydration from produce superstars like celery and cucumber.



Hydro Boost Water Gel Face Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid


Free from oils, dyes and fragrances, Neutrogena’s super popular gel moisturizer is a favorite among many people with oily skin (including moms-to-be) because its gel formula is lighter than most moisturizers. It’s formulated with the moisturizing powerhouse hyaluronic acid—a molecule our bodies produce naturally that acts like a magnet to draw moisture in. The result? Plump, gorgeous and healthy skin without breaking the bank.

Vanicream daily facial moisturizer


Daily Facial Moistuizer


I came to this little miracle through a reddit suggestion after two consecutive months of eczema flare ups that seem spurred on by ovulation (how fun is that?!). After the swelling and wake-you-from a sound sleep itching subsides, it leaves a red, flaky mask in its wake. I swear after one application, this gel-like gift from the goddesses sunk right in and improved the situation almost completely. Made with barrier nourishing hyaluronic acid and ceramides and no fragrance, essential oils or anything to irritate, it’s super hydrating without being heavy or greasy. I then cut out literally every other step of my routine for two weeks. Simply used this morning and night and I have to say, my skin has never looked better.

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Pregnancy-safe face mists

Esteli Rosa Jamaica Hydrate Face Mist


Rosa Jamaica Hydrate Face Mist


As we mentioned above, rosehip oil is a total lifesaver. And as one of the star ingredients in the Esteli Rosa Jamaica Hydrate Face Mist, turns out we love it in all its forms. This lightweight botanical spray is made with hibiscus, aloe, rose and helichrysum (also called the “immortal, everlasting flower,” which we can’t help but love) which offers a dose of hydration as well as a moment of zen. There’s no water, just hydrosols which means it’s just the good stuff, not filler. Spritz it throughout the day when your skin needs a little refresh or use it as the first step in your skincare routine to lock in all the moisture and keep your skin plump and happy.

APTO Turmeric Mist

APTO Skincare

Turmeric Mist


If your skin (and spirits!) need a little pick-me-up, the refreshing Turmeric Mist from APTO Skincare is just the thing. As the hero ingredient, using turmeric postpartum has anti-inflammatory properties help calm and soothe dry, red or irritated skin while witch hazel works to shrink pores. The mist is fine enough to not upset makeup and can even work as a setting spray to make it last longer. And at just $6 bucks it’s a no-brainer!

Knours Be Kind Double Duty Mist


Be Kind Double Duty Mist


A pioneer in its category, we were instantly smitten with Knours’ Double Duty face mist. This brilliant multitasker is formulated with two separate layers of aloe vera water and jojoba oil to be used two ways: Not shaken if your skin is feeling sensitive or oily to deliver calming hydration, shaken if your skin is flaky and drier than usual for a blend that offers a moisturized glow. I mean, have you ever?! The sorcery! It’s perfect for an afternoon complexion pick-me-up and the subtle peony scent is absolutely intoxicating. Consider yourself hooked.

Momotaro Apotheca Hydrosol

Momotaro Apotheca Hydrosol

Momotaro Apotheca


Speaking of multitasking, few brands do it better than Momotaro Apotheca. Their pH balancing toning spray is formulated with aromatic botanicals to keep things fresh and happy below the belt and help address vaginal discomfort. It’s cool, refreshing and TBH, a total life saver. And yet, it’s more than just that! The fine mist is also great as a facial toner and mid-day spritz all over. Face, armpits, in your undies, even on your yoga mat, it’s an indispensable addition to your skincare and self care line up!

Pregnancy-safe exfoliating and moisturizing masks

OSEA White Algae Mask


White Algae Mask


OSEA, the powered-by-seaweed clean beauty brand offers an entire collection of pregnancy-safe skincare we love but we have to give a special shoutout to the White Algae Mask. Packed with organic seaweed, white tea and resveratrol, it helps to calm redness and brighten skin while hyaluronic acid seals in moisture. It’s a great one to use weekly to give skin a plump, glowy look!

Overtime Mask

Overtime Mask

Summer Fridays


Two years in the making, Summer Fridays’ Overtime mask was made with pregnancy in mind—or rather, formulated by a pregnant mind. Co-founder Lauren Ireland was pregnant during the development of this gentle exfoliating mask which uses vitamin-packed pumpkin and apricot seed powder to polish away dead skin and reveal that mama-to-be glow. Like the rest of their clean beauty products, it’s free of sulfates, parabens, synthetic dyes and fragrances so you can feel good about making it a regular part of your routine.

Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask

Youth to the People

Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask


What’s better than waking up with a fresh and glowy face? YTTP’s hydrating overnight mask is powered by a proprietary blend of super ingredients like maqui, acai, prickly pear, goji berry, sunflower, moringa, and squalane to bring out your inner dewiness while you catch some (much deserved) zzz’s. Even better? It smells like creamsicles.

Eye masks

Peace Out Puffy Under-Eye Patches

Peace Out

Puffy Under-Eye Patches


If your under-eyes are reaching zombie status, the biocellulose under-eye patches from Peace Out are a great tool to keep in your skincare tool box. The triple-threat of caffeine, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid works to de-puff, brighten and hydrate tired under-eyes in just 15 minutes. The gel-like patches feel cool and refreshing and they’re not so big that they cover half your face.

Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Eye Masks

Wander Beauty

Baggage Claim Eye Masks


Are they the most ‘grammable eye masks on the market? Yes. Are they some of the most effective? Also yes. Less slippy than most, these paper masks are drenched in hydrating and smoothing glycerin, panthenol, aloe leaf juice, and calendula extract to do battle against tired eyes. The gold foil fabric helps trap the serum so it sinks in thoroughly leaving you refreshed and ready for the day ahead.

Dieux Forever Eye Mask


Forever eye mask


At between 3-5 dollars on average per eye mask, plopping them on everyday isn’t exactly within the budget. An equally satisfying alternative? The brilliant Forever Eye Mask from Dieux. Made from a lightweight and reusable non-porous silicone, they work to enhance your favorite serums or eye creams that are already stocked on your shelves. Just apply a thin layer of product to your under-eye, let it get tacky and then apply the masks on top. A 10-15 minute wait allows the serum to do its hardest work. When you’re done, just wash them off and stick back in the tin for next time! Brilliant!

Pregnancy-safe acne treatments


Peach Slices Acne Spot Dots

1. Peach & Lily


Forget cell phones—pimple patches are the thing I wish existed when I was in middle school. These brilliant little miracles (otherwise known as hydrocolloid patches) adhere to brewing blemishes to not only draw out the yucky stuff and reduce inflammation without chemicals but also prevent you from picking at it. (#Guilty) While there are tons on the market today, these are my favorite because they include three different sizes in one pack.

FAQ: Pregnancy-Safe Skincare

What skincare brands are safe for pregnancy?

Brands like The Honest Company, Belli Skincare, and Earth Mama are known for their pregnancy-safe products. They avoid harmful chemicals and focus on natural ingredients.

What is safe to use on your skin while pregnant?

Look for products with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and aloe vera. These are generally safe and help keep the skin hydrated and soothed.

What skincare to avoid during pregnancy?

Avoid products containing retinoids, salicylic acid (in high concentrations), formaldehyde, and chemical sunscreens. Opt for mineral sunscreens and gentler alternatives.

What skin care to avoid pregnancy?

In addition to retinoids and high-dose salicylic acid, avoid hydroquinone, phthalates, and certain essential oils like rosemary or clary sage, as they might be harmful during pregnancy.

Can I use vitamin C while pregnant?

Yes, vitamin C is generally safe during pregnancy. It can help with pigmentation and brighten the skin. Look for serums or moisturizers with vitamin C.

Can you use vitamin C serum while pregnant?

Yes, vitamin C serum is safe to use during pregnancy. It’s beneficial for the skin and helps combat hyperpigmentation and fine lines.

Can I use hyaluronic acid while pregnant?

Yes, hyaluronic acid is safe during pregnancy. It’s a hydrating ingredient that helps maintain skin moisture without causing harm.

What happens if you accidentally use retinol while pregnant?

If you accidentally use retinol, stop immediately and consult your healthcare provider. While a one-time use is unlikely to cause harm, continued use should be avoided.

Why is skin care bad for pregnancy?

Not all skincare is bad during pregnancy, but certain ingredients can be harmful to the developing fetus. Always check product labels and consult with a healthcare provider.

So if you’re looking to revamp your skincare routine and switch to pregnancy-safe skincare that will tackle the hormonal woes, look no further than our top picks below!

A version of this article was originally published on October 16, 2021. It has been updated.