Zits, dark spots and all kinds of other things do though.
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.
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."
- 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.
- 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.
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!
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.
This super popular drugstore cleanser is a gentle but effective way to wash the day off (or get it started!) It's formulated with three essential ceramides to help reinforce your skin's barrier and lock in moisture while offering protection from the elements. The addition of niacinamide and hyaluronic acid helps to improve skin texture and keep it looking fresh, plump and ready to glow.
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.
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!
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 Serums For Brightening + Treating Discoloration
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 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.
A sheer serum with a soft, citrusy rose scent, Ursa Major's Brighten Up Vitamin C serum is a lifesaver for fatigued skin. 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.
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.
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.
Exfoliating and Moisturizing Masks
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.
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.
Pregnancy-Safe Acne Treatments
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.
We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.