Skincare for Pregnancy


Babies mean changes, and those changes affect everything, right down to your skin - and skincare routine! When you're pregnant, it's especially important to be aware of what you're putting on - and in - your body. These are some key ingredients commonly found in skincare products that should be on your "avoid" list, plus a few products to try during pregnancy!


 Graphic for skincare during pregnancy


Note: I am not a doctor or medical professional! Be sure to discuss any potential product changes or ingredients with your specific medical provider.


I'm completely obsessed with safe skincare normally, but during pregnancy? Oh, mama, watch out. I'm all over it. Reading every label, doing a ton of research, the works.

The problem is, there are some ingredients in skincare products that get absorbed into your skin, and studies show that when they're passed on to baby, they're likely to cause some harm. The good news? Whether you're dealing with a bout of acne you haven't worried about in 15 years or you're just trying to stay on top of your moisture game, there are safe alternatives!


Ingredients to Avoid


Retinol and retinoids are in a ton of skincare products lately because they're great for reducing fine lines and promoting collagen production. In high doses, though, retinoids have been shown to cause birth defects. The amount of retinoids in a jar of moisturizer from your local drug store is typically lower than the amount you'd find in a prescription, but still, it's probably best to leave these products on the shelf during pregnancy.


You might be thinking "wait, isn't that the stuff in embalming fluid"? Well... yup. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, and yet still shows up in too many skincare products for my comfort. It can be disguised by other names, too - names like dimethyl-dimethyl (DMDM), hydantoin, hydroxymethylglycinate, and quaternium-15, to name a few. Whatever you call it, it's been linked to cancer and may cause fertility issues or even miscarriages.


There are studies that show phthalates can raise your chances of gestational diabetes and miscarriage. That's not all, though! They're also linked to asthma, breast cancer, obesity, and male and female fertility issues, among other things. Um?? No?? Thank you??? Frustratingly, phthalates are in basically everything. Toys, food packaging, vinyl flooring, detergents, nail polish, hairspray, shampoos, soaps, perfumes... UGH.

Avoid These Acne Treatment Ingredients, Too

  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA)
  • Avage, Fabior, Tazorac (tazarotene)
  • Avita (tretinoin)
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Beta hydroxy acids
  • Differin (adapelene)
  • Glycolic Acid
  • Panretin (alitretinoin)
  • Retin-A, Renova (tretinoin)
  • Retinoic acid
  • Retinol
  • Retinyl linoleate
  • Retinyl palmitate
  • Salicylic acid – no more than 2%
  • Targretin gel (bexarotene)
  • Tretinoin


Give These Products a Try

Beautycounter Countermatch Adaptive Moisture Lotion

I seriously LOVE this moisturizer. It really is truly adaptive and it meets your skin's moisture needs throughout the day. Super important during pregnancy since everything changes every 5 minutes it seems.

Beautycounter Countermatch Recovery Sleeping Cream

This might be my favorite skincare product of all time. I wake up every morning with super moisturized, smooth-feeling skin without having to exfoliate nonstop.

Wash with Water Plant Butter - Mandarin and Jasmine

All of Wash with Water's products are made with nontoxic, clean ingredients, are free of harmful chemicals and synthetic fragrances, and they're always cruelty free. I love the scent of this plant butter, too - peach, cassis, and mandarin, blended with jasmine petals, white musk, vanilla, and shaved sandalwood. SO GOOD.

Earth Mama Organics Morning Wellness Castile Body Wash

This body wash is formulated specifically for pregnancy. Use it in the shower as a body wash or keep a bottle by the sink for a moisturizing hand soap. It's formulated with ginger, lime, and grapefruit, and it's free from artificial fragrance, triclosan, phthalates, parabens, and sulfates.

Belli Skincare Healthy Glow Facial Moisturizer

Lean in to that pregnancy glow! Vitamin C is great for brightening and evening skin tone, and this moisturizer combines it with non-comedogenic grapeseed oil for a facial hydrator that won't clog your pores. Belli's products are safe for pregnancy, with  no harmful chemicals, artificial dyes, fragrances, parabens or phthalates. They're also gluten free, cruelty free, and vegan, too!

Belli Skincare Elasticity Belly Oil

Another great product from Belli Skincare, this oil provides deep hydration for your growing belly, protecting against stretch marks. The hydration will also help alleviate the itchiness that comes with pregnancy bellies.


Looking for sun protection? Check out this post I wrote for my other blog, 40 Aprons, on The Best Safe Sunscreen for Pregnancy (and What Chemicals to Avoid).