Pregnancy introduces a lot of first-time experiences: First food cravings, first ultrasound, and first kicks of the baby. Most of those will be welcome firsts. But while your body is growing every day, the influx of hormones will likely trigger changes to the largest organ in your body: Your skin. Common skin concerns during pregnancy are acne, melasma, dry skin, and stretch marks. Treating these issues requires due diligence since there are certain ingredients not safe to consume during pregnancy. Ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinol pass into the bloodstream and may have adverse effects on the growing baby. The good news is that there are easy swaps and alternatives you can make in your skincare routine to address these concerns and accentuate the classic pregnancy glow to keep your skin happy.
It’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor when trying a new product during pregnancy or if you have questions about the safety of certain ingredients. Why? Because all people, and all pregnancies, are different. Run any concerns by your doctor to make sure you’re in the clear.
Which Ingredients to Avoid While Pregnant
There are some common skincare ingredients that are best avoided during pregnancy. Based on the ingredient type and the percentage of certain ingredients in skincare, various side effects could put your pregnancy at risk.
Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide—common ingredients in acne-fighting products—should be replaced with azelaic acid or niacinamide. You can also use glycolic or lactic acid as a replacement chemical exfoliator to make sure your skin is free of bacteria and other impurities.
Retinol is another ingredient to avoid during pregnancy. This ingredient is used to treat acne, as well as fine lines, rough texture, and uneven skin tone. You can replace retinol with bakuchiol or look for products with peptides, specifically anti-aging peptides, to address wrinkles with a pregnancy-safe alternative. Peptides actively communicate with your cells and signal your skin to do things like produce more collagen and teach your skin to act and look younger.
Since hyperpigmentation and melasma can be heightened during pregnancy, it’s especially important to wear daily SPF. However, many chemical sunscreens include the ingredient oxybenzone which is not safe for pregnancy. Instead, opt for a mineral SPF for daily protection and to prevent worsening melasma and discoloration.
How to Treat Your Skin During Pregnancy
“There are a few important things to keep in mind when it comes to treating your skin during pregnancy,” says HydroPeptide esthetician Allison Shoemaker. “The first step is using a gentle cleanser that doesn’t over-dry the skin.”
This ultra-gentle face wash and makeup remover will cleanse away impurities while protecting the lipid barrier of your skin. Foaming peptides allow for a moisture-rich lather without the use of parabens or sulfates.
“Moisture Reset Oil is naturally antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory so it’s great to hydrate and minimize breakouts,” says Allison.
13 precious oils make up this nutrient-rich, fast-absorbing facial oil. Lock in moisture and enforce the natural lipid barrier of your skin with this luxe illuminator.
“It’s important to wear a mineral sunscreen every day to prevent melasma while pregnant,” says Allison. A hydrating sunscreen is even better to keep your skin moisturized.
Solar Defense will protect from UVA, UVB, and infrared rays while enriching the skin with hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture and a blend of calendula, cucumber, and acai extracts to guard against free radicals.
“Use a booster to add hydration and keep your skin barrier healthy,” says Allison. “CellRenew-16, our exclusive peptide, boosts natural defensins which are antimicrobial agents in the skin.”
A one-of-a-kind treatment carefully formulated to deliver a thirst-quenching hit of triple-weight hyaluronic acid for maximum hydration. CellRenew-16 signals your skin to make key elements for a healthy skin barrier. Hydrating peptides boost the skin’s own renewal of hyaluronic acid, resulting in a visible reduction of fine lines and wrinkles.
Pregnancy-Safe Ingredients to Use as Alternatives
If you’re looking for a cheat sheet for which skincare ingredients are safe to use while pregnant, we have rounded up some common skin concerns with ingredient alternatives to treat them for the duration of your pregnancy.
Melasma & Hyperpigmentation: Vitamin C
Acne: Azelaic Acid & Niacinamide
Resurfacing: Lactic & Glycolic Acid
Dryness: Hyaluronic Acid
How to Treat Stretch Marks
When it comes to stretch marks, there are several factors to consider. First and foremost, whether or not you develop stretch marks during pregnancy is usually based on factors like genetics—so do not put unnecessary stress on yourself trying to find a magic potion to make them disappear. Stretch marks are nothing to fear or be ashamed of, they are proof that you have worked hard to grow a healthy baby for nine months.
Genetics aside, it is always a good idea to moisturize your skin—especially while pregnant! Some key ingredients to look for are:
- Hyaluronic acid
- Lifting Peptides
Try Firming Body Moisturizer which is chock-full of ingredients that not only help reduce the appearance of stretch marks, scars, and discoloration but also deeply hydrate.
Pregnancy Safe Facial Treatments
Pregnancy is a great time to ramp up your self-care and treat yourself to extra rest and relaxation. There are some professional treatments that you should avoid like:
- Chemical peels
However, there are many facials that are perfectly safe—and these services can actually improve some common skincare concerns that arise during pregnancy. These include:
- Oxygen facials
- Collagen-boosting facials
- Deep cleansing facials
- Lymphatic massage
Just make sure the ingredients used during the facial are all pregnancy-safe—your esthetician will easily be able to check that for you.