What Are The Best Skincare Products For Pregnant Women?

by Gio
best pregnancy-safe skincare products

What are the best skincare products for pregnant women?

Pregnancy can give you that beautiful radiant glow. Or it can play tricks on your skin that leave it blotched with acne, melasma or heightened sensitivity (as if morning sickness weren’t enough).

The worst part? Your old trusted staples won’t do. Retinol, Benzoyl peroxide and everything else you were using to deal with all the skincare drama before pregnancy is now banned from your skincare routine. They’re not safe for baby.

So what is? Here are the best pregnancy-safe skincare products to deal with aging, dark spots and more during this special time in your life:

Prevent Antiaging With Antioxidants

Retinoids are off limits during pregnancy. Studies show they cause birth defects in mice. Sure, we’re not mice but… why take the risk?

Keep retinoids on the shelves till you’ve done breastfeeding. In the meantime, fill your skincare routines with as many antioxidants as you can find.

Think of antioxidants as your body’s police. They patrol your body, looking for free radicals, the nasty molecules that destroy collagen, elastin, cellular DNA and everything else they find on their path. When they spot one, they destroy it before they can give you wrinkles and dark spots.

Best Picks:

Related: Common Antioxidants In Skincare Products: Which Ones Are Best?

Exfoliate With Lactic Acid

The jury’s still out there on whether exfoliating acids are safe for pregnancy. I personally believe that it’s only peels that are dangerous. In the small concentrations used in cosmetics, glycolic & co should be fine.

But what if you don’t want to take the risk, however small? Stick to lactic acid. It’s gentler than other acids out there. Plus, your body makes a lot of it already, so it won’t cause your baby any harm.

Best Picks:

  • The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% (£5.50): Suitable even for the most sensitive of skin types, this exfoliant contains a very low concentration of lactic acid to smoothen and brighten the skintone. Plus, it’s hydrating. Available at Asos, Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique.
  • The Inkey List Lactic Acid (£7.99): A hydrating exfoliating with 10% lactic acid to remove those pesky dead cells off the surface and unveil smoother, softer and brighter skin. Available at Cult Beauty and Feel Unique.

Related: How Often Should You Exfoliate?

Protect Skin From UV Harm With Mineral Sunscreens

Did you know that avobenzone get absorbed by your body? We know this because it’s been found in urine (eww!). That’s good news: it means your body’s getting rid of it so it can’t harm you.

But just because it’s safe for mama, it doesn’t mean it’s safe for baby. That’s why it’s best to avoid chemical UV filters (yes, avobenzone ain’t the only one that gets into your body) during pregnancy.

So what can you use? Mineral UV filters titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. They tend to be a little thicker and sometimes even leave a white cast behind. But they’re super gentle and 100% safe for mum and baby.

Best Picks:

  • Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($36.00): Unlike other sunscreens on this list, this one has an added tint to neutralise the white cast. Plus, it’s loaded with antioxidants and oils to fight free radicals and hydrate skin. Available at Cult Beauty and Sephora.
  • EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47 ($25.00): A lightweight mineral sunscreen that even oily and sensitive skin will love. It’s resistant for up to 80 minutes in water and doesn’t leave a greasy residue behind. Available at Dermstore and Walmart.
  • Mad Hippie Facial SPF ($24.99): A bit thicker than other sunscreens in this list. But if you’re looking for an all natural sunscreen, this is it. It’s packed with zinc oxide and antioxidants to boost your sun protection. Available at Free People, iHerb and Ulta.
  • Supergoop! 100% Mineral Smooth & Poreless Matte Sunscreen SPF 40 ($38.00): Ideal for oily and acne-prone skin, this sunscreen has a translucent formula that dries down to a soft matte finish. Available at Dermstore, Nordstrom, Revolve and Sephora.

Related: 3 Reasons Why Mineral Sunscreen Is Better For Sensitive Skin

Fight Dryness With Hyaluronic Acid

Is your skin dry or dehydrated? You need hyaluronic acid in your life. This moisture magnet attracts and binds to the skin up to 1000 times its weight in water!

All that moisture instantly makes your skin softer, plumper and smoother. It gives it a dewy glow, too! The best part? It’s so gentle, it’s suitable for ALL skin types.

Best Picks:

  • La Roche Posay Hyalu B5 (£37.00): A no-frills hydrating serum with two forms of Hyaluronic Acid to deeply hydrate every layer of skin. Available at Escentual,Feel Unique and Look Fantastic.
  • Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster ($36.00): This concentrated booster uses two types of Hyaluronic Acid plus ceramides to deeply hydrate skin and strengthen its protective barrier. You can use it alone or mix it with your fave moisturiser. Available at DermstoreNordstromPaula’s Choice and Selfridges.
  • Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Serum ($65.00): A hyaluronic acid serum enriched with probiotics to deeply hydrate and soothe sensitive skin. Available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Sephora and Ulta

Related: Why You Should Add Hyaluronic Acid To Your Skincare Routine, No Matter Your Skin Type

Reduce Hyperpigmentation (& Acne) With Azelaic Acid

Retinoids, glycolic acid peels, hydroquinone… It seems like everything that can fade away dark spots is banned during pregnancy!

Worry not. You’re not doomed to blotchy skin just because you’re having a baby. Turn to azelaic acid. Safe during pregnancy, this baby exfoliates skin, fades away dark spots and even helps treat acne!

Best Pick:

  • The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% (£5.50): A basic, no-frills azelaic acid cream that helps you fight acne and dark spots. It’s suitable even for sensitive skin. Available at AsosBeauty BayCult Beauty and Feel Unique.

Related: The Battle Of The Skin-Lighteners: Which Is The Best Alternative To Hydroquinone?

Keep Shine At Bay With Zinc

Does your skin keep pumping out sebum like there’s no tomorrow? Zinc comes to the rescue. This metal regulates oil production and reduces inflammation, two of the main causes of acne.

The catch? You won’t find it in many skincare products yet, so keep an eye out for it!

Best Pick:

  • The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (£5.00): It pairs zinc with niaciamide, an antiaging superstar that hydrates skin, soothes inflammation, treats acne and even prevents wrinkles! Available at Asos, Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique.

Related: Does Zinc Help Treat Acne?

What do you think are the best skincare products for pregnant women? Share your picks in the comments below.

Take The Guesswork Out Of Skincare Shopping

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Chris June 17, 2019 - 11:58 am

Hi Gio, thanks for this article. I’m currently in my third trimester and initially banned retinoid from my skincare, but I have recently been using the Chemistry brand Retinoil in an attempt to fight stretchmarks, after reading that there is no evidence supporting the dangers of retinoid when used on skin (only if you take it orally). So I am a little confused now. I can do without retinoid in face care (hurrah for good skin days since the 2nd trimester), but I would like to try and keep my belly in the best shape possible, but obviously not at the risk of the baby’s health. Any recommendations for belly care? Or do you think Retinoil is ok?

Gio July 6, 2019 - 12:23 pm

Chris, I personally think that OTC retinoids are ok during pregnancy and I’d use it if I were expecting – in moderation. I wouldn’t cover my whole body with it, but a small area, yes.

But because we have no study confirming it’s 100% safe for pregnancy (for obvious reasons, you can’t do those studies!), some experts believe it’s best to stop using them completely. It’s up to you to weight all the evidence and make an informed choice.

Susie August 5, 2019 - 9:15 pm

Is there anything within EltaMD’s SPF that would trigger some redness?

Gio August 8, 2019 - 4:06 pm

Susie, no, unless you’re allergic to one of the ingredients in these sunscreens.

lakshmi C mayya August 29, 2019 - 8:53 am

Hi Gio,

I am 39 yrs of age, Indian skin, 5months pregnant and have just started taking care of my skin (the last 2 weeks). I have not really taken care of my skin ever but for sunscreen everyday. My skin has not really ever given me a problem but occasional breakouts (almost every week). However, lately, my skin feels it needs some love and attention and I have been looking up websites and came across a number of options that might be good. I have been reading your blog and would appreciate your help. My routine as of now is:
The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23%
The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid
The Inkey list Eye creme
Suncros Suncreen (wanting to change it to mineral suncreen- EltaMD UV 47)

Wanting to add: The ordinary Azelaic acid suspension 10% + The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc PCA 1% + The ordinary Buffet

Cleanse (double)
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA
The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid
The Inkey list Eye creme

Wanting to add: The ordinary Azelaic acid suspension 10% + The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc PCA 1% + The ordinary Buffet
And maybe 2 times a week – Mario Badescu Glycolic Gel (minus lactic acid) or some form of glycolic acid into the routine.

Please suggest if this layering is too much. Thank you.

Gio September 14, 2019 - 5:36 pm

Lakshmi, congratulations on your pregnancy! And well done for starting to take better care of your skin – it’s never too late.

I’d love to help you create the perfect skincare routine for you. This is a service I charge for. You can book your consultation here: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/skincare-consultation/


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