Pregnancy causes a lot of changes in your body, including your skin. Some women get glowing skin, while hormonal imbalances cause all sorts of skin issues in other women. Hormonal acne, dry skin or severe hyperpigmentation are all common skin problems to suffer from during pregnancy. Being pregnant is an exciting, special time in your life, but it can be quite intense for your skin. Luckily, most of these issues are temporary and will clear up after you have given birth.
Are you expecting a child or trying to become pregnant? It's important to be extra mindful about the ingredients in your skincare products. Some common ingredients in skincare are not safe to use when you're carrying a child. To help you on your way, we've made a list of skincare ingredients that you should avoid while you're pregnant. We've added some safe, effective alternatives to keep your skin happy and healthy during this exciting time.
What ingredients should I avoid while I'm pregnant?
Scientific research has linked birth defects to the use of retinoids. While this research mostly focused on oral retinoids such as Accutane and prescription strength topicals like tretinoin, it's generally advised to leave all retinoids be during this time. This includes retinol, retinal, granactive retinoid, retinaldehyde, tretinoin and adapelene.
This ingredient is know for its skin lightening properties and is used for treating hyperpigmentation. Research has shown that hydroquinone is absorbed in the body through the skin and shows up in the blood in measurable quantities. Because it isn't fully clear what the effects are on the unborn child, it's better to avoid this ingredient while you are pregnant.
Research has shown that Oxybenzone has hormone disrupting effects, meaning it mimics the way the hormones in your body work. It's also one of the UV filters with the highest risk of allergic and photo-allergic reactions. In 'normal' people, this risk is so small that most experts consider it negligible, but pregnant women and children under 2 years old are generally advised to use mineral sun filters to provide sun protection, or choose a product that makes use of new generation UV filters.
Benzolperoxide is a powerful treatment against acne. It dries out the pimple and prevents acne-causing bacteria from growing. It's possible to get it without a prescription, but it's usually only available in the pharmacy or the drugstore. Studies have shown that Benzolperoxide forms a serious threat for a fetus and is linked to birth defects. Avoid at all costs while pregnant!
Salicylic Acid / BHA
The jury isn't out on salicylic acid (or BHA). Most experts and dermatologists agree that it is safe to use BHA in at-home concentrations of up to 2%. In amounts as low as that, it probably can't do any harm.
Pregnancy safe alternatives
Luckily there are tons of pregnancy safe alternatives that will keep your skin happy, clear and healthy, even when you're expecting!
Did you know that pregnancy can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight? This means an increased risk of developing hyperpigmentation, sun spots and melasma. Of course, you should protect your skin against UV regardless of whether you're pregnant or not, but it's even more important when you've got a little one on the way! Overall, mineral sunscreens are one of the safest choices to make when you're pregnant. These are sunscreens that make use of zinc-oxide and titanium-dioxide to provide protection. Great options include the Benton Mineral Sun Cream, a 100% mineral sunscreen that cools off and soothes sensitive skin with green tea and licorice extracts. The Safe Sun Fluid Age by Thank You Farmer is a mild sunscreen that is free of parabens, animal derived ingredients and essential oils, making it a perfect choice for pregnant women who have sensitive skin.
Vitamin C is safe to use during pregnancy, so if it feels right for your skin, you can keep using your favorite Vitamin C product. However, many people experience increased skin sensitivity during pregnancy, which means that using Vitamin C can cause redness and irritation. If that is the case, you might want to switch to an alternative active ingredient. Licorice extract is one of the safest skin brightening ingredients that is tolerated by sensitive skin beautifully. Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Repair Serum and Acwell Aquazene Effector both contain significant concentrations of licorice extract to brighten skin, even out the skin tone and keep your sunspots in check. All of this with a minimal risk of irritation.
For hormonal acne
When you're pregnant, many traditional anti-acne treatments like retinoids and benzol peroxide are not an option. Does this mean that you can't do anything to treat your oily, acne-prone skin? No, of course not. :) There are still many safe and effective choices out there. Lactic acid is a mild exfoliant that is safe to use during pregnancy. It is well tolerated by sensitive skin types too! It gently sloughs off dead skin cells and gives you hydrated, healthy skin. The molecules in lactic acid are larger compared to another well-known AHA, glycolic acid. This means that lactic acid doesn't penetrate the skin as effectively, making it less irritating. Aromatica Soft Peel Toner is an alcohol free toner with aloe, chamomile and lactic acid to leave your skin soft, smooth and hydrated. Do you want to go for an even more gentle alternative? Beauty of Joseon Apricot Blossom Peeling Gel uses natural enzymes from apples and apricots to gently remove blemishes from the skin.
Dryness and irritation
Hormonal fluctuations can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, but it increase the overall sensitivity of your skin too. Some products that your skin tolerated well before, suddenly feel like too much for your skin. If your skin is also more dry, things can go from bad to worse really quickly. Choose soothing, mild products to gently cleanse and moisturize your skin, focusing on keeping your moisture barrier intact. Make sure not to use overly stripping cleansers on your skin, but choose a mild cleanser that leaves your skin hydrated and protected, like the Etude House Soon Jung Whip Cleanser. Keep your moisture barrier strong and healthy with a soothing moisturizer that prevents transdermal moisture loss and is rich in healing, regenerating ingredients. We love formulas with ceramides for this, because ceramides are crucial to maintain healthy and resilient skin. COSRX Balancium Comfort Ceramide Cream is developed especially for this purpose as it soothes and strengthens irritated skin.
We hope we've given you some tools to make well-informed choices when it comes down to skincare during your pregnancy. If you're unsure about a certain product or you have another question, our customer care team is always happy to help you!