What Skin Care Products Are OK to Use When Pregnant or Nursing?

  • Copy by: Ojus Patel
  • Feature image by: Anna Sullivan for Unsplash

When you finally get past the shock and awe of your positive pregnancy test, the overwhelm sets in. Even if you have lived a fairly healthy lifestyle before, there are inevitably changes you’ll have to make during pregnancy – and some of that might include your skincare.

We talked to OB/GYN Dr. John Thoppil, the president-elect of the Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and an Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University’s College of Medicine, to get the details on what is safe and what is not when it comes to skincare when you are pregnant or nursing.


Which common skincare ingredients should be avoided when pregnant or nursing?

Because of the nature of studying developing babies, there is not much clear-cut research available regarding the effects of certain ingredients on specific aspects of development. So, doctors tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to overall pregnancy recommendations – this might lead to some difference of opinion when you speak to more than one doctor (just like how one doctor might be okay with a bite or two of sushi while another suggests abstaining completely).


Generally, doctors typically tell their patients to avoid the following ingredients, as noted by Dr. Thoppil. “Botox and other injectables are a no-no,” he tells us. “We also advise avoiding vitamin A (retinoid or retinol) products. Creams with hydroquinone or any antibiotics should not be used,” as the latter has been known to cause birth defects.


Ask your doctor about their comfort with salicylic acid (same ingredient as aspirin) and benzoyl peroxide,” Thoppil says. “We sometimes use low dose aspirin for high-risk pregnancies, and the amount in most acne creams is so much less than that, so I feel comfortable letting some of my patients use these occasionally.” But since your doctor might disagree, it’s always best to check in.


What is safe when it comes to skincare during pregnancy and breastfeeding?

“Soap and water are obviously very safe,” Dr. Thoppil says, so most gentle cleansers are fine to use. “Most moisturizers are also safe,” he continues. “Though I advise avoiding oily or greasy creams or makeup because they can cause blemishes.” Since your skin might react very differently to various ingredients or environmental stressors when you’re pregnant, sticking with gentle, oil-free products will likely serve you best.


Should pregnant women switch to more natural/chemical-free skincare routines while pregnant?

“Yes,” Dr. Thoppil suggests. “If you can, this is a good idea.” Not only are these products typically safer for pregnant and nursing women, as Dr. Thoppil tells us, “these products are less likely to irritate the skin, which may lead to fewer blemishes.” Win, win.


What’s your favorite pregnancy-safe product? Shop our favorites below!



Indie Lee

Brightening Cleanser

This amazing cleanser doubles as a face mask for those days you need some extra exfoliation.

Fresh Beauty

Soy Cleanser

There's a reason this cleanser is a cult favorite. It removes all makeup (which not all cleanser do) without drying out your skin.


Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm

An editor fave, this balm cleanser goes from balm to oil to milk to melt away every trace of dirt, makeup, and


Juice Beauty

Green Apple Pregnancy Peel

This peel is designed for pregnant and nursing moms. It's perfect for dull skin that needs a pick-me-up.

First Aid Beauty

5-in-1 Bouncy Mask

All pregnant and new moms need some bounce. This mask is marketed as a "10-minute facial in a jar." We'll take it!


One Love Organics

Vitamin C Serum

Since you can't use your retinol-based serums during pregnancy, pick up a great Vitamin C serum to keep your complexion glowing.

Peter Thomas Roth

Cloud Hydration Serum

Pregnancy can leave your skin drier than a desert, so a serum with hyaluronic acid is nearly a must. Bonus, it's fragrance-free, so you can use it even at your queasiest.


Lapis Balancing Facial Oil

This hydrating face oil balances your skin while improving visible redness and blemishes. Perfect for sleepless-nights skin.

Acne Fighters

Paula's Choice

8% AHA Lotion

If you rely on benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to control your acne, finding a pregnancy-safe alternative can definitely throw you for a loop. AHAs in a less-than-10% concentration are considered safe for pregnancy, and this one uses glycolic acid to clear up your skin.

Burt's Bees

Natural Acne Spot Treatment

It's a given that ultimately a blemish or two will pop up -- after all, your body and hormones (and likely, stress level) are being put through the ringer. This treatment is effective yet gentle.


Medicine Mama's

Sweet Bee Magic Skin Cream

This heavy duty cream will ease your dry, itchy skin, and the ingredient list is free of any harsh chemical.

True Botanicals

Hydrating Pure Radiance Oil

This hydrating oil replaces a cream and moisturizer - and we'll take anything that makes our skincare easier.


Coconut Melt

This coconut melt can be used on your hair, body, and face. It's made of 100 percent pure, organic, and unrefined coconut oil that melts on contact.


Drunk Elephant

Umbra Sheer Physical Sunscreen

Mineral sunblocks tend to irritate sensitive pregnancy skin less than their chemical counterparts. This one rubs in more easily than many other mineral blocks we've tried.

Derma E

Mineral Face Powder by Ash Deleon SPF 30

Great for all skin types, this mineral face powder can be worn on it's own or over makeup.


Antioxidant-Infused Sunscreen Mist with Vitamin C SPF 50

This water-resistant formula uses 35% less alcohol than other leading sunscreen sprays. It's formulated with vitamin C, which penetrates skin and revitalizes its appearance for a more radiant complexion.


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