The Best Skincare for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding (Plus 5 Ingredients to Avoid)

Navigating skincare during pregnancy can be so confusing. You’re experiencing more acne, dry patches, and discoloration than usual, and on top of that, your go-to skin solutions may be unsafe for the baby to be. What’s an expectant parent to do?!

Below, we discuss which skincare products are safe and effective during pregnancy and which ingredients you may want to avoid.

3 Pregnancy-Safe Skincare Products We Recommend

Products From the ZO Getting Skin Ready Collection

Zein Obagi’s Gentle Cleanser, Exfoliating Polish, Calming Toner, Firming Serum, and Sunscreen Primer are some of the best skincare options on the market for just about everyone. These products are perfectly safe to use during pregnancy, so feel free to continue using these products while you wait for your due date.

However, we do not recommend using other ZO products during pregnancy since some of the prescriptive ingredients are unsafe for the baby-to-be. As much as we love ZO’s Brighteners, Retinols, and Complexion Renewal Pads, we suggest you wait until after your baby has arrived.

Products From Skinbetter

Skinbetter has a variety of skincare products that are safe and effective for pregnant women. Our favorite products are the Even Tone Serum and the SkinBetter Trio moisturizer.

At this time, you can only get skinbetter products from your physician, nurse, or another medical provider. And here at Beauty Boost, of course.

Mineral-Only Sunscreen

Sunscreen is an important part of your skincare regimen, but many popular options include oxybenzone, a UV filter that may cause permanent damage during pregnancy. A 2018 animal study found that oxybenzone exposure during pregnancy and lactation alters the mammary glands. Additional studies link the ingredient to changes in the fetus that may result in adult onset of neurological diseases such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s.

Fortunately, there are plenty of mineral-only sunscreen options that protect your skin without harming your baby-to-be. Look for sunscreens that include zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as active ingredients. Our favorite pregnancy-friendly sunscreen is the ZO Sunscreen Primer.

Don’t forget your wide-brimmed hat!

Common Skincare Ingredients to Avoid While Pregnant

  • Retinol. High doses of retinol (also sometimes called retinoic acid or retinoids) are linked to birth defects. Prescription retinoids like Accutane are known to pose a 20 to 35% risk of severe congenital effects in infants who were exposed in utero.
  • Hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is banned in Europe, Japan, and Australia because it is believed to cause cancer. While this synthetic pigment reducer is allowed in U.S. skincare products, the FDA has placed an alert expressing concern, and we recommend avoiding it during pregnancy.
  • Salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is often used in peels, oral medications, and acne treatments. While it is effective for treating acne, it may cause bleeding and other complications during pregnancy when taken orally or in high concentrations.
  • Benzoyl peroxide. Although your body absorbs very little benzoyl peroxide and should be ok to use, there are not enough studies on this quite yet.  Therefore, we recommend to still talk to your OB before using skincare products with this ingredient during pregnancy. It may be safe in limited amounts, but should be used with caution.
  • Growth factors. Growth factors are considered controversial in skincare because they promote the growth of all skin, which means they could potentially cause cancerous skin to develop faster.  Talk to your OB regarding plant/animal based growth factors, as these may be ok, but avoid human growth factors until after the baby is born.

Talk to a Medical Professional About Skincare During Pregnancy

If you are looking to maintain healthy, beautiful skin during pregnancy, be sure to discuss any skincare products or practices you plan to use with your OB or another qualified medical professional. Products that are safe in most situations are not always safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so don’t assume you should continue with your current regimen.

Looking for more specialized recommendations for skincare during pregnancy? Book an appointment with Beauty Boost to talk with a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. We can help you find options that are safe for both you and your coming baby.

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