Skin Care

Skin Care While Pregnant: Products and Habits to Avoid

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Skin care while pregnant can be complicated because the products you apply on your skin have an impact on the little one as well. Pregnancy is an exciting and happy time, but it is also a delicate period, since there is a lot to be careful about. Women start to change their usual lifestyle habits, which can be overwhelming at times, especially if they don’t actually know what is good and what is potentially harmful in their condition.

Of course, drinking plenty of water, getting quality rest and sleep, and taking prenatal vitamins are some of the general guidelines healthcare providers highly recommend, but still, the question remains – how can you deal with so many body changes, as the products you use affect the baby as well?

Have you thought of that yet? That’s right, the skin care products you use may have undesired effects on your baby. But fear not, because we have prepared a list of skincare products and bad habits to avoid during your special 9-month journey. Take a look so that the two of you can remain in the carefree zone.

List of Products to Avoid while Pregnant:

  • Avita (tretinoin)
  • BzBP
  • Retin-A, Renova (tretinoin)
  • DBP
  • Retinoic Acid
  • Retinol
  • Retinyl Palmitate
  • Retinyl Linoleate
  • Avage (tazaretene)
  • Fabior (tazaretene)
  • Tazorac (tazaretene)
  • DEP
  • DMP
  • Differin (adapelene)
  • Diethyl
  • Dibutyl
  • Targretin Gel (bexarotene)

Retinoids (Retin-A, Retinol, Retinyl Palmitate)

The retinoid family of products should most definitely be avoided during pregnancy. Retinoids, also referred to as Tretinoins, are a type of Vitamin A responsible for a quick skin renewal. While Vitamin A is very important for proper fetus development, too much of it can lead to birth defects.

These elements are frequently found in anti-aging treatments and beauty products for acne (such as isotretinoin or Accutane), psoriasis, and pigment disorders. If you have already used or are using similar products on your skin, don’t stress about it – simply avoid them in the future. There are no recorded side-effects when applied on the skin, but doctors say it is best to put them away.

Tetracycline Products

Tetracycline is a substance included in antibiotics used for various conditions from acne to Lyme disease. These types of medications also contain unfavorable pregnancy elements such as doxycycline and minocycline. But the problem with these ingredients, tetracycline in particular, is that they can damage a woman’s liver and cause discoloration of the baby’s teeth during pregnancy. Therefore, when consulting a doctor, ask for safer alternatives like erythromycin and amoxicillin.

Benzoyl Peroxide Creams

Benzoyl peroxide is one more ingredient that comes with a pregnancy warning. In fact, this drug should only be used if the benefit outweighs the risk to the fetus. Although the product content treats hormonal pregnancy acne, the cautionary print says a lot about the potential threats to the baby during the prenatal period.

Furthermore, benzoyl peroxide creams are potently harmful when it comes to breastfeeding infants. Topical forms and their effects during that period have not be studied, but one thing remains clear – all contact with infants should be prevented or they might be exposed to high levels of mineral paraffins.


This may come as a surprise, given that soy is generally safe to use, however, soy has estrogenic effects which can cause dark patches on the skin known as melasma or chloasma. Pregnant women dealing with this condition should definitely avoid soy and products with similar properties like:

  • Lethicin
  • Phosphatidylcholine
  • Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)

Moreover, don’t be lured into using skin lighteners to hide dark spots because they contain Hydroquinone. And according to studies, the cosmetic use of skin-lighting products during pregnancy could be a hazardous practice.

Deodorants with Aluminum Chloride Hexahydrate

Being pregnant means having to sacrifice a lot to bring a healthy child into this world. That is why it is recommended to stop using your regular deodorant and turn to organic alternatives. Experts say that you should consult your physician regarding aluminum chloride hexahydrate that the majority deodorants contain, because they influence the cells that produce sweat.

Nail Polish with Formaldehyde

How often do you use a nail polish? Well, it might be best to limit the exposure of formaldehyde and chose only nail polishes with a label “3-free” and “5-Free”. Those are the only types that exclude the use of this ingredient. Also, try to avoid salons and gel manicures because high formaldehyde exposure can increase the chances of miscarriage and fertility problems.

Additionally, nail polishes and perfumes have something in common called Phthalates. These are chemical straighteners with potential health risks associated with their use. They can influence the fetal development and are linked to diabetes, ADHD, high blood pressure, etc. Thus, look only for phthalate-free products.

Nevertheless, there is an even bigger concern regarding pregnancy and nail polishes – Formaldehyde and Phthalates combined with Toluene, which accounts for the most toxic compound of them all. It is crucial to avoid all three ingredients alone, and most importantly, all of them together, because it raises your chances of developing cancer.   

Ammonia-Based Hair Dye 

Ammonia is found in numerous hair dye formulas which can irritate the skin and lungs. To remain on the safe side, stay clear of hair coloring for the first 12 weeks, when the fetus is in the most important period of development. Afterwards, go to a salon and be sure to ask for ammonia-free products.


The story changes regarding the use of self-tanners, as the main ingredient most tanners contain is Dihydroxyacetone. DHA is responsible for adding color to your skin by reacting with the dead skin cells on your body. Though DHA is not absorbed into the body, inhaling it is unhealthy for both the baby and the mother.

Products to Use with Caution in Pregnancy:

  • Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA)
  • Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA)
  • Citric Acid
  • Tropic Acid
  • Hydroacetic Acid
  • Trethocanic Acid
  • Dicarbonous Acid
  • Azelaic Acid
  • Mandelic Acid
  • Lactic Acid
  • Glycolic Acid

Essential Oils

Essential oils are natural extracts, and they are quite popular in the beauty industry. However, they can be harmful if not managed correctly. Just think of the powerful concentration these oils possess and how much the skin absorbs them. In addition, there are a lot of different types of potentially toxic ingredients.

Essential oils can affect the hormones which can cause premature contractions or elevated blood pressure, among other things. So be sure to consult your doctor about any products of this sort.

Skin Care Products with Hydroxy Acid

Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA) belong to a group of hydroxy acids usually found in skincare products for acne treatments and skin disorders such as redness and inflammations. Likewise, some anti-aging exfoliants, toners, and cleansers include these substances as well.

That said, one of the regularly used and studied BHA ingredients is Salicylic acid. It is traditionally used for acne and it’s a highly concentrated ingredient of Aspirin. The reason why it’s not advisable to use these substances during pregnancy is that they are related to birth and pregnancy complications. Still, small amounts applied on the skin are considered safe, but it is better to use mandelic, lactic, and glycolic acids, which are good and harmless AHA replacements.


Steroid creams or hydrocortisone creams are frequently used for treating insect bites, skin outbreaks, psoriasis, eczema, inflammations, and other minor skin irritations. These tropical skin aids are perfectly safe to use during pregnancy.

Glad to finally say it, but if you have a prescription for some topical steroid cream, you can rest assured that it will not harm the baby. Still, consult your physician before applying them. Better extra safe, rather than panicking about whether you’ve done the right thing.

Hair Removers

On the other hand, lotions and chemical hair removers are considered safe, as long as they are applied following the directions on the box. But make sure to test the product before you use it because your skin is extra sensitive during pregnancy. Just do a patch test on a small piece of skin and wait 24 hours to see the reaction. If there are no allergies or irritations, you are good to go.


We all know how important it is to protect your skin, especially in the summer season. However, in pregnancy you can never be too cautious, so use sunscreens that are powerful physical blockers, i.e. those that don’t penetrate the skin but still keep you safe from UV radiation.

Low Risk Topical Ingredients:

  • Hydrolyzed soy protein
  • Sodium hydroxide
  • Octocrylene
  • Calcium thioglycolate
  • Potassium thioglycolate
  • Zinc oxide
  • Avobenzone
  • Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC)
  • Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
  • Titanium dioxide

Ingredients Generally Safe for Use (ask for doctor’s advice):

  • Triamcinolone
  • Fluocinolone
  • Desonide
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Alclometasone

The list of dangerous products to use during pregnancy is long, so pay a close attention to which ingredients you apply on your skin, because it can affect fetal development. Sadly, most of our beauty habits are bad when it comes to a safe pregnancy, but empowered with this knowledge you can protect the life growing inside you.

Look closely at labels and always consult with your doctor. After all, they know best what suits your skin. But one thing is for certain – some of your habits will definitely have to change for the better.

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