best pregnancy-safe skincare products

What are the best pregnancy-safe skincare products? 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:

Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum

What Are The Most Common Skin Changes During Pregnancy?

1. Dryness And Itchiness

The hormonal changes you experience during pregnancy paired with the stretching of the skin (it now requires extra hydration) can cause dryness and irritations, two common conditions in pregnancy. But, if rashes spread or are persistent, there may be something else going on, so consult a doctor, just to be on the safe side.

2. Acne

With so many hormonal changes during pregnancy, your skin can become very oily. The excess oil gets stuck in the pores, where it mixes with dead cells and other impurities stuck in there, leading to breakouts. Hello pimples!

3. Melasma

Pregnancy hormones temporarily increase the production of melanin, the pigment molecule in the skin,” says NYC dermatologist Carmen Castilla, MD. Melasma looks like dark patches on your skin that usually develop in the second or third trimester and are made worse by unprotected sun exposure. For some women, melasma will fade away on its own as hormones go back to their pre-pregnancy levels. Others will deal with melasma long after giving birth.

4. Stretch marks

Most women have stretch marks, but up to 90% of women get them during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester as your body really starts to stretch. “Stretch marks are a sign the skin is being pulled to accommodate the growing fetus,” says Dr. Castilla. “They are essentially micro-tears in the dermis and a sign of loss of elasticity.” The can fade away overtime, but may not disappear completely.

What Skincare Ingredients Should I Avoid During Pregnancy?

  • Avobenzone and Oxybenzone: Two chemical UV filters that can be absorbed by the body. They’re usually secreted by urine, but they’re not recommended for children and pregnant women. Use mineral UV filters (Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide) instead.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide: A powerful acne fighter, it’s only safe in tiny doses for pregnant women.
  • Glycolic acid and Salicylic acid: The jury’s still out there on whether they’re safe or not during pregnancy. While scientist make up their mind, exfoliate with Lactic acid. It’s naturally produced by the body, so it’s safe during pregnancy.
  • Hydroquinone: The gold standard for treating melasma and hyperpigmentation, it hasn’t been tested on pregnant women. Given the lack of studies, exports recommend you avoid it. Use azelaic acid instead.
  • Retinoids: Vitamin A (forms include Tretinoin, retinol, retinaldehyde, and granactive retinoid) can cause birth defects in mice. For this reason, doctors play it safe and recommend you avoid retinoids completely during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Use natural alternative bakuchiol instead.

Best Pregnancy-Safe Skincare Products

Best Wrinkle-Fighting Skincare Products For Pregnant Women

Retinoids are the gold standard for fighting wrinkles. Retinol & co neutralise free radicals, boost the production and speed up cellular turnover to minimise wrinkles and dark spots. Sadly, they’re off limits during pregnancy. Studies show they cause birth defects in mice. Sure, we’re not mice but, in the absence of human studies that can’t be done for obvious reasons, experts recommend you avoid them.

Keep retinoids on the shelves till you’ve done breastfeeding. In the meantime, use bakuchiol. derived from the leaves and seeds of babchi,  “It works through the same receptors that retinol uses, which is why many refer to it as a natural retinol alternative,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.

In a 2018 study published in the British Journal Of Dermatology, researchers asked 44 people to apply either a 0.5% Bakuchiol cream twice a day or a 5% retinol cream once a day on their faces for 12 weeks. They then used a mix of computer analysis and dermatologist’s grading to measure the results. Both Bakuchiol and retinol reduced wrinkle surface area and hyperpigmentation. 

The difference? Retinol was applied once a day, bakuchiol twice. That makes bakuchiol less effective, but also less irritating. Plus, unlike retinol, bakuchiol is safe during pregnancy. During this special time in your life, the trade-off is worth it.


  • The Inkey List Bakuchiol Moisturiser ($12.99): Bakuchiol comes in a moisturising to make skin softer and smoother while fighting wrinkles. It’s more suitable for dry than oily skin. Available at Cult BeautyLook FantasticSephora, and The Inkey List
  • Good Molecules Bakuchiol Oil Blend For Oily Skin ($10.00): Most bakuchiol products come in an oil base that could clog pores and aggravate acne in oily skin. This serum uses two lightweight oils, baobab and rosehip that shouldn’t cause any issues. Rosehip has been shown to treat acne, too! Available at Ulta.
  • Acure Radically Rejuvenating Bakuchiol Overnight Treatment ($24.99): I wouldn’t call it radically rejuvenating, but it contains enough bakuchiol to fight wrinkles, antioxidants to prevent them, and natural oils and butters to moisturise skin and plump up fine lines. Available at iHerb and Ulta.

Best Anti-Aging Products For Pregnant Women

Just because you can’t use retinol, it doesn’t mean your skin will miss out on anti-aging benefits. Focus on prevention and fill your skincare routine 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.

When it comes to antioxidants, you won’t find one that’s better than another. Each antioxidant fights one or two different types of free radicals, so the more you use in your skincare routine, the more you’re going to slow down premature aging. The most common antioxidants found in skincare are Vitamin C, Vitamin E, green tea, and ferulic acid, and resveratrol.


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

Don’t know which skincare products you can mix and match together and which ones deactivate each other? Download your FREE “How To Layer Actives Like A Pro” cheat sheet to get the most out of your skincare products:

the ordinary lactic acid 10 + ha 2 02

Best Pregancy-Safe Exfoliants

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 acid and salicylic acid should be fine.

But what if you don’t want to take the risk, however small? Stick to lactic acid. It exfoliates skin, removes dead skin cells, and brightens the complexion. It’s a bigger molecule than other exfoliating acids, so it stays on the surface of your skin. This means 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.


  • 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 your skintone. Plus, it’s hydrating. Available at Beauty Bay, Boots, Cult Beauty, Sephora, The Ordinary, and Ulta.
  • 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 The Inkey List.

Related: How Often Should You Exfoliate?

mad hippie facial spf 30+ review

Best Pregnancy-Safe Sunscreens

Did you know that avobenzone gets 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 protect you from UV rays in two ways: they absorb and transform most of them into a less damaging form of energy (heat) and scatter the remaining rays away from your skin. Unfortunately, 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.


  • 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 Boots, Cult Beauty, and SpaceNK.
  • 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.
  • 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 and Revolve.

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

Best Hydrating Skincare Products For Pregnant Women

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. Granted, this hydrated effect is temporary but it does make your skin look immediately younger. Hyaluronic acid also gives your complexion a dewy glow, too! The best part? It’s so gentle, it’s suitable for ALL skin types and 100% safe during pregnancy.


  • 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 Boots, La Roche Posay, and Sephora.
  • 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 Cult BeautyDermstoreNet-A-Porter, and Paula’s Choice.
  • 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 Cult Beauty, Dermstore, and Ulta

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

Best Skin-Lightening Products For Pregnant Women

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. Made by the healthy bacteria that live on your skin, Azelaic Acid is a multitasker that reduces dark spots and acne at the same time.

It fades away dark spots by inhibiting the synthesis of melanin (the pigment that gives skin its natural colour). When it produces less, your dark spots become lighter and lighter until they slowly fade away completely. Plus, Azelaic Acid is 100% safe during pregnancy.


  • FaceTheory Lumizela Azelaic Acid Serum A15 (£26.00): A gentle brightening serum with 15% Azelaic acid and soothing ingredients, like colloidal oatmeal, to reduce irritations. Available at FaceTheory.
  • 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 Beauty Bay, Boots, Cult Beauty, Sephora, and The Ordinary

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

Best Anti-Acne Products For Pregnant Women

Tretinoin is out. Even Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid are on a lot of experts’ lists of ingredients to avoid during pregnancy. That leaves with two options:

  • Azelaic Acid: Naturally made by the healthy bacteria on your skin, It has anti-bacterial properties that reduces P.Acne (the bacteria responsible for acne). It also reduces redness and fades away the dark spots pimples sometimes leave behind.
  • Zinc: This metal regulates oil production and reduces inflammation, two of the main causes of acne. While it won’t single-handedly treat acne, it does help prevent it.


  • FaceTheory Lumizela Azelaic Acid Serum A15 (£26.00): A gentle brightening serum with 15% Azelaic acid and soothing ingredients, like colloidal oatmeal, to reduce irritations. Available at FaceTheory.
  • 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 Beauty Bay, Boots, Cult Beauty, Sephora, and The Ordinary
  • 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 Beauty Bay, Boots, Cult Beauty, Sephora, SpaceNK, and The Ordinary.

Related: Does Zinc Help Treat Acne?

The Bottom Line

There you have, the best pregnancy-safe skincare products to tackle wrinkles, dark spots, acne, and dryness without harming baby.