When I first got pregnant, I really didn’t have a clue about what types of skincare products were safe to use. Who knew that having a baby would make me so much more passionate and aware of what I’m putting into my body and on my skin? (Not trying to be preachy, just hear me out…)
I’ve been a natural skincare junkie for a few years now, but this whole pregnancy thing was new to me and the topic of skincare products doesn’t typically come up at your prenatal appointments. Even if you know to ask about skincare products, there’s a good chance your doctor may not know all of the ingredients to avoid. The best doctors to ask about skincare are dermatologists, but as always, don’t be afraid to do your own research!
Even though I choose mostly natural and organic products, that doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily safe during pregnancy. So, I took to the internet to do my own research and make decisions that felt safe for both me and babe. Since I was basically clueless about pregnancy and skincare, I thought I’d share my findings in hopes that it may help you make informed decisions. Here we go!
What products are safe for your skin during pregnancy?
Your skin is one giant organ; everything it comes to contact with gets passed through your bloodstream and therefore down to your baby through the placenta. Babies are very sensitive and studies show that using some anti-aging skin products such as retinol and vitamin A during pregnancy can lead to birth defects, so it’s best to avoid these ingredients. But, the list doesn’t just stop there.
Since I’m not a doctor, I thought I’d share some articles that helped me make informed decisions regarding my skincare routine while pregnant. Remember to do your own research and talk to you doctor, too!
- Ask a Dermatologist: 14 Skincare Products to Avoid While Pregnant
- Pregnancy Skincare: What’s Safe for Your Skin & Body During Pregnancy
- 5 Things You Didn’t Know to Avoid While Pregnant
Skincare product ingredients to avoid during pregnancy
Below is a general list of skincare products you should try and avoid during pregnancy. That being said, we can’t all be perfect, but it’s good to pay attention to labels when purchasing soaps, shampoos, conditioners, laundry detergent, hairspray, dish soap, lotions, perfumes, and basically anything that comes into contact with your skin. These are ingredients that are so called no-nos during pregnancy:
- Aluminum chloride hexahydrate
- Beta hydroxy acids
- Chemical sunscreens (instead use mineral sunscreens)
- Diethanolamine (DEA)
- Dihydroxyacetone (DHA)
- Benzoyl Peroxide
- Retinol products (also Vitamin A)
- Thioglycolic acid
- Diazolidinyl Urea
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
- Botulinum Toxin
- Stearic Acid
The laundry detergent I use during pregnancy (and when I’m not pregnant)
Most laundry detergents out there contain unnecessary chemicals and synthetic fragrances that are not only harmful to your skin but also to the environment and the air we breathe. Branch Basics has an amazing article to reference that explains why it’s best to switch to a non-toxic laundry soap.
A little over a year ago, I made the transition to non-toxic cleaning products in our home using the Branch Basics starter kit. I now exclusively use Branch Basics products, which are biodegradable, plant-based, non-toxic and yes — actually work! Basically you just mix water with their concentrate based off the bottles they send you in the starter kit. Everything in the kit is plant based, and all ingredients are rated an A or B by the EWG. I also use their oxygen boost in laundry and LOVE it. It gets all my stains out including wine. Highly recommend. Use the code ‘AK’ for 15% off your starter kit!
Cleaning products that are safe to use during pregnancy
As mentioned above, I now use all Branch Basics products for cleaning my home, and they’re pregnancy safe. Previously I was using products like Seventh Generation, but found that it didn’t have EWG high rated ingredients. Bummer, but I feel SO much better about using Branch Basics! I’m a super fan, really. I have the starter kit and love it. Use the code ‘AK’ for 15% off your own starter kit!
“Branch Basics is a unique, proprietary blend of plant-derived ingredients that are all natural, fragrance free, non-combustible, non-hazardous, non-fuming, non-toxic, and biodegradable. The ingredients are purified water, coconut oil, fatty acids, minerals and enzymes from edible and seed-bearing plants, sodium bicarbonate.” –the Branch Basics website.
See how I use Branch Basics in my home:
Perfumes and fragrances during pregnancy
In general, I just tried to avoid using perfume and synthetic fragrances during my pregnancy as much as possible. This is just a personal choice, but I felt like it wasn’t necessary for me to wear.
Is it okay to dye your hair while pregnant?
During the first trimester, it’s best to avoid. You also want to make sure you aren’t bleaching your hair at any point during your pregnancy. I went back to doing biolage and made sure that none of the dyes ever touched my roots (which is why my hair is a lot more dark!). Check out this article for more helpful info on dyeing your hair during pregnancy.
Is it safe to get a spray tan while pregnant?
Unless you are sure about the ingredients in your spray tan formula, then it’s best to avoid.
Pregnancy safe deodorant
I get a lot of questions about this one on Instagram. I made the switch to Nécessaire deodorant and LOVE it. It’s all natural, safe and actually works. Since some conventional deodorants contain aluminum, parabens, and phthalates, you may want to consider the switch too!
Skincare products to use to avoid stretch marks
Surprisingly and lucky me, I haven’t had an issue with stretch marks during pregnancy — that I can see, anyway! Obviously keeping your skin hydrated is essential; not only does that mean drinking plenty of water, but also eating nourishing and hydrating fruits and veggies, and of course, a cream or oil won’t hurt. I highly recommend these products:
- Zoe Organics Belly Butter
- Zoe Organics Belly Oil
- Binto x Clary Belly Oil (this stuff smells SOOOO freakin’ good and might just be my fav!)
My skincare motto during pregnancy
Less is more! You don’t need to spend a ton of money on products to make your skincare routine effective. I’m a skincare junkie so I love buying and testing new products (so I can share them with you!) but frankly keeping it simple is perfectly fine and probably best for a nice, clear complexion that glows.
For your face, I recommend using the following: good facial cleanser, vitamin C serum, a moisturizing cream and a facial oil.
My pregnancy skincare routine + product suggestions
Again, while I use all of the products mentioned in this post, it doesn’t mean you need or should go out and buy ALL of them. If you’re looking for something new, I suggest picking 1 product from the following categories (and btw I would totally use the same routine if I wasn’t pregnant):
Cleansers I use and love
- TULA Cult Classic Purifying Face Cleanser: love this simple facial cleanser for those who prefer to do a face wash vs. a cleansing oil. Safe ingredients for pregnancy too. Use the code ‘AMBITIOUS’ for 15% off on TULA.com!
- Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser: one of my go-tos! LOVE LOVE LOVE everything Drunk Elephant.
- Nyakio Facial Cleansing Oil: my new favorite oil cleanser! This black-owned brand makes incredible hydrating products and the oil cleanser is hands down THE BEST. Forget wiping off your makeup with those nasty dry makeup remover wipes that sting and use this instead. Just apply, rub into skin and use a wet washcloth to remove!
Pregnancy Safe Body Products
- Nécessaire Body Wash: use the code ‘AK10’ for 10% off!
- Nécessaire Body Lotion: use the code ‘AK10’ for 10% off!
- Nécessaire Hand Lotion: use the code ‘AK10’ for 10% off!
- The Necessaire products are all unscented except the body wash and have clean ingredients. I love how hydrating they are. FYI: unfortunately, the Body Exfoliator that they sell isn’t pregnancy safe because of the salicylic acid.
- Babo Botanicals Lavender Baby Wash & Bubble Bath
- Babo Botanicals Lavender Baby Lotion
- I use Babo products on Sidney and they’ve become some of my favorite to use for pregnancy as well, especially for bath time. The lavender scent is incredible! Buy some for your little babe and yourself!
- Volition Turmeric Brightening Polish: obsessed with this luxurious feeling brightening polish (and basically everything else from Volition, too!). You can use on your face and body and it makes your skin feel incredibly smooth! use code ‘AMBITIOUS10’ for 10% off at volitionbeauty.com
- Cocokind Scrubbing Clay: I use this on my body to get rid of bumps and impurities. Anything from Cocokind is a win for me.
- Virgin Coconut Oil: personally I love using this in the bath for extra skin hydration!
- Billie Shaving Cream (+ their razor is amazing too!): both the shaving cream and the razor are my absolute favorites! The razor is actually made from charcoal — so cool!
Pregnancy Safe Shampoo & Conditioner
I switched over to Innersense products a few months ago and haven’t looked back! It’s crazy how much these organic skin safe products work for your hair. My hair literally feels like it’s celebrity status everytime I use Innersense. I can’t even describe to you how much I am in love! Silky smooth hair every single time. If you want to try a sample of their products you can purchase their travel trio first (that’s what I did!).
- Innersense Pure Harmony Hair Bath Shampoo
- Innersense Pure Inspiration Daily Conditioner
- Innersense Sweet Spirit Leave in Conditioner
- Babo Botanicals Daily Sheer Tinted Sunscreen: my most favorite mineral safe facial sunscreen that’s made by a baby & mama safe company! Seriously it’s amazing and I tell everyone I know about it. You only need a little bit, so it’s bound to last a few months.
- Volition Prismatic Luminizing Shield: this non-greasy sunscreen is luminous and perfect for wearing under makeup. use code ‘AMBITIOUS10’ for 10% off at volitionbeauty.com
- cocokind Daily Sunscreen: as mentioned above, I can pretty much recommend cocokind for any type of skincare — such a great brand.
Face Oils & Moisturizers
I love using a variety of facial oils during pregnancy for hydration and moisture. Trust me, you won’t need all of these, like I mentioned I’m just a skincare junkie! Here are some of my favs:
- CEO Glow by Sunday Riley: non greasy, perfect for wearing under makeup and includes vitamin C to help with hyperpigmentation that women can experience during pregnancy.
- Pure Radiance by True Botanicals: I mostly use this one at night because it’s a little heavier, but the mix of oils is lovely.
- Hibiscus Correcting Oil by Volition: I use this 1x per day and mix in with my other oils or moisturizers. It’s amazing for hyperpigmentation as well. use code ‘AMBITIOUS20’ for 20% off at volitionbeauty.com
- Volition Yaupon Tea Glow Awakening Moisturizer: I LOVE this moisturizer for my skin. It’s tingly (but in a good way) and feels ultra refreshing on the skin. Love using it right away in the morning after I wash my face. use code ‘AMBITIOUS10’ for 10% off at volitionbeauty.com
- Marula Oil by Drunk Elephant: the oils of all facial oils. This ultra hydrating facial oil has been a favorite of mine for years, and while expensive, I think it’s 100% worth it.
- Rosehip seed oil: rosehip oil helps with imperfections, fine lines and dark spots that can randomly show up during pregnancy (and beyond). In my opinion this is a must have oil! Also, it’s amazing to mix in with other moisturizers because it tends to be a drier face oil, meaning it absorbs into the skin very well.
- Tula 24/7 Moisturizer my every day moisturizer. I use this under makeup, mixed with oils or just by itself! LOVE. use the code ‘AMBITIOUS’ for 20% off on TULA.com!
- Volition Strawberry Vitamin C Serum. If you’re looking for a vitamin C serum, this is it. It’s non greasy or sticky, but rather light and absorbs into the skin amazingly well. I use before I put on my oils or moisturizers. Use code ‘AMBITIOUS10’ for 10% off at volitionbeauty.com.
- Acure Brightening Facemask
- Andalou Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask
- Cocokind x ShuttheKaleup Sea Kale Clay Mask: love this for breakouts during pregnancy!
What to use for breakouts during pregnancy
I recommend using a product like Thayer’s witch hazel with Rose to dry out and calm the area down (use this a few times per day), and then ice the zit so the swelling goes down. Then you can cover the zit with the Cocokind x ShuttheKaleup Sea Kale Clay Mask and allow to sit for 20 minutes to further dry out the area and release toxins. Avoid makeup on the area as much as possible, and limit washing your face to 1-2x per day.
Are there any pregnancy safe skincare products that you love?!
I hope you found this pregnancy skincare post helpful. Feel free to share it with mamas to be and leave a comment below with your favorites! xo.
Shop my pregnancy favorites & recommendations
Head over to the Ambitious Kitchen shop to see everything I recommend during pregnancy & beyond.
P.S. Don’t forget to check out our Ambitious Mama category which houses everything pregnancy and baby related including: baby registry, pregnancy books I’m reading and my first trimester, second trimester and third trimester posts (from baby #1) and first trimester and second trimester posts with baby #2.
Disclaimer: please consult your doctor before trying new products.
Were given dermalmd stretch mark serum as a gift while I was first pregnant. I Absolutely reduced my stretch marks and helped me now not get any new ones. Much better than others. No longer greasy and fast absorbed in the pores and skin. I’ve quite dry skin as it is, however, this was given me through the wintry weather.
Great! Thank you for the rec 🙂
Hi, just wanted to point out while you correctly mention that BHAs should avoided during pregnancy, the Drunk Elephant Framboos serum actually includes a BHA (salicylic acid) and is therefore probably best not to use during pregnancy.
Hi! Thank you for catching that. Removing!
Although I totally respect you wanting to go natural for pregnancy as many do, I did want to say everyone should do what is best for them and consult your doctor. For those of us who experience acne during pregnancy (and in general) we need some stronger products to control it. Some of the “no-no’s” on your list are actually considered safe to health officials, meaning they don’t actually cause birth defects or issues. For the most part, the amount of product that actually gets into our bloodstream from facial products is small enough, most actually just act locally. Benzoyl Peroxide for example, can be very helpful for acne and is safe during pregnancy. Of course only use if truly needed and approved by your doctor. Again, totally respect your decision to be natural and I’m sure most of us wish we could, but I’d hate for someone who is really struggling with acne during pregnancy to avoid one of these products when it may actually help them!
Thanks for your note, Katie! Totally understand. This is just what personally worked for me, but I recognize that everyone’s skincare needs can be so different!
LOVE this information and these recommendations so much! Thank you! Curious to know if your skincare routine has changed at all with your second pregnancy? 🙂
I’m so glad! It has, I’m using some different products that I’ve discovered but a lot of them are the same!
You recommend skin care products that are not pregnancy safe. I purchased your recommendations and have been using and now 14 weeks pregnant researched to find you had recommended products with licorice root.
Hi! if you are referring to the Drunk Elephant B-Hydra, then per the Drunk Elephant website: “Our entire product line is safe for pregnant or nursing women to use, with the exception of A-Passioni and Babyfacial. However, always check with your doctor before using any new products while pregnant or nursing.” We definitely recommend checking with your doctor before using any new skincare products. That being said, I’ve used this product and loved it. Please do not use if you are not comfortable.
I disagree that a dermatologist can recommend a good skin product.Ours recommended CereVe which has many toxins in it!
Interesting! Good idea to check a couple of different sources, too.
Do you have a pregnancy safe lip balm to recommend?
Yes! Check out my Hospital Bag post with this lip balm 🙂
Hi the Tula sunscreen looks lovely but it does contain chemical sunscreens which you list as being not suitable for use during pregnancy.
Shoot, thank you for bringing this to my attention!! I was under the impression it was mineral-based. Removing now!
Is there a pregnancy safe eye cream that you can recommend?
I love the one from cocokind!
Newly pregnant with my first baby and this post has been really helpful for me! Really appreciate the research you’ve done, as it’s been overwhelming for me to know where to start. Would love to hear of any new products you liked in your second pregnancy. Thanks!
Congrats! So glad you’re finding these posts helpful 🙂 I actually updated this post during my second pregnancy so you’ll find all of my favorite products above!
Such a great jumping off point for those looking to modify their routines during pregnancy – thanks! Could you share details on your white dress? Looking for something just like this for an upcoming family portrait.
Absolutely! It’s from Revolve here
I have very dry, sensitive skin and my nose are oily. But when it comes to switching skincare, I’ve learned to give my skin 2-4 weeks completely without any skincare, and then when I start my new regimen I’m generally okay. But Tula just came out with a sensitive skin line so I’m going to try it tonight! I love how youre an average person and not a huge skincare goer making this. The honesty is SO real!
Aw thank you!! So happy you enjoyed the post. Hope you love the new Tula line, they’re one of my favs!
Hi! Just wanted to know your exact skin care routine! What you use each day and the order you use it in! That would be super helpful for me!! Thank you!
I had faced a sudden break out of painful acne on my both cheeks… After using Dermalmd Acne Treatment during my pregnancy that redness or pain or break out of acne reduced completely….. Very effective serum this is safe during pregnancy too.
I got the Necessaire body lotion and it has stearic acid, which you said it a no-no. I will be returning. Other than that, lots of the other products have been helpful, especially tula face lotion and cocokind products.
Great! I am so happy you have been able to find some products that have been helpful!