To protect your health and have a safe pregnancy, you may have to make some alterations to your lifestyle, including the beauty products you use on your skin. How can you make sure your skin care regimen doesn’t negatively impact your baby’s development? Let's take a look at the ingredients in your beauty products and create your own pregnancy skin care routine.
Best skin care for pregnancy
Skin care routines during pregnancy are often precautionary. There are ingredients that your primary care provider will suggest you avoid because they have the potential to harm your health and your baby’s development. And, keep in mind that any products can affect your baby while you’re breastfeeding too.
How can beauty products be harmful? Toxins can be absorbed into your skin and can negatively impact the growth and development of the baby. Skin care ingredients that are considered low-risk (safe) for pregnancy include:
- Mineral sunscreen
- Hyaluronic acid
- Vitamin C
- Glycolic acid
- Azelaic acid
- Benzoyl peroxide
Mineral sunscreen contains natural ingredients that are typically considered safe during pregnancy. For skin protection, it’s also beneficial to reduce your exposure to direct sunlight by wearing a hat or sticking to the shade on particularly sunny days.
Recommended as a moisturizer, it’s a substance that’s found in your body naturally. By using hyaluronic acid, you aren’t increasing risks by introducing something foreign to your body.
Vitamin C helps with general skin-tone issues and can serve as an alternative to retinoids. It can also help fight sun damage because it acts as an antioxidant.
Consider using azelaic acid and sulfur-based products if you get pregnancy acne. Dermatologists recommend azelaic acid as an alternative to retinol to clear up acne and subtly brighten your skin by reducing dark spots.
Ingredients to avoid while pregnant
Read the ingredients of any product you plan to use and ask your primary care provider if anything could be harmful during your pregnancy or while you breastfeed. You don’t always have to avoid using a product completely, but try to moderate your use. Products absorbed into the bloodstream in high concentrations tend to be more harmful.
Pay attention to your use of:
Vitamin A derivatives
Birth defects have been associated with using vitamin A derivatives such as retinoids and Accutane. Accutane isn’t typically found over-the-counter but can be in prescribed acne treatments.
Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid
Acne treatments often have benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, which are both ingredients that might be harmful in pregnancy.
It’s best to limit your exposure to essential oils because there are a variety of concentrations available, making it difficult to assess which oils are safe to use.
Hydroquinone is a skin lightener that has higher absorption rates. These absorption rates make it more likely the hydroquinone will get into your bloodstream and impact your pregnancy.
Some nail polish and hair products contain formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is associated with pregnancy complications such as fertility problems and miscarriage.
Some chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that act as hormone disruptors. These hormone disruptors can interfere with nervous system development.
Acids found in anti-aging products can be harmful during pregnancy. Retinoids are a common ingredient in these products as well.
An example skin care (and self-care) routine for pregnancy
While you’re pregnant, you may experience skin issues such as pigmentation, stretch marks, varicose veins, acne, rashes, or changes to your hair and nails, which can be frustrating and uncomfortable. Discuss with your primary care provider how best to approach your skin care if you’re experiencing symptoms like these.
If you use products with several types of acid in your current routine, you may want to use them sparingly. Acne may become a problem during pregnancy due to hormones causing an overproduction of oil.
Dermatologists claim that a low concentration of glycolic acid is a low-risk acne prevention treatment you can use during pregnancy. You can also treat pregnancy acne by:
- Washing your face with a gentle cleanser (avoid products that can irritate your skin)
- Shampoo regularly, particularly if you get acne around the hairline
- Keep from touching your skin as much as possible (this includes objects touching as well as hands)
- Avoid oily products
It’s better to be on the safe side when it comes to the health of you and your baby. Product ingredients are assessed based on the level of risk. Whatever pregnancy skin care routine you use, it may be beneficial to continue using it through breastfeeding just in case.
Additional self-care tips for a healthy pregnancy include:
- Eat small, frequent meals throughout your day (discuss healthy weight gain with your primary care provider)
- Keep a balanced diet and supplement with vitamins and calcium if necessary
- Make sure current and any new medications are pregnancy safe
- Avoid smoking, alcohol, and (other) drug use
- Keep physically active and drink plenty of water (water will help keep your skin hydrated)
- Make sure to get enough sleep
Skin care routines are unique, so chat with your primary care provider about creating a routine that both works for you and is safe for your baby.