Preparing for the birth of your child is an overwhelmingly joyous occasion, but being pregnant can come with a few skin inconveniences.
Besides having to give up certain foods and the occasional glass of wine, being pregnant requires you to be more careful about what you're putting on your skin too. You should especially stay away from some acne-fighting and anti-aging products such as prescription retinoids, over-the-counter retinol, and brightening hydroquinone.
This may come as bad news to moms-to-be with acne and other skin conditions, but worry not! There are many other products that will keep your skin concerns at bay while also being safe for probably the most sensitive time of your life. Below you will find a list of the 10 best skincare products that you can use while pregnant (and nursing).
Best Cleansers for Pregnant and Nursing Women
Having a gentle cleanser in your routine is the most important step when taking good care of your skin. Whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, and therefore your skin is experiencing some massive changes, you can never go wrong with a gentle, non-stripping cleanser that will effectively remove the day from your skin without harming its natural moisture barrier.
Bioderma – Sensibio Foaming Gel
Best budget-friendly for all skin types.
The Bioderma Sensibio Foaming Gel is one of my favorite cleansing gels for all skin types, including dry and sensitive skin. It’s fragrance-free, and it contains very mild surfactants to lift impurities from the skin and leave it feeling clean and hydrated.
The Sensibio Foaming Gel can be used twice a day. While it can remove light makeup, you will probably need to double cleanse if you’re wearing waterproof makeup.
Although mild, avoid using this cleanser on the sensitive eye area because the surfactants can dehydrate the thin skin, and there are some instances where the skin around the eyes tends to get even drier during pregnancy.
SkinCeuticals – Soothing Cleanser
Best high-end for all skin types.
Soothing Cleanser is a rich cleansing foam formulated with a 22% concentration of hydrating and calming ingredients, including sorbitol, glycerin, and orchid and cucumber extracts.
It’s incredibly gentle and suitable for all skin types, including severely dry and sensitive skin, because it doesn't contain harsh surfactants that strip the moisture barrier and leave the skin raw and damaged.
Best Brightening Serums for Pregnant and Nursing Women
It's very common to develop blotchy spots of darker skin when you're pregnant, a condition called melasma or chloasma. Melasma is also sometimes referred to as the "mask of pregnancy" because the splotches typically show up around the upper lip, nose, cheekbones, and forehead in the shape of a mask.
Since using retinoids or hydroquinone is out of the question during pregnancy, you have to be very careful and picky with your choice of brightening products to relieve some of the pigmentary issues. Here are two of my favorite pregnancy-safe brightening serums that you can use safely:
Sunday Riley – Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment
Best for dry/dehydrated/sensitive skin.
The Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment is a mild and gentle lactic acid serum with a thicker consistency to hydrate, nourish, and soften the skin. Besides the exfoliating and softening properties of lactic acid, the serum is also infused with soothing and barrier-repairing licorice extract, as well as calming aloe vera extract to prevent irritation and minimize redness.
The serum is a great addition to the skincare regimen of someone dealing with super sensitive skin, dullness, uneven skin tone, rough texture, melasma, and hyperpigmentation during pregnancy.
PCA Skin – Vitamin B3 Brightening Serum
Best for combo/oily/acne-prone skin.
Vitamin B3 Brightening Serum is a powerful treatment infused with antioxidants and soothing botanicals that work to reduce rough skin texture, hyperpigmentation, sun damage, dryness, and to calm sensitive skin. The gel-like serum contains brightening, barrier-strengthening, and oil-balancing niacinamide alongside hydrating glycerin and plankton extract, which is an advanced ingredient derived from microalgae actives with the ability to brighten and even out the skin tone.
Besides that, the brightening serum also contains an advanced ingredient blend of antioxidants and brighteners, including mulberry extract, green tea extract, and oligopeptides that help even out skin’s irregularities, soothe irritation, and promote a clearer, healthier complexion.
Best Acne Products for Pregnant and Nursing Women
Sadly, not every woman experiences the famous pregnancy glow, and some pregnancies can lead to the formation of acne with various levels of severity. Some women get away with one or two pimples during their entire pregnancy, while others may start dealing with acne issues they've never dealt with before, such as painful, deep cystic acne.
To make matters worse, besides figuring out a diet that works for you to keep hormones balanced as much as you can, there isn't much else that you can do in terms of taking medication, as any doctor will suggest you just wait it out. Professional treatments such as chemical peels are also not recommended during pregnancy, so you’re pretty much left on your own.
This is why you have to make sure you have decent acne-fighting products in your arsenal that will keep breakouts under control and are also pregnancy-safe. So here are a couple of my favorite anti-acne products that are safe for pregnancy:
Paula's Choice – 10% Azelaic Acid Booster
Best for mild acne/dry/sensitive skin.
The 10% Azelaic Acid is a booster product containing a small percentage of salicylic acid, an anti-acne exfoliating acid, and 10% azelaic acid to neutralize redness, soothe the skin, and help prevent the formation of pimples. The booster is an amazing product for anyone who’s dealing with active acne during pregnancy, as well as post-inflammatory redness and mild hyperpigmentation left from old pimples. It’s also super gentle on the skin, and it’s safe for use even by rosacea-prone skins.
Paula's Choice – Daily Skin-Clearing Treatment with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide
Best for moderate acne/oily skin.
Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most common ingredients in skincare products designed to combat acne and the most powerful ingredient you can use to keep breakouts under control during pregnancy.
Benzoyl peroxide is classified as a category C agent, which are ingredients considered safe in pregnancy due to the minimal systemic absorption. Benzoyl peroxide is metabolized to benzoic acid (a food additive) in the skin, making it completely safe to be applied on smaller areas, such as the face.
Paula’s Choice Benzoyl Peroxide Treatment is an excellent product that can help fight mild, moderate, and even severe acne. The treatment comes in two strengths, including 2.5% for milder acne and more sensitive skin and 5% for more stubborn acne and more resilient skin. It also contains hydrating agents such as propylene glycol, as well as soothing and antioxidant ingredients, including bisabolol and allantoin, to prevent dryness and to nourish the skin.
Best Moisturizers for Pregnant and Nursing Women
Another uncomfortable yet very common occurrence caused by hormones during pregnancy is severely dry and dehydrated skin. Hormone changes can cause the skin to lose elasticity and moisture as it stretches and tightens to accommodate a growing belly, and this can reflect on the face too.
Severe dryness can lead to flaky skin, itchiness, redness, and discomfort, which is why it's important to use a high-quality moisturizer containing ceramides, as these are important lipids that prevent moisture loss and play a major role in strengthening the skin barrier. Here are two of my favorite pregnancy-safe moisturizers:
Sunday Riley – Ice Ceramide Moisturizing Cream
Best for dry/dehydrated skin.
Ice Ceramide Moisturizing Cream is a very rich and hydrating moisturizer that feels like a splash of cold water once applied. It’s enriched with ceramides that replenish the skin's moisture barrier and help the skin stay plump, soft, and glowy through increased moisture retention.
Besides that, the dual-action moisturizer also contains antioxidant beetroot and coconut extracts to fight free-radical damage and pull hydration into the skin, as well as vitamin F and pomegranate sterols (fatty ingredients) to form a layer on the surface of the skin and seal in moisture.
Neutrogena – Hydroboost Water Gel
Best for combo/oily skin.
Neutrogena's Hydroboost Water Gel is an oil-free moisturizer with hydrating properties from ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, a humectant that attracts and retains water in the skin’s uppermost layers. It also contains a few silicones, which are great moisturizing ingredients that help create that occlusive layer on the skin’s surface and prevent the water from evaporating.
The Hydroboost Water Gel spreads easily on the skin and instantly hydrates it, leaving a velvety finish on the surface without feeling greasy.
Best Sunscreens for Pregnant and Nursing Women
In addition to using the above products to take good care of your skin during pregnancy, I would also like to advise you to minimize sun exposure during the hottest hours of the day, between 11am and 4pm.
Besides that, you should also consider using a mineral sunscreen when going out as this will keep skin issues such as hyperpigmentation, redness, and irritation at bay while also protecting your skin from some more serious conditions such as skin cancer. Mineral sunscreens use natural filters such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are not only extremely safe for even the most sensitive skin but are also beneficial, anti-inflammatory, and soothing to the skin.
Here are two of my favorite pregnancy-safe sunscreens:
La Roche Posay – Anthelios Mineral Ultra-Light Fluid SPF 50
Best for all skin types.
The Anthelios Mineral Ultra-Light Fluid SPF 50 is a 100% mineral sunscreen and relies on zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for broad-spectrum UV protection. The product doesn’t contain oil, but it does have some emollients, which is why it doesn’t dry matte and leaves a little bit of shine behind.
It may not be the best for oily skin, but it's gentle and safe, so a great option would be to set it with powder 10-15 minutes after application if your skin tends to get very oily.
Elta MD — UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41
Best for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
The UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41 is another mineral sunscreen that relies on zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to provide the best sun protection without the risk of irritating the skin. The formula is also oil-free and has a slight tint to cover up any existing redness, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone.
The UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41 is specifically formulated for super sensitive skin, which is why it contains antioxidants and soothing agents to nourish and protect the skin.
Pregnancy comes with many blessings, but having great skin may or may not always be a part of the package. This is why it's important to take good care of your skin by using high-quality, gentle, and pregnancy-safe products that will help you achieve that beautiful glow.
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