- Pregnancy Safe Skincare
The Ultimate Pregnancy Skincare Guide
Just when you thought your body couldn’t go through anymore, pregnancy hormones decide to rear their ugly heads and mess with what should be your well-deserved pregnancy glow-up.
From heightened sensitivity and excess sebum to increased redness and over-stimulated cells, your skin experiences a real disruption due to the fluctuation in hormones. So how is one supposed to counteract these pesky changes? Read our guide for our pick of the best pregnancy skin care and the ingredients you should be avoiding when making new purchases.
What you need (and more importantly, what you don’t need) when shopping for skin care:
Annoyingly yes, you are going to need to read the labels a little more now you’re pregnant but don’t worry – it isn’t that scary. Let's start of with the things you want from a skin care product.
The good guys:
- Paraben-free: Most commonly used for preserving things, parabens are one of the ingredients you can get rid of. Look out for paraben-free products as parabens can be known to mimic estrogen within the body (something you definitely don’t need during pregnancy).
- Hypoallergenic: Your skin can become incredibly sensitive during pregnancy, which is why you're not going to want any potential skin aggressors within your products. Hypoallergenic products are formulated for particularly sensitive skin types, so introducing this label into your skincare routine is a must.
- Non-comedogenic: Non-comedogenic products tend to not block your pores as much, which will come in very handy during your pregnancy, as a lot of women become more prone to suffering with acne during this time.
- Hyaluronic acid: Hydrating for sensitive skin, this ingredient plumps up your skin and is perfectly pregnancy safe.
- Benzoyl peroxide: A safer alternative to salicylic acid (which can still be used in small quantities while pregnant), this anti-acne ingredient helps with the breakouts you may be experiencing during your pregnancy.
The bad guys:
- Vitamin A/Retinol: Known to speed up cell turnover, strains of vitamin A and retinol can make skin more vulnerable to sunlight, encouraging the formation of skin damage and pigmentation.
- Formaldehyde: Commonly found in nail varnishes, this chemical is an absolute no-go for pregnant women. Some studies have found it to be linked to an increased chance of miscarriages or fertility problems. Instead, look for nail polishes that are labelled ‘3-free’ or '5-free’.
- Soy and parabens: These ingredients have been known to mimic estrogen within the body, so avoid at all costs.
- Chemical sunscreens: Oxybenzone is the main chemical to look out for here. Instead, opt for mineral ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as a replacement.
- Aluminum chloride hexahydrate: This chemical is commonly found in antiperspirants and acts on the cells that produce sweat. Swap over to more natural alternatives for greater peace of mind.
Our favourite pregnancy skin care must-haves:
During your pregnancy, certain hormones can over-stimulate cells as well as diminish cellular components and generally weaken your skin’s immune system. The result? A disturbed natural skin balance (which is not what you want). An uneven skin balance can go from the extreme of very dry skin to an acne-prone complexion – which cannot be tackled with the usual skin saviours (salicylic acid, vitamin A, etc).
To fight these flare ups, opt for a more gentle cleansing solution that will help to balance your complexion, like the REN Clearcalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser – an antibacterial cleansing system that helps with breakouts.
Niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3) is another great alternative to the usual anti-blemish ingredients that are pregnancy no-nos. This lightweight gel serum decongests oily skin, clogged pores and blackheads, thanks to the high concentration of blemish-minimising niacinamide and oil regulating zinc salt.
As we mentioned earlier, you may suffer from heightened sensitivity which can lead to flare-ups from your usual skin care products as well as time in the sun. To counteract this and prevent any reactions, opt for a kind, fragrance and paraben-free solution like this lightweight and calming gel mask from Zoeva. Green tea infuses your skin with antioxidants while rose galicia flower soothes and caffeine improves circulation for depuffing.
While you sleep (hurry, get as much as you can before the baby comes) is a great time for using more skin-soothing products. Switch your regular night cream for one that's specifically designed for sensitive skin to calm any irritation and redness you're experiencing during pregnancy.
We love a natural option like this fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and 99% natural one from Burt's Bees, which gives you tons of hydration. Soft cotton replenishes your skin's outer layer, rice extract moisturises and aloe vera soothes.
Just because you shouldn't use retinol while pregnant doesn't mean you should put your anti-ageing routine on pause for nine months. Bakuchiol is an amazing substitute for retinol and is less likely to irritate your skin when you start using it. Incorporate it into your routine in all forms, but we love it as a serum after cleansing and toning. This plant-based serum from Balance Me improves skin texture and wrinkles in addition to protecting you from pollution and blue light with its antioxidant content.
Now, I know we said to avoid common SPFs earlier on, but you’re still going to need protection against the sun – especially as your skin will be more reactive to the sun’s rays during pregnancy. Estrogen and progesterone will be working overtime during your pregnancy and these two hormones have been known to stimulate the development of pigmentation and melanin. Avoid sun damage and dark sun spots by using either the tinted or original version of this non-comedegenic, paraben/fragrance/alcohol/phthalate free sunscreen from Colorescience. With SPF 50 for UVA/B protection, this sunscreen gives you a moisturised glow while shielding your skin.
Looking to protect your little one when they arrive? Take a look at our Best Baby Sun Cream guide for a bit of inspo.
Bet you never thought about needing a special toothpaste while pregnant - we certainly didn't! (Yeah, we know toothpaste isn't technically skincare, but your teeth are still super important.)
It's not that regular toothpastes are unsafe, but rather that dramatic hormonal shifts during pregnancy can affect the blood supply to your gums and cause things like plaque build-up, gingivitis and red and swollen gums.
A toothpaste that targets gum inflammation is an easy switch to make, and we love Spotlight Oral Care's Pregnancy Toothpaste. It strengthens enamel and protects against cavities with fluoride and folic acid while being totally toxin-free and safe for you and your baby.
Sleeping isn’t always going to be easy, but you don’t have to let that show – thanks to a brightening eye cream like this one from The INKEY List. The cooling metal applicator soothes the delicate skin beneath your eyes 2% Brightenyl and a potent antioxidant formula gets rid of puffiness and dark circles to illuminate your under-eye area.
Why would the list of inconveniences stop at adult acne, unbalanced natural skin barriers and heightened sensitivity? As if that wasn’t enough to deal with, you can expect random bouts of hot flushes to throw you off track.
Try incorporating the Avène Thermal Water into your routine to counteract these uncomfortable phases. The thermal spring water is kind to sensitive skin whilst tackling everything from sunburn to nappy rash, dryness and irritation. It can even be used on babies from six months old!
Give friends and family a strong hint to pick you up this gift set of body care products from Bloom and Blossom that calm and tone stressed out skin. You deserve it!
The kit includes a refreshing spritz for tired legs and swollen ankles, a moisturising balm to repair and protect your (and the baby's) skin and a toning body oil for uneven skin tone and stretch marks.
And there you have it! While we're sure your buy list has got tons of new products on it to safely soothe your skin during pregnancy, make sure you don't start using them all at once. Shaking up your entire skincare routine all at once, pregnant or no, can cause irritation.
Stretch marks are common during and after pregnancy, so check out our guide to getting rid of stretch marks. And to give yourself some much needed pampering, try a product from our list of the best bath oils.
Written by Ellie Child
With five years’ experience under her belt, Ellie has worked alongside a range of highly regarded makeup artists, giving her a real insight into what consumers should be spending their money on.