Pregnancy Skin Care – Which Products and Procedures Are Safe?

By Emily M.| Last updated on March 31, 2023
pregnancy skin care
⏱️ 7 min read

We all know that during pregnancy your body goes through a lot of change. But it seems like no one is talking about all the changes your skin is going through.

Some facial treatment and skincare products no longer seem to be working. Or worse yet, they might even cause skin problems like irritation, rashes, or breakouts.

Let’s talk about what to look for in pregnancy safe skin care, and the best facial for pregnancy.

What Are the Most Common Skin Changes During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy can have a big impact on the skin, for better or for worse. Your increased blood flow and change in hormone levels may result in radiant and dewy skin, but unfortunately, not everyone gets the infamous pregnancy glow.

A lot of people end up with skin issues they’ve never experienced before.

The most common skin changes during pregnancy are:

Stretch Marks

This is the most common change that usually appears on the abdomen, breasts, or thighs due to the skin being stretched. The reddish or purplish marks are the result of the collagen fibers breaking down.

Image source: Freepik


This skin condition causes dark, pigmented patches on the face, which is why it’s often referred to as a pregnancy mask. It typically appears on the cheeks, forehead, nose, and upper lip due to the increased production of melanin, the pigment that gives color to the skin.

It’s more common in women with darker skin tones and those who have a family history of the condition.


Acne during pregnancy is caused by hormonal changes that increase the production of oil in the skin, leading to clogged pores and breakouts.

Spider Veins

These small, reddish, or blue veins appear on the surface of the skin, usually on the legs or face due to the increased blood volume and pressure during pregnancy, which can cause the veins to dilate and become visible.

Dry Itchy Skin

Pregnancy can cause dry skin due to hormonal changes that affect the skin’s elasticity and moisture levels. As the skin stretches, it can become flaky, itchy, or show other symptoms typically associated with dry skin.


People with pre-existing skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea, may also experience a change in their symptoms, usually a flare-up.

Overall, pregnancy brings a lot of changes to your body, and your skin is no exception. But with a little care and attention, you can keep your skin looking and feeling its best throughout your pregnancy journey.

Image source: Freepik

Why Adjusting Your Skin Care Routine Matters

Everyone knows that you need to cut certain things out during pregnancy, but it’s not only important to be cautious about what you put in your body, but also what you put on it.

Many skincare ingredients that are safe for the general population may not be safe for pregnant people, and these include:

  • Retinoids
  • High-dose salicylic acid
  • Hydroquinone, for skin lightening
  • Chemical sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, octocrylene, and octinoxate
  • Etc.

These ingredients should also be avoided during breastfeeding, since they can be absorbed into the skin then excreted into breast milk, or simply transferred to a baby’s skin upon contact.

Products to Include in Pregnancy Skin Care Instead

During pregnancy, it’s important to be cautious about the skincare products you use. But this also doesn’t mean you need to throw away your entire skincare routine. Chances are most products will work, as long as you double-check the safety of the ingredients.

Doctors’ recommendations for safe skin care during pregnancy can vary, but the majority of them advocate a cautious approach, to avoid using any unnecessary products.

That said, if you need to fight certain skin conditions (pre-existing or newly developed), cutting certain products out might seem challenging. Fortunately, there are plenty of pregnancy-safe skincare options available that can help common skin concerns during pregnancy.

Here are the ingredients to look for when creating a pregnancy safe skin care routine:

Treating Pregnancy Dryness

Look for ingredients like glycerin and ceramides in your moisturizer, as these are gentle, nourishing ingredients that can help lock in moisture and keep your skin looking soft and supple.

In addition to moisturizer, you can also incorporate a hydrating hyaluronic acid serum into your skincare routine.

Hyaluronic acid is a natural compound that is found in our skin, and it has the ability to attract and retain water, making it a great choice for keeping skin hydrated.

By choosing gentle, hydrating products like these, you can help combat common skin issues that arise during pregnancy, such as dryness and flakiness.

Treating Pregnancy Hyperpigmentation

Vitamin C is a great antioxidant that can help you brighten up your complexion and fight hyperpigmentation. It can help to reduce the appearance of melasma and other types of hyperpigmentation by inhibiting the production of melanin.

Plus, it can help to protect against environmental damage from UV rays and pollution, which can lead to premature aging and other skin problems.

And Don’t Forget SPF!

During pregnancy, hormonal changes can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, making sun protection even more important. The easiest way to prevent melasma is to wear sunscreen daily.

However, not all sunscreens are safe for use during pregnancy. Some chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that can be harmful to the developing fetus, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate.

So, to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays during pregnancy, it is recommended to use mineral-based sunscreens that contain ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Treating Pregnancy Acne

Due to hormonal changes in the body, many women experience pregnancy acne, which can be frustrating and uncomfortable.

And there’s also an added challenge of avoiding products containing potent acne-fighting ingredients, like retinols, hydroquinone, benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acid, which aren’t safe during pregnancy.

But there is a way to safely treat pregnancy acne – with azelaic acid, a topical also used to treat rosacea, that works by killing bacteria found in pores and decreasing the body’s production of keratin.

It helps clear redness and acne, as well as decreases pigment production. And on top of that, azelaic acid also has a subtle brightening effect, so it helps with the dark marks that acne leaves behind.

Treating Fine Lines and Wrinkles During Pregnancy

Lately, retinoids have become synonymous with anti-aging skincare. But as we already mentioned, retinoids are a no-go during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

So if you’re looking for substitution, peptides may be the next best thing. Peptides act as messengers, sending signals to the skin to produce more collagen or elastin, so they also get you a smoother, firmer, and more radiant complexion.


Of course, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before using any new products during pregnancy, especially if you’re unsure about their safety. In general, it’s best to stick to gentle, natural products and avoid anything with harsh or potentially harmful ingredients.

Facials Safe for Pregnancy

There are some things products alone can’t resolve, where professional help is needed to help you combat newly developed skin problems.

However, there are some precautions you should take to ensure the safety of both you and your baby.

Make sure to let your esthetician know that you are pregnant, as they may need to make adjustments to the treatment to accommodate your needs. They may avoid certain products or techniques that could be harmful to you or your baby.

Fortunately, there are plenty of pregnancy-safe facial treatments available, including LED light therapy, hydrating and cleansing facials like hydrodermabrasion, or more exfoliating ones like dermaplaning.

However, it is important to distinguish between gentle non-invasive treatments and those that are a bit more abrasive and invasive, as the latter may not be suitable during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

More invasive treatments aren’t the best option during pregnancy and breastfeeding since they can lead to health complications if an infection occurs, or due to chemicals used during the procedure.

You can read more about if microneedling is safe during pregnancy here, or which chemical peels should be avoided here.

So, if you’re looking to resolve a serious skin concern, the safest thing to do is wait until you’re done breastfeeding. As always, consult with a healthcare provider before getting any facial during pregnancy.

How About Body Care?

While it may not possible to prevent stretch marks entirely, you can minimize their appearance by keeping your skin hydrated and moisturized.

Applying a rich moisturizer to your skin daily can help to improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of stretch marks.

Look for a stretch mark cream or oil that contains ingredients like vitamin E, cocoa butter, or shea butter. Here’s a few options:

Or, you can also look for completely natural alternatives. Ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, squalene, and sweet almond oil are often found in pregnancy skincare products anyway, so if you don’t mind the texture you can apply them to your skin directly.

Let’s Sum Up

In conclusion, pregnancy can cause a variety of skin changes, and while some of these changes may be uncomfortable or worrisome, they’re usually harmless and will resolve on their own after childbirth.

However, it’s important to take care of your skin during pregnancy by keeping it hydrated, protecting it from the sun, and using gentle skincare products that won’t further irritate your skin.

If you have any concerns about skin changes during pregnancy, don’t hesitate to consult with your doctor.

If you’re curious about which beauty treatments are safe to get during pregnancy, head over to these articles:

Cover image source: Freepik



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