Now that you’re pregnant, you’re probably reading up on just about everything you can get your hands on to learn what to do (and what not to do) to have the healthiest pregnancy and baby possible. Of course, this starts with eliminating booze (goodbye beloved glass of red wine), parting ways with some of your favorite foods (ahem, sushi and soft cheeses), and cutting back on coffee, but it also means changing up your skin care routine to make sure all your products are pregnancy-approved.
What exactly does that mean? “Generally, when ingredients are not to be used in pregnancy, it is because they are either known to cause harm to the fetus or the effects in humans are unknown, but evidence — usually in animal studies — suggests that they could potentially be harmful to the fetus and risk cannot be fully ruled out,” says Sejal Shah, MD, NYC Dermatologist and RealSelf contributor.
But, chances are, you won’t have to switch up your everyday grooming routine all that much. Using a mild cleanser with warm water, nutrient-packed moisturizer, and mineral sunscreen is encouraged. The tricky part has to do with treating acne, which can worsen during pregnancy thanks to the surge of hormones your body is creating to house your developing baby, as well as signs of aging. Steer clear of things like chemical sunscreens, exfoliating beta hydroxy acids such as salicylic acid, skin-lightening hydroquinone, and retinol or other vitamin A derivatives.
While you could spend hours in Sephora reading ingredient labels, it’s way easier to ask the docs. Here are the skin care lines they recommend to their expecting patients, plus what you need to know about prescription skin care.
“This line is primarily known for The Tummy Rub Butter, $36, but has expanded to include other facial and body products formulated for pregnant skin,” says Dr. Shah.
Though it’s free of salicylic acid, willow bark, and retinol, this serum is stacked with skin-saving nutrients including vitamin C and copper tripeptide growth factor, which Anna Guanche, MD, dermatologist and founder of the Bella Skin Institute, says provide anti-aging properties that make skin bright and tight.
“Belli Skincare makes a number of face and body products and use medical research to determine which products are not only safe in pregnancy and nursing but also effective,” says Dr. Shah.
Dr. Guanche recommends this line to pregnant patients looking to calm their complexion, as it contains anti-redness ingredients like ruscus extract and thermal spring water that even help rosacea sufferers.
If you’re looking to soften fine lines and wrinkles during pregnancy, you’re in luck with this derm-recommended line, which Dr. Gaunche says is safe for expecting patients. Free of harsh ingredients, these products use a propriety technology to help support the skin’s natural ability to produce healthy elastin and collagen.
“This azelaic acid and glycolic acid powered cream brightens skin, lightens brown spots, and can help treat pregnancy-related acne, which is always a plus,” says Dr. Gaunche.
While not specifically formulated for moms-to-be, Dr. Shah says that most of these cult-fave products contain pregnancy-safe ingredients. But when in doubt, always double check with your OBGYN!
Rx Skin Care
“Some of the prescription products that might be considered safe for acne or aging are not recommended during pregnancy,” says Sherry Ross, MD, OBGYN and women's health expert at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, CA. Medications Dr. Ross recommends avoiding while expecting include isotretinoin (Accutane), Retin-A, and other retinoids, as well as minocycline, doxycycline, and other tetracyclines. The good news is that there are some safe prescription medications, including erythromycin and clindamycin, that are safe. Among that list of no-nos, though, are in-office injectables like Botox and fillers.