10 Skin Care Ingredients To Avoid During Pregnancy


Pregnancy is supposed to be a magical time. It’s a time to enjoy the growing baby inside. While there are changes and side effects, you know they’re worth it when you have a bouncing baby afterward.

But there are so many dos and don’ts to follow. This is especially the case when it comes to skin care. You need to keep your skin moisturized and hydrated. Otherwise, the risk of stretch marks is much higher. Some women can suffer dry skin and acne conditions during pregnancy because of their changing hormones.

Before you reach for your usual treatments, you’ll need to make sure they don’t include ingredients that are damaging to your developing baby. Here are 10 skin care ingredients that you want to avoid during pregnancy completely. Some of them will be obvious, but others may surprise you.


Retinols are supposed to be good for you right? They’re a derivative of vitamin A, which the body needs. Yes, the baby needs vitamin A too. However, there are studies that show retinols aren’t good for you and baby during pregnancy.

This isn’t quite about completely avoiding retinol. You want to monitor the amount that you use. The brain, heart, spinal cord, and head malformations linked to use are linked to excessive retinol intake. A minimal intake through the skin may be OK, but most doctors will want you to avoid them where possible.

To get the same benefits, opt for oleic or glycolic acid. Both of these are good for combating acne. Accutane is full of retinol, which you want to avoid completed for combating acne. If you want retinol for the anti-aging benefits, just opt for sunscreen and look into using olive or coconut oil on your skin for good moisture. Check out the best chapstick for accutane here.

Skip the Oxybenzone and Avobenzone

Two ingredients that are found in sunscreen are oxybenzone and avobenzone. Both of these need to be avoided at all costs. It’s worth looking out for natural sunscreen to avoid them completely.

The two ingredients are chemical filters. They disrupt the hormones, which are already disrupted for your baby. Not only will they cause havoc to your mental state and your skin, but they will also affect your baby’s heart health.

A lot of natural ingredients have SPF. Look out for coconut oil, olive oil, and other similar ingredients. You’ll be surprised at the benefits you can gain!

Watch Out for Benzoyl Peroxide

During pregnancy, your body will go through an increased androgen production and hormonal fluctuations. Annoyingly, they cause physical side effects like acne breakouts. There are plenty of medications out there that help to fight acne, but they shouldn’t be used during pregnancy.

So, what about some of the common acne treatments that you’ll find in most of your face washes? Most importantly, what about benzoyl peroxide? Yes, this is effective, but studies have shown some negative side effects in pregnancy, especially when used in large amounts.

Most studies are on taking the ingredient orally. There are mixed opinions and studies about topical treatments. However, doctors tend to recommend against it. If you feel like you need it, opt for a smaller area to treat.

Skip the Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is commonly recommended to fight against acne. It’s found in many natural and unnatural products, but that doesn’t make it safe during pregnancy.

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA). Any BHA should be avoided during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. They are oil soluble, which means they get into the pores and the bloodstream. The side effects can lead to the baby directly.

Studies have shown that babies can suffer from birth defects due to oral use of salicylic acid and other BHAs. Like with benzoyl peroxide, there are debates over the topical use, but it’s often better to be safe than sorry. There are plenty of natural cleansers, toners, and acne-fighting products that don’t use it.

Watch Out for the Essential Oils

Essential oils need to be avoided during pregnancy, especially if you’re not used to them. If you’re going to use something new, wait until your third trimester and make sure you mention the exact essential oil you want to use. Each essential oil has a different affect on your body.

Clary sage and jasmine are known for their trigger contraction side effects. This can be extremely dangerous for your baby. Meanwhile, rosemary oil and sage have been linked to bleeding during pregnancy and an increase in blood pressure. Your blood pressure shouldn’t go up during pregnancy, as it is damaging to your baby.

If you want to use some essential oils, make sure you dilute them with water. You can add a little to your bath water for example. Don’t apply them directly to your skin.

Avoid Hydroquinone to Treat Your Melasma

Melasma is also known as the “mask of pregnancy.” It’s a pigmentation change within the skin that usually disappears after your pregnancy. However, you will be conscious of it, especially if it appears in normally visible areas. The most common type of treatment includes hydroquinone for treatment, which isn’t designed for use during pregnancy.

Right now there are no direct link between hydroquinone and birth defects, but there are some concerns. The ingredient is extremely easily absorbed into the body. Studies are being conducted to understand more.

It’s another case of better safe than sorry. There are plenty of other ingredients that will help. Look out for soy-based alpha hydroxy acids instead, including glycolic acid and lactic acid, to help treat your melasma effectively.

Skip the Parabens

Parabens are known for disrupting the hormones. They’re absorbed into the skin at alarming rates and easily pass to your baby. This is just the first concern.

The second concern is that there are already links to some parabens and miscarriages. This paraben is known as BPA. It’s commonly used in metals and plastics in the United States, although other parts of the world have banned it. BPA is linked to impaired fetal growth, obesity, low birth weight, and behavioral problems.

Most parabens are included in the packaging, but they can also be added directly to the ingredients (such as in the fragrances). Even in the packaging alone, they are unsafe, as the parabens seep into the product and then get into your skin.

If just one paraben can do this, what can the others do? Scientists just don’t know, but they’re relatively easy to avoid if you make your skin care products!

Check Antiperspirants for Aluminium Chloride

One of the most common ingredients in your antiperspirants is aluminum chloride. It’s something health professionals have been against for the last 40 years after a study linked it to Alzheimer’s disease. Have that stopped companies been allowed to use it? Of course not!

We need to put our health and our babies first.

That being said: if you only use your antiperspirant once or twice a day, then you won’t need to worry too much about the risks to your baby. The amount of aluminum chloride in your antiperspirant is low and won’t get through to your baby. You’ll want to watch out for ingredients that have it in high amounts.

If you suffer from hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), you’ll want to avoid using the antiperspirants as much as possible. It’s not going to be easy, as pregnancy automatically increases your body temperature, but it will be worth it for putting your baby first. Most problematic antiperspirants are those that have 15-30% of aluminum chloride, which is most of your prescription options.


Parfum or fragrance will be written as one ingredient on the majority of your skin care products. However, they include 500 or so separate ingredients! Yes, they really include that many in the one item on the list.

How do companies get away with this? Can you find out what the fragrances really contain? Unfortunately not. The companies get away by creating “secret formulas.” They’re supposed to be the formulas that make their products so special, and the list of full ingredients don’t have to be released because of this.

Unfortunately, this means problems for us. We have no idea what type of chemicals and toxins are added to them. Some can include the ingredients already on this list and the last one is coming up. They can include toxins that are highly damaging to your organs or will cause congenital disabilities and damage to your baby.

Many of the chemicals and toxins have also been linked to skin care problems. Your hormones will be all over the place, and you will be at more risk of developing skin conditions and dry skin.

The best thing to do is avoid anything with parfum or fragrance in the ingredients list. Could you imagine going through 500+ ingredients anyway?

You can get natural fragrances through using essential oils. Diluted in some water or olive oil isn’t going to be damaging to your baby as the concentration will be much lower.


This should be an obvious one, but you’ll be surprised at the number of people that use it on their skin without realizing. This is often because formaldehyde can be listed as other types of ingredients. Look out for:

  • Quaternium-15
  • Dimethyl-dimethyl
  • Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
  • Bronopol
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Hydantoin

It may be now very easy to see how you’ve overlooked it. I often go by the rule that if I can’t say the ingredient, then it’s bad for me.

Parents around the world are campaigning against formaldehyde in baby products. While this has been positive, it’s still used in products for adults. It’s commonly found in nail polish, hair straightening treatments, eyelash glue, and much more. Companies that are formaldehyde free will usually make a big deal about telling you this.

Formaldehyde is a poison. It’s used in antifreeze and other similar products. Why put it on your skin and risk your baby’s development?

A Word of Warning About Packaging

All the above ingredients tend to be included in your beauty and skin care products. What we’ve overlooked is some of the ingredients that are included in the packaging. There are many products used in plastics to keep them flexible and strong to make your products user-friendly.

One of the most common is phthalates. These are often referred to as DBP, DMP, BzBP, benzylbutyl phthalate, and other acronyms. It’s another case of if you can’t say the word or it’s just a bunch of initials then it is probably bad for you.

Phthalates specifically are known for causing high blood pressure and diabetes. They have also been linked to ADHD and abnormal fetal development.

How are they so bad when they’re in the packaging? Well, the toxins secrete into your skin care products. They get into your pores and absorb directly into your bloodstream. Your baby gets them immediately.

Companies will make a point of saying that they are phthalate-free, similar to being BPA-free. They want to make it clear that they’re suitable for use and safe for your body. Of course, look at some of the other ingredients that are used!

Natural Products Are the Best Way for All

Some of the ingredients are ones to avoid just during pregnancy. The likes of salicylic acid do have their place in skin care products. There are certainly products that will help to combat acne and hormonal issues without developing other health problems.

However, there are others on this list that aren’t just bad during pregnancy. They are bad for you. Companies continue to use poisonous ingredients because they tend to be cheaper. They’re a way to keep the cost down on the products for you. However, natural products are cheaper to make. You can to add the ingredients that you want and can work on all types of skin conditions.

It’s time to make your skin care products, especially when it comes to pregnancy.

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