Are you pregnant and wondering whether you need to change up your skin care routine?
Between pregnancy acne, increased skin sensitivity, and the occasional dark spot, you may find yourself needing a host of new products. Or you may realize your regular products aren’t the best for your baby.
If you’re wondering what you can use and what you may need to set aside until after you deliver, read on. We’ve got everything you need to know right here.
Quick ComparisonOur Top Pregnancy Skincare Picks of 2020 Read Full Reviews
Skin Changes During Pregnancy
You knew your belly would grow, but you probably didn’t have any idea about the host of other changes your body would experience during pregnancy.
One of the more unexpected things you may experience is a change in your skin (1).
Some of the most common skin changes during pregnancy are:
- Pregnancy glow: When you’re pregnant, the volume of blood coursing through your veins increases by nearly 50 percent (2). This increased blood flow can cause your face to appear brighter, giving you that gorgeous pregnancy glow everyone raves about.
- Increased acne: Some pregnant women glow, while other women get acne. How fair is that? Acne during pregnancy is incredibly common as pregnancy-related hormones increase oil production, resulting in more frequent or more severe breakouts.
- Skin darkening: Also known as the “mask of pregnancy,” hormones can cause your skin to darken thanks to increased pigmentation. About half of pregnant women experience this phenomenon, which occurs most frequently on your forehead and cheeks.
- Skin sensitivity: When you’re pregnant, you may find your skin is extra sensitive to environmental irritants and sun exposure (3). You may discover some of your previous skincare products irritate your skin, or that it needs extra care to keep from becoming itchy, inflamed, or breaking out.
Do My Products Affect My Baby?
Anything you place on your skin can potentially affect your developing fetus. Their developing systems are less able to fight off irritants than your fully developed body is, and many skincare products contain ingredients that are suspected to be potentially harmful.
While the evidence for topical substances harming your baby is scarce due to the low concentration of active ingredients, pregnancy is not a time to be careless, so we believe it’s better to be safe than sorry.
It’s necessary to examine all the beauty and skincare products you use for potentially harmful chemicals and swap them if necessary.
Products that can introduce harmful substances to your baby include:
- Shampoo and conditioner.
- Body wash.
- Face wash.
- Hair care products.
- Nail care products.
- Hair dyes.
Do I Need New Products?
You may need to reconsider your beauty products and regimen during pregnancy for several reasons, including:
- They may contain ingredients that are potentially harmful to your baby.
- Your skin may develop a sensitivity to your regular products.
- Your coloring may change slightly and your previous makeup products no longer work.
- You develop new skin issues such as eczema or acne that need special care or treatment.
- You need additional sun protection.
Beauty Products To Avoid During Pregnancy
When you’re after a healthy pregnancy, some of the most common beauty and skin care ingredients you should avoid are:
- Retinoids/retinol: Derivatives of Vitamin A, these substances are commonly found in acne and anti-aging products.
- Salicylic acid: It is generally recommended to avoid frequent use of products with salicylic acid in them. It is an ingredient commonly found in products used to treat and manage acne.
- Benzoyl peroxide: Another ingredient commonly found in acne products, it’s best to avoid regular long-term exposure.
- Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is linked to reduced fertility and miscarriage (4). You are most likely to encounter it in nail polish.
- Soy: Soy can mimic estrogen in the body, so it’s best to avoid it during pregnancy. It can also make your dark skin patches worse.
- Parabens: Parabens can also mimic estrogen in the body. During a time when your hormonal balance is so important, avoid products that may interfere with it.
- Chemical sunscreens with oxybenzone: You need to protect your skin, but opt for a barrier, such as a mineral, sunscreen over traditional varieties that contain oxybenzone. This chemical helps to absorb the UV rays in your skin and helps you metabolize it. Mineral sunscreens sit atop your skin and never enter your bloodstream.
Pregnancy Safe Skincare Products
When shopping for beauty products while pregnant, look for the following:
- Hypoallergenic: While the term hypoallergenic is not regulated by the FDA, it is a good indicator that the product has is likely to cause fewer allergic reactions than other products. You should still review the ingredient list prior to purchasing a beauty product, but the label is a good first-line indicator it may be safe for your super-sensitive skin.
- Paraben-free: Parabens are preservatives commonly used in beauty products. They mimic estrogen in the body and should be avoided during pregnancy. Going with a paraben-free product is a safe choice.
- Lacking harmful ingredients: Review the above list of ingredients to be avoided during pregnancy, and opt for products that don’t contain any of them.
- Non-comedogenic: Non-comedogenic products will not clog your pores. Some women are more susceptible to acne when they’re pregnant. If that sounds like you, choose a product that specifies it’s non-comedogenic so it won’t wreak havoc on your complexion.
The Best Pregnancy Skincare Products of 2020
Now that you’ve got a better idea of what to look for and avoid, here are our reviews of the top 20 products we think can help you level up your pregnancy glow while keeping your baby safe.
1. Beautycounter Melting Body Balm
Properly hydrated skin is important for every woman, pregnant or not. When choosing a moisturizer to use while pregnant, make sure it does not contain parabens, and do not use anti-aging or acne treatment products as they contain retinoids or retinol, which should be avoided when you’re pregnant. Beautycounter is EWG certified, so you can’t go wrong with any of their products.
This lotion will help you moisturize your skin without exposing it to harmful chemicals. The company has its own ‘Never List’ of ingredients to provide the safest products to everyone.
It is non-greasy, and also does not have a scent. This means it has a lower chance of irritating sensitive skin, and also won’t bother you if you’re sensitive to smells during pregnancy.
It is also cruelty-free, meaning it has not been tested on animals.
2. Kneipp Lavender Body Oil
Body oil is a great way to moisturize your body while also offering relaxation. It can be used to moisturize after a bath or when your partner gives you a massage. Opt for a non comedogenic oil if you struggle with acne, and if the body oil you choose is infused with essential oils, make sure they are safe to use while pregnant.
Does pregnancy have you feeling stressed? The calming scent of lavender in this oil can help you unwind after a long day.
Whether you’re using it as a moisturizer, as a massage oil, or pouring it in the bath, you can feel good that this product is made primarily with plant oils. It helps to moisturize your skin without a greasy feeling.
It also contains Vitamin E, which helps with both scarring and stretch marks.
3. ArtNaturals Essential Body and Foot Wash
When choosing a body wash while pregnant, try to find one that’s hypoallergenic and won’t irritate your sensitive skin. Also, make sure that it’s paraben-free. An exfoliating product can help keep your skin smooth and healthy, too.
This body and foot wash is 100 percent natural. It contains no parabens which can interfere with your body’s natural estrogen, and is cruelty-free.
It also has natural antibacterial and antifungal properties that can battle odor and infections for the active woman by using certain oils that are safe for use during pregnancy.
The oils also give it a refreshing scent including peppermint, which may be appealing to you in the morning if you suffer from morning sickness.
4. Glow Organics Belly Butter
Body butter just might become your new best friend when your skin starts to feel stretched to the max. Exceptionally creamy and moisturizing, it can help reduce itching and flakiness along the sides of your belly. If you choose one enriched with Vitamin E, it may even help to reduce stretch marks.
This belly butter can help you soothe ultra-dry, irritated, or stretch-marked skin with 100 percent organic and vegan ingredients. It is also cruelty-free.
Composed primarily of ultra-moisturizing shea butter and cocoa butter, there are no parabens, synthetic ingredients, dyes, phthalates, or artificial fragrances, making it less likely to have ingredients that will irritate your skin.
And to ease your mind, there are no hidden ingredients, it is made right here in the USA.
5. Earth Mama Belly Butter
Stretch marks are common during pregnancy, occurring most frequently along your belly, breasts, or hips. They are typically red while your skin is stretched, but end up as silvery lines once your body has returned to normal. There is some evidence that Vitamin E can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
What better way to battle stretch marks than with a product designed specifically for your pregnant belly?
This product is free of parabens and contains no artificial fragrance. Its natural-occurring fragrance is light so it won’t aggravate morning sickness.
It is made with organic ingredients so you can feel good about slathering it all over your belly, and it has been dermatologist tested to make sure it does not cause irritation.
6. Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Bust Cream
Bust cream claims to help firm and tone breasts that may have lost some of their perkiness thanks to pregnancy or weight gain. When choosing a breast cream make sure to check the ingredient list on the packaging for harmful ingredients -- especially if you’re planning to use it while nursing.
This natural bust cream has been dermatologist tested and contains shea butter, vitamin E, and elastin.
It is designed to help firm and tone the skin on your bust. The argan oil with high levels of vitamin E helps to fight stretch marks you may have developed when pregnant.
It has fatty acids and antioxidants, helping to soften and condition skin. However, be advised that when using this product, you should wipe it off your breasts before nursing.
7. Led Face Mask
When you’re pregnant, unfortunately, most acne products are off-limits thanks to their use of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide -- both of which are not recommended for use during pregnancy. If you struggle with pregnancy acne, choose a gentle and effective cleanser and use it twice a day.
If simple hygiene changes make no difference in your stubborn pregnancy acne, it may be time to invest in a non-medicated product.
Though pricey, this mask uses light only — absolutely no harmful chemicals — to battle acne bacteria at its source and help to clear your complexion. And since it’s a multi-use product, you can continue to use it even after pregnancy for other skin conditions including anti-aging and uneven skin tone.
It’s the same technology used at upscale dermatology salons, available for use in your own home.
8. Aleavia Purifying Organic Facial Cleanser
Opt for a paraben-free, hypoallergenic, gentle facial cleanser that will not irritate your skin. Make sure it is not formulated for anti-aging or acne, as they can contain ingredients like retinol that are not recommended for use during pregnancy.
This gentle and effective facial cleanser doesn’t contain any ingredients that could potentially irritate your sensitive skin.
It is 100 percent natural with organic ingredients and no toxins, and has no artificial fragrances or dyes. The ingredients have no GMOs, and the cleanser is paraben free.
Even though it’s gentle on your skin, it’s still effective and will even remove waterproof makeup and mascara at the end of a long day.
9. Burt’s Bees Sensitive Facial Cleansing Towelettes
Face wipes are a simple way to freshen up mid-day, or remove your makeup at night without much fuss. Make sure the wipes you choose are alcohol-free so they don’t dry out your skin too much, and that they don’t contain any chemicals you should avoid during pregnancy.
These pre-moistened cleansing towels are the ultimate convenience, and are made of 99.1 percent natural ingredients to make them perfect for your sensitive skin.
They have aloe to help calm your skin, and will cleanse your skin completely without the need to rinse your face afterward.
They are hypoallergenic and free of fragrances, and have cotton extract in them which helps keep them soft. They are also made with ingredients certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, so you can feel good about using this product because it won’t affect the environment.
10. Puracy Natural Shampoo
Your hair may change while pregnant -- many women find it becomes thicker. While it’s not generally deemed necessary to swap your hair products when pregnant, if you happen to use a prescription-strength shampoo for skin or scalp conditions, speak with your doctor to see if it’s okay to continue. You may also want to consider a shampoo without parabens so they don’t mimic estrogen in your body.
This natural shampoo helps to cleanse your hair effectively without the use of harsh chemicals or sulfates.
Unlike some natural shampoos that don’t lather well, this one produces enough lather to cleanse your thick pregnancy hair. It has a citrus and mint scent which is typically tolerable for women with even the most severe morning sickness.
It can even be used on color-treated hair and comes in a pump bottle for easy application in the shower.
11. Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner
You may find yourself needing a stronger conditioner thanks to increased hair volume coupled with dryness. Look for a product with no parabens and one that is hypoallergenic so it won’t irritate your skin and body.
This rich moisturizer contains shea butter, sea kelp, and Argan oil to keep your thick hair manageable. It’s safe for use on all hair types, including color treated and over-processed hair.
It is made with ethically-traded natural and certified organic ingredients so you can feel good about your purchase, and contains no harmful ingredients that could pose a risk to you or your baby.
12. Herbatint Permanent Haircolor Gel
Professionals tend to disagree on whether it’s safe to dye your hair while pregnant. However the amount of chemicals absorbed into your body is incredibly small so most people tend to think it’s okay, especially since dyes are applied so infrequently. If you prefer to minimize chemical exposure, opt for highlights or vegetable dyes.
This hair color is a great compromise between the full-scale chemical dyes you’re accustomed to and natural dyes that have a poor reputation for ineffective or short-lived color.
While Herbatint does contain some chemicals, it contains far less than most of the other brands available. Even better, the scent is not strong like you’re accustomed to in coloring products as it does not contain ammonia.
This product is also cruelty-free and vegan-friendly.
13. Karma Organic Nail Polish
We get it -- when you’re feeling big and frumpy, a quick mani-pedi can be a real pick-me-up. But a quick investigation of nail polish ingredients reveals some dangerous chemicals lurking in your nail polish. Formaldehyde is a cancer-causing preservative, dibutyl phthalate may cause reproductive problems, and toluene can affect the central nervous system.
This line of nail polish contains no toluene, formaldehyde, phthalates, or parabens. It is safe for pregnant women and children, as well as allergy sufferers.
They have no harsh odor and the results are chip resistant. The polishes come in a number of colors and finishes.
This nail polish will not cause your nails to turn yellow and even contains ingredients that will help to strengthen your nails.
Karma Organic Nail Polish is certified cruelty free, and the packaging is 100 percent recyclable.
14. Piggy Paint Nail Polish Remover
Acetone is the primary ingredient in most nail polish removers. Over-exposure to acetone can cause you to because nauseated or even pass out. If you want to stay away from harmful chemicals or if you’re extra-sensitive to smells thanks to pregnancy, you may want to find a nail polish remover that doesn’t contain acetone.
Acetone is not only harmful internally, but it also dries out and weakens your nails. This non-acetone nail polish remover has aloe vera to help condition and strengthen your nails, while effectively removing your polish, too.
This remover was developed to be used with the Nailtique nail polish line, but it can also be used on any brand of nail polish.
While other brands of non-acetone polish removers have a reputation for ineffectiveness, reviewers agree this one works well, without the strong chemical scent.
15. Sun Bum Original Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion
You’re probably not going to slather regular old sunscreen all over your baby, so why would you use it on yourself? The main offender is the chemical oxybenzone, which has been linked to hormone disruption. If you can’t find a traditional sunscreen without oxybenzone, opt for a mineral sunscreen that sits on top of your skin and provides a physical barrier between your skin and the sun.
This sunscreen is SPF 30 and offers broad-spectrum protection — meaning it blocks both UVA and UVB rays from the sun. All without oxybenzone, oil, or parabens.
It’s even enriched with Vitamin E which is a great skin moisturizer and conditioner.
It is non-comedogenic so it won’t clog your pores, and goes on silky rather than greasy. It is waterproof up to 80 minutes and has been tested and approved by the Skin Cancer Foundation.
It does not contain some of the most common allergens and is suitable for sensitive skin. It’s also vegan-friendly and cruelty-free.
16. Luxe Beauty Skincare - Skin Lightener and Brightener Serum
Redness can appear on your skin thanks to a number of reasons, including increased blood flow, inflammation, and sun sensitivity. If you’re looking for a product to help treat or disguise facial redness, make sure it doesn’t have any harmful ingredients you should avoid during pregnancy.
Luxe Beauty helps to calm your skin, reduce inflammation, and calm general redness. This product will help with overall skin appearance.
It is oil-free and non-comedogenic and helps in firming and moisturizing your skin. It can be used overnight or during the day underneath your makeup.
This healing powder is never tested on animals, and is vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and made in Japan. It also contains no harmful chemicals, parabens, or soy.
17. Bio-Oil Multiuse Skincare Oil
If you’ve got dark skin patches, it can be tempting to look for a product to lighten them up. However, many contain either steroids or hydroquinone, both of which should be avoided during pregnancy. If you’re not able to find a cream that will work on your mask of pregnancy safely, cover it with a pregnancy-safe foundation instead.
This product doesn’t contain any of the dangerous lightening chemicals you need to avoid during pregnancy, and instead uses safe ingredients to help even out skin tone and minimize dark spots.
This bio-oil has no formaldehyde, parabens, or sulfates. It is not greasy and is hypoallergenic so it is not likely to irritate your skin. Using it can also help with hydration, wrinkles, and fine lines.
The company is committed to cruelty-free products, so it has not been tested on animals.
18. Aloe Infusion Face & Body Cream
Keeping your skin hydrated is important to keep it comfortable and to prevent long-term damage. Opt for a moisturizer that is not formulated for anti-aging, and that is labeled as non comedogenic so it won’t clog your pores.
If you’ve got severely dry skin, go for the two best moisturizing ingredients known to man — aloe and shea butter. This product has both to help you soothe ultra-dry skin, without any harmful chemical additives you should be avoiding.
It is made with organic ingredients and has 75 vitamins and antioxidants. It has no artificial colors, fragrances, or parabens.
It even comes with a money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with the product.
19. Neutrogena Hydro Boost
When you’re pregnant, most anti-aging products are going to be off limits thanks to their use of retinol. Instead, during the time you’re expecting, temporarily set aside your focus on anti-aging products and instead just use a thick, ultra-moisturizing product that will keep your skin properly hydrated.
Since you can’t use traditional anti-aging products, this product is the next best thing. It uses hyaluronic acid, a substance that occurs naturally in your body, to help your skin retain moisture. This causes it to become extra plump or full, filling in fine lines and wrinkles without harmful retinol.
It is non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, dye free, and oil free. While it goes on like a gel, it is absorbed quickly and then acts as a cream.
Neutrogena does not test its products on animals, except in the rare cases where it is required by law in other countries.
20. LilyAna Naturals Eye Cream Moisturizer
Eye cream can help to treat wrinkles around the eyes and help relieve under-eye bags. However, anti-aging products may contain retinol or other harmful ingredients. Try to find one that will treat your pregnant skin right -- and if you can’t, just apply extra of your tried-and-true moisturizer carefully around your eyes until after you deliver and you can return to your regular routine.
This retinol-free eye cream will help smooth, firm, lift, and brighten the area around your eyes with none of the additives you need to avoid during pregnancy.
It contains no parabens, artificial dyes or fragrances, and is made with natural and organic ingredients so you feel good putting it on your skin. It is also vegan-friendly and never tested on animals.
It’s gentle enough for twice-daily use on the most sensitive of skin, and if you’re not happy, there’s no risk because this eye cream comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
The Bottom Line
Our top pick as the best pregnancy skincare product is Glow Organics Belly Butter. Every pregnant mama needs a good, high-quality body butter to help ease discomforts related to abdominal skin stretching and help minimize stretch marks.
This product is organic, hypoallergenic, paraben-free, and developed specifically with the pregnant woman in mind — which is why it’s the perfect pregnancy skin care products that every mama should have in her skin care arsenal.
Editor's Note:Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC
Did you experience skin changes when pregnant? Share your biggest skin-related issues and your routine with us down in the comments below!