Pregnancy Skin Care Routine: What to Look For & What to Avoid

Pregnancy was a tricky time for my skin. I had dark spots, red spots, dry skin, breakouts from hell hormones. Though I have always tried to stick to natural, organic beauty products, it was a sad day when I binge-Googled my fave products and found out that many of my beloved scrubs and lotions were off limits due to their possibly baby-harming ingredients.

It is always a good idea to talk to your OB GYN about what skin-care ingredients are and aren’t safe, however, I learned a lot from my Nancy Drew approach to pregnancy skincare. Below, I’ve shared some of the basic ingredients to avoid, and in this slideshow I’ve rounded up 9 of the best products that helped pregnancy-proof my skincare routine, making it one that was safe and effective.


  • Hydroquinone – This is found in most skin-lightening treatments and many of the harsher acne treatments.

Five common ingredients to avoid in a pregnancy skin care routine:

  1. Hydroquinone – This is found in most skin-lightening treatments and many of the harsher acne treatments. Though results are not conclusive on humans, studies show that hydroquinone causes birth defects, low birth weight, and stillbirth in animals. What is certain is that hydroquinone absorbs into your system at a very high rate (unlike many topical creams that only act locally to the area that you apply them), and while it has not been definitively shown to cause adverse effects during pregnancy, it’s best to minimize your exposure to it until further studies can completely confirm its safety.

  2. Retin A/Retinoids/Retin/Retinol – Any form of retin (check the list of ingredients in your products) should be avoided. Be aware that retin is often listed in different ways (retinol on your night cream, retin A in your serum, etc.). Many of the best anti-aging skin care products have some form of retin, like my favorite night cream and serum. Total bummer, but a sacrifice that has to be made.
  3. Tetracycline – This antibiotic (including doxycycline and minocycline) treats several conditions, including acne and rosacea. Tetracycline is not safe to use if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Research suggests that tetracyclines can have toxic effects on skeletal formation, as well as causing discoloration of fetal tooth development.
  4. Formaldehyde – Predominantly found in nail polish, though also used as a preservative in some skincare products, the CDC reports that formaldehyde could increase the chances of having fertility problems or miscarriage.

NOTE: Remember to consult with your OB GYN when in doubt of any product or ingredient in your skincare routine.

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