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So You Just Found Out You're Pregnant...Now What?

First of all, congratulations, second of all, you’re probably feeling a lot right now, huh? Excited, overwhelmed, maybe a bit pukey. There are so many things to think about, so let us take something off your plate: your new baby-friendly skincare routine.

Ingredients to Avoid

Let’s start out with the “do not's”. When you’re pregnant, you might experience some fun hormonal acne–it’s all part of the beautiful journey! You might want to reach for your OTC and prescription treatments, but salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can have adverse effects on your growing bebe. When taken orally, salicylic acid can cause fetal intracranial bleeding (um...?!) but is harmless when applied topically (phew!). Benzoyl peroxide can be too strong to use while pregnant and breastfeeding and can cause birth defects, so if you’re looking to fight acne, switch to a topical salicylic acid-based treatment.

So before you were pregnant, you had a prescription acne medication, should you stop? Yes! Treatments with retinol like Retin-A, Tretinoin, and Accutane are very harmful to your pregnancy, even causing miscarriage. If you’re trying to get pregnant, stop using these treatments. If your baby is a special surprise, once you know you’re pregnant, leave those prescriptions until you’re done breastfeeding.

You might experience some hyperpigmentation and dark spots during your pregnancy, but be sure to stay away from the ingredient, hydroquinone, a brightening agent found in face creams. It’s a bit ambiguous about its effects on your baby, but 45% is absorbed into the bloodstream and there are not enough studies to justify its use while pregnant.

While you should stay away from these even if you’re not pregnant, it’s extra important to cut out parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, and sodium lauryl sulfate. These ingredients are usually found in cleansers, moisturizers, hair products, and body products–they’re insidious! But, they are also hormone disruptors that are also linked to kidney and liver damage in both adults and their babies, so be sure to double-check your ingredients!

Second-guess the essentials

Essential oils smell so good, but they are highly concentrated and when used topically, they can be unsafe during pregnancy as they can cause premature contractions. Be sure to avoid these particularly potent ones: rosemary, fennel, cumin, rosemary, and thyme. If you’re an essential oil lover, don’t worry–there are still some essential oils you can use during pregnancy like eucalyptus, geranium, peppermint, and ylang-ylang.

Even though that was a pretty long list of don’ts, this is a really great opportunity to give your routine a makeover! Thus, we present you with some good for mom and baby routines for all the unexpected skin snafus that pop up.

Bump-friendly Skincare Recommendations

For hormonal acne:

Step 1: Start with a gentle, salicylic acid cleanser, like Tata Harper’s Clarifying Cleanser. This cleanser has all-natural salicylic acid in the form of willow bark. It also calms redness and irritation with arnica and calendula!

Step 2: Follow with a natural exfoliating toner. We love Caudalie’s for its clean ingredients like wintergreen-derived salicylic acid and grape seed water to provide hydration and prevents irritation.

Step 3: Add a layer of face oil to add an extra moisture barrier. We’re obsessed with Jordan Samuel Skin’s Soothing Facial Oil, which contains bioflavonoids to reduce inflammation. All the ingredients are clean and safe to use on pregnant and nursing skin.

Step 4: Finish up with a replenishing moisturizer like Herbivore’s Pink Cloud Cream to soothe any redness. This cream has soothing rosewater, white tea and rice extracts for antioxidants to make sure your skin is moisturized and free of any post-acne redness.

For hyperpigmentation:

Step 1: Choose naturally brightening products, like Indie Lee’s Brightening Cleanser. This cleanser has a mix of antioxidants and lycopene, a brightening extract from tomatoes.

Step 2: Follow with a vitamin C serum. Vitamin C does wonders for brightening any hyperpigmentation that comes along with your bundle of joy. Mad Hippie’s Vitamin C Serum has a blend of vitamin C, ferulic acid and hyaluronic acid to even the skin’s tone and moisturize.

Step 3: Finish your routine with a brightening moisturizer like Korres’s Wild Rose Brightening 24H Moisturizer. This one has rose-derived vitamin C with turmeric, a natural brightening ingredient.


The last step of every routine should be sunscreen, no matter if you’re expecting or not. For our baby mamas, please use a natural option. Chemical sunscreens aren’t necessarily terrible, but they do contain some ingredients that aren’t cleared by the FDA, so just to be safe, pick either a clean or physical sunscreen. Some of our favorites are Babo Botanicals SPF 40, Suntegrity SPF 30 and Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40.

Photo Credit: Weiyi Zhu / Getty Images

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