Skin care for use during pregnancy, safe and effective
“[Ingredients like] retinol, salicylic acid and, to a lesser extent, benzoyl peroxide, should be avoided during pregnancy,” says Shirley Chi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles. Why? Because they are teratogenic, which means they could increase birth defects. Dr. Chi notes that there is little research on the amount of these ingredients Actually absorbed by your body when applied to the skin, but she recommends eliminating them altogether or talking to your dermatologist. Loretta Ciraldo, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare agrees and points out that the most important thing to avoid is retinol.
But don’t worry, there are still actives that you can use during pregnancy. Keep scrolling through the MVPs to safely care for your skin during these nine months.
1. Vitamin C
Fortunately, the “little black dress of skin care” (as dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD calls it) is A-ok to use during pregnancy. “I love topical vitamin C during pregnancy because it offers some of the same benefits as ingredients you should avoid, plus the added benefit of UV protection, which is more important during pregnancy when you are generally more sensitive to UV,” says Dr. Ciraldo. Using a vitamin C product will help eliminate fine lines and dark spots, providing a more even skin tone.
What to buy: Olay Tone Perfection Serum B3 + Vitamin C, $29
2. Azelaic Acid
Multitasking Azelaic Acid also gets the green light for use during pregnancy. It’s a popular ingredient for its ability to decrease hyperpigmentation, fight inflammation, and fight acne, and it’s safe for those who suffer from rosacea. “Azelaic acid has lightening effects on the skin, and it’s really good as an acne treatment,” says Dr. Chi. Morgan Rabach, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of LM Medical, adds that the ingredient may also help with skin texture.
What to buy: Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%, $8
Peptides are amino acids found naturally in your skin and as such are safe in a skincare routine during pregnancy. “The peptides and growth factors help boost collagen and elastin in the dermis, so both ingredients are the best anti-aging ingredients,” says Dr. Rabach. If you’re going to miss your retinol serum during pregnancy, Dr. Chi notes that peptides are a great substitute for similar effects.
What to buy: Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Lotion, $38
4. Growth factors
Another collagen-boosting ingredient you can use during pregnancy is growth factor, the other retinol alternative recommended by Dr. Chi and Dr. Rabach. Essentially, your skin has its own growth factors that help your cells heal and replenish. As is the case with collagen and elastin, you lose growth factors as you age, so look for skin care products that list them on their ingredient list.
What to buy: Bioeffect day moisturizer, $105
5. Indian Ginseng
According to Dr. Ciraldo, Indian ginseng (also known as ashwagandha, an adaptogen) is another skin-lightening ingredient pregnant women can turn to. “Indian ginseng helps prevent hyperpigmentation and even skin tone, plus it provides excellent protection against blue light from the sun and digital screens,” she says. So turn to this herb if you lack your chemical exfoliants for glow.
What to buy: Grown Alchemist Balancing Toner, $34
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