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Skincare Ingredients To Avoid During Pregnancy

Skincare Ingredients To Avoid During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is supposed to be a wonderful time. If not for all the changes happening in your body, and life – yes, it is actually a good time. From the way your body is changing, to your food diet and now, your skincare. When it comes to skincare, there are pregnancy-safe products and also skincare ingredients to avoid during pregnancy. It is because these ingredients can be absorbed into your body, which are then absorbed by the developing fetus, causing damage in the process.

Skincare Ingredients To Avoid During Pregnancy: The List

Skincare Ingredients To Avoid During Pregnancy (Decorative image)

Sure, pregnancy comes with it its own skin woes, like dry skin and even some acne problems owing to hormonal changes in the body. But before reaching out for your favourite skincare products, make sure they don’t contain these ingredients.

Let’s take a look at the list of skincare ingredients that you need to steer clear during the time of pregnancy.


Among the topmost skincare ingredients to avoid during pregnancy is retinol. Retinol is derived from Vitamin A, and is a popular anti-aging skincare ingredient used for improving fine lines and wrinkles, hyper pigmentation and controlling acne too. It is not recommended during pregnancy as its use has been linked to birth defects. Studies on using retinol during pregnancy have shown to cause harm to a developing fetus, that includes fetal abnormalities.


With pregnancy, you may experience melasma, and hyper-pigmentation due to the hormonal changes that is taking place in your body. And this might tempt you to reach out for hydroquinone to lighten your pigmentation. But, this ingredient is a complete NO-NO during pregnancy.

Studies have depicted that at least 45% of hydroquinone is absorbed into the skin after you apply the ointment. This means, the developing fetus can absorb it which can cause it irreparable damage. So, the best bet is to avoid this ingredient during your pregnancy.

Salicylic Acid

Among other changes taking place in your body, pregnancy can also cause acne breakouts due to hormonal changes. The frustrating part is you cannot reach out for common medications like salicylic acid that are generally used to treat acne. Salicylic acid or beta hydroxy acid is a compound normally used to treat acne and brown spots. But they are not recommended for frequent use during pregnancy because of its potential risk factors on the developing fetus.


Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, that can spike infertility and miscarriage risks in women. Earlier, it was used as a preservative in beauty products and hair straightening treatments. But now, its usage has been limited since 2014, as it was found to be carcinogenic. If you are pregnant, stay away from it as this compound can be absorbed into your organs. This, in turn, can cause major damage to your developing fetus.


Phthalates are endocrine disrupters, often found in beauty products to stabilize the product formula. Phthalate exposure can cause serious reproductive and hormonal dysfunction in animal studies. One of the common phthalates, you would commonly find in beauty products is DEP or diethylphthalate. Look out for ingredients ending in ‘phtalate’ in any skincare product, and avoid it if you are pregnant.

Chemical Sunscreens

Some harmful ingredients found in chemical sunscreens are avobenzone, oxybenzone, oxtinoxate, octocrylene, octisalate among others. They are not considered safe during pregnancy because some of them are known to be hormone disrupters. These disruptors can seriously affect the development of baby’s nervous system.

Opt for physical sunscreens with safer ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium oxide. These physical sunblocks are safe for use as they do not penetrate the skin. We recommend the Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish with SPF 50. This is a non-sticky, non-greasy and 100% mineral based sunscreen for sensitive skin that gives you a smooth finish, and protects your skin from the UV rays.

Pregnancy-Safe Skincare Ingredients

Heart hands on pregnant belly

Many of your go-to ingredients might have made it to the list of skincare ingredients to avoid during pregnancy. But do not fret as there are many other pregnancy-safe ingredients that you can opt for. Here is a list of some safe skincare ingredients that you can indulge in, when you are expecting.

Glycolic Acid

One of the safest bets, and most effective means of fighting acne and breakouts during pregnancy is glycolic acid. Glycolic Acid is an AHA, a mild chemical exfoliant that removes dead skin cells to reveal brighter skin. It improves dull skin and refines skin texture for glowing skin. It is one of the safer alternatives compared to a retinoid-based product, that is completely restricted for use during pregnancy.

You can try the Isntree Clear Skin 8% AHA Essence that comes with a combo of 4% Glycolic acid and 4% Lactic acid. It contains the soothing centella asiatica and hydrating hyaluronic acid, which are both safe ingredients for pregnancy. We also love the A’PIEU Glycolic Acid Cream, with 3% glycolic acid and a very minimal dose of 0.45% salicylic acid to keep your acne breakouts at bay.

Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is another safe option you can rely on to fight acne during pregnancy. This compound helps remove dead skin cells and unclog pores that can lead to severe breakouts. It is derived from wheat plant and regulates pigmentation.


Whether you are expecting or not, antioxidants are a must in your skincare routine to fight off free radicals that cause aging lines and wrinkles. You can opt for topical antioxidant like Vitamin C to counter the hyper pigmentation caused by pregnancy.

For more sensitive skin, we recommend a safe and mild option like our favourite The Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum. It comes with 5% vitamin C that promises to brighten your skin and keep your pregnancy glow on. Other safe bets for antioxidants that you can add in your skincare routine during pregnancy are Vitamin E, Green Tea and Vitamin B3 or niacinamide.

We recommend the nourishing Dear Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask which is enriched with vitamin E to give you brighter, firmer and more hydrated skin.

Hyaluronic Acid

Pregnancy can induce skin dryness owing to hormonal changes that are taking place in your body. One of the best and safest ingredients that you can add in your skincare routine now, is hyaluronic acid. It is absolutely safe during pregnancy because it is naturally found in our body.

As we age, the hyaluronic acid in our body diminishes which leads to dull, dry and dehydrated skin. Since it hydrates and plumps up your skin, this is a must-have, whether you are pregnant or not. We highly recommend the Cosrx Hyaluronic Acid Intensive Cream. This is a lightweight cream containing the brightening hero Sea Buckthorn extract and Hyaluronic acid.

Other hydrating products you can add to your pregnancy-safe routine are peptides, cocoa butter, centella asiatica and coconut oil. These ingredients will be sure to keep your glow on till the baby comes.

Does the ingredient list on your skincare products confuse you? Here‘s how you can easily decode it.

What are your favourite pregnancy-safe skincare products? Do share in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.

Written By

Beauty Editorial Team




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