Home > Beauty > Pregnancy > Skin > Pregnancy-Safe Skin Care: What To Use And What To Avoid.

Pregnancy can throw up a number of skin concerns including acne, dryness and sensitivity, alongside stubborn areas of pigmentation. Often women find the products they were using before pregnancy no longer address their skin concerns, likely owing to the changes in hormones and immune function. Added to this the uncertainty about what is and isn’t safe to use in pregnancy and breast feeding and it quickly becomes quite overwhelming.

We spoke to Dr Jo Mennie who advised us that there is no need to abandon all active skin care routines. Luckily there are a number of great active ingredients that can address skin concerns in pregnancy safely. The trick is knowing how and when to use these and how to layer products together for maximum results. It is always advisable to consult with a doctor who specialises in pregnancy skincare during your pregnancy as they can assess your skin needs and tailor their recommendations safely for you.

During pregnancy owing to safety concerns, it is recommended to avoid all retinoids including oral and topical treatments. These need to be avoided for at least 3 months prior to becoming pregnant. It is also advised to avoid skin lightening agents including hydroquinine and alpha arbutin, and any products containing CBD. Salicylic acid is often discussed as an ingredient to avoid, however with individual guidance from a doctor it can be used topically in percentages up to 2%. Dr Jo Mennie’s advice would be to transition to a safe and effective skin care routine ideally before becoming pregnant.

Top 4 Ingredients To Look Out For

Alpha Hydroxy Acids.

These acids act as chemical exfoliants – sloughing off the top layer of dead skin cells and increasing new cell turnover which helps even out skin tone, reduce blocked pores, and improve fine lines. Depending on which AHA there are additional benefits such as improving hyperpigmentation and increasing collagen and elastin production. Lactic Acid is a good AHA to use during pregnancy as it retains the most moisture in the skin comparative to other AHAs and is the least likely to irritate or dry. Incorporating your AHA into your cleanser with Cosmedix’s Lactic Acid Rx Cleanser is a great option.

Vitamin C.

Vitamin C is a hero ingredient important whether pregnant or not, and luckily safe to use throughout your pregnancy journey. It is a potent anti-oxidant that increases collagen and elastin in the skin and inhibits the enzyme responsible for pigment production. Look out for percentages above 10% to get the full benefit.


During pregnancy it is so important to be wearing SPF daily. From the first trimester there is an increase in potential pigment production owing to an increase in circulating oestrogen and progesterone. By the end of the third trimester this can lead to the development of melasma or the mask of pregnancy. Avoiding sun exposure and using SPF 50 will minimise this. During pregnancy mineral based sunscreens are preferred.

Azelaic acid

Perfect to help combat any pregnancy acne or blocked pores. Azelaic acid has powerful antibacterial properties that inhibit the bacteria responsible for breakouts and acne on the face. It prevents pores blocking through softening the top layer of skin cells and also provides an anti-inflammatory effect. I would recommend Dr David Jack’s Blue Face Peel containing Azelaic acid once a week. This is formulated with additional hyaluronic acid which will also help to plump and hydrate at the same time.

With a bit of guidance most skin concerns should be able to be treated during pregnancy and the elusive pregnancy glow ubiquitous. With the emergence of several great new products which use safe yet effective active ingredients a lot of the routines I advise for women last during pregnancy and beyond. Important for those women planning on multiple pregnancy or struggling over the years with fertility.

Dr Jo Mennie offers online skin consultations via GetHarley specialising in fertility, and pregnancy skincare


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