Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy


Pregnancy is something that is celebrated by one and all. Usually, a celebration occurs and then the hormones hit and some people are affected by acne or different skin conditions. You basically have to change your skin care routine to mitigate these hormonal changes. 

Not to scare you, but this is only the beginning of all that is about to happen.

There are some skin care ingredients to avoid during pregnancy. While some may not be as dangerous, it is better to err on the side of safety as certain ingredients can have a profound effect on your health and the health of your baby. 

We understand that as a soon-to-be mom, you will be excessively googling what to do and what not to do. It can be rather tiresome! So today we will be giving you a complete comprehensive list of skincare products and ingredients to avoid.


Can I use skin care products while pregnant?

Yes, you can. However, you have to realize that it is not just what you consume that will affect your baby, but what you apply on your skin is just as significant. 

There are different types of skin conditions that can be attributed to hormonal changes whilst pregnant. Hormonal acne or dark patches appearing (mask of pregnancy) can be a real pain. 

As an extra precaution, before applying your regular skin care products or buying new ones, just read the label before purchasing. If you find any of the ingredients listed below, avoid them! 


Skin care products to avoid while pregnant

The list of ingredients as listed below is best avoided. Remember to read the labels carefully before purchasing your skin care products! 

1. Retinol

Retinols, or some may be printed on the labels as Retin-A or retinyl palmitate can lead to dangerous birth defects. 

Retinols are vitamin A derivatives. Although you should be taking sufficient amounts of vitamin A while pregnant, avoid derivatives as it can negatively affect the development of your baby.

2. Salicylic acid

This is a very common ingredient used in acne creams. Although the chances of you getting acne while pregnant is quite high, try to avoid using salicylic acid as there could be a risk for your baby. 

However, if absolutely necessary, you can use it for targeted spot treatment and only in concentrations of 2 percent or lesser.

3. Benzoyl peroxide 

Just like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide is for acne. However, it poses a risk to a developing baby and should not be used at all. 

4. Hydroquinone

Melasma or pigmentation of the skin called the “mask of pregnancy” is another common hormonal condition on the face. Hydroquinone is a common skin lightening ingredient. 

Although it may be tempting to use it, it is best avoided as your body absorbs it easier than other topical chemicals. According to some studies, hydroquinone is absorbed as much as 45 percent into the body. 

It may be dangerous to a developing baby because hydroquinone can enter your bloodstream easily and affect it. 

5. Dihydroxyacetone

This ingredient is used in many spray on tanners. Dihydroxyacetone reacts with the dead layers of skin on your body and is seen as a safer alternative to sitting in the sun. 

There may be side effects for a developing baby as it may be accidentally inhaled when you apply it to your body. It may also potentially be absorbed into your bloodstream via your skin so be careful to avoid it. 

6. Aluminium chloride 

This is a controversial ingredient. It is a common ingredient found in deodorants and antiperspirants and because pregnant women tend to perspire more, you should check to see if aluminium chloride is an ingredient in your deodorants. 

According to certain studies, it has the potential to cause cancer. However, it is generally safe to use it in lower concentrations. Just avoid using it in high concentrations. 

7. Parabens

Parabens is basically a whole family of chemicals such as methylparabens, propylparabens, butyl parabens, and ethyl parabens. It is basically a preservative as it helps to preserve the shelf-life of skin care. 

Parabens are a hormone disruptor. As hormones already wreck havoc on your body if you are pregnant, you would not want parabens to disrupt your hormones again. It can mimic estrogen in the body!

This ingredient is found in multiple products and is very common so be really careful when buying your skin care products. 

8. Phthalates

This group of chemicals can potentially cause birth defects. It is usually found in deodorant, lotion and hair spray. 

Usually, phthalates are used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastics in cosmetics as well as help the skin care products stick to your skin. 

9. Lead

You would be surprised by how much lead you consume. Imagine applying lipstick and about how many times you have reapplied it throughout the day. In between, you have probably licked your lips and ingested some of it. 

Lead is a neurotoxin. It can cause behavioral and learning problems in your future baby such as a lowered IQ. 

In most of the goods we use such as paint and gasoline, lead has been removed but it has not been removed entirely from skin care products!

10. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that is linked to asthma, neurotoxicity and developmental toxicity. Totally unsafe for your developing baby! 

Avoid it! It is found quite commonly in cosmetic products.


Essential oils to avoid during pregnancy

Some moms love aromatherapy and massages whilst pregnant. Yes, some oils can be used to soothe pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness. 

However, it is quite hard to make a general statement on whether or not you should use them while pregnant. Some oils have actually been linked to major health concerns if used when carrying a child. 

It is best that you consult with your doctor before using essential oils. There are, a few oils that you should avoid if best, which are: 

  • Aniseed
  • Sage
  • Basil
  • Wormwood
  • Mugwort 
  • Rue
  • Tansy
  • Pennyroyal
  • Parsley
  • Oak mass
  • Tarragon
  • Birch
  • Hyssop
  • Camphor
  • Wintergreen

If you are unsure, it is best to ask your doctor before any application. 


Best skincare routine while pregnant

Finding the best routine to make help keep your skin healthy is basically based on the following:

1. Moisturize and hydrate

Keeping your skin moisturized can be rather tiresome. Hormones that agitate your skin to be itchy can be a pain. 

A good and deep penetrating moisturizer and skin hydrator is the way to go, especially in the mornings!

2. Exfoliate

Once a week before bed, exfoliating will remove microscopic dead cells that can clog your pores. The fresh skin uncovered underneath will leave your skin feeling healthier.

Other than that, be sure to keep your skin clean by washing it everyday with a proper cleanser or face wash. 


Pregnancy safe skincare products

Don’t worry! There are a few products that you can use while pregnant. It’s all about flexibility and being able to find the right skin care products to use. 

Here’s a list of the best, head to toe skincare products that are totally safe to use whilst pregnant!

1. Cleansing Mousse 

An amino acid based cleansing mousse will leave your face and skin feeling super clean, without leaving it dry like some cleansing mousse tends to do. You will be able to deep clean and thoroughly clean away any traces of dirt, pollutants and even remove makeup with it! 

Cutting down on specially bought makeup remover is one less thing you need to worry about. Some make up removers in the market contain the dangerous ingredients as listed above.

Amino acids are natural building blocks of the skin so it helps to quicken the process of cellular repair and rejuvenates your skin! 

2. Hand Cream

Now, more than ever, it is so important to keep your hands clean! In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is essential that you clean your hands consistently. 

Our Recovery & Anti-Viral Hand Cream not only moisturizes your hands, but it is also effective against viruses and bacteria! So it’s a 2-in-1 hand cream that is totally safe for pregnant mothers. 

Made with only ECOCERT and COSMOS certified ingredients, it is even safe for your baby to use after you have given birth.

3. Soothing and Hydrating Mask

To pamper yourself a little (you deserve it, you’re growing a baby!), take half an hour of your day to put on a hydrating mask. It will soothe acne and hydrate your skin in the process.

4. Nourishing Skin Serum

After thoroughly cleansing your skin, you will need to slap on some skin cream to retain moisture. This nourishing skin cream provides your skin with intense hydration and restores skin elasticity and suppleness. 

Although our Anti-Aging Revival Serum has targeted delivery of active ingredients into your deeper layers of skin, there are no ingredients that you have to avoid in this skin serum. Pregnancy safe! 


Final words

When you are pregnant, it can be difficult to accept that there are certain things you cannot do. To find out that the list of things to avoid is not just present in food but in your skin care products as well can be rather tiresome. However, all is not lost as all you have to do is adjust and find the right skin care products for a safe pregnancy. 

Avoid buying products with the ingredients listed above in it and if there is any doubt, consult with your doctor. Soon, you will have healthy skin with the extra glow of pregnancy upon you as you look forward to delivering your baby!

With love,

Coreenna Ong

Coreenna Ong

Co-founder and Head of Research

Ms Ong has more than 25 years of extensive experiences in research and development, conceptualization, formulation, and production process development. She is currently the Head of Research and Development at aspurely skincare.

She has authored 2 best-selling Beauty and Wellness books with Marshall Cavendish, Nature’s Spa: DIY Beauty Treatments and Nature’s Treats: Recipes for Wellness, which are currently available in the Singapore National Library collection.

Ms Ong was also a Beauty columnist for Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore's largest Chinese-language newspaper publication, with huge regional presence. As its weekly expert contributor, she shared the latest research and technologies from the Beauty industry, and addressed many readers’ skincare issues and concerns, offered beauty tips, quick fixes and insider knowledge.


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