HomePregnancySkincare Products to be Avoided During Pregnancy: Sunscreen, Salicylic Acid, and More

Skincare Products to be Avoided During Pregnancy: Sunscreen, Salicylic Acid, and More


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Skincare seems pretty harmless, right? Just like everything needs to be optimized and monitored to ensure good health during pregnancy, the same goes for skincare too. The Retinol and Benzoyl Peroxide products you were using might not be the most suitable options anymore.

Pregnant women are advised to be mindful of their skincare routine owing to the dermatological complaints during pregnancy. From acne to hyperpigmentation, a woman’s skin undergoes many drastic changes during pregnancy, as does her whole body.

There are a handful of cosmetic ingredients considered non-ideal for pregnant women. So, while you are discussing your prenatal vitamins and supplements with your OBGYN, you may want to communicate about your skincare products as well.

This article will explore the common skincare products and ingredients you should be avoiding during pregnancy.

Also Read: Maggi During Pregnancy: Is It Safe for Pregnant Women to Eat, Nutritional Facts

What changes does your skin undergo during Pregnancy?

Experiencing drastic pregnancy-related skin changes is expected. Due to the surcharge in hormonal levels, your skin is subject to a lot during those nine months. However, these skin problems aren’t universal. Some pregnant women experience it, while some don’t. 

Some of the common skin changes during pregnancy include:

  • Hyperpigmentation (especially on the face)
  • Dry skin
  • Acne

If you struggle with pre-existing skin conditions, the same can flare up during your pregnancy term as well. Besides these changes, you may also encounter visible stretch marks, spider veins, and even hair growth in excess.

Also Read: Pregnancy Symptoms: Here are the Early Symptoms of Pregnancy Before Missed Period

Which Skincare Ingredients should you avoid during Pregnancy?

Skin care products during pregnancy
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Your obstetrician and your dermatologist may suggest you to get rid of a few active ingredients from your skincare regime. But keep in mind that there are not many conclusive studies highlighting the safety and risks of these ingredients during pregnancy. Most of the research is from animal studies or pre-clinical trials that have shown negative impacts on the fetus post-delivery due to these specific ingredients in skincare products.

Let us walk you through all the harmful skincare ingredients you should avoid:

Retinoids or Retinol

Vitamin A, in regular times, has amazing results on your skin. It has benefitting impacts on skin repair and some anti-aging properties too. However, retinol is linked with excessive embryonic development during pregnancy, leading to a range of birth defects, including malformation of the baby’s head, spinal cord, etc.

Besides that, Accutane, an active ingredient in Retinol serums, leads to birth defects. If you struggle with pregnancy-related acne, it is better to switch to other active ingredients like glycolic acid or oleic acid.

Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid

Both Benzoyl peroxide and Salicylic acid have negative implications on the pregnant woman and the fetus after birth. It does lack controlled data on human pregnancy. Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid might not drastically impact the fetus, due to the little amount that gets absorbed in the skin, but it is better to be safe than sorry.


Hydroquinone in the basic skincare routine is used to treat complaints of hyperpigmentation and melasma. Since these two skin conditions are prevalent during pregnancy, it isn’t surprising that reaching out for Hydroquinone-formulated products seems natural.

Although the topical application of hydroquinone doesn’t have adverse impacts during pregnancy, the absorption rate of this compound is 35-40%, which is quite troubling.


Not just during pregnancy, the use of parabens in skincare is a big NO throughout your life. They are primarily used in skincare products as a preservative to enhance the shelf life of the product you are using. However, they inflict negative implications on the well-being of a pregnant woman to extreme levels.

Besides having a quick absorption rate, parabens are also hormone disruptors, negatively impacting your pregnancy. 

BPA, a common type of paraben in skincare products, is related to a range of pregnancy complications, including miscarriages. It can also impair fetal growth, lead to low birth weight and other allied issues in the newborn baby.

Aluminum Chloride

Next on the potent skincare ingredients to be avoided list is Aluminum Chloride. This is the main ingredient in your deodorant, likely to cause you harm during pregnancy.

However, it is generally harmful for pregnant women who use it in excess amounts. If you are spraying your antiperspirants every few hours during your pregnancy, that can lead to lethal amounts of aluminum chloride in the blood, leading to complications.

So, be cautious of the antiperspirants you are using. There are several natural and organic alternatives with lower aluminum chloride percentage or no presence of this chemical too. Switch to those for safety measures.


Much like parabens, even Phthalates are endocrine or hormone disruptors. They are found in abundance in several skincare products. While the application of Phthalates topically might not have any notable impacts on the mother, the absorbed amount can lead to a series of congenital birth defects in the newborn.

DEP or diethyl phthalate is the most common form of this compound used in skincare products. If you are using any product with this ingredient, try to skip this out of your routine until your baby is born.


Unless you are very thorough with skincare ingredients, you’d probably not know the role of formaldehyde. Like Parabens, even formaldehyde is used as a preservative in cosmetic ingredients.

The CDC reports that excess use of products with formaldehyde is associated with carcinogenic properties. During pregnancy, this can lead to risks of miscarriage. Women who use products with formaldehyde regularly are also at risk of becoming infertile.

Can I use Sunscreen during Pregnancy?

Besides all these active ingredients, many pregnant women are confused about the use of sunscreen during their pregnancy. Is it safe? How much SPF should I use? The list of questions is often unending.

Dermatologists and OBGYNs emphasize using physical sunscreens during pregnancy.

Why? Because chemical sunscreens again have a lot of disruptive compounds that can harm the fetus.

The potent chemicals like oxybenzone and avobenzone are used in sunscreens to protect against UV rays. Although they do their job well, they aren’t safe for pregnant women since they are hormone disruptors.

Besides harming the fetus and causing birth defects, the absorbed forms of oxybenzone into the skin lead to negative impacts on the mammary glands and the lactation process in the mothers.

So, what kind of sunscreens are safe?

Dermatologists recommend using mineral-based sunscreens during pregnancy. They are generally formulated with zinc and titanium oxides, which are skin safe and protect from UV rays.

Can I use Essential Oils during Pregnancy?

Skin care products during pregnancy
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Everything natural is not suitable for your health. While a few selected essential oils (in controlled amounts) can help with stress-relieving and relaxing benefits, not every essential oil is safe for pregnancy.

If you don’t have a prior experience or knowledge about essential oils, don’t make a drastic switch when you enter your pregnancy.

That apart, some of the most harmful essential oil types include:

  • Jasmine oil – can trigger contractions
  • Sage oil – can begin contractions and cause bleeding
  • Rosemary oil – can cause bleeding and hypertension

So, avoid using concentrated essential oils that are available in individual bottles. Instead, a few drops of the oils in a diffuser or sometimes as ingredients in other products are considered safe.

Which Skincare Ingredients are Safe for Pregnancy?

Skin care products during pregnancy
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Now that you know which products and ingredients are unsafe, let us take a look at the safer options. Keep in mind that even the safe ingredients should be used in moderation during pregnancy to be safe and not result in any risks or fatalities.

Some of the safe skincare ingredients during pregnancy include:

  • Glycolic acid
  • Oleic acid
  • Vitamins E, C, K, B3
  • Moisturizing ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and peptides
  • Mineral-based sunscreens

Always contact your OBGYN and dermatologist to find the best pregnancy skincare regime that won’t harm you or the baby in any way.


Building a skincare routine is quite challenging. But, to do it during pregnancy, especially with so many restrictions, is even more complex. We hope you found all the valuable information about permissible and non-permissible skincare ingredients during pregnancy. Make sure to attune your skincare routine accordingly.

Sometimes, it is difficult to get rid of your usual skincare regime. But, there’s nothing more precious than the baby on the way. A little sacrifice can bring you life’s most immense joy – your healthy baby!

Somapika Dutta (B.Sc Physiology, Honours)
Somapikar holds Bachelors Degree in Physiology from University of Culcutta. She has 6+ years of experience writing in different niches, including health, tech and lifestyle. An animal enthusiast and a raging foodie, experiencing life - one day at a time.


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