skincare and pregnancy

Skincare and Pregnancy: Everything You Need to Know

You’re pregnant - congratulations! If there’s one thing that you know during this time, it’s that your life is going to change and evolve in more ways than you can imagine.

One thing that can - and should - change for sure? Your skincare.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Skin During Pregnancy: What’s Happening

During pregnancy, there’s a lot happening to your body and to your skin. Some of those changes may lead to that coveted “pregnancy glow.” But they can also cause some less desirable skin conditionslike acne, hyperpigmentation, and heightened skin sensitivity.

Dark Spots and Skin Discoloration

During pregnancy, most women start producing more pigment-stimulating hormones. As a result, they begin to experience melasma - large patches of discoloration that appear on the face or other parts of the body.

While this is a temporary issue that goes away post-pregancy, it can be uncomfortable - particularly when it appears on the face or other visible areas.

Increased Redness

During pregnancy, blood flow increases dramatically in the body. In fact, most women have nearly twice as much blood as normal during this time. This can, understandably, cause a red or ruddy-looking complexion.

Pregnancy can also complicate or exacerbate rosacea due to both heightened sensitivity and increased heat from blood flow.

While this is normal, it can also make some women uncomfortable.

Hormonal Acne

Thought you kissed your major breakout days goodbye when you graduated high school? Think again. 

Increased hormone production, increased oil production, and increased anxiety all lead to - you guessed it - increased blemishes, especially around the jawline, chin, and cheeks.

Dry Skin

On the flip side, some women deal with dry skin or skin dehydration. That’s because your little bundle of joy gets first dibs on all the moisture that your body has available, sometimes leaving very little for you.

Heightened Skin Sensitivity

During pregnancy, you may find that your skin is more sensitive to the sun and to certain skincare products (even products that you have tolerated well in the past). On one level, this can be considered the body’s natural way to protect itself - and your baby - from possible infection or disease.

Because of this, the products that you typically use may not be viable solutions during this time. With all that in mind, here’s what you need to know about your skincare routine.

Skincare Products to Avoid During Pregnancy

There are some products that you should avoid at all times simply because they can be harmful to your health. On top of that, there are a few popular ingredients that are considered to be “no-no’s” during pregnancy. These include:


Avoid retinol and vitamin A derivatives like retin-A, retinoic acid, and tazarotene. Retinol is a popular anti-aging ingredient that some people view as a “holy grail” product for fighting fight lines and other signs of aging.

But retinol products have the opposite effectfor many people,damaging DNA and speeding the growth of tumors - especially when applied topically and exposed to sunlight.

Additionally, these products have been found to interfere with fetal development and contribute to birth defects. The risks certainly outweigh the benefits here.


If you're looking for skin lightening creams to deal with pregnancy-related melasma, but do notreach for any products containing hydroquinone.

In the short term, this ingredient can help with dark spots and discoloration. In the long-term, though, it's linked to cancer, organ toxicity, and skin irritation.

It can also cause a skin disease called ochronosis, which causes permanent blue-black lesions to appear on the skin. That’s why it’s on Eight Saint’s list of ingredients we never use (even when you’re not pregnant).

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a powerful beta-hydroxy acid (BHA). As such, it specializes in unclogging pores and helping with oil balance, ingrown hairs, or underlying congestion. Overall, this can help:

  • Improve look and feel of the skin
  • Smooth texture and decrease imperfections
  • Hydrate
  • Diminish fine lines and wrinkles

But you should take it out of your repertoire for the duration of your pregnancy. It has been shown to be contraindicated during pregnancy, and some studies suggest that it can cause harm to a developing baby. Switch it out for glycolic acid while your bun’s in the oven to keep you both safe.

Self-Tanner and Cellulite Creams

Self-tanner is problematic because its active ingredient is usually dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a chemical that may have negative side effects for both mother and baby.

Similarly, most cellulite and firming creams contain retinols, DMAE, and caffeine, three ingredients that it's often best for pregnant women to avoid. Retinols, in particular, may cause developmental problems - particularly when used over large areas. And caffeine should only be consumed in limited amounts during pregnancy.

Skincare Products You Can Continue Using During Pregnancy

Feeling a little bummed? Not to worry! There are lots of safe skincare products that you can continue to enjoy (and a few new ones that may help with these pesky pregnancy skin symptoms):

Topical Antioxidants

Antioxidants are super-star ingredients - both for expectant mothers and for women that aren’t pregnant. They’re particularly effective at preventing oxidative damage by destroying free radicals, thereby slowing down aging and reducing the appearance of age spots, wrinkles, and inflammation. Additionally, they can help protect against UV damage.


Get your exfoliation on by using AHAs like lactic acid, glycolic acid, vitamin C, or azelaic acid.

Azelaic acid, in particular, is a great alternative to retinol for tackling dark spots, acne, and hyperpigmentation. It works by killing bacteria found in pores and stopping the production of pigment in the skin. This gives the skin a subtle brightening effect.

Similarly, glycolic acid is a safe, over-the-counter exfoliant that effectively loosens the intracellular glue that holds your skin together and speeds along the skin shedding process that slows down with age. If you use it regularly as part of your skincare routine, it can:

  • Reveal a fresh new layer of healthy, glowing skin
  • Fade away dark spots
  • Clean out pores
  • Allow for better penetration of other skincare products

Vitamin C

Even though it’s technically an AHA, vitamin C merits its own category because it’s just that good. This antioxidant powerhouse can reduce signs of aging, repair damaged skin, accelerate collagen synthesis, and correct hyperpigmentation.

It also works as a powerful acne fighter and helps your skin fight sun damage.

A Great Moisturizer and Sunscreen

Finally, don’t forget to top everything off with a great moisturizer and some sunscreen. Any dark spots or dryness will become worse if you don’t incorporate these final steps.

For moisturizers, we recommend a product that contains hyaluronic acid. Since it’s naturally produced by the body and it can hold over 1,000 times its weight in water, it moisturizes in a way that other ingredients just can’t.

For sunscreen, look for a product that has high factor (SPF 50) UVA and UVB protection and does not contain oxybenzone.

And remember - be good to your skin. During pregnancy, more than ever, it’s important to take a balanced approach to skincare and to protect your skin’s natural barrier. This will help ensure that your skin stays healthy and that you can enjoy that pregnancy glow.