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March 10, 2021 4 min read


Pregnant women often wonder about which skincare products are ok to use and which ones are not —here is some  help!

Because some ingredients — both from prescription drugs and some skincare products — are absorbed into the body when applied to skin, it's important to know what's safe for use during pregnancy and what to avoid.

Although it's always important for you to check with your GP, as a general rule, most skincare products are fine to use throughout your pregnancy. However, prescription and over-the-counter skincare ingredients are a different issue.

Here we explain what you need to know to make an informed decision.

What to use and what not to use


We're often asked about whether products containing benzoyl peroxide, skin brightening ingredients, sunscreen actives or salicylic acid are safe to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.


Advice from the @AmericanCollegeofObstetriciansandGynecologists.

Retinol. While pregnant or nursing it advised that you avoid retinol (vitamin A), prescribed forms of retinol or retinol derivates (retinyl retinoate, retinaldehyde or hydroxy pinacolone retinoate).
Skin brighteners (that contain hydroquinone).

Avoid during pregnancy or breastfeeding.


Benzoyl peroxide is an excellent ingredient to combat blemishes and is considered safe in low concentrations (5% or less) when you are pregnant. Speak with your Skin Doctor.

Prescription topical antibiotics are considered safe for use during pregnancy, when prescribed by your Physician.


Salicylic acid (BHA) is an excellent exfoliant for skin but when used in high concentrations for professional peels, it is considered a risk when you are pregnant. However, the small percentages used in skincare (2% or lower) are considered safe. You can also consider using glycolic acid or lactic acid (AHA) exfoliants as an alternative as these are safe in low percentages to use during pregnancy.


Sunscreen actives, as demonstrated in several studies, are not known to be a risk during pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has not found any of the alleged fears about sunscreen ingredients substantiated by medical research.

As a result, daily sunscreen use is strongly recommended by dermatologists. If you find your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy, consider using sunscreens with gentle mineral actives containing titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide.


Addressing skin concerns during pregnancy


There are ways you can take great care of your skin while having peace of mind that your baby is safe. Depending on your skin concern, here's what you can do (of course, be sure to discuss these recommendations with your GP):

Pigmentation


Unfortunately, pigmentation can happen during pregnancy due to increased hormone levels. When used on a regular basis, gentle exfoliation can help to fade discolouration.


Always apply a sunscreen rated at least SPF 30 every day, all year round. Due to its immediate protection upon application, a mineral sunscreen is excellent for preventing and minimising pigmentation .

 

Because many foundations and pressed powders contain mineral sunscreen ingredients, you can add sunscreen to your skincare routine when applying your makeup. Keep in mind you must apply sunscreen daily, rain or shine, and apply it liberally!


Ask your GP about using azelaic acid. It is a topical medication considered safe for use during pregnancy and has good research showing it can improve brown skin pigmentation and acne issues.



Stretch marks that occur during or after pregnancy are caused by the skin becoming stretched and expanded for a period of time. The abnormal stretching causes a breakdown or rupture in the skin's support structure of collagen and elastin (particularly elastin, which gives skin its bounce-back quality).

Stretch marks seem to be genetically related as some women get them and others don’t, yet no one is sure why.


Stretch marks are one of the toughest skincare concerns to treat because there are no cosmetic ingredients or products that can really improve them.


Massaging your skin with a serum or non-fragrant plant oil during pregnancy can help it become more pliable and reduce the risk of stretch marks.


After delivery and past the breastfeeding stage, certain prescription retinoids can improve stretch marks slightly.


Other medical cosmetic corrective treatments to consider (again, after the delivery and breastfeeding stage) include: Venus Viva Nano fractional radio frequency, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) or Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL) treatments, alpha hydroxy acid or beta hydroxy acid peels.

Rosacea during pregnancy.

 

  1. Azelaic acid can help with acne and discolouration, but some find it effective for controlling symptoms of rosacea, too. It is safe for use during pregnancy.
  2. A gentle mineral sunscreen with titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide is advised for those with rosacea, whether they're pregnant or not. For extra protection, use a foundation or tinted moisturiser with a mineral-based sunscreen.
  3. Avoid prescription retinoids and over-the-counter products with retinol (due to its relation to prescription retinoids).
  4. There isn't any documented concern about common "cosmeceutical" ingredients such as vitamin C, niacinamide, peptides or other types of antioxidants and cell-communicating ingredients when used during pregnancy.
  5. Ongoing use of skincare products with antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients is highly recommended, but again, be sure to check with your physician and follow his or her advice.
  6. Although the information above isn't meant to be exhaustive, it should give you an idea of what's OK to use during pregnancy and what should be avoided. As a reminder, it is always a good idea to consult your physician about the use of any over-the-counter or prescription drugs you're considering while pregnant or breastfeeding.

                                     Image Credit - 15 minute Beauty .com 
Sources: American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, Volume 4, Issue 7, 2003, pages 473-492; Teratology, May 2001, pages 186-192; and www.fda.gov

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