So you just found out you’re expecting. What an exciting time! After you celebrate with loved ones and bask in your newly pregnant glow, it’s time to take stock of your health and figure out what changes you need to make. Of course, you’ll need to consult with your doctor about things such as alcohol and caffeine consumption, as well as which foods to avoid and which to consume more of. But did you know that you should also take care when using makeup and skin care products? There are some key ingredients to avoid in your beauty regimen while pregnant, which I’ll discuss below. Additionally, you may find your skin needs some extra nourishment due to stretching skin and hormonal changes.
Key Ingredients to Avoid in Skin Care Products While Pregnant
Some studies have shown that taking high doses of retinoids, a type of vitamin A, during pregnancy can be harmful to the fetus. Many doctors recommend that pregnant women avoid skin care products with retinoids, such as retin-A and retinol, even though topical use of retinoids has not been shown to cause problems in pregnant women.
Similar to retinoids, hydroxy acids such as alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and benzoyl peroxide should not be taken orally during pregnancy but are most likely safe in small doses topically. To be on the safe side, avoid hydroxy acids altogether during pregnancy.
Some soy products can have estrogenic effects, making the condition of melasma, or dark patches on skin that sometimes appear during pregnancy, worse. You should be okay with soy as long as you don’t have melasma or if you stick with products containing “active soy,” as their estrogenic properties have been removed.
This ingredient, common in acne-fighting products, should be avoided in large doses.
As with any major health decisions you make during pregnancy, you should consult your doctor if you have any questions about whether your products are safe to use during pregnancy.
Below, I’ve put together the top 10 best pregnancy skin care products, including the top belly balms, face cleansers and moisturizers. They’re all safe to use during pregnancy and can be used postpartum as well.
1. Best Organic Belly Balm: The Honest Company Organic Belly Balm
The Honest Company Organic Belly Balm is a popular cream that is meant for use on your belly during pregnancy, soothing itching and preventing stretch marks. Whether any lotion can truly prevent stretch marks is up in the air, but this balm is beloved by pregnant women everywhere as an all natural way to soothe the stretching skin of a growing baby bump. This product has a lavender scent; some consumers say it is light and pleasant, while others complain it is a bit too strong. This product is organic and cruelty free, made with lots of natural ingredients, such as sunflower oil, olive oil, beeswax and cocoa butter. This balm absorbs into the skin, leaving a Vaseline-like texture that some users like and some do not. Some consumers find the residue left by the balm to be too sticky, causing their clothes to stick to their skin. Some consumers complain that the jar of balm is on the small side (it contains 3.65 ounces). Finally, some consumers warn buyers to beware of third-party sellers, some of whom sell knockoff products claiming to be The Honest Company Belly Balm.
Price: $12.49 (25 percent off MSRP)
- Organic and cruelty free, made with lots of natural ingredients
- Lavender scent
- Absorbs into skin, leaving a Vaseline-like texture
- Beware of third-party sellers who sometimes sell knockoff products
- Some consumers complain that it leaves a sticky residue and makes your clothes stick to skin
- Container is quite small
2. Best Acne Fighter: Belli Anti-Blemish Facial Wash
Belli Anti-Blemish Facial Wash is an acne-fighting cleanser that is completely safe to use during pregnancy. Designed to target breakouts and hormonal acne, it contains none of the common, harsh acne-fighting ingredients such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide that can be unsafe for pregnancy. This product is allergy tested and free of paraven preservatives, gluten, phthalates and artificial dyes or fragrances. This facial wash does not lather up strongly unless you use a lot of product. Some consumers complain it doesn’t help with their acne nearly as much as traditional acne-fighters. Finally, some consumers find Belli Anti-Blemish Facial Wash to be drying on their sensitive facial skin.
- Free of common acne-fighting ingredients glycolic acid, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide that can be unsafe for pregnancy
- Allergy tested and free of paraben preservatives, gluten, phthalates and artificial dyes or fragrances
- Targets breakouts and hormonal acne
- Doesn’t have a strong lather
- Some consumers complain it doesn’t help their acne
- Some consumers find it to be drying
3. Best Product for Treating Stretch Marks: Bio-Oil Liquid Purcellin Oil
Bio-Oil Liquid Purcellin Oil is a plant-based, hypoallergenic oil made to prevent the formation and improve the appearance of stretch marks; it also works to reduce the appearance of scars and uneven skin tone, as well as improving other skin issues. This product should be used immediately upon the formation of new stretch marks or scars, and should be used consistently for at least three months to achieve optimal results. Bio-Oil Liquid Purcellin Oil is hypoallergenic and ideal for all skin types, including sensitive skin. However, some consumers have reported that it can cause itching—combining this oil with a soothing lotion or cream is recommended to prevent itching. Although there is no guarantee that any product can reduce the appearance of stretch marks or prevent them, this one comes very highly rated; it is the number one selling scar and stretch mark product in 18 countries and has received many skin care awards.
Price: $11.70 (5 percent off MSRP)
- Helps to prevent formation and improve appearance of stretch marks
- Non-greasy and won’t clog pores
- Hypoallergenic and ideal for all skin types, even sensitive skin
- Some consumers say it causes itching and should be combined with a soothing lotion
- Must be used consistently for three months to see results
- Works best on new scars/stretch marks, so will need to use this product as soon as possible after stretch marks form
4. Best Eye Cream: Bee Friendly Skincare Natural Anti-Aging Face and Eye Cream
Bee Friendly Skincare’s Natural Anti-Aging Face and Eye Cream is a four-in-one cream for eyes, face, neck and décolleté that is designed to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It smooths out the skin before makeup application, though it can leave a shiny or greasy residue, so some consumers prefer to use at nighttime only. This product is made from natural and 85% organic ingredients, such as beeswax, honey and olive oil, all of which are 100% safe to use during pregnancy. It has a mild, pleasant honey fragrance. Due to the nature of the ingredients, this product may need to be stirred before use, as the oil can separate from the beeswax when sitting in the container. This product contains no preservatives, so some consumers caution against not using it fast enough, as it can spoil.
Price: $24.99 (29 percent off MSRP)
- Natural and 85% organic ingredients that are safe for pregnancy
- All-in-one cream for eyes, face, neck and décolleté designed to reduce fine lines and wrinkles
- Mild, pleasant honey fragrance
- Must be stirred before use because oil separates from beeswax
- Can leave a slightly shiny appearance on skin
- No preservatives, so may spoil if you do not use up quickly enough
5. Best Mom + Baby Product: aden + anais Mum Bub Skin Care Ultra Gentle Lotion
This lotion, perfectly gentle for both mom and baby and safe to use during pregnancy and nursing, is made by aden + anais, the company more famous for their adorable and soft swaddle blankets. This product is tear free and made from natural ingredients. It’s free of phytoestrogen, parabens, petroleum oils, phthalates, gluten and soy. The key ingredients are pawpaw fruit extract, coco-glucoside and Glyceryl Oleate. The lotion is lightly scented with Australian Sandalwood, though some consumers complain that the smell is too strong for them. Overall this product gets very high ratings. The major complaints seem to be that it is not as thick and creamy compared with some other lotions, as well as that it is somewhat expensive.
- A gentle lotion that both mom and baby can enjoy
- Tear free and naturally derived, product is free of phytoestrogen, parabens, petroleum oils, phthalates, gluten and soy
- Lightly scented with Australian Sandalwood
- Some consumers think the scent is too strong
- Some consumers say the lotion is not as thick and creamy as they would like
- Somewhat expensive
6. Best Face Moisturizer with SPF: Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 with Sunboost ATB
Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 with Sunboost ATB is a moisturizer and sunscreen in one, and it comes in a handy bottle with a pump to control the amount of moisturizer you need. This product uses safe ingredients to protect your delicate skin during pregnancy. It is lightweight, non-greasy and free of chemicals. However, some consumers have complained the moisturizer is somewhat thick and does not absorb completely into skin, due to its use of natural ingredients in the SPF. It is fairly expensive at $45, but one bottle should last a long time.
One odd thing to note: some consumers have noted receiving a tinted product, although the description does not say that it is tinted. You may want to look out for that in case your get a product you did not expect. This moisturizer is made with pure argan oil, jojoba oil and green tea; the SPF protection comes from titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and the innovative SunBoost ATB™, which is a blend of antioxidants, skin-soothers and hydrators that do double duty in protecting and nourishing the skin. It’s recommended to warm the product in your hands before smoothing onto your face.
Price: $44.99 (17 percent off MSRP)
- SPF 47 for daily protection for your most sensitive skin
- Lightweight, non-greasy and chemical free
- Moisturizes at the same time as it protects
- Somewhat thick and tough to absorb into skin
- Some consumers report receiving a tinted product, though it is not supposed to be
Find more Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 with Sunboost ATB information and reviews here.
7. Best Makeup Remover: RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream
RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream is an all natural coconut-based cleanser, moisturizer and makeup remover that is safe for pregnant women to use; it’s also great for people with sensitive or acne-prone skin. Coconut oil is known and loved for its anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. This cleanser helps remove dirt, makeup and bacteria from the skin. RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream prevents free radical damage and slows premature aging. It smells great, just like coconut oil. This product is on the expensive side, especially compared to other coconut-based products you can buy; however, you can be sure with this brand you are getting high quality, organic coconut oil and no additives. Coconut cream or oil leaves an oily residue wherever it touches, so take care when applying not to get it on furniture, nice towels, etc. This coconut cream will liquefy in a warm environment, so use caution when opening the jar so that you don’t spill if it has liquefied.
- Coconut oil is a natural and safe ingredient known for its anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that help remove dirt, makeup and bacteria from the skin
- Prevents free radical damage and stalls premature aging
- Great for pregnant women, and people with sensitive or acne-prone skin
- On the expensive side
- Coconut cream liquefies in warm environment
- Leaves an oily residue everywhere it touches
8. Best Anti-Aging Treatment: SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF Gel
Phloretin CF Gel made by SkinCeuticals is an anti-aging gel with safe ingredients for pregnant women. This product is expensive but popular for use as an anti-ager for people who do not want to use harsh chemicals on their skin. Phloretin CF Gel stimulates collagen synthesis to improve signs of aging. It provides protection against UVA and UVB radiation, so you can use this in place of your regular SPF. This product also reduces hyperpigmentation (which can sometimes be an issue during pregnancy), and it accelerates cellular renewal to retexturize uneven skin. Some consumers report that the pump is hard to control and can sometimes waste product. Finally, some consumers have reported receiving a product with damaged packaging.
- Stimulates collagen synthesis to improve signs of aging
- Provides advanced environmental protection against UVA and UVB radiation
- Diminishes hyperpigmentation and accelerates cellular renewal to retexturize skin
- Pump is hard to control and sometimes gives extra product
- Some consumers report issues with packaging being damaged upon arrival
9. Best Itch Reliever for Stretching Skin: Motherlove Pregnant Belly Salve to Prevent Stretch Marks with Organic Shea Butter
Motherlove Pregnant Belly Salve to Prevent Stretch Marks with Organic Shea Butter is a belly balm made of 100% certified organic ingredients that are safe for pregnant mamas, including apricot oil, beeswax, shea butter, marshmallow root, rosehips, lavender flower, chamomile flower, calendula flower and lavender essential oil. (Note: According to the product page, every ingredient is certified organic except for the apricot oil.) This product is made with scar-healing shea butter to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks, though many consumers have noticed no significant changes to the appearance of their stretch marks. Motherlove’s belly salve is intended to prevent stretch marks and relieve the itch of stretching skin. Keep in mind that not all stretch marks can be prevented, as they are largely believed to be genetic. Some consumers complain of the greasiness from the oils. Finally, some consumers complain that the price is too high compared to comparable products.
- Helps prevent stretch marks and relieve the itch of skin stretching
- Scar-healing shea butter added to the organic herbs and oil base of Motherlove’s pregnant belly oil
- 100% certified organic ingredients
- Lightly oily from essential oils
- Does not prevent all stretch marks
- More expensive than some comparable products
Find more Motherlove Pregnant Belly Salve to Prevent Stretch Marks with Organic Shea Butter information and reviews here.
10. Best All-in-One Skin Care Kit: Mama Mio Your Pregnancy Essentials Kit
The Mama Mio Your Pregnancy Essentials Kit comes with four trial-sized products for $36, to keep your skin moisturized and elastic from head to toe. It comes with Tummy Rub Butter, to use on your growing baby bump, Pregnancy Boob Tube, to use on your breasts, Gorgeous Glow Facial Wash, which is a gentle, non-drying cleanser for the face, and Lucky Legs Cooling Energizing Leg Gel, an innovative product that soothes sore legs while giving them a minty tingle. Overall, consumers enjoy these products and like to be able to test them out in the smaller sizes before deciding which of the larger sizes to buy. However, some feel the price of the kit is too high considering the small size of the products (30 ml each). While most of the products have a subtle, refreshing scent, some consumers complain that the lavender-scented facial wash is a bit too strong. Finally, some consumers have complained that the belly cream, while moisturizing, doesn’t help to soothe itching skin.
- Kit contains Tummy Rub Butter, Pregnancy Boob Tube, Gorgeous Glow Facial Wash and Lucky Legs Cooling Energizing Leg Gel
- Gives you strong, elastic, glowing skin for the whole body
- Great, subtle scent
- Sample size products are fairly small
- Some consumers find the lavender scent of the facial wash too strong
- Some consumers complain belly cream doesn’t help with itching