Expectant mother holds heart over belly.

Your body goes through many incredible changes during pregnancy as it creates and prepares to deliver a baby. Your skin is just one of those changes. While you probably are reading labels and being careful not to eat or drink anything harmful, what you put on your skin can affect your growing baby, too. Take care of your skin during and after your pregnancy for a healthier baby and you.


Skin Changes to Expect During and After Pregnancy

The different hormones in your body can account for a wide variety of skin changes that may include dark spots appearing on your skin (chloasma and melasma); acne; patches of flaky, red skin (nonspecific dermatitis); and spider veins. After pregnancy, your skin may be extremely dry and itchy.

The good news is that most of these skin changes are temporary and can be safely treated with time and the right skincare products. While you may want to take care of these issues with an aggressive routine, it’s best to be gentle to your changing skin and steer clear from products that could harm your baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding.


Skin Products to Avoid During Pregnancy

Many products can be absorbed into your skin and passed onto your baby during pregnancy and nursing. Avoid these products to avoid any problems.


Retinoids are a form of vitamin A that help to speed up cell division, which can help reduce the appearance of fine lines, fight acne and help with pigment problems. Unfortunately, some studies have shown that high levels of vitamin A during pregnancy can harm your growing baby.

Hydroxy Acids

Hydroxy acids are often included in acne products and topical cleansers for their abilityto remove the top layer of skin cells. Salicylic acid is a popular form of hydroxy acid that is contained in many acne products. Some studies have found that large doses of salicylic acid can cause birth defects during pregnancy. Limit your exposure to one topical application a day of any products that contain salicylic acid and never take it orally during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.


While soy is typically considered safe, if you are suffering from melasma or chloasma, soy can worsen the condition. The estrogen-like compounds in soy can make the dark patches more prominent. If you are experiencing melasma, avoid products that contain soy.


Recommended Skincare Products

Sulfur-Based Topical Acne Products

One of the most common skin complaints of pregnant women is acne. Washing your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser and applying sulfur-based topical acne products can help. Sulfur-based topical acne products are safe to use during and after pregnancy. If topical treatments aren’t helping, there are some oral medications that are safe to use that can be prescribed by your doctor.


Using sunscreen regularly can help minimize the pigmentation that can worsen chloasma and melasma. Always wear a sunscreen that contains a minimum of SPF 30 anytime you leave the house. Because some sunscreens contain harmful products that can be absorbed into your body, look for sunscreens that contain mineral blockers, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.


If you are experiencing dry, itchy skin during or after pregnancy, look for lotions that contain oatmeal. Oatmeal can help minimize itching by helping your skin to maintain its normal pH level. Sprinkling some oatmeal in a warm bath may also help.

Vitamin C

Increasing your vitamin C intake can help to minimize the appearance of spider veins and brighten your skin. Look for topical products that contain vitamin C. Instead of a supplement, try to naturally increase your vitamin C intake by eating more fruits and vegetables that contain the powerful antioxidant, such as oranges and cranberry juice.


While skin changes during and after pregnancy can be frustrating because they are often more noticeable (and irritating) than other changes, they won’t last forever. Take care of yourself and your growing little one by drinking plenty of water, eating a healthy diet and using these safe skin products to achieve the elusive pregnancy “glow.” Always check with your doctor or board-certified dermatologist to see if the products you’re using are safe for using while pregnant and nursing.