Skincare Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can offer women a healthy glow! But for some women, the surge of pregnancy hormones can have the opposite effect. Due to changing estrogen levels, it is common for women to experience breakouts, even if they have always had clear skin.

If you’re pregnant, you will need to adjust your skincare regimen. It’s important what ingredients are in the products you’re using, as they can be absorbed into the bloodstream and in turn, to your baby. When it comes to treating acne during pregnancy, it is best to stay away from leave on acne lotions, gels, and creams, as well as at home peels, which contain the following ingredients:


Retinoids are a type of Vitamin A that quickens your skin’s renewal process and prevents skin elasticity from breaking down. Found in some anti-aging moisturizers, retinoids are lauded for helping reduce wrinkles and improve skin tone. Although retinoids have beneficial qualities, experts recommend pregnant women stay away from them. Some studies have shown that high doses of Vitamin A during pregnancy can be harmful to an unborn child. Oral retinoids, such as isotretinoin (Accutane, an acne treatment), are known to cause birth defects.

If you’ve been using a skin cream that contains a retinoid, don’t panic. Retinoids have not been shown to cause problems in their topical form in pregnant women. There is no data to show these retinoid ingredients are harmful when used on the skin – doctors are just being extra cautious.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is another no-no for pregnant women. This mild acid is used to treat certain skin disorders, including acne. You can find it in a number of skin products, such as cleansers and toners. It can penetrate facial oils to get deep into pores and clean out dead skin cells.

Doctors are being cautious by recommending that pregnant women avoid the topical use of salicylic acid. Small amounts applied to the skin – such as a salicylic acid containing toner used once or twice a day – are considered safe. The concern is about stronger face and body peels containing salicylic acid. This kind of ‘soaking’ in the ingredients is similar to taking one or more aspirin when pregnant. High doses of the acid in its oral form have been shown in studies to cause birth defects and various pregnancy complications.


Some expectant mothers seek out natural ingredients such as soy in their skin care products thinking that they’re free from harmful effects. This however, may not necessarily be the case.

While soy based lotions and facial products are generally safe to use, there are instances where they are not. Soy has estrogenic effects, which can make dark patches worse. Therefore, it is best to avoid products with soy if you have dark splotches on facial skin, also known as pregnancy mask. Oil of bergamot, which can be found in many organic products, can have the same result. If you have dark skin or melasma, avoid these products, or choose ‘active soy’ products instead.

A list of ingredients to avoid during pregnancy:

Beta hydroxyl acid (BHA)

Differin (adapelene)

Retin A, Renova (tretinoin)

Retinoic acid


Retinyl linoleate

Retinyl palmitate

Salicylic acid

Tazorac and avage (Tazarotene)


Note: Alpha hydroxyl acids, sometimes listed as AHAs, glycolic acid, or lactic acid are safe.


When you are pregnant, it is important to discuss any product you use on your skin with your aesthetician. Remember to advise your skincare specialist that you are pregnant when booking your appointment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

close slider

Join our newsletter and receive exclusive deals & special offers!

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: AG Enhancive Clinic, 15387 Yonge Street, Aurora, ON, L4G 1P1, You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact