Pregnancy My Pregnant Body The Best Pregnancy-Safe Skincare Products That Dermatologists Stand By Get a little help with that pregnancy glow By Tanya Edwards Published on March 17, 2023 Share Tweet Pin Email We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more. Photo: Parents / Jaclyn Mastropasqua Has your skin changed since you’ve become pregnant? Perhaps your once dry skin has turned perpetually oily, or it's become so sensitive that only the mildest cleansers will suffice. You’re not alone! Which is why we think it should be quite a relief to have a list of the best pregnancy-safe skincare products on hand, to tackle whatever new skin problems present themselves during this time. “Hormones fluctuate significantly during pregnancy, which can cause many changes in the skin. Some concerns include hyperpigmentation (including melasma), acne, dry skin, and stretch marks,” explains Geeta Yadav, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist. You don’t have to toss out your entire arsenal of products when you’re pregnant, but there are definitely ingredients you want to avoid, says Dr. Yadav. The top two are retinol, either over-the-counter or prescription, and salicylic acid. Both are harmful during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, she tells us. Pregnant people often prefer to stay away from products with fragrance, because the smell can exacerbate morning sickness and/or because it can be an allergen. As for parabens, while the FDA still states that there is no conclusive evidence that these preservatives are harmful to humans, some choose to avoid this category of ingredients because of studies showing their possible estrogenic effects. Read on for the best products for your skin while pregnant, chosen with the expertise of a panel of board-certified dermatologists from around the country. Our Top Picks Best Overall: Bio-Oil Multiuse Skincare Oil Best Cleanser: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Facial Cleanser Best Budget Cleanser: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Facial Cleansing Gel Best Sensitive Skin Cleanser: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser Best Bar Cleanser: Dove Beauty Bar Best Sunscreen: EltaMD UV Daily Face Sunscreen SPF 46 Best Serum: Glow Recipe Niacinamide Dew Drops Best for Stretch Marks (Budget): Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Original Solid Best for Melasma: Glytone Cleansing Powder Best for Acne: The Ordinary Brightening Cream Best Sheet Mask: BioRepublic Extra Exfoliation Organic Facial Sheet Mask Best Overall: Bio-Oil Multiuse Skincare Ulta Buy on Ulta Buy on Amazon Buy on Target Why We Like It: It's well-priced and formulated with vitamins that dermatologists stand by. But Take Note: It can feel greasy if you’re not used to oils. Lesser-known fact: “Whether or not you develop stretch marks is largely due to heredity; if members of your family developed stretch marks during pregnancy, you might too,” says Dr. Yadav. While there’s no proven product to fight stretch marks, this is the product both dermatologists and your buddy on social media will recommend to help minimize their appearance and just keep your skin feeling smooth as you admire its changing shape. So many pregnant people we know swear by this simple South African oil. And dermatologists we spoke to for this article confirmed that the combination of vitamins A and C in oil form help to reduce the appearance of scars and other marks on skin. Rub the oil on your stomach and breasts during late pregnancy and postpartum if you have concerns about stretch marks. This affordable oil has a gentle fragrance. Price at time of publication: $17The Details: Fragrance: YesParaben-free: No Best Cleanser: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser Ulta Buy on Amazon Buy on Ulta Buy on Target Why We Like It: The gentle formula includes moisturizing agents but is still strong enough to remove makeup. But Take Note: The texture feels thick, especially if you're used to soapy cleansers. We love this cleanser because it’s available in two formulations, both of which work wonderfully to cleanse the skin and remove oils without drying it out. Whether you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or just looking for a gentle cleanser, this daily wash gently removes face and eye makeup, dirt, and impurities, while maintaining your skin's natural protective barrier. It's another product with our dermatologists' seal of approval, too. The texture is thick and creamy, which might or might not be to your taste. Just mix a bit with warm water and rub over your face, you’ll find that this cleanser will leave your pores feeling clean and clear. It’s formulated with Ceramide-3, an essential ceramide naturally found in skin; glycerin, a moisturizing agent that naturally attracts water to skin; and niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 with soothing properties. Together, they help make this an easy-to-love cleanser that will help your skin survive pregnancy hormones. Price at time of publication: $18The Details: Fragrance: NoneParaben-free: Yes Best Budget Cleanser: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Lightweight Hydrating Facial Cleansing Gel Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Why We Like It: Hyaluronic acid lends moisturizing power to this inexpensive cleanser. But Take Note: It may be too gentle to remove some makeup. Gentle, doctor-recommended, and well-priced—there’s a lot to like about this cleansing gel from drugstore brand Neutrogena. As our expert dermatologist notes, this cleanser is “gentle and effective” with a hydrating gel formula containing hyaluronic acid. This ingredient is safe and proven to increase skin's hydration, leaving skin feeling refreshingly clean and supple, every time you cleanse. (It may not remove all makeup, however, depending on what you use.) If you’re suffering from dry skin due to hormonal changes, or seeing redness, this moisture bomb of a cleanser boosts hydration while cleaning your skin. Price at time of publication: $10The Details: Fragrance: NoneParaben-free: Yes The 12 Best Pregnancy Pillows to Help You Sleep for Two Best Sensitive Skin Cleanser: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser Walmart Buy on Amazon Buy on Target Buy on Ulta Why We Like It: It can be used either as a cleanser with water, or like cold cream you wipe off. But Take Note: It can feel waxy, and some with oily skin find it ineffective. This cleanser, which many dermatologists (including those we spoke to for this piece) recommend to their patients, is perfect for pregnant people looking for a gentle and effective option for washing their face and removing makeup. Cetaphil’s entire line is easy on the skin and the wallet, and the pH balanced, fragrance-free formula is hypoallergenic, so it won’t irritate even the most sensitive skin. You can use this product like a cold cream, applying it to remove makeup and then wiping the product off with a cloth, or lather up like a traditional facial wash. Both methods are effective; it comes down to personal preference. Price at time of publication: Starting at $12The Details: Fragrance: NoneParaben-free: No Best Bar Cleanser: Dove Beauty Bar Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on Target Why We Like It: It washes the whole body but is safe for your face, too. But Take Note: You may need a second makeup remover. If you love the simplicity of a bar, the classic Dove Beauty Bar is the option our experts recommend. You’ve probably heard in the ads your whole life, but it really is true: The Dove Beauty Bar isn’t drying like other soaps. Made with moisturizing cream, it cleans your whole body but doesn't strip away natural oils that protect the skin barrier. If animal testing is a concern, the beauty bar is certified cruelty free. The beauty bar hydrates very well, but you may need to cleanse twice or pair it with a makeup remover, depending on how much long-lasting makeup you’re wearing. Price at time of publication: $4 for 2The Details: Fragrance: NoneParaben-free: Yes The Best Postpartum Belly Wraps and How They Work Best Sunscreen: EltaMD UV Daily Face Sunscreen SPF 46 Dermstore Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on Dermstore Why We Like It: This clear mineral sunscreen blends in smoothly and won't cause breakouts. But Take Note: It comes in very small bottles. This sunscreen is beloved by beauty editors and dermatologists alike, as it’s good for just about everyone. This sheer, lightweight, oil-free sunscreen is paraben- and fragrance-free, so it won’t irritate sensitive skin. Zinc oxide is often thick and chalky, but this version is transparent and easy to spread because the brand has basically figured out how to shrink the zinc molecules while maintaining their sun-blocking quality. This sunscreen is particularly great for pregnant people because the oil-free formulation calms acne-prone skin. If you’re struggling with breakouts, this sunscreen won’t make it worse, and it’s also free of any ingredients that might harm your baby. Price at time of publication: $38The Details: Fragrance: YesParaben-free: Yes Best Serum: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops Sephora Buy on Amazon Buy on Sephora Buy on Walmart Why We Like It: Niacinamide and watermelon extract brighten the skin, giving your pregnancy glow a little boost. But Take Note: The watermelon fragrance may be off putting for someone with morning sickness. This brightening serum from popular brand Glow Recipe will give you major pregnancy glow if that’s not something that’s coming naturally to you (true for a lot of us!) without any ingredients that will harm your baby’s development. The “clean” beauty brand is free of mercury, parabens, formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing agents, triclosan, and triclocarban—also, no synthetic dyes or colorants. If all of this is Greek to you, just know that these ingredients are good to skip. This product fights dullness and dryness with moisturizing hyaluronic acid and the antioxidant niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3), which fights hyperpigmentation, and it feels absolutely luxurious to apply. Price at time of publication: $35The Details: Fragrance: WatermelonParaben-free: Yes The 10 Best Diapers for Newborns in 2021 Best for Stretch Marks (Budget): Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Original Solid Jar Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on Walgreens Why We Like It: This tried and true butter is luxurious and creamy. But Take Note: If you prefer lightweight lotions, look elsewhere. This thick, indulgent moisturizer works for 48 hours, smoothing marks and toning skin, and our dermatologists love it. It's a classic stretch mark minimizer, packed with cocoa butter, shea butter, vitamin E, and other luxurious-feeling ingredients that improve your skin’s elasticity. Meanwhile, it doesn't have mineral oil, parabens, phthalates, fragrance, or dyes that could irritate sensitive skin. If you’ve been prone to stretch marks in the past, or they run in your family, this well-priced body butter should help improve their appearance. Start using the product early in your pregnancy, and turn it into a relaxing ritual to bond with your developing baby. Price at time of publication: $12The Details: Fragrance: YesParaben-free: Yes Best for Melasma: Glytone Enhance Brightening Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on Skinstore.com Why We Like It: Gentle, exfoliating ingredients glycolic acid and azelaic acid improve skin tone and texture. But Take Note: It's pricey! For pregnant people dealing with sun spots or melasma, you can brighten your skin tone and generally pick up a little glow with this multitasking cream. It exfoliates, helps fight breakouts, and generally improves skin texture, using 12% glycolic acid and 3% azelaic acid. It's also fragrance-free and paraben-free, and safe for sensitive skin. Dermatologists recommended this moisturizer to us because its ingredients are known to visibly improve the appearance of unwanted dark spots for a more even, radiant skin tone, leaving skin soft and hydrated. If you've got the budget to cover this splurge, chances are high you'll see some results. Price at time of publication: $70The Details: Fragrance: YesParaben-free: Yes Best for Acne: The Ordinary Azelaic Acid 10% Suspension Brightening Cream Sephora Buy on Ulta Buy on Sephora Why We Like It: It's a lightweight cream that helps with both acne and dull skin. But Take Note: It comes in very small bottles that run out quickly. If acne is a concern, this brightening formula from well-priced skincare MVP The Ordinary is worth trying. It’s effective and free of harsh ingredients. Not only can the lightweight cream suspension help with acne, it’s perfect for those looking for solutions for dullness, uneven tone and textural irregularities—all of which can plague people during different stages of pregnancy. This cream is cruelty-, fragrance-, and paraben-free, as well as vegan. Apply it in the morning before putting on sunscreen, or at night, before moisturizer. Price at time of publication: $25The Details: Fragrance: NoneParaben-free: Yes Best Sheet Mask: BioRepublic Extra Exfoliation Organic Facial Sheet Mask Amazon Buy on Amazon Why We Like It: Relaxing to use, Hydrating But Take Note: Lemon scent might trigger morning sickness If you love relaxing with a sheet mask but aren’t sure which ones are safe for your pregnancy (or while you’re breastfeeding), try this hydrating and brightening mask. Dermatologist-tested and held to high safety standards, these sheet masks from BioRepublic are infused with fruit extracts, lactic acid, and vitamin C to help reduce breakouts and keep your skin hydrated and clear. With a mild lemon scent, these masks are cruelty-free and made without parabens, sulfates, or phthalates. Plus, they’re made of biodegradable vegetable fiber, which is better for the planet—which means a better future for your baby. Price at time of publication: $17 The Details: Fragrance: LemonParaben-free: Yes How We Selected the Best Skincare Products for Pregnancy We researched all of the relevant skincare products available through major retailers, looking at ingredients, skin care efficacy and above all, safety. Our panel of experts included Marisa Garshick, M.D., a leading board-certified dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery and advisor of BioRepublic; Dylan B. Alston, D.O., a board-certified dermatologist for Intermountain Healthcare; and Geeta Yadav, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist. They weighed in on what to look for and offered options for the best, safest products for every skin concern. What to Look for in Pregnancy-Safe Skincare Products Ingredients For pregnancy-friendly products, the crucial thing is to avoid a few specific ingredients. “The number one skincare ingredient to avoid is retinol, either in its over-the-counter form or in a prescription-strength retinoid product, such as Retin-A,” says Dr. Yadav. “This vitamin A derivative should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding as it can be harmful to the baby. Others that should be avoided include salicylic acid, a common ingredient in acne treatments.” Science-Backed Claims Look for ingredients that deliver on science-based claims, such as vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and cocoa and shea butter, according to our experts. Always check with your doctor if you’re trying something with an unfamiliar ingredients. Fragrance When you are pregnant, your sense of smell can be heightened. This can mean that smells that you never noticed before are right in your face and overwhelming, and it’s important to consider that when shopping for new products. Most of the time you might think it’s no big deal, but many pregnant people report gagging or becoming ill over a smell in the area, so you may want to stick with unscented products. Your Questions, Answered What skincare ingredients should I avoid during pregnancy? You should always check with your doctor, but the big red flag during pregnancy is retinoids, according to our medical experts. “The most important ingredient to avoid in skin care while pregnant are retinoids. This family of medications, often seen in anti-aging creams or serums are considered Category X,” says Dr. Alston.“This means they are well known to cause birth defects. There are many OTC retinoids available and even these should be avoided during pregnancy.” While it’s important to be mindful, you don’t have to quit your skincare routine just because you’re pregnant. “It is still OK to maintain a general skincare routine and continue with regular use of gentle cleansers, moisturizers and sunscreen, though some prefer to opt for mineral sunscreens which are physical blockers containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. In general, [with] any product you are using, you should double-check with your obstetrician to make sure it’s considered safe in pregnancy,” Dr. Garshick says. There are also some pregnancy-safe options for breakouts and blemishes, so it is best to speak with a board-certified dermatologist to determine what would be best for you. Is vitamin C serum safe during pregnancy? All of our experts recommended products with vitamin C. It’s an effective ingredient that can also take the place of retinoids when it comes to treating dark spots and general skin-tone issues. It’s basically a safe swap for retinols and retinoids while pregnant or breastfeeding. What skincare products do I need in pregnancy? The short answer to this question, according to our experts: whatever products that work for you and are safe for the baby. But of course, always check with your doctor if you have concerns. Why Trust Parents Tanya Edwards is an experienced parents, food, beauty, and health journalist who has been writing and editing parenting and beauty stories for over a decade. She’s obsessed with ingredient lists and skincare that actually does what it promises, and loves to talk to experts about what products are best for every person’s body. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Parents uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Food and Drug Administration. Parabens in Cosmetics.