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Cosmetic and Skincare Products Not Recommended During Pregnancy

cosmetic pregnancy skincare

There are many ingredients not recommended during pregnancy and this is often purely cautious approach. Since testing on the skin of pregnant woman is not ethically permitted. Animal testing is now also banned in many countries. Many of these recommendations are based on anecdotal evidence, assumptions and animal studies.

Retinoids (Vitamin A)

One of the most popular active ingredients and is known for improving cell renewal, reducing wrinkles and reducing sun damage.

Previous scientific studies showed that high doses of Vitamin A taken orally can be harmful to unborn child. Even though there is no data that it is harmful when used on the skin during pregnancy, it is believed that caution is the best approach.

Commonly used Vitamin A ingredients:

Medical prescription only retinoids:


  • differin/adapelene
  • retin-A/Renova/Tretinoin (medical prescription only)
  • Tazorac/Tazoretene (medical prescription only)
  • Retinoic acid (medical prescription only)
Non-prescription retinoids:



  • retinol (most powerful non-prescription retinoid if in a stabilized form)
  • retinyl palmitate
  • retinaldehyde

Salicylic acid/Beta hydroxy acid(BHA)


Salicylic acid is an exfoliating BHA and is excellent for unblocking pores in acne skin. It is in the same family as aspirin, an ingredient not recommended during pregnancy. Studies show that oral salicylic acid (aspirin) could cause birth defects and other pregnancy disorders. Although the amount of salicylic acid in your personal care product would be a small fraction of that found in aspirin, it is still good to be cautious.

AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) such as lactic acid, malic acid, and mandelic acid are safe during pregnancy.


Soy is an estrogenic ingredient which can influence hormonal levels. While it is not dangerous to the unborn child, if you are prone to melasma (large dark pigmented patches on the face), soy products may worsen this condition during pregnancy.

Best to avoid:


  • soy based skincare
  • textured vegetable protein
  • lecithin

Essential oils


Essential oils are extremely powerful and you need to be more careful about which ones you’re using during pregnancy. We will talk more in detail about which oils are not recommended and which are safe to use in this next post.

Here is a non-comprehensive list of some ingredients which are questionable for topical application. You can download the pdf and check the ingredients of your makeup/skincare products.

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