Skin Care Ingredients Pregnant Women Should Avoid

So you’re pregnant. Your husband and your friends keep telling you you’ve never looked better in your life, but you sure don’t feel it today. Your ankles are swollen, you have a headache, and all you see when you look down is your stomach. You know exactly what you need! A little pampering. Nothing like a nice spa session to make you feel like the goddess you are. But wait! Before you apply that mask, there are a few things you should know about the ingredients in the products you may be about to apply.

Pregnant woman in front of the mirror

Retin-A, Retinol, Retinyl Palmate
The FDA categorizes ingredients according to letters of the alphabet: A, B, C, D, and X. Usually, only A and B categorized products are considered safe for pregnancy. Retin-A, retinol. and retinyl palmate all lie in the C category which means it can present a risk to the fetus. Although vitamin A is an important vitamin for fetal development, Albert Sassoon, MD, an ob-gyn says, “getting too much can cause serious birth defects and liver toxicity.” While Retin-A is usually associated with prescription skin care, women should be aware that vitamin A derivatives are also present in many over the counter formulas as well.

Benzoyl Peroxide
Even though pregnancy may call for the occasional zit zapping, benzoyl peroxide also falls into category C, indicating possible fetal risk.

Woman applying oil to pregnant belly

Essential Oils
Essential oils are not subject to assessment by the FDA and are usually marketed as safe for use in beauty products. However, according to Dr. Sassoon, “Often they have 50 times the concentration used in a cup of tea and can be harmful even in a non-pregnancy state.” The most commonly used oils warranting cause for alarm are rosemary and tea tree oil.

According to Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, MD, and dermatologist, “Tea tree oil is very potent and toxic when ingested. Its adverse effects include dermatitis, drug reactions, a blistering disease called linear IgA and estrogenic effects.” which may be to blame for premature contractions. Rosemary oil, meanwhile, is known to, “raise blood pressure and cause uterine contractions at high doses,” adds the doctor.

Woman buying product

Salicylic Acid
This category C acne fighter may be hard to avoid. But, as Dandy Engelman, MD, and dermatologist says,”When you’re pregnant, you have to seek out the purer products–the ones that feature just one of the acids that are approved. Lactic, mandelic, and glycol acids are all considered safe for pregnant women looking for some exfoliating action.

Although this may be tempting to use when pregnancy causes melanoma or dark spots, it falls into the C category.

Tazorac and Accutane
Both these vitamin A-derived product are prescription only and fall into category X: known to cause defects in birth.

What safe products do you use to soothe skin while you’re pregnant? Let us know what the modern pregnant lady is using to keep herself and her baby safe.

28 thoughts on “Skin Care Ingredients Pregnant Women Should Avoid

  1. Amber Loomis

    There are some wonderful tips on daughter is expecting and i will definitely jave to pass this on.

  2. Mary Rivera

    What a great article As a mom of 3 boys I didn’t know none of the info I just read. I will be sharing this article.

  3. Lisa Coomer Queen

    This was a great article. Good information. I did not realize that about Essential Oils. Thanks!

  4. Corry L.

    I used cocoa butter on my skin to prevent stretch marks. It worked to keep my skin soft but did not prevent stretch marks.

  5. Anne C

    Very informative post! I use tea tree oil regularly and didn’t know that it may be harmful for pregnant or lactating mothers. Sharind this article with my sister!

  6. Judy Thomas

    That was very interesting ,thank you. Pregnant women need to be told this information, I wasn’t told at any stage in my pregnancy.

  7. SarahJ

    Great information to know as we are trying to get pregnant. One thing I also stopped is deodorant that contains aluminum. Considering how absorbant our arm pits are I think all women should look at natural alternatives.

  8. MPRevita

    Excellent post! It told me a lot of things that I should avoid if I’m pregnant that I was never aware of. Quite detailed info.


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