Best Face Forward: Safe Beauty Products for Pregnancy and Nursing


From the moment most women discover they are pregnant, they are acutely aware of everything they put into and onto their bodies—including products used in the pursuit of beauty. The skin can absorb these products which can then enter the bloodstream. And while some products are not safe to use in pregnancy, the good news is there are plenty of alternatives and plenty of products that are safe to use. Below is a list of the most common products women have questions about.

Sunless Tanning Lotion

With skin cancer on the rise, it is best to skip the tanning bed and sitting in the sun. Using a sunless tanning lotion is becoming more popular and is the safest alternative for achieving a healthy glow. These lotions and sprays stay mostly on the surface of the skin with only minimal absorption, which makes them safe for you to use during pregnancy or while you are breastfeeding.


Sunscreens are definitely safe and in order when spending time outdoors. Always wear a hat, sunglasses, and drink plenty of water. It’s best to avoid the 10AM to 4PM time period when ultraviolet rays are the strongest. And here’s an important tip: Make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours.

Acne Treatment & Wrinkle Creams

Acne, a common complaint for many expecting women, is an unfortunate and common side effect of the hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy.

Small amounts of toners or creams containing beta hydroxy acids, such as salicylic acid, applied to the skin once or twice a day are considered safe. Steer clear of products that cover more surface area or sit on the skin for longer time periods—they are more likely to be absorbed into your skin. Products such as peels or masks containing salicylic acid are best avoided altogether.

Dr. Leslie Baumann, PhD, the author of The Skin Type Solution and a professor of dermatology at the University of Miami, says a facial cleanser for acne that has two percent or less salicylic acid is safe for use. Products containing alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid, are also safe.

Are you fighting both acne and wrinkles? Many wrinkle-reducing creams have something called retinoids on their list of ingredients. Retinoids are a type of vitamin A that protects collagen from breaking down. Most experts agree that pregnant and nursing women should avoid products containing retinoids. When used in large quantities (according to research on the use of vitamin A), retinoids can cause dangerous levels of Vitamin A for the baby.

Oral retinoids, such as Accutane (used for treatment of acne), are known to cause birth defects and should not be taken under any circumstance. There is no research to show that topical use (skin) poses a danger to your baby, but doctors prefer to err on the side of caution and advise women to avoid them.

See a dermatologist for unusual changes in your skin or with questions for safe ways to deal with skin-related issues.