Safety of Skincare Ingredients During Pregnancy 

Time to keep your baby safe without sacrificing beautiful skin. You’ve got the basics down—skipping wine and sushi, limiting your coffee, and microwaving deli meats—but don’t forget to skim the skincare ingredients in your daily routine.  

  • Retinol or Retinoids: Accutane and Retin-A are forms of Vitamin A. These medications are used in the treatment and prevention of severe acne.  Early case reports showed birth defects in babies who were exposed in utero, but larger studies later found no increased risk of any major malformations. Their use remains controversial and should not be used during pregnancy. 
  • Hydroquinone: Hydroquinone is commonly used as a skin-whitening agent. When applied topically, 35-45% is systemically absorbed into your body. Due to the high rate of absorption, it is best to minimize use during pregnancy. We do not recommend to use during pregnancy. 
  • Rogaine (Minoxidil): Rogaine is used to stimulate hair growth in male and female pattern hair loss. There have been case reports of birth defects, but no conclusive studies. Therefore, we do not recommend  use during pregnancy.  
  • Benzoyl peroxide: Commonly used to treat acne and skin infections. When applied topically, the 5% that is absorbed by the skin is converted to benzoic acid which is basically a food additive. This product is safe in pregnancy.
  • Alpha hydroxy acids / Beta hydroxy acids: Common AHAs include lactic acid and glycolic acid, and the most common BHA includes salicylic acid, which are used to treat acne. These ingredients are generally safe for use during pregnancy. Only a minimal amount is absorbed through the skin. It is recommended to use products that contain AHA < 20% and salicylic acid < 2%. 
  • Sunscreen: A few recent studies including one has shown that chemical sunscreen ingredients such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate, and octinoxate are absorbed systemically into the bloodstream with concentrations that surpass FDA thresholds for safety. However, much is still unknown, therefore, it is advised to stick with mineral sunscreens with ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide while pregnant.  
  • Self-tanner: Dihydroxyacetone is a color additive that produces an artificial tan. This ingredient binds to amino acids in the topmost level of your skin (stratum corneum) and the level of absorption is minimal, about 0.5%. Therefore, this is safe to use in pregnancy.  
  • Insect repellent with DEET: Studies have shown that when regularly applied in the 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy, DEET is safe to use up to 20-30%.  

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