13 Skincare Ingredients To Avoid During Pregnancy – According To Dermatologists

Our site is reader-supported. When you buy a product via our links, we may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Read full disclosure here.

Share the love

Congratulations!!!, You’re pregnant. Pregnancy is a fantabulous thing, therefore enjoy the joy of motherhood and being a parent🙂. But certainly, pregnancy comes with so many limitations when it comes to your skincare regimen. Infact, pregnancy is definitely going to change your skincare routine. why’s that? The reason is because their are some certain skincare ingredients that isn’t safe for you and the baby. Some of these ingredients as associated with birth defects and possible disorders. Having said that, this content entails list of skincare ingredients to avoid during pregnancy — according to Dermatologists and research studies.



Hydroquinone is a popular skin-lightening ingredient, used to tackle dark spots and melasma (also called the mask of pregnancy) due to its melanin inhibiting potentials. But dermatologists has flagged Hydroquinone as a no no during pregnancy and should be avoided at all cost until the baby is born. Why’s that? Studies has shown as much as 45% hydroquinone is absorbed into the skin after topical application.

While no study has been conducted on the effect of hydroquinone on a fetus the risk associated with increased absorption rate is troubling dermatologists. Therefore, for safety reasons it’s highly advised to ditch hydroquinone till after putting to bed and nursing. To prevent or curtail the appearance of brown spots and discoloration during pregnancy use sunscreen to shield your skin from the dangerous UV rays of the sun. — The sun is the devil.


During pregnancy avoid any skincare product with fragrance in it. According to Dendy Engelman, MD. A Board-certified Dermatologist.  “Fragrances are usually made up of other harmful chemicals, like parabens, benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and more that are linked to cancer and nervous system issues,” they can cause irritation or redness on the applied area. She further said. “Look for these terms to clue you in that a product contains a fragrance: parfum, perfume, linalool, limonene, eugenol, citronellol, geraniol, or cinnamal” — Ensure your skincare products are labeled frangrace-free. Go through the ingredients list to make sure of that.


BPA is used in plastics, this chemical is highly unstable and can permeate whatever is being contained by it.  Engelman says “It disrupts the endocrine system, leading to breast/prostate cancer, infertility, heart disease, and diabetes. Fetuses exposed to BPA have been linked to developmental issues and behavioral problems.”
Numerous studies have reported a variety of BPA effects on fetuses and infants, including disruptions of the reproductive system.


Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives and are prescribed by dermatologists for treating acne and skin aging signs. It may be listed on ingredient labels as retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde, adapalene, tretinoin, tazarotene, and isotretinoin. The amount of retiniods absorbed into the skin is low, however, there have been case reports of birth defects for developing babies in the literature associated with topical tretinoin use when pregnant.

For this reason dermatologists warns ladies not to get pregnant when using topical retiniods — and to stop medication when pregnant. “We warn patients not to get pregnant if they’re using these medications. But if you do get pregnant, stop taking retinoids immediately. Most retinoids are category C (meaning not enough studies or only known effects in animals), but Tazarotene and Isotretinoin are category X, meaning they are contraindicated to use in pregnancy, and we know the effects they can cause in human babies.” Says Jenna Queller, MD, FAAD. A board-certified dermatologist.


This ingredient is popularly seen in nail polishes and certain hair products. Formaldehyde has been linked to causing cancer, fertility problems and miscarriage as well as other nervous system issues like chest pain, coughing, trouble breathing, and respiratory irritations, — this study justifies the fact.

To avoid formaldehyde, look for nail polishes labeled “3-free” or “5-free,” which do not use this chemical. Also, if you visit the nail or hair salon endeavor to talk to your stylist about the products they use and make sure they don’t contain formaldehyde.


Parabens are preservatives commonly found in cosmetics and personal care items such as lotions, sunscreen, antiperspirants, makeup and hair products.
The list goes like, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben heptylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben and benzylparaben.

There has been some controversies and speculations about the toxicity of parabens — as research is still going on. However, some research has it that parabens could irritate your skin, disrupt your hormones, reduce fertility, increase  breast cancer-risk and even harm the health of your unborn children. As these chemicals absorbs through the skin and enter your bloodstream, where they can reach your baby. — therefore, it should be totally avoided during pregnancy.

Spot the hidden parabens! Even if you can’t see the word ‘paraben’, don’t think that your cosmetics product is paraben-free. Often, they’ll just use the abbreviations for the parabens listed above to the label, using words such as ‘ethyl’, ‘butyl’, ‘methy’ and ‘propyl’. Be clever.


This ingredient is popularly found in skincare products to help stabilize the formula. However, it has been linked to liver, kidney, lung, and reproductive issues. Go for skincare products labeled “phthalate-free.”

Thioglycolic Acid.

This ingredient is used in hair-removal creams and sometimes listed on the label as acetyl mercaptan, mercaptoacetate, mercaptoacetic acid. There hasn’t been any proven research on the effects of thioglycolic acid on a growing fetus, however, the material can cause respiratory irritation in some persons. The body’s response to such irritation can cause further lung damage. Inhalation of thioglycolic acid mists may cause olfactory paralysis, weakness, shortness of breath and liver damage.

Oral Salicylic Acid.

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, topical salicylic acid is pregnancy-safe, however taking it orally isn’t. Arielle N.B. Kauvar, MD, director of New York Laser & Skin Care, says it’s unsafe during pregnancy when taken orally. Studies suggest that taking oral salicylic acid during late pregnancy may increase the risk for intracranial bleeding in the fetus.

Chemical Sunscreens.

Sunscreen is a yes yes during pregnancy — as it protects the skin from UV rays of the sun to curtail the occurrence of discoloration. However, some sunscreen contains chemicals which are not pregnancy-safe. Chemicals like oxybenzone or avobenzone are possible hormone disruptors, which can also interfere with your baby’s nervous system development.
If you need to protect yourself from the sun, It’s highly advised to use physical or natural sun protection which contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which are considered safe instead of chemical sunscreens.

Botulinum Toxin.

Often found in wide range of injectable cosmetic products — used to relax or minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Although, information to botulinum toxin effects on growing fetus is limited – as research is still going on. However, there has been some report cases [1, 2, 3] linked to botulinum toxin poisoning in human pregnancy but no evidence of birth defects or infantile botulism in the neonates was noted in any case.

Although, the FDA categorized botulinum toxin under pregnancy risk category C and recommends that it should be administered during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.” However, we advice as with any medicine, you should only continue to use botulinum toxin during pregnancy if it is absolutely necessary and if you’re using botulinum toxin for cosmetic purpose you should stop use until the baby is born before having any further treatments.

Diazolidinyl Urea.

Here’s another skincare ingredient to avoid during pregnancy. Diazolidinyl urea is often found in mascaras. According to this research report diazolidinyl urea releases formaldehyde which could cause irritations. In a human patch test, 2% and 0.3% concentrations of diazolidinyl urea-induced skin sensitization supporting its potential toxic effects.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.

Popularly used in facial cleansers and soaps. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a forming agent used in many soaps and cleansers — probably you may have one lingering in your bathroom right now. Not only have there been proves of irritations caused by this ingredient, but also a possible cause of nervous system, kidney and liver function issues and If ingested, it can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Possible Questions & Answers.

Q: What ingredient is safe to tackle melasma and hyperpigmentation during pregnancy?

A: Vitamin C and Kojic acid are relatively pregnancy-safe ingredients and can minimize the appearance of melasma and hyperpigmentation during pregnancy.

Q: What ingredient is safe to get rid of acne during pregnancy?

A: Glycolic acid is considered pregnancy-safe and can be used in lower concentration to treat acne during pregnancy. Due to its molecular size in weight glycolic acid can penetrate deep down the skin pores break down oil-build up, removes dead skin cells and unclog the pores of impurities and debris which are the main causes of break outs. To enjoy glycolic benefits use its facial cleansers. And don’t forget to moisturize afterwards.

UP NEXT: These Skincare Ingredients Are Definitely Pregnancy-safe.
Share the love
Scroll to Top