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Your entire life changes the moment you find out that you’re expecting a child. Pregnancy might be a beautiful time with a slew of advantages and memorable moments. But for many women, it also entails months of nausea, exhaustion, and dermatological issues like hyperpigmentation and acne. Most of these problems can be solved with the help of over-the-counter remedies. However, not all ingredients that cosmetic products contain are beneficial to your skin. And some of them may even be quite dangerous for your little one. So, just like you have to give up eating sushi and drinking alcohol during this magical period, you may also need to temporarily renounce some of your favourite creams and serums. Below, you’ll find a list of skincare ingredients you should avoid during pregnancy.

If you are struggling with dark circles under your eyes, ageing signs, dry skin and other issues and want to find pregnancy-safe and effective skincare products that will help you combat these issues, try Dr. Kinsella products. For instance, our Premium Face Cream contains Matrixyl 3000, jojoba oil, vitamin C, and niacinamide (vitamin B3) which work together to diminish fine lines and even out the skin tone. This lightweight yet incredibly moisturising cream addresses a variety of skin concerns and works on all skin types. Plus, it’s completely safe to use during pregnancy. No harm to you or your little one. You can also try our Premium Eye Serum and Glow Oil to ensure that your skin looks beautiful and glowing throughout your entire pregnancy. 

Skin changes during pregnancy

We will be frank with you – pregnancy causes skin changes in many women. In most cases, this is due to hormonal changes as well as the “natural” side effects of being pregnant. While some lucky future moms get away with having flawless, glowing skin for 9 months, most women encounter at least one skin issue during pregnancy. For instance, many pregnant women experience:

Women who already suffer from certain skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea might notice a shift in their symptoms as well (for better or worse). And don’t forget that pregnancy doesn’t just influence your skin’s appearance, but it can also cause or exacerbate spider veins, stretch marks, and even hair loss.

Why should you avoid certain skincare ingredients during pregnancy?

Most pregnant women know that they have to be very careful with what they put in their bodies, but you should also remember to check what you put on your body. This is because some cosmetics and skin care products contain ingredients that may get absorbed into your bloodstream and, as a result, get into your baby’s body too. And there are numerous ingredients that are considered to be dangerous for developing a baby.

Doctors say that it’s almost impossible to estimate how much of a topical solution is actually absorbed and drawn into the bloodstream. Everything depends on the area where you apply the substance and the amount of product used. However, we do know that the thinner the skin is, the more chemicals it absorbs, meaning that ingredients in products that you apply to your eyelids will be absorbed more than components contained in your face cream. However, it is believed that regardless of the area, the skin can only absorb up to 5% of the ingredients contained in products that are applied topically.

Remember that it’s a good idea to consult your doctor before including new products or ingredients in your skincare routine if you’re expecting a child, even if these ingredients have a natural origin.

Skincare ingredients to avoid during pregnancy


Vitamin A derivatives are widely known as retinoids. This vitamin is your number one ally in the fight against acne and signs of ageing. Retinoids can be used both orally and topically. Once they enter your body, they are transformed into retinol, which increases collagen and elastin levels in the skin. This ingredient also creates a plumping effect that diminishes the appearance of wrinkles and enlarged pores.

Doesn’t that sound lovely? After all, who doesn’t want their skin to look better and healthier? But while vitamin A derivatives and retinol are generally very beneficial to your skin, immune system, and reproductive health, you should avoid these ingredients during pregnancy. 

Sure, reasonable amounts of vitamin A are necessary for embryonic development, but some research studies have connected excessive consumption of this vitamin to deformities in the heart, brain, head, and spinal cord of a developing fetus. Powerful anti-acne remedies like Accutane and Tazorac have also been proven to contribute to birth abnormalities when used during pregnancy.

The majority of retinoids contained in skincare products are classified as category C. This indicates that there isn’t a lot of research on the harmful influence of this ingredient. However, doctors recommend pregnant women avoid retinoids and carefully read the labels on all skincare and makeup products. Here are some of the most common names retinoids go by:

It’s also a good idea to consult your doctor or OB-GYN about retinoids if you’re attempting to conceive. If you’re using a retinol-based product, you should immediately cease using it and opt for an alternative. We suggest looking into the Dr. Kinsella skincare line, which is free from retinoids.

Benzoyl peroxide

Pregnancy can make you look and feel radiant. However, it can also make you more prone to acne than ever before. As we’ve already mentioned above, powerful drugs like Accutane should be avoided during pregnancy. 

However, you should also be careful not to use products containing chemicals like benzoyl peroxide, which are commonly used to treat acne, during pregnancy. This compound is thought to have a negative influence on the fetus if consumed orally in large amounts, but topical formulations haven’t been proven to have the same negative consequences. Still, most dermatologists believe it’s too dangerous to prescribe this medication to pregnant women.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is a popular beta hydroxy acid (more frequently referred to as BHA). Salicylic acid is often used in cosmetics and skincare products to treat acne due to its potent anti-inflammatory properties. 

You may already know that aspirin is a derivative of salicylic acid. And just like aspirin, this acid can also be taken orally. But you should be very cautious with this ingredient. Several studies have found that consumption of high amounts of salicylic acid has been associated with birth defects, just like with retinoids. Animal tests have also shown that salicylic acid may cause bleeding later in pregnancy.

Some people argue that topical salicylic acid formulations are relatively safe for pregnant women. In fact, clinical studies have shown that topical salicylic acid is safe for babies. However, this ingredient can be considered low-risk only if it’s applied to small areas of skin for a short period of time. So while the use of salicylic acid isn’t always dangerous, it’s best to avoid it in any form during pregnancy.


During pregnancy, some women suffer from a skin hyperpigmentation condition called melasma. This issue is better known as the “mask of pregnancy”. In most cases, this condition resolves by itself at the end of pregnancy. However, some women may be tempted to resort to over-the-counter topical medications, many of which include hydroquinone. While studies haven’t yet connected hydroquinone to any specific adverse side effects in pregnant women, experts are concerned about this ingredient’s high absorption rate of 35 to 45%. So if you want to diminish skin pigmentation during pregnancy, try glycolic or linoleic acids or use sunscreen instead. They are way safer than products containing hydroquinone.

Chemical sunscreens

Speaking of sunscreens, the most widely used ultraviolet (UV) filter in sunscreens is oxybenzone and its derivatives. Although it has been shown to be effective at protecting the skin from the harmful effects of UV light, oxybenzone’s possible negative effects on human health and the environment are a dark stain on this ingredient’s reputation.

Since oxybenzone is a recognised endocrine system disruptor, doctors suspect that using it during pregnancy can affect hormones and cause long-term harm to both mother and child.

According to a 2018 animal study, oxybenzone exposure during pregnancy is very hazardous, even if the ingredient is used in small doses. Scientists also found that it can cause abnormalities in mammary glands and lactation.

Other animal studies have connected the chemical to long-term fetal harm, which may be linked to the development of adult-onset brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. This chemical is also thought to contribute to the development of ADHD, childhood obesity, and nervous system abnormalities.

Essential oils

Essential oils are considered to be a natural alternative to chemical-based cosmetic products. But the main issue with these seemingly natural and safe ingredients is that they are not regulated by the FDA, so they don’t have to adhere to rigorous labelling requirements. Since there are many different types of essential oils, it’s challenging to make a blanket statement on whether or not you can safely use them while pregnant. 

However, some essential oils have been associated with serious health problems in pregnant women. For example, jasmine and clary sage are thought to cause contractions, sage and rosemary oils are known to increase the likelihood of bleeding, and rosemary has been shown to elevate blood pressure. Thus, it’s best to avoid using essential oils in your skincare routine throughout your pregnancy and opt for safe formulas developed by doctors, such as the face cream, eye serum, and glow oil developed by Dr. Kinsella.

Aluminium chloride

Aluminium chloride, the main component in antiperspirants (deodorants), has been demonised by the public for more than 40 years as a result of a widely discredited research study that associated this chemical with Alzheimer’s disease. Fierce opponents of the ingredient also allege that it contributes to breast cancer. 

The truth is that this chemical is considered to be safe to use in lower doses. However, products that contain aluminium chloride in high concentrations should be avoided by women regardless of their pregnancy status unless prescribed by a doctor. For reference, regular antiperspirant products contain around 3 to 6 per cent aluminium chloride, but a prescription product can have anywhere from 15 to 30 per cent of this ingredient.


Parabens are widely used in skincare products to keep them fresh. Their use in cosmetics is purely practical, as they don’t provide anti-acne or anti-ageing benefits. They simply extend the shelf life of creams and other products. 

However, there are two issues associated with parabens: they are known to disrupt the balance of hormones in the body, and they are also easily absorbed into the bloodstream. A study published in the Journal of Chemistry in 2016 showed that prenatal exposure to BPA (a type of paraben) can cause poor fetal growth, low birth weight, miscarriage, impaired fetal growth, obesity, and behavioural disorders.


Pregnant women should avoid using products that contain tetracycline or its derivatives (minocycline and doxycycline). These are popular antibiotics used to treat a range of skin diseases. These have been proven to have detrimental effects on both future moms and their fetuses.


Most spray self-tanners contain dihydroxyacetone. This ingredient reacts with the layers of dead skin on your body, staining it and making you look tan. While self-tanners are a much safer alternative to sun tanning, pregnant women should stay away from them. Although the chemical is usually not absorbed into the bloodstream, it can be inhaled during the application, which is harmful to both you and your baby.


Phthalates are compounds that can be found in different cosmetics and personal care items. They are widely used to keep products fresh. But animal tests have found that phthalates are associated with major reproductive and hormone abnormalities because they can disrupt the balance of hormones in the body. Studies have also shown that these chemicals can lead to problems with the kidneys, liver, and lungs. Cosmetic products are the most prevalent source of phthalate exposure, and diethyl phthalate (DEP) is the most common chemical among them.


You may not know this, but nail polishes and hair straightening treatments often contain formaldehyde. However, this powerful chemical is not to be trifled with. It has been associated with cancer, miscarriages, and reproductive issues. So it’s crucial to ensure that the products you use in your beauty routine are free from this ingredient. Some nail polishes will have special “3-Free” or “5-Free” labels, indicating that they are safe to use.

Also, check the label for the following ingredients every time you buy beauty products during pregnancy:

While this list may be a bit confusing and overwhelming, you should still make an effort and be careful, as each of the ingredients above releases formaldehyde. So, essentially, they are just hidden formaldehyde.

Thioglycolic acid

Hair-removal lotions and treatments often contain thioglycolic acid. There isn’t any research that shows that this chemical is harmful to developing babies. However, medical authorities still urge pregnant women to reduce their exposure to this ingredient. The lack of data may lead you to believe it is safe to use. However, it is best to follow the recommendations of medical professionals and avoid using these products when pregnant. After all, what’re a few hairs compared to your or your baby’s safety?

Botox and fillers

This wrinkle fighter is also classified as a category C chemical, which implies that doctors don’t have enough information about its effect on pregnancy. Botox is occasionally prescribed as a remedy for some medical conditions, including persistent migraines, overactive bladder, incontinence, and overactive bladder. However, it’s most commonly used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. So while the benefits of botox are truly great, many experts advise against using botox or other fillers for aesthetic purposes during pregnancy.


Toluene is considered to be a toxic chemical. It can be found in nail polish and hair dyes. Toluene exposure can cause temporary symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and cracked skin, as well as have more significant consequences on your health, including respiratory difficulties and reproductive damage. There are several studies that describe neonatal consequences linked to toluene misuse during pregnancy. Congenital abnormalities, postnatal developmental retardation, intrauterine growth retardation, and preterm birth are all possible side effects of toluene use.

Final Thoughts 

While pregnancy is a wonderful time in any woman’s life, it can also be challenging. After all, there are so many daunting rules and limitations you need to follow. It may also be difficult and unpleasant to give up your favourite skincare routine, but we know that you’ll go to great lengths to protect your baby, and we hope that all of the information we’ve gathered here will help you make the most of your pregnancy. After all, giving up products that might damage your or your baby’s health during pregnancy is a small price to pay. 

Plus, there are plenty of healthy alternatives to the ingredients mentioned above. Some solutions are very easy to implement. For instance, you can use creams containing cocoa butter or hyaluronic acid to relieve dry skin. 

During pregnancy, your skin faces lots of new challenges. So don’t forget to take care of it just like you are planning to care for your little one. Use only high-quality skin care products developed by professionals such as the Dr. Kinsella product line. Our products are destined to enhance the appearance of your skin and reduce ageing signs by providing the benefits of potent yet safe active ingredients.


Is hyaluronic acid safe during pregnancy?

Hyaluronic acid is considered to be absolutely safe for pregnant women. Given its healing, anti-ageing, and moisturising properties, this ingredient is actually quite beneficial for your skin.

Can you use niacinamide while pregnant?

Anti-ageing ingredients such as vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and niacinamide are thought to be safe for use during pregnancy. There haven’t been any studies showing that they are hazardous when applied topically.

Is salicylic acid OK during pregnancy?

Since prescription salicylic acid is a precursor of aspirin, taking it orally during pregnancy is not recommended. Oral consumption of salicylic acid during late pregnancy stages has been linked to an increased risk of a cerebral haemorrhage. You should also avoid skin care products containing this ingredient.