Pregnant woman touching her round belly

From the changes that your skin goes through to ingredients that could harm your baby, caring for your skin while you are pregnant can be tricky.

In order to really look after your skin during pregnancy, here is everything you need to know…

Acne Prevention is Important

Even if you have had dry skin all of your life, acne is something that everybody could possibly face while pregnant.


It is all down to your hormones…

In particular, a group of hormones known as androgens, which increase while you are pregnant. This then triggers your sebaceous glands to produce more oil, leading to clogged pores, inflammation and breakouts.

Do you usually experience breakouts during your menstrual periods?

If so, then you are even more susceptible to developing pregnancy acne, making prevention absolutely key in order to minimize breakouts as much as possible.

The best way to prevent a breakout is by keeping your skin cleansed and your pores clear. Of course, you need to be using a gentle cleanser, so you will probably need to cleanse twice a day. 

Exfoliation is important too. 

How do you usually exfoliate?

If your answer is a form of physical exfoliation, then you can continue on with this, although you may need to slightly up the frequency of your exfoliation sessions.

If you use chemical exfoliants…

Some of these, such as glycolic acid and lactic acid, are safe to use at a low concentration while pregnant. However, if you would like to err on the side of caution, you may want to switch to a physical exfoliant during the course of your pregnancy.

Are you already experiencing pregnancy acne? 

Standard acne treatments, such as benzoyl peroxide and topical retinoids, need to be avoided.


Well, in the case of benzoyl peroxide, this hasn’t yet been proven to be safe for use during pregnancy. Topical retinoids, on the other hand, have been proven to cause birth defects. Other acne medications can have the same effect, meaning that you need to be careful when it comes to treating pregnancy acne.

So, what should you do?

Certain ingredients, such as witch hazel and tea tree oil, can help with pregnancy acne, and are safe to use. Salicylic acid is also considered to be safe for short term use, but you may wish to speak to your doctor about this before trying it. You could also consider LED light therapy, which is, again, a safe treatment to undergo while pregnant.

While pregnancy acne can be frustrating, don’t worry too much. Your breakouts should clear up once you have given birth and your hormone levels return back to normal.

Be Prepared for Melasma

Often referred to as the mask of pregnancy, melasma is when parts of the skin darken, resulting in dark patches. It is surprisingly common, affecting up to 70% of pregnant women

Why does it happen?

Just like with pregnancy acne, your hormones are to blame. Your increased hormone levels trigger your skin to produce more pigment, resulting in this uneven coloring.

While these dark patches can appear anywhere on the body, they are most commonly found on the cheeks, forehead and upper lip.

What can you do about melasma?

Unfortunately, not much, at least while you are pregnant.

Prevention is key when it comes to melasma, and there are quite a few steps that you can take to prevent this condition from occurring.

Here are some tips:

  • Eat more folic acid – folic acid will help to even out your skin tone. It is often formulated into prenatal vitamins, but can also be found in leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, peas, nuts and seeds
  • Topical vitamin C – a safe ingredient to use during pregnancy, and one that will help to lighten and brighten your complexion
  • Sun protection – UV rays will only make your dark spots darker, making sun protection vital. This is discussed in more detail further on

Just like with pregnancy acne, melasma should fade after you have given birth. If it doesn’t, then you will be able to look into stronger options for fading these dark spots.

Protect Your Skin from the Sun

Did you know that the increased hormones in your body during pregnancy make your skin more susceptible to sun damage?

This not only means that you have an increased chance of burning, but also of developing skin cancer.

However, as mentioned above, chemical sunscreens can be dangerous to use while pregnant. Fortunately, there are plenty of options out there when it comes to physical sunscreens.

What’s the difference between the two?

Chemical sunscreens contain certain ingredients that trigger a chemical reaction when they come into contact with UV rays. They absorb these rays and render them harmless, before emitting them from the body as heat. One of the most common chemicals used in chemical sunscreen is oxybenzone, and a recent study found that this could possibly lead to low birth weight.

On the other hand, physical sunscreens contain specific minerals that deflect the sun’s UV rays away when they hit the surface of the skin.

DFrow How To Look After Your Skin During Pregnancy sunscreen

Don’t forget, there are other steps that you can take too to protect your skin from the sun…

Wear sun-protecting accessories, such as large sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. Clothing that keeps your skin covered is also great, while staying in the shade during the sun’s hottest hours, which are usually between 11am and 3pm, can really make a difference.

What about vitamin D?

Vitamin D is important when pregnant, and has been linked to birth weight, as well as general health of babies.

Deficiencies in this vitamin are quite common, but so long as you are receiving five to ten minutes of sun exposure a few times a week, you should be covered. Research suggests that the majority of people out there don’t actually apply enough sunscreen to keep their skin properly protected, meaning that you are likely to be receiving plenty of vitamin D anyway.

If you are worried, you would be best off speaking to your doctor to see if you can be tested for a vitamin D deficiency.

Prevent Stretch Marks

Stretch marks occur when the skin is stretched rapidly, making them extremely common during pregnancy. They tend to appear most on the stomach, chest, thighs and hips, with some people being more genetically predisposed to them than others.

While you can’t do anything about your genetics, there are still things that you can do to prevent the stretch marks from forming, such as:

  • Eat more vitamins – vitamins C and D in particular have been found to be especially beneficial when it comes to stretch marks
  • Eat more zinc – although scientific proof is lacking, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence out there that shows zinc being able to help prevent stretch marks
  • Stay hydrated – hydrated skin tends to be softer and smoother, which helps to reduce the appearance of stretch marks

Another thing that can really help to prevent, as well as fade, stretch marks is exercise…

You do need to be careful when it comes to exercising when pregnant, especially when it comes to making sure that you don’t over-exert yourself.

However, the majority of standard exercises out there are safe to do while pregnant. The most beneficial tend to be:

  • Swimming
  • Brisk walking
  • Low-impact aerobics
  • Yoga
  • Stationary cycling

Exercise has plenty of other skin benefits while you are pregnant too. Not only does it boost your circulation, helping to enhance that pregnancy glow, but it also gives you a dose of endorphins, which will improve your mood and the quality of your sleep.

Cut Back on the Makeup

Even if you don’t usually wear much makeup, you may be tempted to start using this more while you are pregnant, especially if you are dealing with acne or melasma.

However, this is something best avoided…


Well, just like with many skin care product ingredients, some of the ingredients used in makeup products can be harmful to your baby. Makeup tends to contain more chemicals than skin care products, and it can be hard to decipher those ingredient lists.

How do you know whether your makeup is safe or not?

A little bit of research should give you the answer. If you find that the products you own aren’t safe to be used while pregnant, there are plenty of pregnancy-friendly makeup products out there that you can swap to instead.

While this may be the case, less is more is always the best policy when it comes to makeup during pregnancy.

Stay Hydrated

It has already been mentioned that staying hydrated is important when it comes to preventing stretch marks, but staying hydrated in general is key for other parts of your pregnancy too.

While you are pregnant, you are at an increased risk of becoming dehydrated. This isn’t too much of a problem in the short term, but severe dehydration can result in some serious complications.

Not only can this be harmful for your baby, but it will also show up in your skin.


Through a loss of elasticity and an overall dullness to your complexion.

You will need to increase your water intake while you are pregnant, making sure that your body is receiving a pretty much constant supply of water through the day.

You can also keep your skin hydrated from the outside…

A moisturizer containing hydrating ingredients is what you need for this. Hyaluronic acid is the perfect example of a hydrating ingredient, as this acid, which is also naturally produced by the body, is a humectant.

DFrow How To Look After Your Skin During Pregnancy cream

This means that it is able to draw moisture from the air into your skin, keeping your skin cells plumped and hydrated. Fortunately, this ingredient is safe to use while pregnant, and can also help with some of the other pregnancy skin concerns you may experience, including acne and stretch marks.

Vitamins C and E also help to keep skin cells plumped up, while avocado oil is incredibly moisturizing.

Know Which Ingredients to Avoid

When you apply products to your skin, the ingredients soak in, and small amounts of these can enter into your bloodstream. While this doesn’t usually cause too much of a problem, your baby is vulnerable, and many of these ingredients can cause some serious damage to a foetus.

Here are some key ingredients to avoid:

  • Retinol – as mentioned above, topical retinoids, along with other forms of vitamin A, have been linked to birth defects. They need to be avoided while breastfeeding too
  • Chemical sunscreens – the chemical filters used in many sunscreens disrupt hormones and could possibly interfere with foetal health. Opt for a physical sunscreen, such as one containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, instead
  • Parabens – a common preservative, parabens are easily absorbed by the skin and can cause a number of problems. They have been linked to everything from miscarriages and low birth weight to hindered foetal growth and behavioural issues
  • Certain essential oils – while some essential oils are great, others can cause some serious problems. Jasmine can trigger early contractions, as can clary sage, while rosemary and standard sage can result in bleeding and increased blood pressure

There are so many other cosmetic ingredients out there that could be harmful to use during pregnancy. Your best bet would be to do a bit of research into all of the ingredients used in your favorite skin care products, or have a look to see which brands create products that are safe for use by pregnant women.

Your skin experiences so many changes during pregnancy, and it is important for you to be able to quickly adapt your skin care routine to each and every one. By being prepared for all possibilities, from acne to stretch marks to melasma, you will be able to keep your skin as healthy as possible while you are pregnant.