Pregnancy asks that you give up some of your favorite things (which is okay, because you’re gaining something priceless). Along with cold cuts, sushi, soft cheeses, and that second glass of wine or coffee, you’re also asked to give up certain skincare ingredients. It can be daunting to overhaul your entire skincare routine, but the good news is that there are many awesome pregnancy-safe moisturizers available. In fact, they’re so good, you just may never go back to your old ways.
Ingredients in your products are absorbed through the skin and can get into your bloodstream, according to a 2009 study done by L'Oréal Recherche. This premise is why the birth control patch is able to work, for example, but it also means what you put on your skin can get to your growing baby. Dr. Dendy Englemen, dermatologist, recommends avoiding the following ingredients while pregnant and nursing:
- Formaldehyde (found in hair straightening treatments, nail polishes and eyelash glue)
- Aluminum chloride hexahydrate (used in many deodorants)
- Diethanolamine (DEA) (found in hair and body products)
- Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) (found in self-tanners)
- Petroleum (i.e. propylene glycol, mineral oil, petrolatum, isopropyl alcohol)
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
- Prescription medications like Accutane, Retin-A spironolactone, and tetracycline
Engelman tells Romper that certain doctors also recommend avoiding benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid while pregnant. Any product with vitamin A in it is a known teratogen, which means it’s known cause birth defects, according to Engelman. “Because of the known dangers of Accutane, all vitamin A derivatives — retinol and retinoic acids — have been deemed potentially unsafe and it is recommended that they be avoided during pregnancy and nursing,” Engelman explains.
Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, author of Beyond Soap, also cautions against certain essential oils and botanical extracts. Why they may seem natural and safe “recent studies have shown that lavender and tea tree oil may be hormone disruptive in young children. It is common to want to be more natural during these times [but] plants are still chemicals. If you want a more natural alternative 100 percent squalane oil is a good option for a moisturizer,” Skotnicki tells Romper. She also recommends glycolic acid AHA which, “comes from sugarcane and is safe during pregnancy.”
It's daunting and time-consuming to read every label to figure out what you should be using on your face and body while pregnant. Plus I know your skin is probably really, really dry and you need a remedy like, now (pregnancy is known for causing dryness because of the hormone changes and tightening skin, per Healthline.) I got you. Read on for the 24 best moisturizers to use while pregnant.
1. Superfood Hyaluronic Acid Air-Whip Moisture Cream
How could you go wrong with kale, spinach, and green tea? This lightweight moisturizer is like a smoothie for your face. Hyaluronic acid binds to water and helps the body retain moisture.
2. Hydro Boost Water Gel
This deeply hydrating moisturizing absorbs quickly and leaves skin looking healthy and matte. Perfect for under makeup, the gel texture is soothing and comfortable. Plus it contains hyaluronic acid for the hydrating win.
3. Cerave Moisturizing Cream
This classic moisturizer can be used on your body and face. Ceramides form a protective layer over the skin, while hyaluronic acid locks in moisture. Bonus that this is safe to use on your baby too.
4. Lip & Skin Balm
RMS is best known for their natural makeup (and it really is noteworthy), but their lip and skin balm is amazing when you need hydration on-the-go. You can use it under makeup or on its own. Best of all, it comes in vanilla or cocoa flavor for when you need a little dose of sweetness.
5. Bakuchiol Smoothing Serum
If you're sad to see your retinol go when you're pregnant or nursing, you'll love bakuchiol oil. Bakuchiol is a vegan plant extract that increases cell turnover and can stimulate collagen production. Unlike retinol however, this oil is both pregnancy and sun-safe, and the oil serum is hydrating though if you're really dry, you'll want to follow it with a more conventional moisturizer.
6. 100% Squalane Oil
Dr. Skotnicki specifically recommends 100 percent squalane oil as a natural and pregnancy-safe moisturizer. Your body naturally produces squalene (which is almost identical to squalane oil) but it decreases as you age. The oil is derived from olives and leaves skin soft and bouncy.
7. Honey Drop Lightweight Moisturizing Cream
Honey is known as a humectant, meaning it has the ability to pull water into the skin from the air, making this lightweight moisturizer extremely hydrating. Hyaluronic acid and Cupuaçu Butter Beads melt into skin and nourish from the inside out. My favorite part of Farmacy products is how amazing they smell.
8. The Water Cream
Don't let the name fool you: Tatcha's The Water Cream is a whole lot more than just water. Formulated with Japanese botanicals (and a touch of 23 karat gold, according to their website) this leaves skin hydrated and pores looking less noticeable. Your face will look refreshed and hydrated, but never shiny.
9. Whipped Argan Oil Face Butter
This whipped face butter (sounds strangely delicious) contains powerhouse ingredients argan oil, soothing aloe,watermelon seed oil, and fresh cucumber extract. Your skin will feel hydrated and refreshed (thanks to the cucumber). This is great for skin that's prone to redness.
10. Matte Effect Gel Cream
When it comes to clean beauty, Beautycounter is an OG. This gel cream is both hydrating and mattifying, ideal for layering under makeup on days you'll know you'll be sweating (which may be every day when you're in your third trimester). The oil-free formula is also exceptional for people with naturally oily skin.
11. Skin Food Light
Weleda Skin Food is an absolute classic, and for good reason, but it can be a little heavy for everyday use. Enter Skin Food Light. The same beloved rich, deeply hydrating balm made lighter and less thick. It's affordable price point means you won't feel bad lathering it all over.
12. AM Therapy Facial Moisturizer
Elta MD is a favorite among dermatologists (it's literally sold in my derm's office) and this AM moisturizer is no exception. It even skin tones and hydrates, but is light enough to wear under makeup. It's oil-free and absorbs quickly for those mornings you're just trying to get out the door.
13. Everyday Radiance Moisturizer
This daily moisturizer brought to us by the Honest Company has licorice, fig, cherry, calendula, and chamomile, all of which deeply nourish the skin. Your skin will look brighter and feel soft. If Jessica Alba (founder of the Honest Co) approves, then I think it's worth a shot.
14. Hyaluronic Gel Moisturizer
Tata Harper is a bit of a hero in the natural beauty world, and this gel moisturizer is a must for oily skin. It hydrates the skin while keeping it shine-free. Plus it contains free-radical fighting antioxidants that help protect your skin against environmental stressors like smoke and poor air quality which helps justify the price point.
15. Nutrient Day Cream with SPF 30
You can't beat a moisturizer that's packed with plant-based ingredients and also functions as an SPF. Seriously, there are so many amazing ingredient I can't even begin to list them all, but just to name a few, there's broccoli oil, green tea, and chamomile. It comes in an amazing tinted version too.
16. Cactus Water Moisturizer
This moisturizer contains water from the Queen of the Night Cactus succulent. Cacti are known for recovering from dramatic dehydration and this will help your skin do the same. Try keeping it in the refrigerator for a treat on a hot day.
17. Shea Butter Ultra Rich Body Cream
Your body needs moisture too, especially when you're pregnant. This rich body cream contains shea butter, honey, and apricot oil (among other hydrating ingredients). Your dry skin will instantly feel softer and smoother.
18. Mama Bee Nourishing Body Oil
Made from a blend of almond oil, lemon oil, and vitamin E, the body oil helps heal thirsty skin. It helps lock moisture in and it smells slightly sweet and very clean. Your dry skin will thank you.
19. Ultra-Calming Fragrance-Free Daily Facial Moisturizer
Aveeno is a fan favorite among moms because of its affordable price point and quality ingredients. The calming moisturizer is fragrance-free and suitable for all skin types. Plus it has an SPF of 15.
20. Watermelon Sleeping Mask
You can leave this mask on overnight, or use it as a typical moisturizer. Watermelon hydrates and helps calm skin. And it smells amazing and is a beautiful pink color.
21. Ultra Repair Cream
You'll want to use this cream all over, so it's a good thing it comes in a tub-size. It contains shea butter and oatmeal (remember oatmeal baths for chicken pox?) which are soothing for the skin. And it's gentle enough to use on your kids too.
22. Ultra Hydrating Gel Moisturizer
This paraben-free and fragrance-free moisturizer locks moisture into your skin. You'll probably be at Trader Joe's anyway, so you may as well give this one a try. Among other powerhouse ingredients, it contains aloe leaf juice, green tea, birch leaf, & milk thistle extracts. And it's under $9!
23. Nuddy Ultra Hydrating & Repair Creme
Ideal for especially dry skin, this super rich formula uses Hyaluronic Acid and castor oil to smooth the skin, softening the appearance of fine lines. Reviews on Sephora say this one is a godsend for particularly sensitive, parched types.
24. Coconut Face Cream
Pregnancy is a time when you not only need your beauty products to be safe and effective, but they *really* need to smell good, too. This coconut oil-rich moisturizer (one of the only oils to contain lauric acid, which is also found in mother’s milk) has a divine scent, plus it helps to fight inflammation (read: redness).